Incitement and Religion

[Fourth in a series of 4 posts about “Freedom of Speech”]

[Trigger warning – this post contains a few modest proposals and references to terrible religious incitements (don’t blame me I didn’t write them), those of a sensitive disposition are advised NOT to read this post.]

In this post I am going to take a look at the 3 Abrahamic religions to decide whether any of their religious texts should be considered as direct and credible incitements to violence according to the framework that I set out in the previous post. In so many debates that I have listened to about whether these religions encourage violence, historical acts carried out supposedly in the name of each religion have been used as “arguments”. I regard these “arguments” as non-arguments because often the historical acts were carried out in opposition to the actual religious teachings, and so instead I am here going to focus purely on the religious texts.

The only “history” that is relevant in this discussion is the story of the actions of the main characters in the religions, as told by the religious texts. The actual historical truth of the religious texts is also not relevant, because it is the religious texts that form the basis of the religions, not what may or may not have actually happened. The truth about the events described in the religious texts is at best either historically disputed or unverifiable in any case.

ISLAM

Note – when I refer to apologists here I am referring to all those who try to excuse the incitements in the Islamic texts, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE?

One of the central ideas in the Islamic religion is that the life of the man that Muslims regard as the last prophet was an excellent example for Muslims to follow. This is stated for example in this Koranic verse:

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YUSUFALI: Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

SHAKIR: Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.

Apologists have claimed that this pattern of conduct does not include the violent deeds of Mohammed. However there is nothing in this verse to suggest that those violent deeds should be excluded. This claim becomes particularly ridiculous when you look at the immediately preceeding and following verses which are clearly referring to a warlike campaign that Mohammed was involved in at the time. Consider this following verse particularly, which is almost certainly supposed to be Allah’s blessing for the Banu Qurayza massacre or at least a very similar event, where Mohammed’s forces executed hundreds of defenceless prisoners and enslaved their women and children:

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YUSUFALI: And those of the People of the Book who aided them – Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts. (So that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners.

SHAKIR: And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part.

In the modern world such an action would be considered a war crime – the execution of defenceless prisoners who had surrendered without a fight at the end of a siege. This is the sort of thing the Nazis used to get up to in occupied Europe in WWII. The apologist defence of this massacre is that the people of this settlement had helped Mohammed’s enemies in violation of an agreement that they had with Mohammed. Even if this was really the case however, it could scarcely excuse the execution of all the men of the settlement, including adolescent boys, and not just the leaders of the settlement. As for the enslavement of the women and children then again this is a criminal act in the modern Western world, by the example of his conduct the Islamic texts incite Muslims to enslave civilians captured in war, another direct and credible incitement which encourages slavery (including sexual slavery, some of the captives were taken as wives).  While the above verse refers to the taking of “prisoners” rather than slaves, later in this section slavery is justified explicitly:

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YUSUFALI: O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

SHAKIR: O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her– specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Note also the reference to terror in the 33:26 verse – “cast terror into their hearts”, which flies in the face of those who claim terrorist acts have nothing to do with Islam. There are other references to terror in the Koran as well, for example:

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YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

You see – “strike off every fingertip”, its not really very nice is it?

The second half of Mohammed’s career, known as the Medina period, was essentially a campaign of war to establish Mohammed’s rule and consequently to establish the Islamic religion. Apologists have tried to claim that this war was purely defensive, but this is also an utterly ridiculous claim in light of the fact that Mohammed went from having just a small band of followers to ruling the entire Arabian peninsula by the end of his life. Clearly it was an expansionist campaign designed to establish Mohammed’s rule.

There are numerous incitements to violence in the Koran, supposedly Allah’s encouragements to Mohammed to wage war against the unbelievers, for example:

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YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

Although these incitements are quite enough evidence on their own, readers unfamiliar with the Islamic texts should understand there are many more in the Koran and Hadiths, as well documented here:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx

In summary then the Islamic religion incites its followers to wage war against the non-Islamic people of the world until they submit to Islam, because Mohammed did the same, according to the instructions he claimed to have received from Allah which are recorded in the Koran, and Muslims are supposed to follow the example of Mohammed’s conduct. This is not only a direct and credible incitement to violent propagation of the Islamic religion, it is also an incitement that has been heeded through the ages, and continues to be heeded in the present day. We should be glad that most Muslims do not act on these incitements most of the time, but we cannot escape from the fact that the Islamic religion incites violence against the unbelievers, and that it does so in a direct and credible manner. I therefore rule that the preaching of the Islamic religion, and construction of mosques should both be illegal under my legal framework.

