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Democracy based on criticizing religion

Father Jonathan in his latest post included a series of links to articles he found that may be of interest. The one that caught me was a story regarding Europe’s just-beginning realization that their current “ignore the problem and it’s not a problem” stance on Islamic extremism may not cut it any more if they wish to survive. Thinking that it would be a nice way to start the day to know that our elder brothers realize that Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement strategy still is not a way forward I hopped into the story. What caught me, however, was a quote from an entirely different direction:

“We live in Europe, where democracy was based on criticizing religion,” said Philippe Val, editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. “If we lose the right to criticize or attack religions in our free countries … we are doomed.”

As Shaggy would say, “zoiks!” I utterly cringe to think that it just may be possible a majority of Europeans consider the criticism of religion to be the basis of democracy. If that is, indeed, a prevailing opinion, even if an subconscious one, it certainly explains the secular humanist onslaught and the emptying of the pews that continent has seen.

Maybe it’s just an American thing, or maybe it’s just the teachers I had growing up, or perhaps even some latent understanding of the necessity of religion for the proper direction and upkeep of man and society but I’ve always felt, going back even so far as my fairly early childhood that the French Revolution and the militant secularization it wrought were a classic case of a small good coming of a great evil. Certainly the continent had need of moving beyond the divine right of kings and the inherent eventuality of corruption. But it always seemed obvious they had thrown the baby out with the bathwater (indeed, they had thrown the bath tub out as well one could say) by so drastically distancing the state from religion. Now, we’ve all heard of the wonders of the separation of Church and State, but the European (and more and more now the American) mode of separating religion in any shape, form or fashion from any act by any member of the state and its apparently intentional disrespect for religious faith and expression as a natural right of humanity would, one should think, be considered a step too far.

I’m all for defending the rights of people to practice the religion of their choice, including those who see fit to deride religion, but one does begin to wonder if saving this militantly secular society from the militantly fanatical members of a religion might come to be a case of a great evil coming of a small good. Perhaps that is worded too harshly. Certainly we cannot allow the Eurabia that many speak of to become a reality, at least not in the dhimmitude sense which normally underlies it. But, to play the ugly American, doesn’t it also seem about time for the Europeans to grow up and realize their experiment with secular humanism and institutionalized agnosticism (or is it, in fact, atheism?) is dangerously close to failure? I shudder to compare which would be worse – a radical Muslim dhimmitude where those who do not follow the rules of Mohamed are punished, or a radical secular humanist dhimmitude where those who do not follow the rules of “if we can we must” and “all truths are equal” are equally punished. I’m sure I’ll have offended many (if there are many who see this, that is) but it is a question which, frankly, I only wish to ask that it might be explored to greater depths, not necessarily an assertion of a strongly held truth.

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