Religious freedom?

Religious freedom?

: Well, it’s not just France that’s doing dumb things like banning religous clothing. Germany’s banning headscarves.

  • chuck

    as if *that* will solve their problems. As if banning hate speech and the “wrong” books will solve their problems. Without free speech and expression these things can not be worked out peacefully in the public forum. That is why Justice Holmes so often came down on the side of free speech: he knew that that when people lose their voice, they will eventually fight. His experience of the awfulness war convinced him that it was well worth the toleration of even bizarre opinion to avoid it.

  • I’m all for religious freedom and freedom of speech, and I’m certainly aggravated by those “thought crimes” invented by German and French lawmakers, but Americans would be a little more credible in their pontifications on those subjects if they acknowledged a little more the right *not* to believe in god. Get rid of your constant references to religion in political and public life, then you can get back to us Europeans with lessons about freedom.

  • Olivier: You clearly are free NOT to wear a headscarf or kibbeh or cross. But what of those who do? They are not allowed to? That is not freedom of religion. That is the imposition of secularity. We Americans left Europe precisely so we could have the freedom to practice — or not practice — religion without government interference. The mixing of government and religion is always dangerous. Aren’t we learning that lesson all too clearly right now?

  • Sarah Brabazon-Biggar

    Oliver Travers wrote:

    Get rid of your constant references to religion in political and public life, then you can get back to us Europeans with lessons about freedom.

    Oh yeah, let’s all wear bland, noncommittal, nonsectarian masks in public to avoid offending anyone.
    I hate to break it to you, but freedom entails putting up with everyone else’s freedom. Just because you’re free to be an atheist doesn’t mean you have a right to be free from other people’s religiousness. And vice versa.

  • Andy

    Everyone must dress the same so that they can be taught individuality and freedom. Laws must be passed outlawing certain types of religious dress so that the young can be taught religious freedom and tolerance.
    Perhaps that is why secular Europe has made Kofi Annan and the UN the modern equivalent of the Medieval Pope and Vatican. The center of moral authority that has no armies but can command and control armies. The central power that praises of condemns the moral acts of kings and presidents.
    Europe likes its history so much that they recycle and recreate their past. Its almost as if they got Santana and Santayana mixed up…”Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to play Black Magic Woman and Oye Como Va throughout eternity”

  • Hey — at least those are good songs.

  • sil

    The Europeans has misinterpret the meaning of freedom, religion and government. Instead of being freedom OF religion, they are freedom FROM religion. Forcing secularism onto others.
    Another argument. Secularism is another form of religion if you think about it. A false religion, where people blindly believe in scientists to explain the world, kinda like prophets. This is forcing the secularism religion onto others.

  • sil

    false religion = anti religion
    Probably better term

  • >Just because you’re free to be an atheist doesn’t mean you have a right to be free from other people’s religiousness.
    Well, at least it’s clear that you advocate a theocracy, which is often how the US looks to us in Europe, given the Pledge of Allegiance, “in god we trust” and all that stuff. And by the way, I’m not atheist, I’m agnostic.
    Back to the bigger point. Nowhere did I advocate to force secularism on anyone, and I indeed think the whole “laicit

  • Joao

    Well, I prefer the dumb laws to the dumb President.

  • Shockoefreako

    See this is where things are just getting downright scary….We are on a slippery slope to major disaster.

  • Ralf Goergens

    this isn’t about the suppression of religious symbols. The headscarf is a symbol of political Islam and of the submission of Muslim women under male dominance. The vast majority of Muslim schoolgirls who wear a headscarf do so on the threat of massive physical violence. Muslim women in Germany who support the ban on headscarves also receive an amazing load of hatemail and even death threats by Islamists.

  • Ralf Goergens

    This is not about individsual rights, this is a conflict between “group rights” of Muslim immigrants versus individual rights.
    The same people who force women and girls to wear hijabs, forcefully marry their daughtes to men they’ve never seen and commit “honor-killings” against those who refuse. Letting them get away with forcing headscraves on wome who don’t want to wear them will lead to an increase in forcerd marriages and honor-killings, it’s as easy as that.

  • sojourner

    I was in Montreal last week. While strolling down Drummond Street, I glanced up at a woman wearing the most severe of headscarves. It was made of a drab natural-weave cloth, it looked as if she were wearing a cloth helmet with narrow slits for the eyes. Frankly, if she were assigned to teach my 6-year old, I would give serious consideration to pulling my child from the classroom. From my perspective, she is actively promoting the cultural view that a woman’s face viewed by men is shameful.
    When does her right to practice religion become a means of cultural advocacy? And, shouldn’t a local school district have a say in what is appropriate attire for both students and teachers?

