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Anti-Muslim hysteria in Australia

In Sunday’s show, Matt and Tracie answered some questions about Islam. Afterwards, we got this email from Australia:

Hi All
A very good show up until the subject of Islam and whether or not it is a threat to the USA constitution.
I just don’t know what it will take to wake you guys up on the subject of Islam.  It is a direct threat to secularism, the constitution and freedoms everywhere. That you think just because their small numbers means they are no threat to you  – well that’s very scary and sad to hear. That is the very same thinking that has allowed them to further infiltrate societies in most nations.
From little things big things grow. Islam is highly adept at propogating power right under the noses of the public – yet out of sight.
Example?..ok, check this site out, I can personally attest to the accuracy of the info therin:
I strongly urge you all to sign up for her newsletter.

The letter continues, but since I mainly want to comment on this “Halal Choices” website, I’m stopping it there.

I checked out the site. I even watched the video. I have to say it was just about the dumbest piece of propaganda masquerading as news I have seen in weeks. I looked up “Today Tonight” and it sounds to me like they are a notorious puff journalism show, like a cross between our Fox News and “The National Enquirer.”

So stop me if I’m misunderstanding the issue here. Muslims have special dietary considerations, exactly like Jews. Jews care if their food is “Kosher” and Muslims care if their food is “Halal.” You and I care about neither.
Since Muslims, like all Australian citizens, have money, and food companies would like to get some of that money, they have decided — voluntarily, with neither coercion nor government funding — that it would be in their interest to pay a certification board to check out their product and say “Yep, this food is cool for Muslims to eat.” By doing so, they convince Muslims that they have a good product, which means they sell more food, which means they increase their profits. Yay capitalism!
Again, all this sounds exactly like companies putting the “kosher” label on their food in order to get more Jewish business. And also more business from gullible people who think that “kosher” somehow means “healthy,” which it doesn’t, but who cares? I am neither convinced to buy kosher products nor discouraged from buying them. The pickles are pretty good.
So a group of “concerned citizens,” who sound about as stable as Tea Party members here in the US, have banded together to say “Fuck Muslims! If they put out labels saying this food is okay for them to eat, I hereby boycott this food, because I do not eat Muslim food!” Which sounds borderline racist to me, quite frankly, but hey. Free market, their choice.
I just missed the part where I should actually give a shit either way.

Comments

  1. says

    That you think just because their small numbers means they are no threat to you

    Uhh yes? That’s pretty much definitional.

    In terms of priority, Christian evangelism in the U.S. is far more dangerous. It’s like being mad that we aren’t worried about some guy setting off a firecracker in middle of the deserts of Nevada, while we’re being bombarded by antimatter bombs from an alien invasion fleet in orbit.

    If the “evangelical” Muslim population in America was large enough to start trying to pass their own unconstitutional legislation/constitutional amendments, they’d have quite a bit of competition from the evangelical Christians.

    Ironically, that’s why I’m not concerned about Islam in America. Because of Christians.

  2. says

    While I’d hardly deny that fundamentalist Islamist societies are barbaric, this kind of hysteria is the very same thing that’s fueling the right-wing anti-Sharia craze among American conservatives. There have been a number of pieces of legislation banning Sharia Law from taking over mom-n-apple-pie American communities in recent years…all of which ignore the fact that we have this little sheaf of paper called the United States Constitution, which clearly states that no other legal authority shall supersede its own. But of course, conservatives find anti-Sharia bills a great way to whip up their xenophobic base and boost their approval ratings.

  3. says

    Hi Kazim,

    First off, I’m an Australian, so I know we can produce world class crazy along with the best of them. These days I live in New Zealand, where the biggest “Islamic problem” in recent times has been the argument over who controls the Christchurch Mosque – the original crew, mostly from our near neighbour states, such as Fijian Indians, etc, or the more recent Arabic arrivals.

    However, when presented with a choice, I refuse any animal product labelled as halal or kosher because I object to the way the animals are treated in the slaughter process. Needless suffering because of a religiuous edict is inhumane.

    But halal potatoes or kosher salt? Not a problem.

  4. davidhart says

    As an experiment, I’d be interested to see what would happen if a food company produced some food items that happen to be both halal and kosher, and put 50% of them in tins that say ‘halal’, and 50% in otherwise identical tins that say ‘kosher’, and sell them in places where the proportion of Muslims and Judaists is roughly equal (or where there aren’t enough of either to skew the statistics) and see if there is much difference in which ones sell better.

  5. Max Entropy says

    “Animal rights groups have objected to Halal, saying that it is a form of animal torture. The animal is positioned in order to have its blood completely drained (if size permits) and left to exsanguinate.
    The ritual method of slaughter as practiced in Islam and Judaism has been described as inhumane by some animal welfare organizations in the U.K. and the U.S. who have stated that it ’causes severe suffering to animals.'”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal#Animal_welfare_concerns

  6. says

    I don’t think that is a healthy position. As I see it, passivity can not advance a secular society. The various religious groups may have it out over their respective, ideologically inspired laws, but in the end one will prevail over the other, while we sit back and watch our country descend into Theocracy. No thanks.

  7. Kazim says

    Because we let food companies put labels on food. Right.

    Thanks for defending our freedom, champion.

  8. Kazim says

    I don’t doubt that there are different arguments against the specific practices of Halal. I’m just saying, theocracy isn’t one of them.

  9. says

    Sorry, Kazim. I guess my point was not clear enough, then. Food labels don’t concern me nearly as much as applications of religiously inspired law that may contravene the country’s legislation. We see attempts of this up here in Canada, where islamic groups demand acceptance of sharia courts (for domestic disputes etc.). In the US, I see lobbying by Christian fundamentalists for ‘intelligent design’ to be included into school curriculum.

  10. says

    Down here in South Florida, we don’t have a lot of Muslims, the few we do have are more than happy eating Kosher because, when you look at them, Kashrut and Halal are almost exactly the same. At the very least, they are comparable enough that Muslims living in a very Jewish county (West Palm Beach) are fine with it. On the flip side, I’ve met Jews online living in areas of the US where Muslims are dominant who have zero problems eating stuff labeled Halal for the exact same reasons.

    Ultimately, who gives a shit? It’s a free market thing, period. Companies deciding to certify food as “Halal” no more signifies a Muslim takeover than those same companies deciding to certify food as “Kosher” signifies a Jewish takeover. It’s just using an actually ethical method of expanding a market to ensure higher profits. Why would anyone be angry about that?

  11. says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. In that first sentence of the first paragraph of my comment, there should be a period between “Muslims” and “the few”, and “the” should have a capital T. I have no idea why I combined those two sentences into one.

  12. says

    Yeah… the same is true of Kashrut, as well.

    It’s why, back when I considered myself a religious Jew, I went Kosher-style as opposed to full-on Kosher.

  13. says

    My point wasn’t that we should be passive about it.

    Basically, I had two points:

    1) We’re already fighting that battle… it’s not something waiting for Muslims to bring around.

    2) Christians would basically be an ally at that point. I almost think they’d rather support secularism if they start detecting that they’re being outnumbered.

  14. Matt Gerrans says

    ‘”I do not eat Muslim food!” Which sounds borderline racist to me.’

    Racist? It may be prejudice, but not really racism, since Islam isn’t a race.

  15. Roxane says

    We do have people in Australia who, as you describe, are like your Tea Party types when it comes to Islamiphobia.. I also think that some otherwise reasonable people may have been sucked into this votex when it comes to Halal because of some highly visible events that have occurred here recently.
    In 2011, with a follow up in 2012, our pre-eminant current affairs program Four Corners, aired on our public broadcast network ABC, did a program on what happens to the cattle we export live to Indonesia, a country with the 2nd largest muslim population in the world. The cruelty visited upon these animals, much of which they suffered as a result of the way they are slaughtered to meet Halal certification, was horrendous. Link below. The backlash from the public was so immense the government shut down the live cattle export trade to Indonesia within weeks and it was a constant on the news for weeks following. Ironically the Australian government had exempted a few abbotoirs in Australia from having to meet the requirements under our animal cruelty legislation, so that they too could slaughter as per Halal requirements. Apart from the actual slaughter technique the other acts of cruelty there were absent.
    We also export live sheep to the middle east and are frequently shown footage on our tv about the inhumane way the sheep are treated and killed there too. Much of this has more to do with animal rights activists fighting to stop our live animal export trade, which I agree with. So what is happening is that our activists are filming where our animals are being treated badly and sadly that is in Muslim countries. I think this has resulted in a backlash against our Muslim citizens and driven some of our non-muslim citizens into the arms of Islamophobes who might not have otherwise done so.
    Anyway, have a look at the doco if your interested and see if you can perhaps gain some understanding why some otherwise tolerant Aussies might have embraced intolerance as a result of watching it.
    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2011/05/30/3228880.htm

  16. says

    We need our own version of Halal or Kosher for atheism… call it “Darwinin” or something, that means that a certified crew of evolutionists have determined that the food was not prayed over.

  17. michaelbuchheim says

    The growing fear of Muslims in Europe and the USA reminds me of the stories my grandma used to whisper about her life in pre-WWII Poland. Especially the backwards notion a powerful majority develops, of imminent danger at the hand of a weak minority. And I see at again as my country faces immigrants. Again cry the voices against those dangerous and powerful few and poor. They shout that those immigrants are the spearhead of an invasion bent on subverting all that we love, or that they are a part of a powerful conspiracy. And I can’t but hear the echo of cries directed at my grandparents.

  18. Alistair says

    Speaking as an Aussie, Today Tonight is widely regarded as crap by intelligent people. Unfortunately their target audience is stupid enough to think that what they and their twin ( A Current Affair) can be defined as journalism.

  19. Lord Narf says

    Exactly. They’re having a big problem in England, with Muslims trying to corrupt the legal system. If you’ve got the same problem happening in Canada, then yes, you should be freaking out about that. Food companies tailoring their marketing to encourage Muslim consumers, though? Nah, not so much.

    The problem is that when people freak out over every inconsequential little thing, it muddies the water and makes it less noticeable when they really do cross the line, as they’re doing in some countries.

  20. Lord Narf says

    There have been a number of pieces of legislation banning Sharia Law from taking over mom-n-apple-pie American communities in recent years…all of which ignore the fact that we have this little sheaf of paper called the United States Constitution, which clearly states that no other legal authority shall supersede its own.

    The part that I find funniest about the whole thing is that the bans are completely unconstitutional, since they single out a particular religion, thus violating the first amendment … while some of the Sharia-inspired laws could be perfectly constitutional, if you can make a secular justification for them.

  21. Lord Narf says

    Hmmmmmmm.

    No, Darwinin food would be certified to have evolved. It would essentially be a ban on GMO’s.

  22. Alex Wray says

    Unfortunatly Australia does have a problem with incredibly ignorant people buying into money grabbing, borderline racist propaganda from second rate news services. But I’m guessing that this is a problem in many parts of the globe. Do you think this is the populous driving attitudes, and the news teams playing to popularity, or are the media driving the attitudes of the public, by feeding their emotions.

  23. Lord Narf says

    Dude, I think we’ve got you totally beaten, here in America. We’ve had completely shit media coverage, on the mainstream channels, for more than a decade. CNN seems to be headed that direction, too.

  24. Slow Learner says

    Precisely – I avoid halal food wherever possible because of the inhumane slaughtering methods.

  25. Muz says

    Yes, as mentioned, Today Tonight isn’t quite so pundity as Fox News. It’s all over the map really (they recently joined in on bashing anti-vaccinationists. Probably supported them ten years earlier). It’s tabloid TV, complete with all the latest scares and scams and anti aging creams.
    I’m not saying this in its defence.

    The story is kind of interesting. Hey, there’s all sorts of shenanigans that go into food certification of one sort or another. It’s when people start going on about Sharia Law creeping in through food labeling that they become hilariously full of shit.
    Really, they ought to be going after “Organic” as well, if its not about anti-muslim prejudice.

  26. says

    Last Thanksgiving or the Thanksgiving before, the regular anti-Muslim bigots in America(Gellar, Gaffney, etc) were up in arms over Halal turkeys in our grocery stores. “OMG, THE TERRORISTS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE PIGGLY WIGGLY!!” I know Butterball caved to the bigots, even though as I remember it they apparently just played a tape of an Islamic blessing in the building as they killed the turkeys the same way for everyone.

  27. says

    Fundamentalists in all three Abrahamic religions are perhaps more alike that many of us might realize. Some examples:

    Status of women;
    sexuality;
    alcohol consumption;
    dress codes;
    abortion;
    education;
    separation of religion and state;

    I simply do not share your optimism that restrictive, ideological policies regarding any of the above would necessarily be opposed by one fundamentalist group just because they were proposed by the other. We might even get temporary alliances between different religions, while they position themselves for attaining greater power.

  28. rilian says

    Marking food as kosher or halal doesn’t seem that different than marking food as vegan. And I wish that more companies would put the vegan marker, so I wouldn’t have to go to such trouble to check out my food.

  29. says

    I simply do not share your optimism that restrictive, ideological policies regarding any of the above would necessarily be opposed by one fundamentalist group just because they were proposed by the other. We might even get temporary alliances between different religions, while they position themselves for attaining greater power.

    It’s possible. My observation is that the evangelical Christians in American society automatically reject anything that even has a hint of Islam. Even stupid logos that look similar to a star crescent sends them into a frothy madness. If Muslims came into this country and declared “I like ice cream”, the Christians would be outraged, even if they agree.

    Further, the end results of each religion may result in similar oppression of women, for example, but they’re more likely to oppose each other because it came from the other’s religion. Anything they don’t manage to oppose each other would be incredibly minor and infrequent.

    The idea of Islam and Christianity joining legitimately forces on any significant topic, for any significant amount of time would be mind-blowing. Most of the time, they only do such things when they have no other option, meaning it’d be even less likely if it was a voluntary action.

  30. Cassie says

    “I looked up “Today Tonight” and it sounds to me like they are a notorious puff journalism show, like a cross between our Fox News and “The National Enquirer.”

    Yes, I think fox news is the best comparison. Today tonight is right wing hysteria, very racist, very anti poor, very anti young people. Very sensationalised and not at all a credible news source.

  31. Grardnr says

    I live in Perth, Western Australia and this kind of retarded bs is rife. The underlying logic is that marketing halal food constitutes some sort of surrender to Muslim ideas, and that since every slope is slippery, a small, trivial dietary concession is the first step towards total sharia law in Australia, and as such, if we respect and love Australia (pronounced “straya”), we must fight these dirty Muslims. Or whatever.

    Most of Australia is pretty non-religious, it’s just racist to buggery. I used to date someone who practiced Islam and she was super, super uncomfortable any time it came up in public for fear of racist assholes making some crack about her being a terrorist. The craziest thing was, she wasn’t even from the Middle East, she was from Singapore. It makes you feel bad about your country sometimes.

    Also, anyone who thinks that you’ll be able to take away bikinis, beer, casual sex and pork from the Australia way of life is completely and totally deluded.