It appears that the Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a chaplain to the Queen, agrees with me that Islam incites violence:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/islam-invites-people-to-violence-queens-chaplain-reverend-gavin-ashenden-claims-10104445.html

Note particularly:

Reverend Ashenden said in response: “If they are offended by my quoting the Koran they are not offended by me, they are offended by the Koran.”

This is a good way to answer those who try to suggest that telling the truth about Islam somehow “radicalizes” vulnerable people. No, its the Islamic religion that radicalizes people. It appears that a former “Islamist” also agrees that Islam incites violent conflict with the unbelievers. The fact that he now claims to interpret the texts in another way does not alter the fact that the texts clearly CAN be interpreted in this way, and that he DID once interpret them in that way.  Quote:

“In the Koran and the Hadith (the compiled sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), I found an abundance of verses that I believed justified heinous violence in support of the establishment of an Islamic state for the whole world.”

The full article is here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/i-believed-al-qaeda-when-they-said-911-was-justified-15-years-on/

The fact that many Muslims somehow manage to interpret their Islamic texts differently does not alter the fact that those texts contain direct and credible incitements to violence that can be interpreted as such.

CURRENT LEGAL SITUATION

It is my belief that the preaching of the Islamic religion is currently in violation of UK law against incitement to violence. The failure of the UK law enforcement authorities to prosecute those who preach the faith should be a matter of the gravest concern to all UK citizens. This failure is in fact an act of appeasement of the religion. This failure is an act of cowardice by the UK authorities.

I do not believe that the preaching of the Islamic religion is currently in violation of US law because of the requirement established in Brandenburg v. Ohio for the incitement to be likely to lead to imminent unlawful action.

I humbly suggest to the people of the USA your current law is misguided. The failure to use the law to act against the Islamic religion is simply inviting more bloodshed for example in the Orlando gay nightclub massacre and Fort Hood massacre and San Bernandino massacre.

The danger of escalation of conflict can most probably be seen in the arson attack that occurred against the local mosque in the Orlando case. Armed militias are also now staging protests against mosques in the US. Surely it would be better for the law to intervene and close down all the mosques before any more incitements to violence can be made within them.

A PROPOSAL TO “BAN” ISLAM

Obviously it would be impossible to ban religious thought. We can scarcely start arresting every person who declares themselves to be a Muslim either, this would be impractical.

What we could do however:

  • Make it illegal (at least publicly) to preach the Koran as the word of a supreme being, on incitement grounds. I don’t think the Koran should be banned as a book however, because for one thing people need to be able to see for themselves WHY such a “ban” on the religion became necessary. It would also be practically almost impossible to achieve and in any case the Koran is widely published on the internet. Also, it is not the Koran that directly incites violence on its own, but rather the preaching of the Koran as the unquestionable word of Allah.
  • Withdraw planning permission for mosques and force existing mosque closures. Mosques that clearly bear the hallmarks of mosques – domes and minarets could be closed and either modified for other uses or demolished.
  • Make it illegal to wear face veils. I personally think bans on hijabs and the other headgear and burkinis would be impractical to enforce. For one thing women in Europe used to wear headscarves of a non-religious kind not so very long ago, and some even still do.
  • All legislation for example on employers and schools should be removed to allow employers to discriminate against hijab etc. wearing candidates if they wish to.  A recent decision by some UK police forces to allow the hijab as part of police uniforms is of course entirely ridiculous and should be stopped.
  • Allow employers to sack any worker for taking time out of the working day for prayer.
  • Make Ramadan fasting illegal in cases where it potentially could endanger public safety.

The sheer number of Muslims already in the West means that this is going to be a very difficult and controversial position to adopt, but its better to have this conversation now than 10-20 years from now.

An exception could be made for example for the Ahmadi religion possibly as that religion does not incite violence. It would have to be established that the Ahmadi religion did not incite other crimes, from my current knowledge I don’t believe it does however. The “most perfect life” verse would have to be clarified.  I think on the whole the message of the Mahdi probably abrogates the violent verses in the Koran, but I’m not an expert on that.