  • I am with Jeff on this one. I find it completely mind-boggling and alien to my red-blooded American civil libertarianism that the French and Germans would do this. In my life experience, reasonable accomodations to religious beliefs have always been the norm. Back in the 1980s, my junior high school classmate, Joy, could not wear gym shorts for religious reasons: She played field hockey in ankle-length skirts, and this was not very controversial. Ahmad the weird exchange student from Egypt needed to pray at certain times of the day: the wrestling gym was vacant until after-school practice, and already had nice mats, and so nobody minded. If the Sikh kid on the rival cross-country team wanted to run 5 kilometers in a turban on a hot day, more power to him, as long as he had no cooling device in there to give him an edge! Religiously-based nudism might be a trickier case (although back in my Berkeley days there was a group that was engaged in just that on the city streets).
    Now, I find Christian proselytes and drum-banging Hare Krishnas, for example, as annoying as a lot of people do, but people have the absolute right to walk up to me on the street and ask me, “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?” or “Have you ever chanted nam-myoho-renge-kyo?” Try to persuade me of white supremacy or that Ben Stiller is a comic genius, and if I am a truly civic-minded person, I should tell you why I think you are dead wrong.
    As a writing and rhetoric instructor at Berkeley, I had students who challenged what they thought were my secularist humanist biases. They were welcome to write intelligent, grammatically correct, tightly argued, well-organized refutations that observed the norm of civility in debate and withstood the strawman test. Sadly, not all of my fellow instructors felt that way. (No wonder kids today are turning neocon: It’s their punk rock slam at the new orthodoxy.)
    The U.S. was founded by people seeking the right to dress up ostentatiously in big pilgrim hats and celebrate communion jointly, passing the cup around the table. They eventually got over that witch-burning thing. We let the Amish have their buggies as long as they install reflectors and other traffic-safety features. God and Caesar work these things out. An ACLU lawyer defeats NYC’s attempt to ban a Klan rally, then joins a huge counterdemonstration that dwarfs and humiliates their pitiful display of stupidosity.
    I mean, come on: tolerance doesn’t mean you have to LIKE what other people stand for. It just means you can’t shoot them for it or quash their free speech. I once had a neighbor who dressed and groomed himself to look like Adolf Hitler, true story. He always looked pitifully surprised that he wasn’t a popular guy, but he walked the streets safely (Berkeley again), didn’t play his oompah records too loud, and was fine about taking his turn putting the garbage cans out on Tuesday. I could live with that.

  • Joe Baby

    I tend to agree with Ralf’s point, but it also shows how far along the problem is with Islamic domination within their European subgroups. Depressing.

  • syn

    Meanwhile, in America, a particular US President is condemned for even expressing his religious values.

  • BigFire

    Oh, the French and German should have a field day with the Sikh. A fully initiated male Sikh is by the creed of his religion required to wear a steel dagger on his person at all time (as a symbol of his willingness to protect the Brotherhood). This has cause plenty of problem in America where the Zero-Tolerance of weapons rule have cause plenty of headache.

  • MD

    I find Olivier Traver’s notions very strange. Why should public life be without mention of religion if that is what the public servant or official believes in? How does that impinge on the rights of the atheist or agnostic? If you are a public official and believe in God, is it not more honest to mention it than to pretend your religion doesn’t affect how you think and how you act? Why should the atheist’s lack of belief in God ‘trump’ the non-athiest’s belief in God? How is that freedom? Odd, I was raised (and am still) a Hindu and the Judeo-Christian heritage of this country is not an affront to me and does not opress me in any way. Why would it? I understand the history of this country and that the majority of people are Christian. As long as no one interferes with my right to practice as a Hindu and doesn’t discriminate against me, I don’t mind the public references to God or even to a Christian God.
    How sad that the Sikhs cannot wear their beatiful turbans and Muslim women are not free to express their religion in their own way and that Jews must wear baseball caps (or some such) instead. How is this any different than forcing women to wear a veil? Same thing really. The government telling you what you can and cannot do.

  • CEP

    While I’m not saying this law is right, I do understand, in part, what France and now Germany are doing. France is once again in the midst of increased hate crimes against Muslims (as well as Jews). While I don’t keep up with all of the societal happenings in Germany, I would probably be safe in saying they are also showing (statistically) an increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. By banning the head scarf, how would you know who is a practicing Islamist, thus the premise would be to reduce hate crimes. This may just be a case of the right idea, wrong implimentation on the part of their governments.
    Meanwhile, it’s just fine and dandy that the Rev. Moon crowns himself the Messiah in a ritual taking place in the US Senate.

  • So far no one has mentioned the fact that banning headscarves is about as effective as a bandaid on a gushing artery for this problem. Also, it penalizes the victim — who will get punished here, on one end by the authorities for covering her hair in a proscribed manner, on the other for her menfolk for a) obeying the law of the land (if she does remove the scarf at the order of the cops) and b) getting the family in trouble. But hey, it looks good on paper.

  • Sigh. That sentence should read “by her menfolk” and have a question mark at the end of it.

  • Sarah Brabazon-Biggar

    Olivier Travers wrote:

    Well, at least it’s clear that you advocate a theocracy, which is often how the US looks to us in Europe, given the Pledge of Allegiance, “in god we trust” and all that stuff.

    First of all, sorry for spelling your name wrong in my first post. (I also considered the possibility of your not being atheist–the “you” in my post was intended as a general one.)
    No, I don’t advocate a theocracy. You seem to have missed the “vice versa” at the end of that paragraph, which was kind of important. I advocate libertarianism, which means you can worship Don Knotts and elect a president who has a shrine to The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in his backyard, for all I care. Just don’t expect me to vote for him.
    The Pledge of Allegiance isn’t as big a deal as you might think. It’s kind of like saying Britain is a theocracy because God is mentioned in the national anthem. Most schools where I live leave out the “under God” bit, anyway. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the whole thing–rote patriotism is silly.
    The bottom line is that more people in the US are religious than in Europe, and because of that, references to religion are more common.
    But if your elected official bothers you by being religious, you vote that sucker out.
    Try that in a real theocracy, like, oh, say, Iran.