  32. curiousgeorge says

    I don’t want to appear to gang up on you, but I’m with Jasper on this.

    The day the Christian fundamentalists in the US join forces with even Muslim moderates here in the United States is the day Muslims decide to be okay with bacon as a burger topping.

    I’m trying to think of what could happen that would make me speculate that changing……I guess I’m having a little opening in my mind thinking it could happen.

    You make some excellent points about the similiarities above – this is exactly why separation of church and state is so important. The type of fundamentalism you describe has no place in a civil society where individual rights are valued.

    I hope the Candanian government and people are standing firm against what you described above.

  33. mandrellian says

    Cassie @18:

    Yes, I think fox news is the best comparison. Today tonight is right wing hysteria, very racist, very anti poor, very anti young people. Very sensationalised and not at all a credible news source.

    Yep, that’s Today Tonight in a nutshell – and when they’re not demonising refugees/Muslims/assorted brown people/welfare recipients/youths in hoodies, they’re chasing dodgy plumbers/landlords/tenants down the street, flogging miracle cures/diets or, I kid you not, comparing different brands of sliced bread. Y’know, like journalists should. Occasionally they’ll suck up to a celebrity (who’s flogging something) or they’ll do a two-minute human interest story about something heartwarming, but their bread n’ butter is dodgy tradies, queue-jumpin’ reffos and bloody dole bludgers.

    Additionally, as legendary ABC TV show “Media Watch” has frequently pointed out, TT and their competitor for the 6.30pm timeslot, “A Current Affair”, aren’t above flat-out fabrication, plagiarism or outright defamation in addition to their general level of shoddy sensationalist rage-fodder for the TV dinner crowd. The people who produce this show know their target market: lower middle-class, generally ignorant, xenophobic racist white people. In other words: most of Australia.

    Shows like TT are the very definition of “tabloid TV”.

  34. curiousgeorge says

    Not sure exactly what you mean by “some of the Sharia-inspired laws could be perfectly contstitutional”.

    I am not familiar with this topic. Is this Sharia-law similiar to blue laws where Muslim religous doctrine becomes actual laws in local and state municipalities?

    Can you give me an examle where having an actual law that is specific to Sharia would be okay?

  35. jdon says

    Another Australian here. I can’t help but feel like you’re attacking Australia with that title, even though I intellectually know you aren’t. Defensive reaction is all it is.

    Today Tonight is basically propaganda. They do advertorials on most of their shows and the rest is ambush journalism which makes anyone you ambush look bad because they have no idea what’s going on and you’re asking them, essentially, if they’re a despicable human being which everyone responds to the same way – defensively. Kind of like my emotional reaction to the title of this blog. You end up defending something you don’t want to defend and didn’t even have any part in and as a result looking like you support it.

    Things I don’t care about one iota so long as it’s done relatively humanely: Halal. Fees? I completely agree with Martin; if people want to pay for it then people will provide it. That’s fine. Go for it.

    I am concerned about people trying to get Sharia put into action, people bringing over ideas like throwing acid in people’s faces when they don’t want to marry you, and especially the backwards steps in equal rights based on sex Islam promotes. But that doesn’t seem like a serious threat at the moment and you can’t demand people dump their traditions which the women are mostly voluntarily subscribing to. But when you’re raising people with religious leaders and the religion itself telling you that women need to be segregated for prayer because otherwise men wouldn’t be able to focus and insert same basic logic on how women must dress and so on and teaching kids all this a good and godly thing for some reason… that’s not something I like.

    I’m conflicted on the Islam in western nations issue. I agree it isn’t a clear and present danger, far from it. I agree that this Halal certification fee thing is completely inconsequential. I think we all agree that any religion telling people how to live their lives is bad, especially when those things promote inequality and violence. I think Islam does that more than Christianity.

    I’m completely unsure what action, if any, should be taken on the issue. Letting women and men know we support them in promoting more equality in their lives is a start. *shrug*

  36. Lord Narf says

    Same sort of thing as the Blue Laws, yeah.

    I don’t know many particulars of Sharia Law, so I can’t give you a good example. There have to be plenty of things that you could spin in such a way as to make it appear secular, the same as the Christians try to do with their religious crap. As long as you don’t come right out and say that it’s for religion, you can pass all kinds of things for what are actually religious reasons.

    Take all of these gay marriage bans. They should all be unconstitutional, because the only reason that 90% of the people vote for them is religious.

  37. Lord Narf says

    Half of the reason that they sound so exuberant, when posting things about crazy shit happening in other countries, is that it’s so thrilling that the stupid people are in another country besides the US. It’s usually the US or Africa, where all of the stupid religious crap happens.

  38. senectus says

    ugh, “Today Tonight” and “A Current Affairs” (ACS) are *terrible* TV.
    always getting in trouble for slander/defamation or posting information about under age or legally protected individuals.
    Being thugs and whipping up minority hatred are bread and butter for these guys. They target the Australian version of Red Necks.
    I try not to pay them any attention.

  39. Lord Narf says

    Oh, I misread some of what you were asking about Sharia Law. Sharia is ALLLL of the Muslim religious law. It’s the whole body of law that comes out of the Qur’an. The Blue Laws are just laws about alcohol, here in the US.

    In countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, Qur’anic law is pretty much the whole of the law, except for some additions to bring it up to date with modern situations that could never have been foreseen by Muhammad. After all, it’s not like he was a prophet or someone else who could see the needs of the far future.

    In Muslim countries, of course Sharia takes over and becomes the basis of the law, because they’re mostly theocracies. They’re trying to push Sharia into British and apparently Canadian law, too.

  40. says

    @ curiousgeorge and Jasper of Maine

    Perhaps the animosity is as deep as you describe. – But then again, you might be interested to know what Pope Benedict is up to these days. On a fairly recent trip to Jordan, he called for an ‘Alliance of Civilizations’ with Islam, in “defence of shared values, like right to life, care of the poor, opposition to war and corruption, and a robust role for religion in public life.”

    And here is a quote by Pope Benedict that pratically makes my skin crawl:

    “Today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently,” Benedict says. “In this world, radical secularism stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.” (Citations from the Catholic Observer)

    There was also an article in the NYTimes in September about Muslims enrolling at Catholic Universities at increasing numbers, because, as the report implies, Muslims feel more comfortable with religious peers rather than atheists.

    So, again, I just don’t think these currents are benign. I am certainly no conspiracy theorist, but I share many of Sam Harris’ concerns.

  41. curiousgeorge says

    I’ll share an example of a “religous” exception that personally pisses me off. The Amish are not required to pay social security taxes. I think I’m all about choice, but I’m not into granting exceptions at the same time.

    I guess I worry a little bit about mass migration by a minority religous group establishing or taking over a specific town, region or state and them taking over and establishing a “nation” where the values of equal opportunity and individual freedom are not respected within our nation. A local government for example, passing a no bacon to be eaten – not acceptable to my way of thinking, even if such a law is constiutional.

    I don’t know Utah well enough to know if the Mormon presence there is a huge problem or a good analogy. But hopefully you understand what I’m saying. Maybe, I’m concerned about nothing.

  42. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, that’s the Pope. The most politically active Christians, trying to push their religion into US law, are Evangelical fundamentalists who think the Pope is the anti-Christ … some of them literally.

  43. Lord Narf says

    I think we’ll have to hit over a third of the US being flat-out atheist, before the evangelical nuts will seriously consider banding together with non-Christians. They’re quite myopic.

  44. curiousgeorge says

    Jens, Thanks for the information about Pope Benedict. What he is saying is not good, but also not suprising and it helps make your point.

    I think we actually share a lot of the same concerns. See my comments in post 2.2 below regading Shari law here in the US. What I see on television going on in Britian, and you are saying in Canada as well. That is a big concern.

    Back to the Pope though. I’m not sure he carries a lot of weight here in the US, even among Catholics.

  45. Lord Narf says

    Utah is a great example. You can still buy alcohol in Utah, though. They just have lots of wacky restrictions and hoops for you to jump through, if you want to drink it in a public place.

    If you got some city of mostly Muslims that started passing laws to turn themselves into a mini-Iran, you would start seeing so many lawsuits that the entire legal structure would be dismantled. You would have evangelical churches and the Mormons raising millions of dollars and sending people there specifically to violate the laws and serve as test cases, to bring those laws to court.

  46. Lord Narf says

    The Amish are given special consideration because they’re fairly conservative Christians, and they’ve been around for a damned long time. They trigger some sort of nostalgia for a lot of the Christians in this country.

  47. atheist says

    Yeah. Anti-Muslim racists tend to be pretty stupid folks. (Yes, I’m aware that Islam is not a “race” but this does not stop idiots from being racist against Muslims.)

  48. atheist says

    It’s usually the US or Africa, where all of the stupid religious crap happens.

    Very good point. Americans love when not all the crazies are here.

    Actually, it’s more like the US, Africa, or Middle East.

  49. curiousgeorge says

    “Today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently,” Benedict says. “In this world, radical secularism stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.” (Citations from the Catholic Observer)

    This quote actually brings a smile to my face. He peppers the adjective “radical” secularism in there for dramatic effect, but it is good to know that he realizes people are pushing back against the religous bullshit standing in the way of equal opportunity and individual freedoms.

    Inflexible policies such as no female priests, no birth control, and abortion (although abortion is not a huge problem for them) does not cut it in too much of the US, but probably not in most of the civilized world either. As more of the world becomes literate and receives a decent education – susceptibility to the belief in magical rituals and the supernatural weakens as well. Even the fish at the Friday fish fries during lent in my area suck these days. The Catholic church might change some, but I’m thinking it is already too little, too late.

    Lord Narf brings up a good point about Christians being divided among the Protestant vs. Catholic axis as well.

    To my way of thinking, the pope still gets respect, but it is sort like the respect one’s bigoted great grandfather receives.

  50. tosspotovich says

    Yep, Today Tonight is pure fluff journalism. The political bias isn’t always obvious but sensationalism is the order of the day. Only taken seriously by the elderly and gullible. They and their direct opposition in A Current Affair will often run the same story days apart, repeat them within weeks and contradict previous stories without any offer of apology for misleading statements.

  51. AlbertaGeek says

    Firstly, no “Islamic group” in Canada was ever demanding that non-Muslims be subjected to sharia laws, so at the very least, if one was not a Muslim, one needn’t have necessarily give a rat’s ass. Secondly, the “firstly” is moot, because all attempts to start sharia courts in Canada got shot down years ago. Thirdly, any sharia “laws” that were to be used just in arbitration proceedings, and even then, they depended on the province and were strictly voluntary, were also shot down years ago. Fourthly, it seeems to me that you may have gotten your information re: such things from some very bigoted/ alarmist/outdated sources.

  52. says

    I don’t get this at all.. the only western place where there are Islamic law in place is England. These Sharia Councils are set up so that both parties have to accept using the Council in order to validate its ruling. Not to mention that the only power they have is divorce and financial settlement within the household.

    If 2 muslims want to enact such councils so be it. It doesn’t even interfere with UK’s constitutional rights and besides,

    The Amish have their own court system as well, and that doesn’t have voluntary participacion within the community

  53. Lord Narf says

    There are several problems with the Sharia courts in England.

    For one thing, Muslims are often pressured by family members into using Sharia courts, when it’s in their best interest to use the secular courts. There have been several cases in which inheritance suits have been settled under Sharia, and the female children were given half shares of the estate, compared to the male children. That’s a shitty position to be put into, either accepting half of what you deserve or being ostracized from your entire social network for rejecting Sharia.

    Also, there have been “civil” cases brought, such as domestic abuse. Can anyone guess how a Sharia court is going to decide in those sorts of cases? That’s fucked up and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

  54. says

    and how is this different than the Amish?

    The only difference is that the councils are voluntary. SO any abuse can be reported by the standard legal system. Because for the example you presented it is a no win situation. Go through sharia and be unjustly ruled and still be the black sheep of the social network. Or seek legal help and be the black sheep of the legal system.

    And you need to look up the council rulings on domistic abuse. Since teh councils don’t handle Domestic violence. Only divorce, child custody and financial support.

  55. Lord Narf says

    The Amish shouldn’t be allowed to do that, either, but they’re sort of grandfathered in. A lot of their communities were around before the US was founded.

  56. Lord Narf says

    And you need to look up the council rulings on domistic abuse. Since teh councils don’t handle Domestic violence. Only divorce, child custody and financial support.

    They covered a story on NPR, a few years ago, about the Sharia courts dealing with at least one case of domestic abuse. Obviously, I don’t have a link to the story itself. We’d have to get one of the NPR guys to help with this one.

    Here’s a good result from a simple Google search, though:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2202991/Sharia-marriages-girls-12-religious-courts-subverting-British-law.html#axzz2K6wxxf7c

    This most recent case demonstrates once again how women’s and girls’ rights are subverted under Sharia.

    This applies in areas including child custody after a couple split up — when the father is often given the right to keep the children without adequate consideration of the child’s welfare — and, even worse, domestic violence.

  57. Lord Narf says

    One particularly disturbing case I witnessed involved a woman who had been repeatedly hospitalised by her abusive husband who was told by the Sharia courts to return to the family home, resulting in her suffering more violence.

    The unfairness was compounded when her husband divorced her under civil law and married another wife from overseas, while at the same time refusing her permission to divorce him in the Sharia courts.

    So she has been left in a tragic state of limbo, still ‘married’ to her abusive husband under Islamic law, even though he is living openly with his second wife in England.

  58. says

    You do know that you are using a tabloid paper to justify this instead of actually looking up what the Sharia councils jurisdiction is.

    So shouldn’t you be just as scared about the Amish as the muslims applying sharia councils? They made it acceptable. And it is forced upon the Amish people without proper universal/ Country rights

    There is also one thing that isn’t discussed. These councils only apply to muslims. so to cry to that sharia is taking over the country is laughable since it has no jurisdiction on citizens of other faith or without faith.
    This is just as self contained as the Amish. Just a different religion

  59. escuerd says

    Lord Narf:

    I think we’ll have to hit over a third of the US being flat-out atheist, before the evangelical nuts will seriously consider banding together with non-Christians. They’re quite myopic.

    I disagree. Seems like the vangies are already willing to band together with Mormons and Jews in order to oppose gay rights.

    Just yesterday (OK, the day before now), the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Southern Baptist Convention among others joined with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America to file an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court asking them to uphold Prop 8.

    I think that labeling evangelicals as myopic isn’t quite warranted. Generalizing a bit, they do have a pronounced tendency to wring their hands about possible long-term demographic shifts in favor of Islam (e.g. the “Eurabia” trope and such). Whether or not their fears are justified, it’s not really short-sighted.

    There are lots of long-term problems the religious right tends to ignore (e.g. any kind of environmental issue), so maybe they’re selectively myopic. Remember it doesn’t take much more than a whiff of atheism to make many religious folks freak the fuck out.

  60. escuerd says

    Oh whoops, forgot to link:

    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/02/04/mormons-religious-groups-file-brief-in-support-of-prop-8/

    Granted, I don’t think there were any Muslim groups involved there, but then, Muslims really are a small group in the U.S. as a whole.

