Friday, February 3, 2006

Religious Establishment

Religious tolerance is a contradiction in terms.

The recent reaction of the Islamic community to that Danish editorial cartoon is a perfect example. I understand that Islam forbids any depiction of Mohammed. The intent of that prohibition is apparently to prevent idolatry, specifically to keep Muslims from worshipping the Prophet himself as opposed to Allah – and I can’t see anyone praying to a rather insulting caricature – but let’s put that aside and just consider the rule itself. Despite the occasional protestations from Imams and Mullahs and other Islamic experts that Islam is a religion of peace that preaches tolerance for other people and religions, the entire Muslim world seems to be in an uproar because a NON-Muslim in a primarily NON-Muslim country violated this rule of THEIR religion. It has led to protests, riots, boycott threats, death threats, terrorism threats, and burning the Danish flag. This is tolerance?

Of course, Islam is far from the only offender. Does anyone really think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gave up polygamy voluntarily? No, that was a case where the various Christian sects and the Catholics all agreed that such immoral behavior could not be tolerated – so the legal persecution drove the Mormon Church to change their views.

Need another example? Assisted suicide. Anathema to any Christian religion, so it is illegal. In the one state that legalized it, the Justice Department did its best to find a loophole to persecute…excuse that misspelling, of course I meant PROsecute…doctors who aided terminally ill patients to end their lives on their own terms. The furor over Terri Schiavo is a related example. Congressmen, in an effort to appear moral for their constituents and the cameras, interfered in a case where they had little knowledge, less comprehension, and no business.

In general, our religious freedoms are not protected by the First Amendment – they are protected by an “armed truce” between all the different faiths, mostly Christian, that run this country. In the no-mans’-land between them, the minority faiths – Islam, Atheism, Wicca, and so on – manage to survive. If ever one particular sect becomes ascendant, well, the truce will end, and our nation built on freedom will quickly become a tight little theocracy. The pageantry of the Presidency, Congress, and the Courts will no doubt continue, as will the rhetoric of freedom and democracy, but that will be nothing but a shell. Don’t believe that, either? Look at the makeup of the Supreme Court these days, and ask yourself how much farther it would go if the President and 60% of the Congress were not only the same party, but the same church. If justices didn’t retire fast enough, well, impeachment is always an option.

So unless you are SURE that your church would be the majority…pray for the stalemate to continue forever.

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