08 August 2008

Councils should have nothing to do with religion

Before anyone brands this as "Islamophobia", let's make it clear Islam and Muslims don't scare me in the slightest. My concern is simple.

In a secular state it is entirely inappropriate for central OR local government to fund, subsidise or otherwise provide any support, promotion or encouragement of any religion, of any kind. So it is from this that I condemn Wellington City Council for its role in what is described as "Islamic Awareness Week".

If Muslims in Wellington wish to promote such a week then fine - let them do so with their own funds, private property they own, rent or have permission to use and have fun.

However it is entirely wrong for non-Muslim Wellington City ratepayers to pay directly or indirectly for the promotion of the religion. It is an insult to those of other beliefs including atheists and agnostics who would prefer that Islam not be promoted or celebrated in any way. It would be the same if it were Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or indeed atheism.

The right to freedom of religion as a private choice, and to express publicly as a form of free speech is fundamental to a free society. However, also fundamental is the right to freedom to criticise religion and to not be forced to subsidise the promotion of any such belief. The only appropriate role for any government in such circumstances is to stand separate - to protect the right of religions to be practised and promoted, within the boundaries of not initiating force or fraud against others, and the right of others to criticise and condemn religions and non-religious philosophies.


Anonymous said...

"However, also fundamental is the right to freedom to criticise religion"

The problem with Islam is that they don't tolerate criticism of their religion, witness the number of high profile people in Europe with round the clock security because they criticised Islam.

"to protect the right of religions to be practised and promoted, within the boundaries of not initiating force or fraud against others,"

What do you think a government should do if a religion actually does initiate force against certain of it's own members, on a day to day basis forcing them to partake of certain rituals under threat of death if they try to escape.

This is a genuine question.

Libertyscott said...

Well you're right about many Muslims, but that's when the law steps in - when Muslims or indeed anyone of any belief uses violence or threates of violence against critics.

Islam isn't a unified religion led by a single person and with a single set of beliefs, so we treat Muslims as individuals as being either peaceful or threatening. So if followers of a religion threaten force against others (whether followers or not) the law can step in.

It's no different from a family or a gang, both of them can be threatening and violent.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. But it goes further than this.

Islam does not technically allow for freedom of religion, it is not only a religion but also ultimately a ruling system that does not allow other religions to exist. Therefore it is fine for someone to be a Moslem if they like. But we need to be very careful at where we start to draw the line, as for a large group to truly follow Islam here to the letter could be a disaster.

Also, it is important to protect our heritage. And regardless of whether you personally believe in it or not, Christianity is a strong part of the heritage of this country, hence the value of rates waivers for churches - they help to preserve our heritage. Christianity also allows freedom of religion, and it is in the nominally Christian west that this concept was able to develop. Such a concept could never develop under Islam.

So yes, we need freedom of religion. But we need to ensure that in saying that we don't go too far like the UK has done. Some religions don't believe in freedom of religion, and others do.

KG said...

Islam isn't a religion so much as an ideology and a violent and dangerous one at that.
No sane Christian believes in conversions at the point of a gun and death to apostates--Islam does.
It is impossible to separate Wahabbism from the rest of islam and say they're just a few nutters on the fringe, for the simple reason that millions of muslims follow that sect and are mounting a well-financed (by Saudi Arabia)campaign to silence all dissent within islam and establish a worldwide caliphate.
To paraphrase Mao, "moderate" islam is the sea in which the Wahabbists swim. And it provides them with aid, support and cover.