    I would have to dig up the quotes, but I’ve also heard Christians speaking against gay rights who suddenly count Islam among the “great religions” that condemn homosexuality. Remember Christians and Jews haven’t always gotten along either, but they’re now willing to tout “Judeo-Christian” values with these Orthodox nutsos.

  61. escuerd says

    For the record, lots of Muslims where I live in the U.S. (including one that I share an apartment with) will buy products labeled as kosher because the restrictions are close enough (halal is rather less restrictive, really), and food from “people of the book” is supposed to be cool if it isn’t from the wrong kind of animals, and they’re slaughtered by bleeding. Some muftis will say kosher’s not acceptable, but that doesn’t seem to be the popular view among the non-representative sample of Muslims I know.

  62. sonorus says

    You are exactly right. This is no different than any other “seal of approval”. Certain groups want guarantees above and beyond those required by the FDA (or whatever Australia has). It’s not a tax since no one is requiring these food providers to pay it. They do because they want to sell to a specific market segment. They have surely done a cost-benefit analysis and are making up the cost in increased sales. It’s their choice and it doesn’t affect the non-Muslim consumer at all. There is plenty to be concerned about with religious and other minorities who have extremist views on women, gays, and other religions not in keeping with the modern western practice, but to overinflate things like this is absurd and all too common.

  63. sonorus says

    That’s a completely different issue than food labeling. If you lie in Canada then you live under Canadian law.

  64. Warp says

    I fear that by concentrating on one single thing where some people are misguided (in this particular case “halal food”) people tend to dismiss all concerns that they have about islamic culture, regardless of whether they are valid or not. Sure, being worried about halal food is not very smart, but does that mean that every other concern about islamic culture is equally stupid?

    Many muslim immigrants openly state that they do not respect nor want the laws and authority of the hosting country, and that they would want to replace it with a sharia system. They aren’t even secretive about this. You could dismiss this as “that’s just talk”, and that it’s a small minority of immigrants. But then you would have to look at the actual numbers and the actual situation in many countries such as the UK. Just make a google search like “sharia courts in the uk”, and you’ll find many articles on respectable newspapers about that issue.

    This is not racism, xenophobia, discrimination or anything like that. There aren’t many other immigrants that are acting like this (and even those few who do are truly a really small minority that has little to no influence on the hosting country.) Certain muslim groups stand out from the rest of all immigrants in this particular aspect, and I don’t think it’s unfair to raise concern about this phenomenon. It’s not about them being muslims. Any group of people wanting to overthrow the government and having such a big influence would equally deserve such concern.

    By concentrating on and laughing at someone’s misguided worries about halal food you are watering down the actual issue.

  65. Lord Narf says

    No idea what the different UK papers are like. I’d have to see what the guys on NPR were referring to, then.

  66. Lord Narf says

    Well sure, they’ll pull in the same direction as other conservative religious groups, on a single issue. There’s a huge jump between that and allowing Sharia courts, though. After all, Muslims are the terrorists who attacked us on our most holy day, 9/11, in the eyes of many evangelicals.

  67. sonorus says

    You should direct this complaint to the people worrying about halal food and not honor killings, etc. The Dutch have seen an increase of hate crimes against women and gay men from their Muslim minority. That’s a real concern. Not halal labels on meat. It’s not my fault that people freak out over insignificant things rather than real ones and I’m not about to stop mocking people for doing/saying stupid things.

  68. curiousgeorge says

    Robinirwin, rather than quote specific passages I am just going to comment on the context of your post.

    Seems, you “don’t get it” and see no issues with sharia courts. You argue that is “voluntary” and has such “limited jurisdiction”. It comes off as,you see this as no big deal.

    In the US we have a Constitutional right to Equal Protection under the law. Seems to me, that too much of sharia law does conflict with US law. The “limited” jurisdiction you argue would be okay to allow are very important areas where there is a lot of abuse.

    Whether or not both individuals “voluntarily” submitted themselves to a different court system imposing a different set of laws is irrelevant given that we have the right to equal protection. The Constitution trumps that individuals ignorance to “voluntarily” do so.

    I looked into some of this “anti-sharia” laws being passed. Those are not a good idea either, in that they unfairly stir up bigotry. However, the notion of having legally recognized secondary courts (sharia or otherwise) deciding on any legal matters – bad, bad, bad idea.

  69. Lord Narf says

    Firstly, no “Islamic group” in Canada was ever demanding that non-Muslims be subjected to sharia laws, so at the very least, if one was not a Muslim, one needn’t have necessarily give a rat’s ass. Secondly, the “firstly” is moot, because all attempts to start sharia courts in Canada got shot down years ago. Thirdly, any sharia “laws” that were to be used just in arbitration proceedings, and even then, they depended on the province and were strictly voluntary, were also shot down years ago. Fourthly, it seeems to me that you may have gotten your information re: such things from some very bigoted/ alarmist/outdated sources.

    You clearly missed the big if at the beginning of the statement about Canada. The first I’ve heard about it was here in this blog entry. I didn’t think that we had that sort of thing going on in Canada.

    It’s a serious concern in England, though. It doesn’t matter if I personally can be affected by the Sharia courts. The fact that people in my country (hypothetically; I’m not in England) are being judged under unfair laws is a corruption of the legal system of my country and is affecting citizens of my country. That’s not cool.

    There’s a real slippery slope going on here, too. Some of the Muslim communities aren’t content to stick with judging each other under Sharia law, in civil matters. There have been problems with Muslim communities trying to enforce things like gay-free zones, in some regions of London. I can’t remember the details, since I read the article something like a year ago.

    I can’t imagine the government giving control to Sharia courts in criminal matters or in extending the power of the civil Sharia courts much further than they already are, but there are Muslims pushing for it. It’s something to keep an eye on, and it’s already a problem, even with just voluntary civil courts. They’ve got the creationist nuts pushing into British schools, which I didn’t think would happen. Without their religious nuts expressing a rabid anti-Islam fervor, like ours are in America, England is slightly more vulnerable … not hugely so, but a little bit.

  70. Lord Narf says

    Well yeah, the middle east, too, but we don’t get nearly as much news out of there, except for the activities of our military. We usually only get the occasional update about the latest abuses against women … which isn’t really news, since it’s an ongoing thing.

  71. says

    Easy there, AlbertaGeek.

    I am pretty sure I never claimed Islamic groups were ‘demanding that non-muslims be subject to shiria law’. That would be assinine. But that does not mean we should not care. Current application of shiria law is frequently mysogynistic and thus discriminatory against women. It is religious law. A secular society should not allow that to happen, and I sincerely hope that you actually ‘give a rat’s ass’.

    And secondly, while it is true that accomodation of shiria courts was denied in Ontario in 2006, the discussion centered on it certainly continues, led most vocally by the Canadian Islamic Congress.

    Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a recent paper published by the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, that makes a case for accomodation of some form of sharia law in family disputes. It’s a good read.

    http://www.law.utoronto.ca/documents/emon/CBR-CanadianMosaic.pdf

  72. Lord Narf says

    Hmm? Are they going ape shit, since the break up of the Soviet Union? I haven’t heard much about them.

  73. curiousgeorge says

    My 10 year old asked if he could pray before supper last week. Since we don’t attend church I was wondering where he was going with this particular request. I told him sure, go ahead. He bowed his head and said:

    “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub”

    Something he had picked up at school.

  74. escuerd says

    Oh yeah I don’t see shari’a courts happening in the U.S. for a number of reasons (too few Muslims, 1st Amendment, popular opposition). But even in many of the nominally secular Muslim-majority countries, the political views tend very strongly to the social conservative (I would venture more so than among fundangelical USians on lots of issues).

    If there were someday a sizable American Muslim demographic, I’d be more concerned that they’d be tempted to toe the right-wing Christian line on lots of social issues. I don’t see Muslims in the U.S. approaching anything like a plurality in the foreseeable future, but a decent-sized voting bloc could be a boon for our traditional brand of crazies if they could see past their differences. I seem to recall that even fairly soon after 9/11, more people expressed willingness to vote for a Muslim presidential candidate than an atheist one. (Not sure whether or how that may have changed.)

    Such a scenario’s not really my biggest concern, but I don’t think it’s a ridiculous long term consideration either.

  75. trina says

    “I looked up “Today Tonight” and it sounds to me like they are a notorious puff journalism show, like a cross between our Fox News and “The National Enquirer.””

    I’ve never watched The National Enquirer and my knowledge of Fox News is garnered mostly from a viewing of ‘Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism’ in my high school English class- but I can confirm that ‘Today Tonight’ is puff journalism at its finest (lowest?)

    They specialise in segments that are thinly disguised advertisments (eg which is better, Coke or Pepsi?) and harassing people living in council housing.

  76. Muz says

    The Sharia courts are sort of grandfathered in as well. Rabbinical courts have been allowed for a long time.
    Basically religious adjudication is a part of English common law to some degree.
    It’s a thorny one, but it only really effects Muslims. So the talk of it creeping in and destroying the nation or whatever is really hogwash.

  77. AUSloth says

    Halal and Kosher branding for most products is a non-issue for me. A bar of chocolate is Halal (and they are marked as that here) ? Huh, so?! The only time it is of concern and this has come up several times in Australia is humane slaughter in the meat industry. We stopped exporting to Indonesian (a majority Islamic country) for a time because of some investigative journalism on their slaughter houses. We have since started to export again on a “promise” of more humane animal handling and some serious backdoor pressure from the meat industry. To date there has been little or no real public follow up to check on compliance. With regard to Halal in the Australian meat industry. It is immaterial who owns or runs the slaughter houses only that they comply with guidelines for humane slaughter. Personally I can’t see how cutting a conscious ie un-stuned animals throat (a Halal neccessity) is compliant with our national laws but that is for the authorities to investigate. This is the platform the anti-muslim rednecks (yep we have them too) use to stage their bollocks. A little investigation shows that, surprise surprise, it is mostly the good christians supporting the campaign.
    An Australian Atheist

  78. Lord Narf says

    Even if it never affects non-Muslims, though, it’s still unacceptable having people socially pressured into using a form of arbitration that grossly discriminates against women.

  79. curiousgeorge says

    I say let these fundamentalists join forces to voice their dissent on these rights issues. Instead of having to cut the head off several monsters – it will be easier done with one clean swipe.

  80. Michael R says

    Kazim is clearly biased. The letter of complaint presents Islam as an existential threat to Western civilisation (which it clearly is, if you know Islam) and yet Kazim picks out the halal website to deflect from the main debate off into a safe place where he can deride the person, not the argument.

    Kazim’s comment does not belong on a blog about rationality, his comment should be paraded as a example of motivated reasoning and blind team cheerleading (exactly what team Kazim is cheering for I’m not sure, but it’s not Western civilisation).

    Sam Harris: “Islam is undeniably a religion of conquest. The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed.”

    Oh wait, I know what team he is cheering for. It’s the “don’t give a shit either way” team. So why bother telling us about your apathy then?

    Professor Raphael Israeli: “When the Muslim population gets to a critical mass you have problems. That is a general rule, so if it applies everywhere it applies in Australia.”

    IF Islam is not a religion of peace AND your Muslim population is large THEN you will definitely give a shit.

    It’s not rocket science.

  81. curiousgeorge says

    Michael R, I have a question for you. In your view, is fundamentalist Christianity a religion of peace?

  82. curiousgeorge says

    Sorry about the double post. I meant to hit reply.

    I have a question for you. Do you feel Christianity is a relgion of peace?

  83. Michael R says

    CuriousGeorge, you are really asking: is Islam more easily interpreted as advocating violence than Christianity? The short answer is: yes. But specifically to Christianity, I’ll answer it in three parts (1) doctrine (2) history and (3) a comparison with Islam. Part 1 – Doctrine:

    Robert Spencer, Bible and Qur’an: equally violent?

    God mandates ethnic cleansing?

    Besides passages apparently celebrating warfare and ethnic cleansing as sanctioned by almighty God, the books of Moses also contain other passages jarring to modern sensibilities. God commands, for example, that Sabbath-breakers be put to death …

    But is the Bible really enjoining violence, both against nonbelievers and believers who commit sins deemed worthy of capital punishment? This question cannot be answered by an evaluation of the text alone, for that text does now and has never in history stood apart from the way believers have understood it and acted upon it… Indeed, throughout history, these texts have never been taken as divine commands that either must be or may be put into practice by believers in a new age. All these passages, after all, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They nowhere command believers to imitate this behavior, or to believe under any circumstances that God wishes them to act as his instruments of judgment in any situation today…

    In short, the consensus view among Jews and Christians for many centuries is that unless you happen to be a Hittite, Girgashite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, or Jebusite, these Biblical passages simply do not apply to you. The Scriptures records God’s commands to the Israelites to make war against particular people only. However this may be understood, and however jarring it may be to modern sensibilities, it does not amount to any kind of marching orders for believers. That’s one principal reason why Jews and Christians haven’t formed terror groups around the world that quote these Scriptures to justify killing civilian non-combatants…

    But the Bible has made people commit violent acts – hasn’t it?

    … certainly Christians have committed violent acts in the name of Christianity. But have they done so in obedience to Christian Scripture and the teachings of the various Christian sects, or in defiance of those Scriptures and teachings? During the Crusades, it became customary for those who joined the effort to be referred to as “taking up their cross,” echoing Jesus’ statement: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

    But on its face, of course, this says nothing about war or violence of any kind, and has been understood throughout history as referring primarily to the Christian’s struggle to conform his life to the demands of the Gospel…

    The fact that he must instead resort to the physicalization of passages about spiritual warfare only makes more obvious the fact that can have no recourse to any Christian martial tradition, or doctrine of warfare against and conquest of unbelievers.

    In Islam, however, the situation is quite different…

    in contrast to the Bible, the Qur’an exhorts believers to fight unbelievers without specifying anywhere in the text that only certain unbelievers are to be fought, or only for a certain period of time, or some other distinction. Taking the texts at face value, the command to make war against unbelievers is open-ended and universal.

  84. codemonkey says

    Would it really be better if there was no semi-formal recognization of the sharia courts? What if it was purely informal. How would that case be any different? That abused woman was pressured many, many times into avoiding the actual courts. I actually don’t know – would it be different with some subtle changes to the law? Is this semi-official air of legitimacy that the government gives the Sharia courts enough for her family and fellows to pressure her to use it? Would she resist the pressure without the semi-official endorsement? I don’t know.

    I still really want to say that this is a culture war first and foremost. The problem isn’t this voluntary binding arbitration. The problem is this particular Muslim culture itself, in that it can pressure a woman to avoid actual justice in favor of the culture’s oppression. I fear that this woman is already lost. We need to save the children, and to that end I want Dennett’s comparative modern religion classes to be mandatory for all children. Throw on some programs to help people escaping such an evil culture for those fortune few who can escape.