Such an exception could equally be applied to any other sect where it can be shown that religious texts override the incitements to violence in the Koran. I don’t like these other “versions” of Islam but as long as something is harmless then of course we should tolerate it. Remember, we are trying to construct a watertight legal framework here.

There are growing numbers of voices across the “West” calling for such a ban:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/08/27/geert-wilders-close-mosques-netherlands/

German far-right AfD calls for mosque ban

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/18/germanys-far-right-afd-party-attempts-to-block-construction-of-m/

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/09/14/watch-australian-senator-calls-ban-muslim-immigration-mosques-burkas/

CHRISTIANITY

There can be no doubt that the Christian bible contains incitements to violence. For example, in Leviticus 20:10 it says:

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

However in the New Testament, Jesus appears to implicitly contradict this ruling:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I think this demonstrates that the old testament is over-ruled by Jesus’s moral teachings, and since Jesus is the central figure in the Christian religion, I would say his teachings take precedence.

The only doubtful statement in the new testament is (Matthew 10:34):

“I came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”

This statement seems not only ambiguous but also at odds with everything Jesus says elsewhere, for example (Matthew 26:52):

“But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword”.

(Jesus said this after Peter had struck one of the soldiers who were attempting to arrest Jesus. Jesus subsequently healed the soldier’s wound).

I therefore rule that the former statement in Matthew 10:34 does not constitute a credible incitement, it isn’t even direct but rather ambiguous.

In conclusion then, none of Jesus’s teachings meet the credibility test of inciting violence, and Jesus’s teachings can be regarded as over-ruling the Old Testament and so I would rule that Christianity does not overall constitute a direct and credible incitement to violence. The terrible events described in the book of revelations should be regarded I believe as God punishing the human race, not as any sort of incitement. I will deal with the old testament accounts of extreme violence in the next section on Judaism, as the old testament and Judaism are based on the same stories.

JUDAISM

The Judaic religion is possibly much more problematic than Christianity, because it does not include the later moral teachings of Jesus against violence. I don’t have the knowledge of this religion to really be sure that Judaism does not constitute a direct and credible incitement. The fact that Jewish people have not for example been stoning people to death for adultery and other sins for over a thousand years (as far as I know) should be taken into account however.

Capital punishments generally could also be seen as only being applicable under the law of the land, rather than incitements to violence between citizens. Therefore, as long as the law of the land that is either secular or otherwise overrules whatever religions advocate, then any incitements to capital punishment in the religions can be ruled not credible.

The Old Testament accounts of violence, terrible though they are (including genocide), could be regarded as mere historical accounts of what took place, or at the most indirect incitement, rather than direct incitement. As far as I can determine there is no instruction to followers of the religion to repeat these acts.

Some claims have been made that the old testament was taken as justification of the treatment of indigenous peoples during the colonial era, but since these are at worst indirect incitements, they would not constitute a reason to make the religion illegal according to my framework.

SUMMARY

In the first post in this series I called for an amendment to the First Amendment to remove all mention of religions. This clears the way for a rational evaluation of whether any particular religion incites violence. In the preceeding post I created a legal framework for types of incitement that should be deemed illegal and types that should not. Clearly there is much that is problematic in all 3 Abrahamic religions, particularly Islam and Judaism, however I am inclined to rule that Islam uniquely incites violence in a direct and credible manner and that therefore Islam should solely be considered in violation of this legal framework. Furthermore, there have now been a long succession of extremely violent terrorist attacks in Europe where the Islamic religion was known to be a major motivating factor. Such events should pragmatically carry weight in deciding that its time to ban a particular religion.

If European countries that have laws against incitement fail to ban the Islamic religion, then they are violating that most important principle of just societies, namely equality before the law.
ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunnah

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banu_Qurayza

http://www.meforum.org/2159/are-judaism-and-christianity-as-violent-as-islam

Bible and Qur’an: equally violent?

http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/03/08/dark_passages/?page=full

Violence in the Bible—How Should We Respond?

