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Friday, February 8, 2008

Sharia, no fear, not here – or anywhere

As I wrote, probably longwindedly, in an earlier blog, there should be no blurring of state affairs and religious dogma. It doesn’t matter whether it’s American fundamentalist Christians or Mormons, Islamists from wherever, the Vatican’s long nose in South America, Zionism or any as yet unknown future attempt to pervert the course of justice through shaky beliefs in the Divine, religion should be confined to the home and the place of worship. It may be a matter for hot debate in bars, restaurants and Speakers Corner but we must not provide even the slightest foothold for the politics of the spiritual on the rock face of state-determined justice. This does not infer that the morals that underpin different religions can’t bring a richness to the debate about how a society might govern itself, humanely. Morals are merely distilled ideas about what constitutes good and bad and we must debate them constantly, whatever their source.

The Archbishop’s arch remarks about Sharia law and its acceptance, even in part, bespeaks a loony laxness of thought. As though we can take bits and pieces of different religions and amalgamate them into a legal edifice within which we can all be coexist. There are aspects of most religions which can bring out a cold sweat in any peaceable individual and we are not just talking stoning women, cutting thieving hands off or supporting a basic inequality between sexes. Male and female circumcision, polygamy, the quaint taxonomies of what can and can’t be eaten, the refusal to have blood transfusions to save your child, the caste systems and so on are all mad and often bad. Whatever the various prophets said and did, virtuous or no, those that have followed have long since twisted their thoughts into filigrees of self-serving desecration of the original ideals.

Why should the laws of the state be premised in the minutest way upon a belief in God? We must stop it becoming mandatory to be superstitious, primitive of thought, ill-educated in the matter of evolution or to be suffering from simple blind faith, as a prerequisite to being a member of society. Let’s just be humanitarians and socially responsible citizens, all of us. Leave the rest to the fireplace and the place of worship.


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