    Otherwise, we’re stuck back at the same problem: How can you convince a population that their religion is both demonstrably false and atrociously evil? /sigh

  85. Lord Narf says

    You’re completely missing the point that he’s making. Yes, Islam is a global threat, but these people who are freaking out about Halal food marketing are distracting from the real problems. The reason that he’s holding up this Halal freak-out is to say that it’s distracting us from the real issues.

  86. Lord Narf says

    They’re very, very sketchy on the scheduling, right now. They probably don’t know more than a few days in advance that they’re going to do one. Mostly rogue episodes, when someone gets a pile of news together, judging from the last one.

  87. curiousgeorge says

    Alright. I read your response.

    Full disclosure here. I had the Bible jammed down my throat being raised in a Pentecostal cult for 21 years. I’m not a fan of fundamentalist Christianity.

    As an adult, I have developed equal disdain to fundamentalists of every stripe. As far as I can tell Christianity wears the crown n terms of the amount of human tragedy justified with its blessing.

    Christianity has been forced to clean up its act for reasons I am not going to take the time to expand on to keep this brief. I also believe that Christianity is dying off because it is quickly becoming considered myth by more and more of the civil and educated peoples of the world. .

    You make this point about Chrstianity being misapplied in its history of human tragedy. I disagree.

    I see it that you are doing some serous and dangerous stereotyping with respect to Muslims. Is it also not true that the Qur’an has a lot of writings promoting peace. Could it be that you are selectively providing passages just to show people what you want them to see? Again, full disclosure – haven’t read the Qur’an. Have no interest in doing so really. I find ancient texts full of mythology to be boring.

  88. Michael R says

    Part 2 – History.

    For a graphic statistical comparison between the Crusades and lslamic Jihad, see the Dr Warner video below. On the whole, you can see that Islam has conducted a 1,400 year offensive jihad, and Christianity has conducted defensive campaigns in response.

    Another great historian of Islam is Dr Andrew Bostom (see below) which confirms the same view of history.

    Apologists for Islam claim that Islam was spread peacefully, and they were welcomed as conquerors. But when in history has any group willingly handed sovereignty to a foreign power? Never. So, the history of Islam matches up with its doctrine of violent expansion.

    Idiots like George Bush may be Christians, and he definitely has stoked enmity among Muslims, but generally speaking Christianity has been on the defensive against Islam.

    Why We Are Afraid, A 1400 Year Secret, by Dr Bill Warner

    Jihad – Academic View – Dr Andrew Bostom

  89. Michael R says

    Part 3 – Comparing Islam and Christianity

    Tina Magaard PhD – The Texts in Islam Distinguish Themselves

    Islamic texts encourage terror and fighting to a far larger degree than the original texts of other religions, concludes Tina Magaard. She has a PhD in Textual Analysis and Intercultural Communication from the Sorbonne in Paris, and has spent three years on a research project comparing the original texts of ten religions. “The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with,” says Tina Magaard. Moreover, there are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths. “If it is correct that many Muslims view the Koran as the literal words of God, which cannot be interpreted or rephrased, then we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage terror and violence. Consequently, it must be reasonable to ask Muslims themselves how they relate to the text, if they read it as it is” says Tina Magaard.

    “Pure Islam” by Robert Spencer

    … all of the schools that are considered orthodox teach, as part of the obligation of the Muslim community, warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers.

    The Problem with Islamic Fundamentalism are the Fundamentals of Islam

    Osama bin Laden… is giving a truly straightforward version of Islam, and you really have to be an acrobat to figure out how he is distorting the faith — Sam Harris

    The above Sam Harris video provides a sane spectrum on the violence in religions from Islam to Christianity to Jainism. BTW, I am an atheist, not a Christian. I have not stereotyped Muslims. I’ve spoken about doctrine and history and demographics. Of course not all Muslims are violent. I have not spoken at all about implications or policy. I’m simply pointing out that it’s insane to equate Islam and Christianity. It is barking mad.

  90. crayzz says

    CuriousGeorge, you are really asking: is Islam more easily interpreted as advocating violence than Christianity?

    1) That’s not what George asked. You’re speaking generally here; he was speaking specifically about fundamentalism.

    2)Is that a good question to be asking? Whether or not we can interpret each book as violent? If it is, I present to you this:

    Matthew 10:34. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
    35 “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';
    36 “and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

    Why, the bible teaches us to fight our own family! Violently!!!

    Why aren’t we examining something a little more tangible, like the actual histories of each religion?

    The fact of the matter is, christianity has a long history of violence. It was one of the key reasons for immigration to the united states; christian violence against other christians was all over Europe at the time. There is a very real push in many nations for christian theocracy, and that push is much stronger than any similar muslim effort. We’ve got Ugandan christians legalizing the murder of gays by the state; sexism and misogyny across the board; organized groups of all sorts protecting pedophiles from secular law; etc. Singling out islam is ridiculous on it’s face and it ignores the reality of the situation.

  91. Muz says

    I don’t think there’s much they can do about it directly without being discriminatory, which is the problem. Any decisions that contravene common law are already void, arguably (although there have been cases where a judge sent some case back to the Rabbis because they weren’t an expert in Jewish juris). It’s really a matter of getting people to take the cases to the state instead of the Imams, which involves breaking down the massive social schism that has developed. And that necessary if there’s Sharia courts or not.

  92. Muz says

    This accountancy of violent passages in religious texts is as mystical in its thinking as just about anything found within.
    How do proponents of this thinking get from it being in the books to the followers necessarily following it to the letter? Answer is, they can’t. It’s a leap of logic borne of scaremongering and they know it, I’m sure. The vast bulk of practicing muslims are damning evidence against this, even if it wasn’t faulty reasoning to begin with. It’s about as good as using violent video game content as a predictor of violent crime amongst players.

    Christianity has been just as violent and expansionist in its history and had no trouble finding scriptural justification for its actions if it needed them. They may have had to work slightly harder to get them, but where there’s a will there’s a way. We’re fairly confident creeping secularism eventually won there (although not entirely yet) and did so from within!
    We can be concerned about Islam without being completely hysterical.

  93. Muz says

    You’re projecting your own bias like crazy. The letter doesn’t “present” Islam as anything. It simply declares it is all these things. For evidence, a site concerned about halal food labeling. Hardly even supportive, let alone damning.
    Yours is the comment of motivated reasoning and blind team cheerleading (subsequent comments improve this somewhat, but this one is just an empty biased rant).

  94. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    There have been a couple of these issues thrown up in the UK:

    1) That kosher/halal slaughtered meat can be sold unlabelled.

    2) That certain institutions (hospitals, for example) serve halal meat for all meals, unless kosher/etc.

    Kosher slaughterhouses have said that they couldn’t sustain their trade unless they can sell to other clients without meat being labelled as such. The problems with #2 are also obvious.

    If you don’t want to eat meat that has been killed without stunning first then we’re kind of screwed. Now, if I go to a shop or restaurant that is halal or kosher then it’s my choice as it should be…

  95. A Theist says

    Check out the anti Christian hysteria from anti theists like Iggy and Cole in Kansas City!

    They have organized a dozen meetup groups and never tire of telling Christians they should crawl under a rock and die out.

  96. curiousgeorge says

    First, I figured you were atheist.

    In response to your statement, “It’s insance to equate Islam and Christianity. It’s barking mad.” At this point, I’m going to have to disagree with you on the word equate. I still consider them equally as dangerous and history has bore that out and so does the article you provided. Again, disclosure – I have only had time to read most of the article in your first post becausthe article is quite long. I have also read your second and third post comments and not the articles contained therein, but I’m pretty sure I get the point being made.

    One of the arguments I’m seeing is comparing the comparative “Stephen King”ish qualities of Christian vs. Islam texts. My understanding is that the Old Testament was written in the context of tribal conquerers and is very violent. The New Testament was written in the context of a conquered people who were being oppressed by some pretty nasty pricks and a lot of the New Testament has more passive becasue some of its tone basically represents Stockholm Syndrome. So, again, I’m not going to read either to prove it to myself, but I’ll assume for the sake of this discussion that the Qur’an has relatively more violence. I’ll not discuss relative comparisons of teachings of peace in each either.

    To me, these comparisons or violence between the texts does not matter. I don’t care if one text is more violent than the other, because both books are nothing more than cultural and psychological commentary as to what was happening in tribal, primitive times in the middle east at that time, for that particular people, from that particular author’s perspective. They need to be understood in that context and even if one is more violent than the other, who cares. How is that a reflection of the “nature” of the people themselves? (see more below)

    I believe fundamentalism, whether it be Judeo-Christian or Muslim is used as a tool by “leaders” with imperialistic mindsets to monopolize the ignorant masses. The best way to NOT have that happen is to have and educated, literate population. Education is especially important in the areas of science, ethics and history. Education must be equally available to men and women; and males and females be equals. The population needs to have a healthy attitude about sexuality and control and knowledge about their reproductive rights and rates.

    Religion thrives in enviornments where people are illiterate and desparate. Not having a stable government is key as well. I will never believe the “nature” of peoples of the middle east is more “corrupt” in any way. I believe their is a lot of desparation and illiteracy in their enviornement. I’ll stray a bit with this comment, but hell, just look at the amount of crime we have in US inner cities compared to the suburbs – it is because of the education gap and desparation. My point is, that it is not the religion or books, per se, there is more to all this.

    I did indeed accuse you of stereotyping Muslims. I’ll take you at your word, you were not doing so and apologize for that particular remark.

  97. Kazim says

    Actually, A Theist, I didn’t have a big problem with your first comment, and it only didn’t get posted because all new posters go into moderation by default and no one has checked it out until now. It’s a spam safeguard.

    But this second post pretty much telegraphs that you’re looking to be an asshole, so yeah, NOW you’re banned.

  98. says

    From what I’ve read so far, the greatest danger I see is that of immigrant Muslim communities enforcing draconian religious laws in “unofficial” but still very dangerous ways — such as “gay free zones” and thugs bullying women who don’t wear burqas or whatever. And the best long-term solution I see to this problem, is for host governments to take all reasonable measures to ensure that immigrants have maximim opportunity to get decent jobs and education, assimilate into their societies as responsible equals, and thus be more likely to adopt liberal-democratic values.

    And let’s reread a little history: Muslims are not the only wave of immigrants that ever got isolated in ghettoes, were slow to adopt their new country’s values, or started out rigidly clinging to their “old country’s” ways. All of this has happened before, adn the usual outcome is that the older immigrants cling to the old ways while the younger ones, and their kids, tend to grow into the new ways, with the transition being gradual, fraught with generational disputes, but generally leading in the right direction in the long run.

  99. says

    I have not stereotyped Muslims.

    Yes, you have, based on Sam Harris’ ignorant stereotyping, which has already been widely debunked, along with his lame-assed justifications for torture. (BTW, it does NOT take an acrobat to realize that not all of the world’s one-billion-plus Muslims agree with Osama bin Laden’s interpretation of Islam, “straightforward” though it may be.)

  100. curiousgeorge says

    I do have concerns that some of these host countries don’t need the workers and the process will be much slower. That wasn’t the case when the US had mass immigration.

  101. Lord Narf says

    What’s kind of funny here is that the entire system is horribly discriminatory against women. But in shutting it down, we would be discriminating against Muslims. I’d think that breaking the root discrimination would take precedence. You should be allowed to discriminate against those who discriminate, as a part of their core beliefs.

    It’s the same as not allowing exceptions for religious or other strongly held moral convictions, in our anti-bullying laws. Fuck your religious beliefs. We’re going to hold you to our superior, secular moral system, which says that it’s wrong to abuse people for their sexual orientation.

  102. Lord Narf says

    Well, considering all of the theocratic crap going down in Kansas, I can’t entirely blame them for taking a harder stance than most of us.

  103. Lord Narf says

    Heh heh heh heh heh. Yeah, if he wants to see moderation, he should go check out Stephen Feinstein’s blog.

  104. brianwestley says

    My understanding of such binding arbitration is that:
    1) all parties must agree to it; if not, they go through the usual court system.
    2) the settlement must comport with all laws.

    If you don’t think Sharia law will treat you fairly, just don’t agree to arbitration. You’ll get the courts.

  105. Muz says

    Well, the thing is it isn’t our superior secular moral system. It’s the law. Which is quite different. British tradition particularly is very inclined to let it wend its own meandering path to the just, one decision at a time.
    So, for the time being Sharia courts can sit on certain matters. I’m guessing there’s some good reason, like not dragging family law into this or something (some legal eagle might know). If they are behaving badly a test will come.
    (this article tells quite a different story from the daily mail one (which is virtually fact free I note, in fine DM tradition) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/14/religion.news . I imagine there’s a spectrum of results from their existence, as ever. The trick is to get people to prefer the rule of a secular law over that of “god” as they see it. I doubt forcing them is likely to do it)

  106. says

    *raises hand* Can I just issue an apology on behalf of Australia for, well, wankers?

    As a nation, Australia has only been accepting non white-Anglo-Saxon-protestant immigrants for about 60 years so there’s some rather deep seeded idiocy in the consciousness of the country. When he was in Sydney filming the Matrix sequels, Laurence Fishburn compared Australia to the US in the 1950’s, racism-wise. Also, the population is seemingly very resistant to change.

    Originally it was racism aimed at the Central and Southern European immigrants post WW2. That eased off after a while and now the Italian/Greek/etc communities in Australia are pretty much built into the country’s foundations. Then you had the influx of Asian immigrants following the Vietnam era and you had the uproar about them. Then it was the Indians and Pakistanis. Nowadays it’s all vitriol about the influx of African and Middle-Eastern immigrants.

    Every time there’s a new “wave” of immigrants that haven’t already got a firm community here, there is uproar from the idiot-brigade about how they won’t assimilate into white society, how they’ll form “ghettos” (seriously, that argument was being used in the 90’s about Asian and Middle-Eastern immigrants), how they want us all to conform to their way of life, etc etc. All utter BS of course. There’s the massive wave of “If you don’t like it here, get out!” or “If you liked it so much back where you came from, go back there!” sentiment that is frankly baffling to anyone with two brain cells capable of bumping together.

    Case in point, Australia Day. January 26th is celebrated as our national day because it was the anniversary of the First Fleet founding the colony of New South Wales (off the top of my head I can’t remember if it’s the date of them landing at Botany Bay or if it was the date that they realised that Botany Bay was crap and moved the colony to Sydney Cove). It’s pretty much a slightly most understated 4th of July celebration. The day has degenerated lately to the point where you have drunken idiots wandering public places wearing our flag as a cape and hassling anyone they think looks too foreign.

    There’s been social media hoaxes the last few years claiming that the government was considering changing Australia Day to “Citizen’s Day” and possibly moving the date. The sheer volume of hate-filled vitriolic filth that then spewed out of social media over the very idea of changing Australia Day to something more inclusive of immigrant groups was staggering. Ridiculously racist tirades popped up all over the place over the idea, most of which could be summed up with “Go home” (if you choose to alter the language to remove most of the F-Bombs and C-Bombs… These people adopted the C-bomb as part of their catchphrase if you ca believe it… combined with a mispronunciation of the word Australia).

