Hitchens against the free exercise of religion

Aught3

New Member
Former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Click image to expand.A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled "free exercise of religion"?

No, I am not. Take an example close at hand, the absurdly named Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More usually known as the Mormon church, it can boast Glenn Beck as one of its recruits. He has recently won much cheap publicity for scheduling a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington. But on the day on which the original rally occurred in 1963, the Mormon church had not yet gotten around to recognizing black people as fully human or as eligible for full membership. (Its leadership subsequently underwent a "revelation" allowing a change on this point, but not until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.) This opportunism closely shadowed an earlier adjustment of Mormon dogma, abandoning its historic and violent attachment to polygamy. Without that doctrinal change, the state of Utah was firmly told that it could not be part of the Union. More recently, Gov. Mitt Romney had to assure voters that he did not regard the prophet, or head of the Mormon church, as having ultimate moral and spiritual authority on all matters. Nothing, he swore, could override the U.S. Constitution. Thus, to the extent that we view latter-day saints as acceptable, and agree to overlook their other quaint and weird beliefs, it is to the extent that we have decidedly limited them in the free exercise of their religion.

http://www.slate.com/id/2266154/?from=rss#

Read the rest, it's a good article.
 

lrkun

New Member
Aught3 said:
Former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Click image to expand.A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled "free exercise of religion"?

No, I am not. Take an example close at hand, the absurdly named Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More usually known as the Mormon church, it can boast Glenn Beck as one of its recruits. He has recently won much cheap publicity for scheduling a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington. But on the day on which the original rally occurred in 1963, the Mormon church had not yet gotten around to recognizing black people as fully human or as eligible for full membership. (Its leadership subsequently underwent a "revelation" allowing a change on this point, but not until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.) This opportunism closely shadowed an earlier adjustment of Mormon dogma, abandoning its historic and violent attachment to polygamy. Without that doctrinal change, the state of Utah was firmly told that it could not be part of the Union. More recently, Gov. Mitt Romney had to assure voters that he did not regard the prophet, or head of the Mormon church, as having ultimate moral and spiritual authority on all matters. Nothing, he swore, could override the U.S. Constitution. Thus, to the extent that we view latter-day saints as acceptable, and agree to overlook their other quaint and weird beliefs, it is to the extent that we have decidedly limited them in the free exercise of their religion.

http://www.slate.com/id/2266154/?from=rss#

Read the rest, it's a good article.

Hitchen's supports the free exercise of religion, because it limits religious freedom to a certain extent.
 

TheMaw

New Member
If I recall correctly he had mention, in a debate a while back, a small religious group in the SouthWest(?) that was allowed to drink a certain substance that would get them high and allow them to "See God". Of course there is no way to prove that they actually interact with God, but while the drink is illegal to everyone else, they are allowed to partake in the religious activity because of the Freedom of Religion...it certainly gets ridiculous at points and Hitchens makes some good points in the article.
 

ImprobableJoe

New Member
So, Hitchens is applying the same broad bigot brush as every other anti-Muslim asshole. Gotcha. Every Muslim is a terrorist or supports terrorism. Every Muslim forces women to wear burkas. Every Muslim stones people to death, calls for jihad against the West, and cuts off girls private bits. Every single one, because there is no difference between an American Sufi Muslim and a Saudi Arabian Wahabbist Sunni. None.

...I've never quite trusted Hitchens anyway.
 
Wow, ImprobableJoe. Just... wow. That's probably the worst strawman I've seen you set up. Ever.
Either that or you were being ironic and it flew right over my head.
 

ImprobableJoe

New Member
TheFlyingBastard said:
Wow, ImprobableJoe. Just... wow. That's probably the worst strawman I've seen you set up. Ever.
Either that or you were being ironic and it flew right over my head.
Wow... just... just... wow. Wow. WOW!

If you're on board with Hitchens and his bullshit, all I have to say is "wow".
 

ImprobableJoe

New Member
TheFlyingBastard said:
Good job not proving me wrong.
Wow. WOWWOWOWOWOWOW.

Where's this strawman you speak of? Or do you think it is enough to make an accusation without evidence and then claim victory when your baseless claim isn't taken seriously?

Dude, seriously... I'm sick to tears of all the anti-Muslim bullshit, so if that's what you're supporting then whatever.
 
Wait. weren't you the one accusing him of painting all Muslims with the same broad brush? Maybe you are the one who should show me where he says that all of its adherents follow or advocate stoning and female circumcision.

