Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Freedom of religion is a gentlemen's agreement

Freedom of religion is a gentleman's agreement. It was never meant to mean anything goes; if that was the case then it would make it virtually impossible to enforce any law, because anyone who wished to break that law could simply claim exemption because it violated their conscience.

No, freedom of religion was a gentleman's agreement arrived at by the Founding Fathers as a way for all of the differing Protestant denominations, the Jews, and even, gasp, Catholics to live peacefully. It wasn't that hard of a sell because under the British government this was already the order of the day.

The mistake the Founders made was in not keeping with the tolerance of reasonable accommodation that the British had arrived at; oh no, they were revolutionaries, they had to put into practice the latest fad in liberalism, an open-ended freedom of religion.

At the time that they believed this stupidity they didn't have any dealings with Muslims; in fact, Thomas Jefferson was shocked to find a few years later that Muslims wanted Americans to pay tribute because they were Christians, or at least not Muslims.

At the time there was another idea that was current and that was that all denominations should essentially have a battle of ideas and that the denomination with the best case would rise to the top in a free-market of ideas.

Again the folks with these ideas did not reckon on the Muslim approach; Islam doesn't rely solely on convincing arguments but on conversion by the sword or by persecutions involving a special tax, lack of legal standing in court in case of a dispute with a Muslim, etc.

The modern Liberal has added another layer to this gentlemen's agreement; the agreement to disagree. This "let's agree to disagree" philosophy sounds good at first, but what it really is saying is that nothing we believe is worth arguing over. Along with an unhealthy philosophy known as multi-culturalism, this is why the claims of Islam are not being cross-examined with the same adversarial zeal which other faiths have faced.

It is after all the claims and practices of Islam where the weakness is; the whole religion could collapse in a few generations if it was subjected to the same scrutiny that Christianity is constantly under. Let's try the Historical-critical method on it, let's look at the authenticity of its claims. If Christians offer the test that Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or Lord, then let's ask the same question of Islam - did it come from a liar a lunatic, or the Lord?

I will later write on what criteria we can ask the liar, lunatic or from the Lord question of Islam, but even to raise the spectre is enough to start a conversation, so go start one.There is nothing stopping you; after all, you don't need to build a Mosque overlooking "Ground Zero" to start a conversation.