    Of course, the irony of that reaction is that there was no “Citizen Day” movement. The idea originally popped up as the suggestion of an Indigenous Australian who was named Australian of the Year several years ago, who suggested that perhaps celebrating the First Fleet’s arrival and the start of the European invasion and the genocide of the local population might be considered a little morbid, and that we could consider moving the date and/or changing the name. The response from the government was, in the PM’s words, “A respectful but firm no.” So, really, the people these morons on social media were telling to “go home” were the people who were here for nearly 40,000 years before white settlers got here.

    Oh, and for the record, two TV programs here, “Today Tonight” and “A Current Affair” are notoriously crap journalism. They sensationalise everything to a disturbing degree and always show biased one-sided stories. For example, I work for a major supermarket chain, and my company is regularly shown on these two programs doing things like price matching competitors and being accused of “persecuting small business owners” by trying to remain competitive, usually complete with finding disgruntled former employees to cast the activities in the worst possible light.

    TL:DR – There are days I’m ashamed to be an Australian.

  107. GrzeTor says

    You made this ugly political trick of claiming people who disagree are directed by some negative emotions (this time it’s “hysteria”, but it can also be “hatered”, “something-phobia” etc.), rather than having what they wrote or said or done stemming from their thought process. This is typically done to denigrate the opposing side, it’s not part of a honest dispute.

  108. Kazim says

    This is typically done to denigrate the opposing side,

    Yep, I thought the argument was stupid and I said so. Same way I speak of creationists, homophobes, and most conspiracy theorists.

    it’s not part of a honest dispute.

    I don’t see why not, provided it’s accurate.

  109. Kevin Schelley says

    I don’t eat any Muslim food, since I have yet to find a single piece of food that practices a religion.

  110. GrzeTor says

    You missed my argument entirely. It is not about whether something is wise or stupid, but if it is based on emotions or rather on thoughts/analysis/memes etc. Use of words like “hysteria” suggests that a person/movement/phenomenon is directed by emotions. There’s no evidence, at least in the mail you have received to suggest that the sender is directed by emotions. It looks much more than he is convinced by the arguments he presents, that is his views are based on a thought process, not emotions.

  111. Lord Narf says

    Well, they’re not rationally analyzing the situation and figuring out what is an actual problem and what isn’t.

  112. curiousgeorge says

    I need to edit the above post. I said in the second to last paragraph – Religion thrives in enviornments where people are illiterate and desparate. My intent was to say:

    Fundamentalism thrives in enviornments where people are illiterate and desparate.

  113. mithrandir says

    Here’s my take on it.

    Halal food labeling is absolutely not a threat to anyone except animals that are slaughtered inhumanely, and kosher butchery is equally cruel.

    Sharia “courts” in secular nations are no threat whatsoever to the non-Muslim citizens of those nations. They are a threat (and a serious one) to the more vulnerable members of the Muslim communities in those nations, particularly Muslim women. The appropriate reaction to Sharia courts by non-Muslims is not fear for themselves, but sympathy and support for the actual victims of Sharia law. (It’s worth adding that there are other religions that have similar problematic practices – one example that comes to mind is fundamentalist Jewish communities in New York City).

    There are several ways in which certain Muslims in secular nations do attempt to change the actual laws of their country in ways that are harmful to non-Muslims – anti-blasphemy laws being one of the more egregious examples – and they need to be vigorously opposed by the secular community, just as we oppose similar efforts by adherents of other religions.

    In short: Islam is bad for freedom and justice, but not unusually so; attempts to claim that it is are typically either overblowing or distorting Islam’s threat, downplaying the threat posed by other religions, or both.

  114. edmond says

    Here’s my take on the issue (and I didn’t go through all the above comments, so my apologies if someone else already covered it in the same way)…

    Yes, we’re worried about Islam trampling the Constitution and dominating American life. However, Islam is like, 47th in line behind OTHER religions that we worry about, which are ALREADY entrenched in this country and doing just that. We’ve got other versions of the Abrahamic traditions that are trying (with frightening degrees of success) to have their scriptures taught in public education, their tenets enforced in civil law, and outsiders marginalized and demonized as freaks undeserving of the rights of the common citizen.

    Fortunately, our continuing battle against these existing forces keeps our skills honed for staying alert to religious over-reach, and for enforcing secular fairness for all citizens. IF Islam ever moves up the pack and gains equal footing with its dominionist sister religions, we’ll be ready.

  115. curiousgeorge says

    I really do not understand why some on here seem to be okay with these religous courts even with a limited jurisdiction.

    Are we going to allow Mormon court, Pentecostal court, Catholic court, Scientology court?

  116. Lord Narf says

    I’ve already said, I’m not okay with the Rabbinical courts or the Amish courts, either. I just don’t think we can do anything about those, since the courts and American society in general have a hard-on for those social groups.

  117. Michael R says

    Strawmen. Neither Sam Harris nor I have stereotyped or demonised Muslims. We have simply pointed out what “devout Muslims” believe. You, on the other hand, are the quick-to-judge type.

  118. Michael R says

    Actually “devout Muslim” is not the best label, “fundamentalist Muslim” more accurately describes those Muslims we’re talking about i.e. those who adhere to the mainstream head-chopping interpretation.

  119. Michael R says

    CuriousGeorge, you’ve twisted the debate away from the study of specific religions, towards the abstract notion of generalised religion. This allows you to make simple generalisations, and hypothetical possibilities. But that’s hardly of much interest when we’re keenly concerned with what is likely, or probable, rather than possible. That’s what rationality is all about, making predictions. As Sam Harris says in the video below: religion is a nearly useless term.

    Where I do agree is that I too hate reading the koran and bible. A few paragraphs and I want to throw up from confusion and revulsion. So I’m relying on expert opinions who reference their arguments with traditional interpretations. Doctrine is not the koran or bible, which can be interpreted variously. Rather, doctrine is how these texts have traditionally been interpreted. You will go mad trying to study religion using only the koran and bible.

    You sound reluctant to study religions, and I was at that point myself long ago. But if you keep an open mind you will eventually learn enough to see a clear distinction between Islam and Christianity.

    Sam Harris – The Problem with Islamic Fundamentalism …

    I think we’re wise to differentiate specific religious beliefs… One problem is that we have this one word ‘religion’, which names this truly diverse spectrum of fascinations and ideological commitments. And religion is a nearly useless term, it’s a term like ‘sports’. Now, there are sports like badminton and there are sports like Thai boxing. And they have almost nothing in common apart from breathing. There are sports that are just synonymous with violence …

    Now if you get injured playing badminton you’re just embarrassed. We’re facing a problem at this moment. There is, I’m happy to say, a religion of peace in this world, but it’s not Islam. To call Islam a religion of peace, as we hear ceaselessly reiterated is completely delusion. Now, Jainism actually is a religion of peace… The core principle of Jainism is non-violence. Gandhi got his non-violence from the Jains. The crazier you get as a Jain, the less we have to worry about you. Jain extremists are paralysed by their pacifism, they can’t take their eyes of the ground when they walk, less the step on an ant…

    Notice, the problem is not religious extremism, because extremism is not a problem if you core beliefs are truly non-violent. The problem isn’t fundamentalism…. The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism, are the fundamentals of Islam.

  120. says

    You can say “nuh-uh” all you want, but it doesn’t change anything — Sam Harris stereotyped Muslims by pretending he could unilaterally proclaim one strain of Islam the “true face” of the entire religion; and you’re parroting that false and bigoted stereotype. And no, waffling about word choices afterword doesn’t make it any better. “Mainstream head-chopping interpretation?” Yeah, right.

  121. says

    That’s a serious concern, as is the possibility that, need them or not, the host country simply won’t make any of the sacrifices, big or small, necessary to socialize the immigrants. Every country has its share of Tory twits who pretend they’re geniuses for cutting school and infrastructure budgets — then spend ten times what they saved when the ghetto explodes in riots and/or someone says something Jihady on a Facebook page.

    And with the Golden Dawn in Greece, the BNP in the UK, and austerity budgets and xenophobic scapegoating all over Europe, I don’t see this problem getting any better in the short term.

  122. says

    Of course — the recycled grease has to be specially prepared. And the freedom fries have to be cooked to exactly the right degree of limpness and transparency.

  123. Fred Salvador - Colonialist says

    Firstly, no “Islamic group” in Canada was ever demanding that non-Muslims be subjected to sharia laws, so at the very least, if one was not a Muslim, one needn’t have necessarily give a rat’s ass.

    So what you’re saying is, as long as the misogyny doesn’t apply to me, it’s okay to ignore it?

    Amazing That’ll make campaigning for stuff much easier!

    My understanding of such binding arbitration is that:
    1) all parties must agree to it; if not, they go through the usual court system.
    2) the settlement must comport with all laws.

    If you don’t think Sharia law will treat you fairly, just don’t agree to arbitration. You’ll get the courts.

    Say you don’t know that; what happens then? You agree to go to the Sharia court.
    Say you don’t want to agree to the Sharia tribunal, but are threatened (with ostracision, physical violence, whatever) if you refuse; what happens then? You agree to go to the Sharia court.

  124. mithrandir says

    Oh, it’s certainly going to be politically difficult to rein in ecclesiastical courts. But an approach occurred to me that I think would pass constitutional muster in US law. (Usual IANAL disclaimers apply.)

    Essentially, it amounts to regulation of binding arbitration. Declare that a court of arbitration is only binding if it meets certain standards of justice and fairness – don’t allow the arbitrator(s) to discriminate or disparage testimony of witnesses on the basis of gender, for example.

    The concept is based on a straightforward legal principle – the idea that you can’t “sign away” your basic rights. If you sign a contract that makes you a slave, for example, the contract is null and void under US law as it violates the Thirteenth Amendment. This just extends and codifies that principle.

    You obviously can’t ban Sharia, Rabbinical, or Amish courts by name under US law, as that would violate First Amendment freedom of religion. But by declaring a Sharia court’s rulings nonbinding if the court doesn’t meet basic standards of justice, at least those who’re victimized by the Sharia court will have (in theory) the ability to take their case to the official justice system even after-the-fact.

    That’s only a small step, of course, and it’s not even all we can do as a society – it’s just all we can probably do under law. For example, I think we need to provide social support for people who want to get out of that system, perhaps even to the point of endowing charities that help people who’ve been disfellowshipped/excommunicated/etc. from their communities for taking their problems to the secular authorities.

    And yes, we need to continue to denounce ecclesiastical courts. The difficulty there is that when we criticize them, their adherents take a “circle the wagons” mentality and complain that we’re infringing on their “religious freedom”. There’s not much we can do to stopthat, but I think we can weaken their ability to attract allies if we avoid focusing on the religion part.

    To address curiousgeorge‘s point, I think people reflexively come to the defense of Muslims when their attackers’ rhetoric is full of buzzwords like “Sharia law” and “Muslim takeover”. If you dial back the religion-specific rhetoric, talk about specific problems like women’s testimony being worth half that of men or the fact that men can divorce women far more easily than the other way around – and more importantly, make it clear that you’re not singling out Muslims and that you object to the problematic practices of other religious private courts as well – you sound less like an anti-Muslim bigot and you trigger less reflexive defensiveness from non-Muslims who respect principles of religious freedom.

  125. curiousgeorge says

    Both “holy” books provide plenty of justification for thuggery. As has been pointed out, the actual history of violence with christianity makes the history of violence with muslims look like a Sunday school picnic. But, I acknowledge there has been more christians and still are today. In my view, Mr. Harris’s comparison of “comparative sports” to being akin to “comparative religion” is not valid.

    I would argue all or most all of the following conditions are necessary for theocracy to take root:

    1. An illiterate (or mostly illiterate) population.

    2. Females viewed as second class and objects for sex and reproduction only. Females not having equal rights in general.

    2. General ignorance about sexuality, reproductive choices and population control.

    3. Widespread poverty and a lack of financial resources and opportunity.

    4. Lack of a secular government. Laws providing for civility and equity while balancing individul freeom and tolerance. Under no circumstances should laws be based on tribal, primitive cultures.

    5. Lack of clearly defined borders and poor relationships with neighboring nations. In todays world, a strong military is still necessary in my view. Maybe, far, far, far in the future that could change.

    6. Communities need to have compotent police agencies. Personally, I have no issue with citizens having registered gun for personal defense as well.

    None of the above conditions exist on any widespread basis in the US. Therefore, I personally do not feel threatened, excpet to the extent that it is reasonable to feel threatend by terrorist acts in general. Let’s not forget psychos such as Timothy McVey, for example. We can also observe brutality and opression without holy text justification in the above conditions by development of personality cults such as with our buddy – Kim Jong il and let us not foget the chairman himself – Mao.

    I would propose this to you, the fundamentalist judeo-christian wacko thugs are akin to giving birth; the fundamentalist islamic wacko thugs are like a good kick in the nuts. Both, equally as painful !!!! :)

  126. curiousgeorge says

    Cutting school budgets is beyond short sighted. Another thing I thought of, is here in the US even very poor people have smart phones, computers, televisions, cars (albeit clunkers) in most cases. I would think those things might help immigrants acclimate faster to their new suroundings.

  127. curiousgeorge says

    Everything you say seems reasonable.

    I don’t know the origins of this tradition, but it seems to harken back to the glory days of shared power between churh and state within the feudal system. My thoughts are this idea needs to be shipped back to the medievals.

    In my opinion, estates of any size which need to be divided due to divorce (I’d have a minimum), or if there is custody, support or visitation are matters where the law is complex and someone with a legal license and the courts should be involved. We don’t even allow someone to groom someone else’s dog in today’s world without a license.

    Requiring a license and official court approval on legal matters does not single out any religion. Of course, the pastors, priests, imans, and rabbis’ could act in the capacity of providing guidance and counseling as a means for freedom to practice religion. But twhy not draw a clear line where things become state legal matters.

  128. Lord Narf says

    The fundamentalist strain of any religion generally is the true face of that religion. That’s what fundamentalism means. If you’re declaring the absolute authority of a holy book, and you ignore most of what’s in that holy book, you’re not representing the true face of that religion.

  129. Lord Narf says

    The poor in decently run cities usually don’t have cars. That’s what mass transit is for.

  130. curiousgeorge says

    I guess in thinking about this further, I can see where pastors, priests, imans and rabbis could negotiate these matters. But here would be the condition, they must carry the necessary license and it has to be run through the court and overseen by state bar association. This way, malpractice and abuse could be identified and licenses revoked.

  131. curiousgeorge says

    I would think it reasonable to require an actual law degree for the licensing. Parishoners, who were licensed could also fill this role.

  132. Lord Narf says

    Well sure, anyone can go to their priest or other social counselor and ask for advice, and all parties can voluntarily comply. If that’s all that we had going on here, I’d be fine with that. The problem is how to strip the ecclesiastical authorities back to that point.

  133. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, that’s the problem. People go into these courts and sign away their rights in ignorance, often under major familial pressure. Having the discriminatory system into which you can drag socially vulnerable people and have the secular law look the other way is unacceptable.

