The huge interrogations

Sunday morning at 10 a.m. UK time, BBC1 The Big Questions will be asking the ridiculous question, “Should Human Rights always outweigh Religious Rights?”

But the good news is that Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis will be taking part, so it should be interesting.

Mind you, I can ruin the suspense right now by saying yes, of course they should. Any religious practice that violates one or more human rights should not be allowed. There is no “religious right” to enslave people or cut off their genitalia or keep them out of school or deny them medical treatment or prevent them from getting birth control.


  1. rnilsson says

    How do people even come up with such Big Begging Questions? BBC -> BBQ
    Is that what falls out of their hats as they step inside?
    Dandruff is the new snow, apparently.
    Aren’t those the Mo T-boys?

  2. rnilsson says

    Oh. Some of those were not-so-Big Q-questions.

    Might be interesting to hear them take a part and take apart. If I’m up. Depends on wind; if I hear the local church summons to Sunday worship and wake me up around 11 (10 UTC).

  3. chigau (違う) says

    When your “religious rights” conflict with your own human rights, does your head explode?

  4. says

    Oh yes, absolutely the Mo T-boys, in other words they represent the LSE Student Union Atheist Secular and Humanist group. They’re also the December 10 protest boys, who teamed up with Maryam to organize the protest.

  5. says

    What is interesting is that the premise of the question suggests that human rights and religious rights are in some way incompatible. That is undoubtedly true though of course they should not be. All rights in law should be in accordance with and not against human rights. It is of course a very simple question for atheists to answer. But if anyone was unsure about it I would simply say that while not everyone is religious everyone most definitely is human. It is a nice play on words and is a bit of a sound bite. But that does not deny the fundamental truth of it however

    And on a general point – it is always good to see Ophelia reference issues pertinent to the U K as it gives them greater credence to those of us who live here. Freethought Blogs is very American centric so it is sometimes hard for us non Americans to understand what is going on over there. Over here it does not matter whether you are an atheist as no one cares. But over there that is not so. And although we naturally empathise it is not the same. So it is good we have subject matter we can relate to instead. So please keep on doing that for as long as you can Ophelia. It is at least as far as I am concerned much appreciated

  6. says

    Thank you, surreptitious. I have to say though, I don’t think we’re all that American-centric. Just off the top of my head without even looking at the list – we have Yemi, Nirmukta, Avicenna, Maryam, Taslima, Alex…

  7. rnilsson says

    Thanks, OB. I thought the names did feel familiar.
    So, is this maybe some surreptitious worker-beeb priming the pump, so to speak, while the Queen Beeb Boss is on holiday dronning*?
    Interestinger and interestinger.

    * Bonus Danish Pun. ;-)~

  8. Shatterface says

    It’s like asking ‘Do Human Rights always outweigh the rights of political parties?’ or ‘Do Human Rights always outweigh business interests?’

    The answer is that of course they fucking should – but in practice it’s a matter of power. Power trumps rights every time.

  9. RJW says

    ‘Religious freedom’ is a myth, and a particularly toxic one. A citizen’s right to practise his or her religion is a human right that’s constrained by the harm principle, ideally by the laws of the secular state, religious freedom is not separate or superior to society’s mores and ethical principles.

    Agreed,Ophelia, it’s a ridiculous question, it’s also rather sinister in its implications. Where oh where, do people get these hare-brained ideas?

  10. Al Dente says

    Whenever someone demands religious rights or religious freedom they expect someone else to give up one of their rights or freedoms. The Catholic bishops claim it’s their religious right to deny their employees insurance payments for contraception.

  11. quixote says

    Let’s grant for the moment that religious rights take precedence over everything. Great. We can now achieve absurdity in three small steps.

    My religion believes it’s essential to kill nonbelievers. You are a non-believer. I get to kill you.

    Cool. The human right not to be murdered got trampled a bit, but the all-important right to exercise one’s religion is preserved. Right?

    Except it isn’t, because my next door neighbor’s religion requires my death and — boom — neither my life nor my religion survives.

    If religion gets more respect than human rights, neither one survives. If human rights take precedence, religious rights do have limits, but at least religion can do its thing within those limits.

    Isn’t that the vital point? That one leads to logical absurdity while the other one allows both sets of rights to work.

  12. K says

    What a bs… religious freedom is a subset to the freedoms of speech and conscience, which is in turn just a part of the system of human rights…. and anyway, any freedom has its limits where it infringes on the rights and freedoms of others.
    (Which is btw the reason why imposing religious limits in the schooling, ability to move freely and dressing of children is highly problematic: religious parents infringe on the right of the children to develop their skills in the broadest range possible.)
    Democracy, free speech and free debate do have some basic rules that ensure their functioning, one of them being that anyone must be able to freely contribute to debates on an equal basis regardless of sex, gender, hair colour or whatever (which includes that people participate as free human beings and NOT as members of one sex or another). A debate that goes against these principles (by reminding any group of people of “their place”) is not a debate but a sermon.
    (Sorry, English is not my native language.)

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