That is, when you're done parroting my wow - which to me sounds like you're just making up your lack of substance in volume.
 

Inferno

New Member
Sorry Joe but I think TFB is right here, you're setting up a huge strawman. I doubt that Hitchens meant
"Every Muslim forces women to wear burkas. Every Muslim stones people to death, calls for jihad against the West, and cuts off girls private bits. Every single one, because there is no difference between an American Sufi Muslim and a Saudi Arabian Wahabbist Sunni. None."
but rather
"Even moderate Muslims give shelter to the extremist Muslims, because after all they still pray to the same God. And in the same way Christians may give shelter to extremist Muslims because after all they still pray to a God, even the same one albeit that they practice the religion wrong. etc. etc."
Oh and obviously substitute Christian and Muslim for basically all the religions out there.
And btw you will have to have watched a few of Hitchens videos where he says exactly that.
 

Aught3

New Member
ImprobableJoe said:
So, Hitchens is applying the same broad bigot brush as every other anti-Muslim asshole. Gotcha. Every Muslim is a terrorist or supports terrorism. Every Muslim forces women to wear burkas. Every Muslim stones people to death, calls for jihad against the West, and cuts off girls private bits. Every single one, because there is no difference between an American Sufi Muslim and a Saudi Arabian Wahabbist Sunni. None.

...I've never quite trusted Hitchens anyway.
But I can just quote from the article:
Some of its adherents follow or advocate
Islam's teachings generally exhibit suspicion
Other teachings, depending on context, can be held to exhibit
Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims
The only question, then, is what kind, or rather kinds, of Islam it will follow.
 

Nautyskin

New Member
ImprobableJoe said:
So, Hitchens is applying the same broad bigot brush as every other anti-Muslim asshole. Gotcha. Every Muslim is a terrorist or supports terrorism. Every Muslim forces women to wear burkas. Every Muslim stones people to death, calls for jihad against the West, and cuts off girls private bits. Every single one, because there is no difference between an American Sufi Muslim and a Saudi Arabian Wahabbist Sunni. None.

...I've never quite trusted Hitchens anyway.
I knew there would come a time when I disagreed with one of your posts.

Re-read it, man. I think you may have jumped to conclusions here.
 

ImprobableJoe

New Member
I think the issue here is context.

I'm reading this article in the context of the larger issue of anti-Muslim bigotry. There are two specific issues at play here:

1) Hitchens and other critics of religion in general have usually done a pretty good job of being specific in their attacks. When a Catholic priest rapes a bunch of kids, they don't say "Theists rape kids", "Christians rape kids", "Catholics rape kids" or even "Catholic priests rape kids." They put the blame where it belongs, on the specific priests that rape kids, and on the higher Catholic leadership that covered it up. I don't see much in the way of making a specific case against specific members of specific sects of Islam, and different schools of thought within those sects. The blanket word "Muslim" is used as though there are no divergent sects or differing worldviews. You wouldn't see Hitchens or anyone else talk about the crimes of Catholic priests in (as an example) Ireland, and expect a response from Baptists in Mississippi. Hitchens puts the word "moderate" in scare quotes as though the idea of moderates isn't to be trusted. He's smart enough that he should know that the Sufi Muslims in America who are trying to build a community center are considered to be heretics and enemies of Islam by the terrorists behind 9/11. He can separate Mormons from Catholics, so we know he's capable of seeing the difference.

2) In the current atmosphere are anti-Muslim bigotry and extremist political rhetoric, it is vital that people make their points plainly on the side of tolerance and freedom of religion. Not because the Muslims can't take it; I'm not in the least bit concerned about hurt feelings based on how silly their beliefs are, or going after assholes of any faith. I'm concerned about the rise of political and physical attacks against my fellow Americans, for the crime of being different. That's what it boils down to, in the condemnation of Islam without recognition that they have the same liberal-to-fundamentalist spectrum as any other religion. There's also a racist/xenophobic element involved because Muslims in the West look different and alien, so it is easier to dehumanize them.

I'm just worried about the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry. In the same way that we can say that moderate theists can provide cover for extremists, I'm seeing relatively calm voices attacking Islam providing cover for more blatantly overt hatred. If you guys don't see it... well, I can't force you to share my perspective, but I hope you at least attempt to see where I'm coming from.
 