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Of Gods and Men

[Film Review]

‘Of Gods and Men’ is a moving and beautiful film based on the true story of a small group of Cistercian monks who ran an abbey in Algeria until 1996. The monks got along very well with the local Muslims, joining in their celebrations, and one of the monks was a doctor who tended to the sick from the nearby village. The monks grew crops, collected honey, and sang beautifully in their small chapel. The prior, Christian de Chergé, a devout Christian, also had a keen interest in the Islamic religion, which he studied. It seems also in real life, he believed that the two religions could reach an understanding through dialogue. Many years before, while serving as a young officer during the Algerian war of Independence, his life had been saved by a Muslim.

Then one day, during the Algerian civil war, a group of jihadis arrive demanding the doctor monk come and help tend to their wounded. Christian refused, saying that the doctor could not leave the abbey. The jihadis leave without him, but a sense of foreboding hangs over the monks from this point onward. A unit of the Algerian army arrives, their officer tries to persuade the monks to leave or accept protection, but Christian refuses and the monks remain.

Life appears to go back to normal for a while, but some of the monks are doubting whether they should remain, as their lives will clearly be in very real danger from now on. Eventually they arrive at a consensus in favour of remaining however, encouraged particularly by Christian’s strong conviction. In a very moving scene the monks listen to the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, while drinking a glass of wine, and the mixed emotions of joy and sadness that they are experiencing are revealed. Eventually another group of jihadis arrive at the mosque and take all but two of the monks prisoner. The final scene shows the monks marching in a line with the jihadis up a hill, snow is falling.

In real life apparently the monks’ heads were later discovered, but their bodies were never found. There seems to be some doubt about whether they were killed by the jihadis or by the military, but jihadis have a habit of beheading people, because the man they regard as a prophet, did the same during his “most perfect example of a life” (Koran 33:21 and 33:26) (1).

Of course it is tempting to react to this film as I suspect we are supposed to, by hoping that such a dialogue that Christian hoped for, is indeed possible. It is also tempting to see ordinary Muslims as peaceful and tolerant people, like the villagers, who are terrorized by jihadis. The jihadis have “extremist” views and, supposedly in error, take Islamic texts in a literal way. Unfortunately although many Muslims may indeed behave in such a peaceful and tolerant way, there are also many other stories, that were they to be told, would reveal a very much more complicated and far less comforting picture.

I hope that one day Xavier Beauvois will make another moving and beautiful film, this time perhaps about say the story of Aasiya Bibi, another very brave Christian who has been on death row in Pakistan for 7 years. The moving film will reveal how a petty dispute about a drinking vessel escalated, how the local imam encouraged a mob of local villagers (not “jihadis”, ordinary Muslims) to attack Aasiya and her family. It will then show the scene where the police arrived to rescue her and her family, only to decide she had in fact committed the “crime” of blasphemy, and take her away to prison.

After 18 months in prison, in appalling conditions, she was eventually sentenced to hang by a court. The sentence was later suspended, and she remains in prison, still in appalling conditions, in a bad state suffering internal bleeding for which she receives no treatment. Two brave politicians, one a Christian, and one a Muslim, have been assassinated for their attempts to save her from this harsh punishment. Perhaps those seeing this shocking and moving film will be reminded of the “body and soul” that the prior Christian referred to, the soul of course meaning Islam.  According to Pew research, a majority of Muslims in Pakistan support such punishment. Apparently 10 million Pakistanis have said that they would be willing to execute her themselves.

Of course if a prominent director like Xavier Beauvois were to make such a film, the whole world might descend into chaos. Rioting could occur around the Muslim world, the French flag might be set on fire (again) (2), fatwas would most likely be issued for his assassination. I fear though that until the high profile film makers of the world start to make such films, such intolerance and brutality will continue to escalate, as the fear and intimidation that Islam promotes, begins to gain the upper hand in the world. Only courage and honesty about the true nature of Islam can stop this tide.

