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Jul 18 2013

Theocracy is Bad — When Muslims Do It

The Religious Freedom Coalition, founded and chaired by William Murray, the evangelist son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, wants you to know that putting God’s law above the constitution is very bad — when Muslims do it. They link to a talk by Zaid Shakir about secularism and Islam, in which Shakir says some genuinely disturbing things. Like this:

Whereas the spirit governing both modernity and secularism — and the two are intricately connected — is that human beings can and in fact must guide themselves independent of the guidance of God. And so one expression that has been closely associated with modernity and in a sense with secularism is that “man is the measure of all things.” Including the measure of God and the measure of religion. One of the principles of secularism is that religion will have no role in informing public policy, governmental decisions or rulings between human beings, so the judiciary branch of government, the legislative branch of government, will allow no room, no role, for religion, values that are rooted in religious principles in a particular society, may be allowed to enter into those realms but only after they’ve been measured and assessed by humans to pose no threat to the integrity of the secular system.

Gosh, that sounds like it could have been said, virtually word for word, by any Christian conservative, doesn’t it? In fact, William Murray himself has said very similar things. Why, just a few weeks ago Murray was complaining that by supporting equality for gay people, Obama has “turned morality upside down and violated God’s moral laws in pushing for the normalization of homosexual sex acts.” And his new book argues that forcing kids to pray in school was good because it taught kids to submit to God:

“If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights,” he explained. “Fifty years ago, prayer and Bible reading represented the authority of God over the school, the teachers and the students. Bowing of heads in the morning for prayer was much more about surrendering to the authority of God than about learning ‘morals.’”

What’s the difference between his position and Shakir’s? Only the name of the God. Both are theocrats. And theocracy is bad, but only if it isn’t Murray’s religion being imposed.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Duh, it has to be the CORRECT theology for it to work!

  2. 2
    matty1

    He’s not arguing that theocracy is wrong, he’s arguing that Islam is wrong so a theocracy based on it would piss God off. This is a standard theocratic Christian position since at least the crusades.

  3. 3
    skinnercitycyclist

    If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights

    I would simply point our constitutional genius to this bit of foolery:

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress

    Yep, sounds like a simple majority vote to me.

  4. 4
    theguy

    If rights come from God, and God is supposed to be omnipotent, what stops God from taking rights away?

    These people want to link modernism (moral relativism) with secularism, but in my experience, the worst moral relativists and liars are Christian/Muslim apologists.

  5. 5
    democommie

    “If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights”

    Or by whichever of GOD’S chosen warriors who has the biggest sword.

  6. 6
    Kevin

    I guess context and vocal inflection are missing…because I agree 100% with the statement made by Shakir.

    Our secular society does demand that

    religion will have no role in informing public policy, governmental decisions or rulings between human beings, so the judiciary branch of government, the legislative branch of government, will allow no room, no role, for religion, values that are rooted in religious principles in a particular society, may be allowed to enter into those realms but only after they’ve been measured and assessed by humans to pose no threat to the integrity of the secular system.

    100% right. You got it. You want to impose your religious morality on us? Fine. Only after it’s been assessed by a secular filter. Not only so it doesn’t impose your peculiar morality on non-believers, but believers in a different god as well.

  7. 7
    D. C. Sessions

    Or by whichever of GOD’S chosen warriors who has the biggest sword.

    As long as they’re not vetoed by iron chariots.

  8. 8
    coffeehound

    If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights

    Huh. So all of those taking away of rights(and limbs and heads) that happened prior to the formation of our government and is still going on in today’s theocracies because some clown with a funny robe or hat says it’s the will of god…..those are the rights that can’t be taken away? I’ll take take my chances with a civil, secular government over a wacked out religious despot any day, thanks.

  9. 9
    John Pieret

    “If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights,” he explained.

    Yeah. The latter was exactly the problem with Prop 8. Strangely, I don’t remember William Murray complaining about that back at the time it happened. However, we have a Bill of Rights to prevent such things, as Judge Walker ruled.

  10. 10
    d.c.wilson

    If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights

    Funny how God never seems to stop governments who decide to take those rights away.

  11. 11
    peterh

    How is it that would-be theocrats are universally ignorant of history?

  12. 12
    kermit.

    peterh How is it that would-be theocrats are universally ignorant of history?
    .
    It’s not that they are ignorant of history (although they are) so much as they are incapable of seeing themselves as others see them. They lack all introspection. They also are incapable of imagining themselves in another’s shoes(1), and so lack all empathy. Therefore, they cannot imagine not being the dominant religion, nor how unfair their theology is to others, etc.
    .
    (1) Ask one sometime what it would be like if they had been born gay, or female if talking to a male, or in Calcutta instead of Birmingham, Alabama. They fail to see the point of such questions, and usually try to twist it so that their privilege (either real or desired) is justified, and do hilariously badly if they actually try

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