Giliell

New Member
The problem I have, and this is the same I suppose in all the west, is that they're acting as if muslims HAD special rights which need to be removed, making laws especially concerning muslims. Muslims in America or in western Europe aren't entitled to polygamy or allowed their own Sharia courts or stoning people.
And I agree with the policy of outlawing organisations that promote such thinks and work in order to remove civil and human rights.
But some things that Hitchens says in this article clearly show a stron g bias and quite some fallacies:
Hitchens said:
Muslims in America, including members of the armed forces, have already been found willing to respond to orders issued by foreign terrorist organizations.
Would it have been any better if they'd responded to orders from American tterrorist organisations? Because there clearly is a history of christisan American terrorism. I'm not saying he supports that, but I fail to see why Islam and muslims are thought to be special in those regards. There are idiot terrorists in every all-including supremacist group, though admittedly there are rather more than their fair share in Islam at the moment.

And then there's this truely distubing paragraph:
Hitchens said:
Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.
What does he do here?
He doesn't refute the claim with arguments about the issue at hand. Did people say such things? Can they be compared with the anti-semite propaganda in Germany, making muslims the scapegoat for everything? Do those statements incite hate against people based on their religion?
He doesn't bother to deal with those things, but basically says: Well, the jews were inocent but you deserve what's coming to you because it was your people who did something bad so be humble, apologize and accept hate-mongering as legitimate criticism.

And overall I agree with Joe too much, lately. The world has truely gone crazy and we should convert to some of the crazier branches of christianity because that's surely a sign of the rapture ;)
No offense meant, Joe, but we used to disagree so nicely in the past, I feel like Odo having to team up with Quark :mrgreen:
 
ImprobableJoe said:

Ah, that's different.

For the record, I like your direct - sometimes even blunt - way of putting things because usually you have a good point. That's why I was honestly surprised about your first post in this thread, and I was voicing my astonishment at the break in your pattern. I did so in a certain wording that perhaps conveyed an idea I did not mean it to convey.

Therefore, if my reaction came across as derision, I apologize.
 

Anachronous Rex

New Member
It strikes me as frankly a little bizarre that this little article should be a point of contention.

Was there anything written that is blatantly untrue?

I can understand disagreement with a specific focus on Islam, but the point being made is a historical one - and I should add in my humble expertise as a religious historian an entirely valid one - of which Islam is the current most-applicable case; and not without reason is it being made. There are, of course, liberal voices calling for exceptionalist treatment of Islam; somewhat encouraged by the total inanity of their opposition.

We should resist both impulses, and (those of us who count ourselves denizens of these United States) strive to uphold our secular constitution.
 

Nautyskin

New Member
ImprobableJoe said:
I think the issue here is context.
Yeah, but if I had to guess, I'd say you've been fighting bigots for weeks, possibly months, and when you heard footsteps you just turned around and started shooting.

I actually hadn't heard anyone addressing the limits of 'Freedom of Religion' like this before, and I thought it was an excellent article, quite fair, that made some really good points.

Where do you draw the line as far as Freedom of Religion goes, specifically with Islam? That's really the question he was asking, I thought. It has to be drawn somewhere, as it's been done for every other religion. It must be tempered with what's morally acceptable and legal in the country where it's practiced.
 

Nautyskin

New Member
Anachronous Rex said:
There are, of course, liberal voices calling for exceptionalist treatment of Islam; somewhat encouraged by the total inanity of their opposition.

We should resist both impulses, and (those of us who count ourselves denizens of these United States) strive to uphold our secular constitution.
Really well-put. I consider myself fairly neutral in this whole thing, and, although the anti-Islam bigotry is obviously the loudest, and by far the stupidest, I do see plenty of people asking for this exceptionalist treatment you speak of, and it's really quite worrying.
 

borrofburi

New Member
ImprobableJoe said:
So, Hitchens is applying the same broad bigot brush as every other anti-Muslim asshole. Gotcha. Every Muslim is a terrorist or supports terrorism. Every Muslim forces women to wear burkas. Every Muslim stones people to death, calls for jihad against the West, and cuts off girls private bits. Every single one, because there is no difference between an American Sufi Muslim and a Saudi Arabian Wahabbist Sunni. None.
Except that's not what he's saying at all, at least not in the paragraphs quoted (maybe he goes on to say that). Instead he's saying there *are* limits on freedom of religion, and gives historical examples: we did not allow the mormons to keep their polygamy.

And on a certain level I agree: "it's part of my religion" is not a get out of jail free card, and should not be.
 
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