Note: A film has in fact been made about Asia Bibi’s case, but I don’t expect we’ll be hearing about it at the Cannes film festival, more info can be found here (pass it on):

http://asiabibi.org/?lang=en

I have also written a short poem about her:

https://chaunceytinker.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-aasiya-bibi/

REFERENCES:

(1) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/quran/verses/033-qmt.php

(2) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/charlie-hebdo-protests-five-dead-as-churches-and-french-flags-burn-in-niger-riots-over-cover-9985195.html

FURTHER READING:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_the_monks_of_Tibhirine

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1588337/

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/07/08/church-sells-monks-fear-muslims/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Bibi_blasphemy_case

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/29/which-countries-still-outlaw-apostasy-and-blasphemy/

https://www.aei.org/publication/pakistans-blasphemy-impasse/

Our Shared European Identity

In the last post I wrote about the Persecution of Non-Muslims, an increasing problem throughout the world. What strikes me most strongly about these persecutions is the deafening silence, the lack of outrage, among the non-Muslims of the world. The Muslims of the world feel a sense of shared grievance when they believe a Muslim has suffered at the hands of a non-Muslim, as witnessed for example by demonstrations by Muslims of mostly Pakistani origin in the UK against the state of Israel. However, the non-Muslims seem to lack a similar sense of shared grievance when non-Muslims suffer at the hands of Muslims. Can people be united around a negative, around the fact that they are NOT Muslims?

In Europe particularly, there has been a culture of political “correctness” and white guilt, German guilt, and self-hatred of the European past, that has been stoked by European left-wingers generally and by the architects of the European Union. Reporting by the mainstream media of abuse of non-Muslims has been suppressed. For example, the large number of rapes by predominantly Muslim grooming gangs in the UK were for a long time not reported. In another example, it took many days before the mainstream media reported on the events at Cologne train station on New Year’s Eve 2015. Non-Muslims should be outraged by this, but instead they are largely meekly accepting of it. Many would deny that Islam was even a factor in such an event, but yet the majority (perhaps all) of the suspects on this occasion were from Islamic majority countries.

THE EUROPEAN “UNION”

The leaders of the European Union have long seen national identities as an obstacle to their grand socialist, bureaucratic project. However in their efforts to smash national identities, they have encouraged negative attitudes and self-hatred, and sown division. This has weakened our resistance to the anti-Democratic and supremacist ideology of Islam. By also inviting so many people from Islamic countries into our nations recently, these leaders have created the climate for the very thing that the European project was supposed to avoid – civil conflict within Europe. It is these leaders, who have so little regard for our shared identity, our European culture, who are endangering us, not those on the right who still cherish a sense of this shared identity. The reaction against these mindless left-wing leaders is not a resurgence of nationalism in the old sense, but rather a reaction against the tyranny of these left-wing politically “correct” leaders who are so hostile to our European past and identity.

In their attempts to control the people of Europe, and force them to accept their vision, they have greatly undermined our most fundamental and hard-won freedom, the freedom of speech and expression. Increasingly European governments have used the threatening words of Islamic hate preachers as an excuse to curb the freedom of speech of everybody else. They have also used the threat of Islamic terrorist attacks, and a greatly exaggerated and largely imagined threat of anti-Islamic violence, as excuses to increase the surveillance of their entire populations.  We must force the resignation of these current leaders if we are to re-discover our shared identity and recover our freedoms, so hard-won by previous generations.

A CHRISTIAN REVIVAL?

I often encounter the view that it is the declining Christian faith of Europe that has left us weakened and exposed in the face of the increasing influence of the Islamic religion. Many of those who subscribe to this view often also think that the only thing that can save us from this influence is a revival of Christianity. I take a rather different view however, as I see the influence of Christian ideals in our meekness, as I explained in a previous blog post:

Christianity And Western Decline

Even if a more widespread revival of Christianity could be considered as desirable, I doubt that it is achievable. Many Europeans simply no longer believe in a supreme being, still less in the miracles that are claimed as part of the story of Jesus. Ours is a more rational age, and we should be thankful of that. To force people to attend church against their will would be a very un-Christian thing to do.

Perhaps if the church leaders adopted a more rational and universal moral philosophy, they might attract more people to return to attending their churches.  Such a universal moral philosophy would necessarily also reject Islam.  The church leaders must also openly reject Islam if they are to recover the moral high ground, instead of meekly submitting to its influence.

DISCOVERING OUR TRUE EUROPEAN SHARED IDENTITY

I suggest that we Europeans, both Christians and Atheists, do in fact have a shared identity, and that we should celebrate it loudly and proudly and with a cheerful heart. Our shared identity should be considered to include not just Christian values and art, but also secular art and the ideas of the Enlightenment, which paved the way for so much European scientific and technological progress.

Let us rejoice in the writings of Shakespeare, Voltaire, Dickens and so many more great European writers. None of these writers would be tolerated in a world dominated by Islam.