  134. Lord Narf says

    I don’t even see the need for a license. Keep it at voluntary compliance, and you’re good. There’s nothing you can do to keep two people from going to a third person for advice, getting bad advice, and then having the first two follow the bad advice. I view going to a priest to settle a dispute to be a similar situation.

    Hell, most of my experience with the Catholic priests, while I was growing up … no, not that kind of experience, you assholes.

    Anyway, as I was saying, most of the Catholic priests didn’t even look to the Bible in any real way, dispensing almost secular advice for couples or whoever. It’s almost like a cheap psychologist … or at least a very expensive psychologist, who you’re paying for whether or not you use his services.

  135. curiousgeorge says

    Lord Narf:

    My post wan’t worded that great. The way we could provide some protection is by requring a license. So, a pastor is also free to be an officer of the court, but he or she just needs to go to law school. Possibly there would be common sense restrictions to waive in cases where assets were below a certain threshold, no kids, or no support requests. All final paperwork is filed with the secular court. Abuse of practice could be reported to the state bar association who has investagatory powers and can revoke licenses.

  136. jdoran says

    What are you going on about? Have you met Cole’s friend Fred? He’s one of the prime organizers for the freethough meetup groups in KC. He’s also a Christian.

  137. Lord Narf says

    Or, if we stripped their power to hand out compulsory judgements, none of that bureaucracy would be necessary. It would just be advice, from someone that the two contestants recognize as an authority of some sort, when two people seek a more amicable, voluntary solution.

  138. curiousgeorge says

    I’m doing a terrible job getting my point across.

    I’m talking about requring a LAW license to mediate these matters. Examples: Divorce involving an estate over a specified amount say $15,000, any divorce where custody or support is involved, any divorce where there are charges of physical abuse. Death estate settlement also.

    If one lawyer mediates, then both parties need to agree and all final settlements require a final court visit and approval by the court. Parishoners and clergy are eligible, they just need to go to LAW school, pass the bar and have an active license.

    Licensing would provide for administrative oversight by the bar association and licenses could be quickly revoked if secular law is being abused. I’m betting we won’t have too many clergy people that would bother obtaining the license, but some may. More likely, it would be parishoners who also practice privately.

    We don’t allow catholic “doctors” to provide medical services for willing catholic parishoners without going to medical school? It seems to me that requring a license to practice law does not discriminate against someone’s freedom to religion. I confused my whole point with the couneling bit.

  139. mel eder says

    I think the problem with the site is that they are not clear on the problem. I live in the western suburbs of Melbourne and all KFC and Mcdonalds here only serve halal meals. I know people who work there. They don’t advertise this, but its a fact if you ask them. They don’t even have the option to eat non halal food. Its all Halal. I object to that strongly, because they are catering to a minority. Also in the western suburbs, there are areas with lots of muslims that cause enormous problems. Many don’t want to interact with the rest of society and they are racist.

    There are real issues with islam overtaking parts of Australia, and we have a large and unfriendly fundamentalist Islamic society right above us.

    So for Australia, Islam is a huge threat. I understand how that threat is perceived and how its implemented changes, but its a problem. We need to be able to discuss the real threat without being called islamaphobic.

  140. says

    The fundamentalist strain of any religion generally is the true face of that religion. That’s what fundamentalism means.

    That’s what the fundamentalists want us to believe, and it’s a lie based on nothing but word-games and manipulation. Do you really want to hand our worst enemies such an important victory? Who do you think benefits if such a lie is believed? (Besides, fundamentalists very often: a) don’t really know what’s in their own holy book; and b) pride themselves on scrapping large bodies of accumulated wisdom and tradition, with or without most of the followers’ support.)

    And do you really think ANY nonbelievers can credibly declare who does, or does not, “represent” the “true face” of a religion or religious group they’re not a part of? That’s about as stupid and bogus as all those Christian propagandists proclaiming PZ Meyers the “atheist pope.”

    If you’re declaring the absolute authority of a holy book, and you ignore most of what’s in that holy book, you’re not representing the true face of that religion.

    You can be if a huge chunk of the rank-and-file believers also ignore the same stuff in the book.

  141. Lord Narf says

    No, you got your point across just fine. I just completely disagree with it. I don’t care how well trained and licensed the judges are. Allowing an alternate court based upon religious laws, in a secular society, is completely unacceptable, if the judgement is binding in any legal sense.

    Catholic doctors have to be real doctors, even if they make some fucked up moral decisions, based upon their dogma. They still have to practice real medicine, for the most part. Rabbinical, Muslim, or Christian courts would not be practicing real law, no matter how well trained and licensed the judges are, when they’re judging based upon a Bronze Age set of rules that is utterly at odds with modern morality and the legal system of their host country.

  142. says

    It doesn’t matter if they do get a law license. Any whiff that they will arbitrate unfairly against, say, women (like deciding to force a Muslim woman to marry the man who raped her because RELIGION!… and yes, it does happen), and they immediately throw into suspicion their entire system.

    Religious courts should be seen as ceremonial trappings and nothing more. Their “decisions” should be neither final nor binding. If a plaintiff dislikes the verdict they get in a religious court, they should be able to switch over to a secular court for a fairer judgement without negative reprisals from their religious community.

    I’m studying to be a cultural anthropologist. I’m all for Cultural Relativism and I support it as a general rule for anthropology. However, when it comes to crimes like rape, murder, incest, genital mutilation, etc, you are NOT ALLOWED to hide behind “Cultural Relativism”. Period. It is exactly that mindset that allowed pedophile priests to get away with their crimes for so long.

    I don’t like the way the US handles Amish and Jewish courts. I think the US should stop recognizing them as legitimate courts and not recognize any kind of non-secular court as a legitimate court ever again. If the religious don’t like it, sucks to be them. This is a secular country, not a [insert religion here] country.

  143. Lord Narf says

    That’s what the fundamentalists want us to believe, and it’s a lie based on nothing but word-games and manipulation. Do you really want to hand our worst enemies such an important victory? Who do you think benefits if such a lie is believed?

    I think the atheists would mostly benefit. When a science-believing Catholic looks around at the world, at everything we’ve discovered and everything we know, compared to those Bronze Age shepherds, then is made to either accept the literal word of the Bible or accept reality … I think we’d suddenly gain a lot more atheists.
    Not that it’s possible to force someone to accept one extreme or the other. We’re playing thought games here, after all. But if that was possible …

    (Besides, fundamentalists very often: a) don’t really know what’s in their own holy book; and b) pride themselves on scrapping large bodies of accumulated wisdom and tradition, with or without most of the followers’ support.)

    Just because they’re stupid, ignorant fundamentalists who don’t understand or know what they claim to accept doesn’t mean that they’re not still fundamentalists. That just makes them shitty Christians, within their own worldview.

    And do you really think ANY nonbelievers can credibly declare who does, or does not, “represent” the “true face” of a religion or religious group they’re not a part of? That’s about as stupid and bogus as all those Christian propagandists proclaiming PZ Meyers the “atheist pope.”

    Yes, you can, within the claims made by the believers. If a group of Christians declares that the Bible is the word of God, then starts crossing bits of it out, they’re not a good representative of what they self-described as their religion.

    If you’re declaring the absolute authority of a holy book, and you ignore most of what’s in that holy book, you’re not representing the true face of that religion.

    You can be if a huge chunk of the rank-and-file believers also ignore the same stuff in the book.

    They declare the Bible to be the word of God and to be Truth. Then, they ignore almost all of what’s in the holy book.

    No, that just makes the majority of the rank-and-file believers hypocrites.

  144. curiousgeorge says

    II’m still not getting through. I am saying noone can practice these areas of law without being a licensed attorney. So. If pastors, rabbis, immans, priests want to represent parishoners in these domestic matters they must also be attorneys. I am NOT advocating a church court system, I think that idea is beyond assinine and I can’t believe we have them in the few cases we do. In the few rare cases a clergy person got his license and was representing his clients (who also happened to be parishoners) they would appear before and run it through the secular court system, just like everyone else.

  145. Muz says

    They said all of this about the Vietnamese in the 80s, and basically, particular since the influx of Lebanese Arabs and Muslims generally, you don’t any more. You’d think they disappeared.
    It’s almost as though once Alan Jones or -insert regional shock jock here- stops bitching about you and give or take a generation the problem starts to go away.

    So you’re going to have to do better for this ‘huge threat’. To what exactly?
    The other thing is – and this is where the halal foods people could do some good if they didn’t appear to be batshit propagandists fanning the flames of social division (the stock photography on that site is just creepily…white) – is Halal, like many other religious rubber stamps, is a bit of a racket. The overseas livestock trade showed this many times in Indonesia, Egypt etc. These animals aren’t killed Halal, or treated Halal before killing. It’s a stamp racket. Does anyone seriously believe KFCs bulk buy factory killed chicken or McDonalds beef is all Halal? Ha, it is to laugh. I doubt there’s nearly enough halal slaughterhouses to meet that demand even if they wanted to. People are eating non halal meat that’s labelled halal all the time. They have to be.
    The other things is, I’m not sure making a big fuss about it is likely to help much. The Islamic council or whoever would probably be fine with firming up the guidelines to some national humane standard and still calling it halal with the right sort of negotiations.

  146. Muz says

    Additionally, for great googling, it appears Halal slaughter of poultry in Australia is basically identical to the regular kind and the RSPCA are fine with it. So enjoy unlabelled Halal KFC, it looks a lot like the infidel variety. We should do a few blind tests to see if prayer makes it taste any different.

  147. Lord Narf says

    Why would you require someone be a licensed attorney, when they’re not practicing law in a real court? That’s silly. Are you saying that to give advice in domestic matters (your words), they should be required to be a licensed attorney?

    That’s kind of crazy. Any third party can offer advice to people having a dispute. You can’t regulate that sort of thing. You can’t say you’re an officially-licensed counselor, if you’re not, because that would be claiming false credentials, but if you’re just someone with an opinion who wants to share it, you’re good.

    Likewise, when couples go to a Catholic priest for advice, the priest isn’t claiming any authority that he doesn’t have. The Catholic bureaucracy has “licensed” him as a priest.

  148. curiousgeorge says

    We’re discussing three separate matters: 1. Seeking Advice via Religous Counseling 2. Religous Courts 3. Secular Courts.

    1. Seeking Advice via Religous Counseling. My position. Is a license required for the pastor to provide counseling? No. No secular license of any type is required. My thinking, “Enter at your own Risk” . To be fair, I’m sure some have been helped by compotent counseling from a clergy person.

    2. Religous Courts.
    My position: No way. No how. Beyond terrible idea. I’m all for fredom of religion, but we have to draw the line somewhere. As a society, we don’t need to be using ancient texts as a legal reference. This makes about as much sense as using an ancient text for a science book or medical reference. If someone doesn’t agree – move to the theocratic nation of your choice and use their court system. :)

    3. Secular Courts.
    My position: Divorce, settltement of estates, marriage (because it needs to be legally recognized with a license) are all legal matters to be handled by the individual State civl court systems.

    The ONLY way that a clergy person could ever be involved in assisting a parishoner with a civil or criminal legal matter would be if that clergy member was also a licensed attorney. He or she could then also be an officer of the court. As far as I know, there would be nothing preventing a clergy member who is a licensed attorney from doing this today. Is this likely to happen in reality. No. That has been my point all along. Use licensing requirement laws as well as clearly defining what is a legal matter to shut this whole idea down.

    I asked my neighbor about this and what I understood he said was that if this hypothetical attorney/clergy member was representing parishoners in a divorce case that he or she cannot represent both the husband and wife because it represents a conflict of interest. As it should be.

    To take it a step further. If this hypothetical attorney/clergy member happened to be an appointed or elected judge presiding over a divorce case, he would have to excuse himself to insure no bias. Again, as it should be.

  149. says

    To be honest, although a lot of Muslims that come into my work insist on asking if the chicken, etc is halal, most don’t seem to be bothered looking into things too much. The sheer number of Muslims I see at the mcdonalds outside my store buying their kids soft serve ice cream (which contains pig fat) is ridiculous, and the only reason I don’t say something is due to the scene my mate caused when he decided to speak up once. Teenage kids at McDonalds aren’t paid anywhere near enough to put up with customers that angry.

  150. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Pig fat in the ice cream? You’re going to tell me there are earthworms in the beef now too, right? Seriously, you can check the ingredients online.

  151. says

    They declare the Bible to be the word of God and to be Truth. Then, they ignore almost all of what’s in the holy book.

    Actually, not all Christians make exactly the same claim about the Bible. I know this because I’ve lived all my life in a Christian society, and heard lots of different Christians saying different things about the Bible. Your failure to understand this proves you’re not competent to judge who is or is not the “true face” of Christianity, or any other religion.

    No, that just makes the majority of the rank-and-file believers hypocrites.

    You say that without addressing any of what these believers actually believe, even in general, let alone specifically? You’re as ignorant, simpleminded, bigoted and totally full of shit as the fundamentalists you so rigidly agree with. Seriously, who the fuck are you to judge who is or is not a “true believer” when you yourself don’t share the belief, or even understand it?

  152. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist, with a perchant for pachyderm punditry) says

    A minor point:

    From little things big things grow.

    That’s the title of a Paul Kelly song and is well known in Australia. It’s a song about aboriginals standing up to the dominate powers in society and winning. It’s galling and ironic to see that phrase used by a racist idiot.

  153. Indiana Jones says

    Fat kids, Dodgy Builders and Political Correctness gone mad ripping off Pensioners in a story about the most comfortable bra that no Australian Parent can afford to miss.

    Did I omit anything?

  154. Lord Narf says

    And I think that your idea of licensing them is a very bad idea. First off, I don’t see how it’s even vaguely appropriate to require someone to get a legal license, when they’re not practicing the sort of law that that license would apply to. If you make it some sort of license to practice Rabbinical/Christian/Sharia law, you’ve still got problems. The institution of a state-regulated religious court would violate the First Amendment.

    Second, I think it’s a very bad idea, from the perspective of promoting our agenda to get rid of religious courts. Putting this sort of bureaucracy in place would only strengthen the position of the religious courts and further entrench the institution, within our society.

    In the US, given all of the disparate flavors of Christianity, I think we’d end up with the worst of both worlds. The tiny, crazier denominations would scream about being discriminated against. They’d have a point, since we’d have the larger, more mainstream denominations running the certification boards. So, we would have exceptions for them, and they would end up essentially unregulated.

    And we’d have the certification boards in place, regulating the more mainstream courts, giving them legitimacy that they don’t deserve. What part of that sounds like a good idea to you?

  155. Lord Narf says

    Actually, not all Christians make exactly the same claim about the Bible. I know this because I’ve lived all my life in a Christian society, and heard lots of different Christians saying different things about the Bible. Your failure to understand this proves you’re not competent to judge who is or is not the “true face” of Christianity, or any other religion.

    I’m well aware of “Christian” churches, like the Unity church, who just think that Jesus was a guy with some great ideas. They dismiss the claim that he was divine. They’re not Christian, despite their labeling to the contrary.

    Sure, you get a certain tiny percentage of people who reject the authority of the Bible as the source of their authoritarian ideology. I’d have to look at them on a case-by-case basis, though. When you have a large enough percentage of a group from which you can distill a shared set of characteristics, you can start dismissing those who are soooo far out on the wings that they’re not even recognizable as a part of the whole, except for some shared terminology.

    The authority of the Bible is one of those things. Even the Catholic church, which places the authority of the Pope and the bureaucracy of the church above the Bible still relies on the authority of the Bible to establish their ultimate authority.

    And I reject your judgement about my ability to judge what is the true face of a religion. :-p

    No, that just makes the majority of the rank-and-file believers hypocrites.

    You say that without addressing any of what these believers actually believe, even in general, let alone specifically? You’re as ignorant, simpleminded, bigoted and totally full of shit as the fundamentalists you so rigidly agree with. Seriously, who the fuck are you to judge who is or is not a “true believer” when you yourself don’t share the belief, or even understand it?

    You don’t know many Christians, do you? Hypocrisy is rife.

  156. curiousgeorge says

    You are misunderstadning and misstaing my position. I’ve never said I was in favor of state regulated religous courts.

    I did my best to clear this up with my last post as well as the post prior to that. Under point #2 – Religous courts (post directly above):

    Me: 2. Religous Courts. My position: No way. No how. Beyond terrible idea.

    Everyting I think concerning religous courts is in Section #2. Where are you reading in Section #2 my advocating state regulated religous courts?

    I had already figured this was being misunderstood and in the post before that I stated:

    Me: I’m still not getting through. I am saying noone can practice these areas of law without being a licensed attorney. So. If pastors, rabbis, immans, priests want to represent parishoners in these domestic matters they must also be attorneys. I am NOT advocating a church court system, I think that idea is beyond assinine…..

    In Section #3 – Role of Secular courts. I explain the situation where a clergyperson (or more likely a parishoner) might be involved in a legal proceeding. It is under section #3. Secular courts – because the matter is run through SECULAR court, NOT state regulated church court.

    Today, a believer, if he or she chooses, can bring to secular court his clergyperson or a fellow parishoner to represent him and his faith. No problem, only problem that might occur is if his faith belief conflicted with State or US law. Well, that’s not allowed even if we would allow church courts. So, church court is unnecessary. Bring a legal representative from your faith to secular court, if you so choose.

    I also contend the clergyperson or parishoner be required to have a law license and be regulated by the state bar. Now whether being an actual legal license is required to represent someone in court, I do not know, I am not an attorney. I think they should, because we don’t need legal representatives who don’t know what they are doing clogging up our court system. Potentially, the larger churches might have an agency within to provide legal services for those who want a fellow member of their faith to represent them in secular court. Such an agency might provide pro bono work when needed.

    Also, to try to be clearer as to point #1 – Seeking advice via religous counseling. I am talking about traditional self-help, example marriage counseling. I am NOT talking about legal counseling in section 1. But obviously, the fundamentalist clergy would be counseling using church “law”. This type of counseling is clearly protected under freedom of religion.

    I see the line being placed at legal matters. Divorce, probating estate, marriage (in terms of must have a license), and death (legal death certificates). In my view, all legal matters required to go through the secular courts. Church court, relguated or no, is NOT an option. The church’s role is self-help counseling and ceremonial in marriage and death.

    In post #44 above, I said I didn’t “get it” in trying to understand why society would even consider allowing church courts and asked is society going to allow Pentecostal court, Mormon court, Scientology Court? You replied:

    Lord Narf: I’ve already said, I’m not okay with the Rabbinical courts or the Amish courts, either. I just don’t think we can do anything about those, since the courts and American society in general have a hard-on for those social groups.

    Further up, in post 25.1 in commenting in the context of Sharia courts in England you stated:

    Lord Narf: What’s kind of funny here is that the entire system is horribly discriminatory against women. But in shutting it down, we would be discriminating against Muslims. I’d think that breaking the root discrimination would take precedence. You should be allowed to discriminate against those who discriminate, as a part of their core beliefs.

    It’s the same as not allowing exceptions for religious or other strongly held moral convictions, in our anti-bullying laws. Fuck your religious beliefs. We’re going to hold you to our superior, secular moral system, which says that it’s wrong to abuse people for their sexual orientation.

    You say “shut it down”. Meaning, Sharia religous courts in England. Next, you outlined your reasons (discrimination) providing several examples of reported abuses. You liken “shutting down to our anti-bullying laws making the point there are no exceptions for religous belief conflicts with discrimination. You conclude with “Fuck your relgious beliefs, we’re holding you to our superior, secular system..

    Seems clear, you are saying “shut down” religous courts, in England anyway. You also state in several places, that we are probably looking at grandfatering in Amish and Rabbitical courts in the US, implying these remain, but no more.

    In the post directly above you do a 180 degree turn and say:

    Lord Narf: …..I think it’s a very bad idea, from the perspective of promoting our agenda to get rid of religious courts.

    What happened to: “Fuck your religous beliefs. We’re holding you to our superior, secular moral system?

    I’m guessing one of the following is the explanation:

    a) You’ve changed your mind
    b) You misstated your postion in your earlier post
    c) You think England should get rid of religous courts, but they are perfectly fine in the US.
    d) You hold a high ranking position at Waffle House :)
    e) Some combination of the above.

    If secular courts are compromised with any kind of parallel court sytem and laws and important regulations are ignored or violated the legislative and executive branches are compromised as well – not just the judiciary. The whole system. No, thanks.

    Also enforcing court orders and adminsitrative regulations sometimes come into play after the fact, as well. Visitiation, child support. A hypothetical church court, state regulated or no, administering and/or working with secular enforcement agenices. Talk about an inefficent mess given today’s technology requirements, etc.

    I also think a point that is worth repeating, these important matters need to be heard in front of an unbiased judge. One who is versed in US law and also in a neutral court. Religous court is fruaght with bias.

  157. says

    Even if we exclude the “outliers” you mention, we’re still left with a very wide range of differing beliefs, and differing interpretations of the Bible and how, exactly, it is viewed as “truth.” (Oh, and if someone doubts the divinity of Christ, but still adheres to his teachings, then no, you can’t completely rule him out of the “Christian” label.)

    Your refusal to acknowledge the doctrinal and philosophical differences that are obvious to the rest of us proves you don’t know what you’re talking about, however “rational” your word-games sound to you.

    Oh, and if some shmoe is trying to bend his religion’s rules a little to accomodate reality, do you really think it’s wise to call him a “hypocrite?” Don’t we WANT them to accomodate reality?

    When a science-believing Catholic looks around at the world, at everything we’ve discovered and everything we know, compared to those Bronze Age shepherds, then is made to either accept the literal word of the Bible or accept reality … I think we’d suddenly gain a lot more atheists.

    Thaqt’s just fucking stupid. My father was a very well-educated Catholic, and it was his education and example — NOT any sort of stupid mindless adherence to literalistic anything — that allowed me to question the superstition and free my own mind from it. Your “reasoning” is as strategically stupid as it is mentally bankrupt.

  158. Lord Narf says

    You actually just said that someone who doesn’t accept the divinity of Christ can still be a Christian. That’s the most core belief there is. What’s wrong with you?

    Your posts have deteriorated to more flame than content, and then you say something as stupid as this. I’m done responding to you.

  159. Lord Narf says

    You are misunderstadning and misstaing my position. I’ve never said I was in favor of state regulated religous courts.

    You explicitly said that “noone can practice these areas of law without being a licensed attorney. So. If pastors, rabbis, immans, priests want to represent parishoners in these domestic matters they must also be attorneys.”

    I completely disagree with that. It’s silly to force someone to get a degree in American law, when they’re not practicing American law. What else could you mean by forcing them to be a licensed attorney? How can I be misrepresenting your position, when that’s exactly what you said?

    If you’re trying to say that priests should be required to be lawyers, if they want to represent a client in a secular court … well, duh. I’m not aware of any secular court system that would allow someone to act as a lawyer, just because he’s a priest.

    Up until this point, we’re been talking about priests acting as judges in a religious court. You see how bringing up something about them acting as secular lawyers has nothing to do with the discussion?

    Everyting I think concerning religous courts is in Section #2. Where are you reading in Section #2 my advocating state regulated religous courts?

    You’re offering up, as a half-measure, that we license and regulate the priests/imams/rabbis, if we’re unable to completely abolish the courts. I think that’s a bad idea, since it will have the effect of strengthening the courts, rather than leading to their dissolution, as you seem to think it will do.

    You may not be directly advocating religious courts, but the alternative restrictions you’re offering will have bad effects for our goal of eliminating them. You didn’t repeat it, explicitly, in your latest comments in Section 2, but you’ve said it many times previously. If you’re not trying to say that you think we should force priests/imams/rabbis to have legal degrees, as a stop-gap measure, then I have no problems with that point.

    In Section #3 – Role of Secular courts. I explain the situation where a clergyperson (or more likely a parishoner) might be involved in a legal proceeding. It is under section #3. Secular courts – because the matter is run through SECULAR court, NOT state regulated church court.

    Today, a believer, if he or she chooses, can bring to secular court his clergyperson or a fellow parishoner to represent him and his faith. No problem, only problem that might occur is if his faith belief conflicted with State or US law. Well, that’s not allowed even if we would allow church courts. So, church court is unnecessary. Bring a legal representative from your faith to secular court, if you so choose.

    Why is it important to even make this distinction? If someone is a state-acknowledged lawyer, I don’t care what else he is. I don’t even see why it matters if his beliefs conflict with US.state law. If he makes arguments based upon his religion, rather than the law, the judge should shut him down or declare a mistrial.

    You hadn’t mentioned the role of priests in secular courts, and I don’t see what it has to do with the discussion. The only important distinctions are: going to a priest for informal advice, having a formal judgement in a religious court but voluntary compliance, and having a formal judgement in a religious court with mandatory compliance.

    You say “shut it down”. Meaning, Sharia religous courts in England. Next, you outlined your reasons (discrimination) providing several examples of reported abuses. You liken “shutting down to our anti-bullying laws making the point there are no exceptions for religous belief conflicts with discrimination. You conclude with “Fuck your relgious beliefs, we’re holding you to our superior, secular system..

    That’s not at all what I said about anti-bullying laws. You pulled that way the hell out of context.

    What I was saying is that we shouldn’t allow discrimination in our legal arbitration, as it inevitably would be in Sharia courts. I compared that to an anti-bullying law in which you allow continued discrimination by inserting a clause to allow religious people to bully people they feel morally opposed to.

    “We’re not going to allow discrimination in our legal system … but oh, we’ll make an exception for your religious courts, off to the side over there.”

    That was a comparison of scenarios, not an advocation of a position. I’m in favor of anti-bullying laws, and I’m against allowing an exception for the fucking bigoted Christians.

    Seems clear, you are saying “shut down” religous courts, in England anyway. You also state in several places, that we are probably looking at grandfatering in Amish and Rabbitical courts in the US, implying these remain, but no more.

    In the post directly above you do a 180 degree turn and say:

    Lord Narf: …..I think it’s a very bad idea, from the perspective of promoting our agenda to get rid of religious courts.

    What happened to: “Fuck your religous beliefs. We’re holding you to our superior, secular moral system?

    I’m guessing one of the following is the explanation:

    No, that’s not at all what I said. I said that we should shut down all religious courts, but that we’re probably not going to be able to, in the current social climate.

    The current Supreme Court likes to invent bullshit grandfather clauses for things that have been around for a long time. Even the liberal members of the Supreme Court have done this, in cases like 10 Commandments monuments, in courthouses. A few years ago, they ruled that some monuments that were put up recently had to be removed. But the monument in Texas had been up for something like 100 years, without anyone complaining, so it was allowed to stay. They invented a grandfather clause out of whole cloth, despite it being a violation of the Constitution.

    It’s complete bullshit, but I think that’s how they’re likely to rule on the Rabbinical and Amish courts.

    d) You hold a high ranking position at Waffle House :)

    IHOP, man. Waffle House sucks.

    And that’s only if you mean patronizing IHOP, when you say “high ranking position.” I’m a network engineer, until I figure out how to make a living doing standup.

  160. says

    The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed.

    But how is this any different from Christianity? Aside from the fact that in the west Christians are the majority and can therefore use legislative power, rather than angry mobs, what’s the difference?
    Islam is certainly a problem. I just don’t see any reasons why it’s emphasized as something that stands out. It’s problematic for the exact same reasons that all other dogmatic religious bullshit is problematic. You might point out that there are moderate Christians, in which case I’ll point out that there are moderate Muslims as well. There are some cultural differences, but I’m not at all convinced they’re anything near as big as they’re made out to be.

  161. Michael R says

    LykeX, if you read my other comments you will see the difference is the doctrine of Islam quite clearly advocates violence as a means to expand the religion, whereas the doctrine of Christianity does not. Of course there are moderates and extremists in both religions, but those moderates don’t necessarily reflect what the doctrine of the religion says. Islam, since its earliest days with its head-chopping warlord prophet Muhammad, has always been a religion of violence. The “contradictory” fact that many Muslims are moderate is even acknowledged in the religion: (“Fighting is ordained for you, though you dislike it” – Koran 2:216). “There are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths” and you simply don’t have such open-ended universal calls to violence in Christianity.

  162. curiousgeorge says

    First I must address this Waffle House sucking comment.

    Up until today, those would have been fightin” words. But I happened to stop there today and ordered my usual Chopped Steak Breakfast with eggs over medium, hashborowns well done. It is a culinary masterpiece prepared before your very eyes, if you sit at the counter. You eat by first breaking the eggs, allowing the yolk to coat the steak hot off the perfectly greased griddle. To my horror, those assholes have taken the Chopped Steak Breakfast off their menu saying the chopped steak has become to expensive. The waitress said the complaints have been through the roof. And another thing funny about the Waffle House is that their actual waffles suck. You are right the Waffle House does suck. :)

    Back to this religous court issue. Look at the very next sentence after where you quoted me and what I said in your post above. I said NO religous courts. I know why you picked up my comments wrong. I have never advocated for any kind of state regulated religous court. But, this misunderstanding doesn’t matter.

    I want to explain why I make the distinction about religous lawyers in secular court because I’ve never explained myself there. Let’s assume a couple is divorcing that is Muslim, just for sake of an example. Assume the couple has children and visitation arrangements have to be worked out. Well, since the Muslim faith has different religous holidays it makes sense they would use someone of their faith to workout the details and there could be other areas where religion might come into play as well.

    In other words, noone is saying religion can’t be considered in the domestic court judicial system. My other line of thinking was along the lines of school prayer allowances. Noone is telling Christian children they cannot pray in school. The comparison position here is noone is telling you that you cannot bring someone of your faith to represent you in court. This is why I am making the distincion and I hope I’ve explained it well enough to make my point.

    Is religous court a big deal now? No, because of the small populations in the examples given. I had never heard of these courts – but I certainly understand why they call it Amish Country now. :) We have a community with thier own laws, courts and doesn’t have to pay taxes. It isn’t a big deal, until it becomes millions of people or cult type fundamentalist primitive abusive bullshit.