Let us rejoice in our traditions of comedy and satire, of Monty Python’s Life of Brian for example, and Voltaire’s Candide and Mahomet.  Comedy and satire would not be tolerated in an Islamic society, especially not where it dares to mock religions.

Let us rejoice in the music of J.S.Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy and so many more great European composers.  None of this beautiful music would be tolerated in a world dominated by Islam. Let us rejoice in the music of more recent times as well, such as the Beatles, Abba and Pink Floyd and many more.

Let us rejoice in the paintings of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael, Monet, Van Gogh and so many more great European painters. None of their paintings would be tolerated in a world dominated by Islam.

Let us rejoice in the glorious architecture and sculpture of our Christian heritage – Notre Dame, Florence, Milan, York Minster, King’s College Chapel and so many more. Do we wish to see these beautiful buildings converted into mosques? I can say even as an atheist that I object very strongly to the idea. I feel these buildings are part of our heritage, and Islam should not be, because it would not tolerate their existence as churches.

Let us rejoice in all our scientific and technological achievements as well.

It is as much Freedom of Speech, of expression, that characterizes the modern European as it is our Christian past. This is the most fundamental thing that should unite us, that we should consider as the most important part of our shared identity. Church and State have also long been kept separate in most European countries, and we should also cherish this as it is much more likely that people of different beliefs will live in harmony. Islam is too political and almost invariably leads to intolerance of other beliefs and ultimately to theocracy.

SUMMARY

In summary, I suggest we must rediscover and celebrate our shared identity, that which we Europeans have in common, or else we could lose this identity to that which is hostile to every aspect of it, namely the Islamic religion.

Christianity And Western Decline

I have often encountered the view that a revival of Christianity is what is needed to stop the decline of the “West”.  I take a rather opposite view however, as too often it seems to me that Christian beliefs are actually contributing to that decline.

When we are faced by a ruthless and implacable ideology such as Nazism, whose followers have no hesitation whatever in using the most brutal acts of violence to achieve their ends, turning the other cheek is not a strategy that has ever been successful.

The current Pope has been accused of being a Communist, but is he perhaps really just propagating the teachings of the New Testament, as discussed here:

http://theatheistconservative.com/communism-is-secular-christianity/

In Victorian times in the UK, there used to be a distinction made between the deserving and the undeserving poor.  In the 20th century, the welfare state was created and gradually this distinction was forgotten.  For decades, whole generations have been raised on welfare and the church has never once to my knowledge challenged the wisdom of this.  This has resulted in a growing underclass of people.  Then in the later 20th century and early 21st century the idea of “multi-culturalism” became fashionable, paving the way for an unprecedented flood of immigration.  The underclass now includes a large number of Muslims, many of whom are very hostile to our most important freedoms, including freedom of speech.

Not only did the Anglican church see no problems arising from this developing state of affairs, they have in some ways almost encouraged it.  A former archbishop suggested that we should allow Sharia law to become part of our legal system.  A bishop welcomed the call to prayer from a mosque in his diocese.  Of course there is nothing to say that the clergy cannot oppose the growing influence of Islam, but so far at least our clergy in the UK have made no attempt to do this.  In earlier times they sent brave missionaries out to far away lands to convert people and do charitable works, but political correctness is still the order of the day in the Church in our age.

Our bishops have a right to sit in the House of Lords, there is not the separation of church and state that was so wisely enshrined in the U.S. constitution. Our bishops constantly urge us to take in more migrants, even those attempting to enter the country illegally, regardless if they are hostile to democracy and free speech. Some of the migrants may even have terrorist sympathies, many probably have no skills to offer, but the bishops do not seem to be concerned about those things. The bishops also routinely interfere with attempts at welfare reform, the idea of the protestant work ethic does not seem to figure in their thinking.

In summary I would argue strongly that we should move beyond religious thinking, towards a more rational age.  If the church is to play a role in the salvation of our society and way of life, then they must learn again to be more pragmatic and realistic about the not always pleasant realities of the world.  As I have mentioned above the Church has not always been feeble and too literalist as they are today.  Regardless of whether they can regain this realism, I believe that for the UK, we should recognize that the separation of Church and State is important for a democracy to function well, and therefore we should remove the Bishops from the House of Lords.