    I’m sure you have probably seen Christopher Hitchen’s lectures about one of the best ways to break the back of opressive religous practices is to educate the females and make females knowledge about their reproductive rights. I also believe society should not turn a blind eye and allow ancient text customs to even be considered and frankly I do not trust they wouldn’t. I see absolutely no reason why not to draw a line in the sand.

    This might be more of a question of what the individual states view this matter. Still, if a state refused to cooperate with a request for a church recognized court or moved to outlaw one that is existing – it would definietly be before the Supreme Court pretty quick.

    Maybe, there is a hole in my logic. I’m certainly for freedom of religion and expression. But anyway, there it is.

  163. Lord Narf says

    So, what you’re saying is that that’s what Waffle House did to make you mad, and now you don’t believe in it anymore? ^.^

    Yes, I know you said that you’re against religious courts, but many things you’ve said seem to be saying that you support other regulations on them. Maybe you just need better marking of your conditionals or something. For example, the first couple of times you said it, I missed that you were talking about religious lawyers, in secular courts, in anything you were saying.

    I don’t know that your example about the place of religion in a secular court is a very good one. The custody arrangement around religious holidays fits perfectly well within a secular framework. I don’t care if it’s a religious holiday or just the family tradition of the day that everyone dresses up as flamingos and parades around Times Square. They both get equal consideration and don’t require a religious lawyer to sort out.
    Have you got a better scenario, in which having a priest for a lawyer would add anything positive? The only situations I can think of would violate the Constitution and cause any judge worth a damn to throw the case out.

    I just don’t see why you brought up priests as lawyers in a secular court, I guess. That seriously confused the situation.

    Yeah, the Amish are a bizarre case. We give them a lot more than we should. I can understand that a lot of them never deal in money, and therefore a lot of them don’t have the physical means to pay property taxes or whatever. Surely something could be worked out with the community as a whole, though. Certain ones deal in business with the outside world, to acquire raw materials that are hard to get on their own. My parents have a fantastic Amish-built kitchen-table. The Amish can’t be doing all that poorly, when they charge as much as they did for that table.

  164. Loren Trigo says

    All lamb meat in e.g. Ontario is stamped halal.
    We import a lot of if from New Zealand.
    Halal implies the animal is killed with cruelty, cruelty I disagree with strongly.
    I know, etc. etc. but still… the slow kill really does morally repel me.
    I do not have a consumer choice in accordance with my morals re eating lamb meat in Ontario.
    It hurts me not to have access to lamb meat, which has been categorized as a healthier choice of protein than chicken or beef as regards the threat of developing cancer.
    As long as non-Muslims are the majority, as we are in Ontario, non-Muslims are subsidizing a system which benefits a minority of consumers only; namely, Muslims.
    Can we change this? Yes. But not without raising the issue.
    If raising the issue leads to automatic politically correct mockery, it’s going to be difficult to change this.
    I hope Australia doesn’t end up like Ontario.
    Or worse, like England, where all meat is halal and is not even marked as such.

  165. Viv King says

    Well, you’re bang on about Today Tonight, the good news is we have another program down under called A Current Affair – which is the same show on a different channel. They generally have segments about dodgy landlords and scam artists with the occasional ‘threats to you children’ expose (usually about the latest form of social media trend). This whole thing smacks of ignorance. I don’t care if a person wants to eat a food a certain way, it’s hardly evidence of the ‘infiltration of a bad thing’ into a culture. Sanitarium is also a massive food company, and it’s owned my the Seventh Day Adventust church – they don’t eat meat and substitute soy in a lot of their products, should we also be worried that they are indoctrinating us with their faux sausages? Hardly…

  166. CaptRon says

    There are many Australian contributions, I am answering yours because of your simplistic one-liner that covers all but proves nothing. You are right, Muslims are not a race but dominated by a religious/political ideology. Moderate Muslims are good, well meaning people like most Athiests or Christians. Look around you, seek out the truth about Islam. The fundamentalists are taking over, (I could provide endless examples). In Europe where Muslims (average 11 children) are creating parallel societies and out populating those of Judeo/Christian/Humanist society (1.4 children per family)? By mid this century France, Belgium, Holland and others will have Islamic Theocratic Governments. Muslims will not vote for a secular Government! Under these governments, Sharia law applies to all, freedom of speech is lost (the death penalty for insulting Allah or the prophet), women will be oppressed and minorities (Christians and Athiests) will be persecuted as they are in a great majority of Muslim countries. Is this the Europe you would like to see?
    There have already been two attempts to officially introduce Sharia in Australia, many medieval practices are already here unofficially.
    Freedom of speech has already been threatened here. I challenge you to study the real nature of Islam, from their own Australian site and the Q Society perspective. Where is sugar coating or hate speech coming from? Who is threatening to kill whom? Kurt Wilders was unable to speak in a number of venues here (freedom of speech?) he has constant guards due to Islamic threats to assassinate him. He has good things to say about Muslims and bad things about Islam. http://www.qsociety.org.au/1822-speech-geert-wilders-melbourne-australia-tuesday-february-19-2013.pdf Check his facts, I have.

  167. says

    I am Halal food lover but I am not Muslim very few people know that meat will not be considered halal if it is slaughtered by a Zoroastrian, someone who left Islam after accepting it or someone who worships idols.

  168. CaptRon says

    As an Australian Athiest I am concerned that you can throw around a bunch of words calling those against “halal without labeling” rednecks. Firstly our christian/jewish/secular slaughter-men are losing their jobs. To be halal, not only must an animal be slaughtered by cutting its throat, it must be slaughtered by a Muslim, who must also dedicate it to Allah by a prayer. A shortage of slaughter-men (they mysteriously move on) means that more have to be imported. In Europe it has been proven that the licencing fees have been funneled into anti Western causes. OK may not seem like this is the end of Western Civilisation, but is one more tiny step in that direction.
    You may think that Islam is just another religion. It is not. It is an totalitarian ideology, a political system that deprives its followers and captives their freedom. Apostacy is death in most Islamic countries (only 7 years jail in Malaysia). It is not a choice to believe/follow for those born into it. I challenge name callers to study Islam. Careful of your sources, as the Quaran and Hadiths encourage Muslims to deceive the infidel.
    Try a book called “The Third Choice”, this covers its history and “multi-culturalism” If you want a running commentary on the number of attacks by Islamists worldwide look at “thereligionofpeace.com”.

  169. R L says

    Amazing how many comments must be from Muslims here. They must be going about searching out these Sites in order to stop any threat against their Idealism (Not Faith) in my Eyes. Faith is often used as a Tool and an excuse to justify ones actions.
    The fact remains. Westerners all over the World had a Gut voll of Muslim idealism and frankly do not want them in their Country. But thanks to the Governments who just go about doing what ever they like even if it means general opinion is against it.

  170. Russell Glasser says

    Amazing how many comments must be from Muslims here.

    My estimate is none of them. Have you tried asking any of them if they are Muslims?

    The fact remains. Westerners all over the World had a Gut voll of Muslim idealism and frankly do not want them in their Country. But thanks to the Governments who just go about doing what ever they like even if it means general opinion is against it.

    Yeah, and if you asked white southerners 100 years ago, general opinion would have been against desegregation. Yet here we are. Tragic, I suppose, that first world countries aren’t able to simply expel millions of people because they have unpopular religious beliefs.

  171. says

    There is more too it. Jews, live there life’s and do not want and demand that we live by there laws, halal certification, funds terrorism overseas and our so called politicians let this happen. Also halal is against what I believe, the right of a animal to be killed cruelty free, the right of me as a consumer to have a say as to what I buy and whom my money goes too. Islam demands and demands and gets away with everything it seems, from rape to murder, because its all in there Koran, so I think its time people like you count there fucking blessings and stand up for something.

  172. says

    I am a Christian (living in England) and I would rather support secular rule than Islamic rule, that is, as long as the secular state does not infringe upon my right to my freedom of religion. Every Communist regime in history was secular, but all of them were guilty of forcing their anti-theistic, anti-religious attitudes upon people.

    Theocracy? As a Christian, I believe Theocracy to be out of option for us. The New Testament clearly does not encourage that kinda stuff. It separates the Church government from the State government, and St. Paul even upheld the State’s authority over the Church in matters secular.

    By the way, I don’t think proper evangelism falls into the category of forcing our beliefs down other people’s throats, there’s no coercion involved. I would say yes to liberal secular rule, but not Islamic rule. How I hate totalitarianism.

    I am actually quite an alarmist (though not as paranoid), but I know my concerns to be legitimate. After having studied the history and current status of Islam IN DEPTH, I simply cannot look the other way and feign tolerance. I have always been inclusive and liberal but when it comes to Islam an “exclamation mark” comes up in my head. The undeniable fact is that most modern terrorists were/are associated with this religion and it’s not a simple hijacking.

    Food labels? Although it does not concern me as a Christian, I like the fact they’re doing it since I support free choice. If Muslims and Jews don’t know whether something in the market is proper for them to eat or not then that would render their choices uninformed.

    However, there’s the problem of Sharia Law, legal pluralism and the discussions going on about this. Whatever the case, the Sharia must have NO PLACE in these 3 countries: America, Britain and China, not even for Muslims. Some people may think it’s okay to let them have their laws and let us have ours, but there are really complex implications if this does occur. If Muslims don’t like being ruled by non-Muslims and obeying any law other than the Sharia then they can immigrate to where those Islamic rulers and laws are in place. To them be their countries and to us be ours. They have no right to Islamicise us. If we want to remain free, the only way is to peacefully (and intellectually) limit its spread in the 3 countries I have mentioned above. Alarmist? Yes. Irrational? No.

  173. Lord Narf says

    Interesting to get a rational theist on here. You need to get more of your peers to drop in. We mostly get the nuts.
    Let me add a few points to your comments and see what you think.

    Every Communist regime in history was secular, but all of them were guilty of forcing their anti-theistic, anti-religious attitudes upon people.

    To some degree, you could make the argument that they weren’t exactly anti-religious, but rather they almost created a new, non-theistic religion centered on The State. It’s not a perfect analogy, but do you see what I mean?
    Anyway, they sure as hell weren’t secular.

    You seem to actually get what ‘secular’ means, with a few small inaccuracies. Cool. Pushing atheism in schools would mean having talks about how religion is illogical, corrupting, anti-scientific, [insert lengthy Christopher Hitchens text here]. I don’t freaking want that either! That would be just as much of a violation of the First Amendment as what the Republicans are currently trying to do … not that the First Amendment of the US Constitution means diddly-squat to you, but you know what I mean …

    The undeniable fact is that most modern terrorists were/are associated with this religion and it’s not a simple hijacking.
    Uhhhhhhhh … I dunno. Using the word ‘most’ in it’s literal meaning, referring to something being over 50%, you might be right. But I wouldn’t agree to that statement wholeheartedly.

    If you want to talk about militant terrorism, the Tamil Tigers come to mind. They help balance the scale a bit. And it’s rare, but we occasionally get Buddhist terrorists.

    The primary thing that comes to mind is the activity of Christians here in the US. We have a lot of terrorism by Christians, although it often isn’t reported as such, in the media, because they don’t want to annoy the majority group in the country.

    Abortion-clinic bombings are a thing. Targeted intimidation and murder of abortion doctors is a thing. Then there’s the perpetual protesting of and intimidation of women outside of almost every abortion clinic in the country. I consider that a form of terrorism.

    It would be difficult to get numbers on Christian terrorism, and it would be very difficult to quantify it and compare it to Muslim terrorism. The uncertainty prevents me from unconditionally agreeing with your statement, both because of the often-misunderstood usage of ‘most’ and the fact that it’s hard to calculate even to that 50% line. You’re probably right, if you meant the literal definition of a simple majority, but accuracy difficulties force me to disagree with your declaration of undeniable fact.

  174. Lord Narf says

    Meh. I screwed up that second block-quote, but I think it’s understandable.

  175. Rabenatz says

    Muslims in the USA are a tiny minority so there is really no reason to be afraid of islam (apart from islamists murderig a couple of thousand people). In Europe it’s not a phobia because that would imply an irrational fear, it’s a reasonable fear as a reaction to reality. Islam is a big problem in many European countries (dispropotional criminality, majority thinks christians and atheists are lesser human beings, want to convert Europe, think western women are whores, harass and attack LGBT people, see violence as a valid reaction to conflicts, “honor” killings, reject our laws, constitution, ethics, have an interesting attitude towards rented property, cause over 50% of all youth crime while being only a small percentage of the population etc. pp). No, not all muslims are like that. But way to many are and in case of many of the points I listed it is the majority. The majority simply is incompatible with western culture.

  176. Rabenatz says

    Well, tell that to the gays who get haressed, attacked and beaten to a pulp in European countries mainly by muslims that the issue is just being overinflated and absurd. I am liberal btw., just like most Europeans. But interestingly it’s leftwing super-liberals, communists and so-called anti-fascists (who are pretty fascists themselves) who often defend even islamists even though islamists are anti-gay, anti-women, anti-freedom of speech and expression, anti-peace, anti-secularism,anti-semitic etc. So unfortuantely certain liberals are just as dangerous as islamists because they enable those people and don’t even notice how similar islamism is to nazis/rightwing extremists aka the people they claim to feight against.

  177. Rabenatz says

    Forget it. It’s not working. Muslim immigrants get the exact same great opportunities all other immigrants get. In countries like Germany everyone has health insurance and education is free. They are the only ones causing that extreme trouble, other immigrants very rarely stand out in a negative way. Many of them simply don’t want to integrate into their host country’s culture because they see it as inferior to muslim culture and follow religious laws instead of the laws and consititution of the country. There is no solution to the problem unless the host country becomes muslim.

  178. Rabenatz says

    This is not about unpopular beliefs, this is about rejecting the constitutions and laws of western countries and basing actions on those beliefs. If muslims caused as few troubles as all other immigrants no one would give a crap. You won’t find any Germans complaining or being scared of buddhists or shintoists because the not so small minority in Germany that follows these religions don’t try to force their religious ideologies on the natives, don’t beat up our LGBT people, don’t murder their own children out of some sick idea of “honor”, don’t disrespect women for having several boyfriends in a lifetime, having sex before marriage or wearing their hair open. They also don’t take over whole city districts and are not disproportionally criminal and ready to use violence. You are trying to dismiss actual problems and threats as if those would just go away on their own at some point.

  179. karl antony says

    Dear Sirs
    I hope you are happy and healthy.
    I am Karl Antony,the exegetical paraphraser and critical analyst of the book:Political Islam,This is Islam,Book 1,,,Trafford Publishing.
    I hope you read my book and be honored by your opinion.
    Thank you
    My best regards
    N.B.By the way,my book is anti-Islam

  180. Simon R says

    I don’t accept that Islam is a religion of peace. Look at Nigeria look at The Scum calling themselves ISIS. It is a religion of mysogony and oppression.

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