Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Civil Religion

Build it or We'll Keeeeeel You!

Imam Ralph came right out and said it to Soledad O'Brien when she asked him about the possibility of moving the mosque site: 
Rauf gave a reply that boils down to a threat. Rauf said that if his Cordoba House does not get built on his chosen site near Ground Zero, “The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.”

As for the message Rauf’s words might impart to the many Americans who oppose his project, his warning doesn’t sound like bridge-building. It sounds like blackmail. (Forbes - Claudia Rosett)

"Tolerance should be given to all religions that tolerate others, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to the duties of citizenship."  -- Jean Jaques Rousseau
Doctor Zudhi Jasser, Former Navy Lt Commander and founder of  American Islamic Forum for Democracy opposes Rauf's efforts and believes the mosque should be moved for the good of all.  He espouses a very American ideal:
But, I think what unites us is the freedoms and liberties our Constitution gives us..." (CBS News)
A Civil Religion

Our founding fathers consciously chose to put no religion above another, but to instead foster a civil religion, in the spirit Jean Jaques Rousseau.  In his chapter on Civil Religion, Rousseau put all religions into one of three categories:
  • "The true theism, what may be called natural divine right or law."  This is religion at its most elemental; man worshiping God without intervening pastors, altars and dogmas.  It is the God upon which our country was founded.
  • State Religions, including theocracies. Think the Pantheons of Rome, Greece, Iran, and the ancient Israelites.
  • Religions which conflict with the state. He placed Roman Catholicism in this category. He described such religions as one "which gives men two codes of legislation, two rulers, and two countries, renders them subject to contradictory duties, and makes it impossible for them to be faithful both to religion and to citizenship."
He praised the adherents of "Mahomet" for having crafted a religion of the second category, where there is no contradiction between political and religious morality.  How things have changed since 1762!  Muslims have burst the bounds of their own homogeneous societies and have now displaced Catholics as the disturbing influence pitting the pious against the state. 

The philosopher also recognizes the salutary effects of personal morality on society: "it matters very much to the community that each citizen should have a religion."   And it's no business of the state "provided they are good citizens in this life."

The US Constitution:  A Civil Profession of Faith
There is therefore a purely civil profession of faith of which the Sovereign should fix the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas, but as social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject.
Theological Intolerance is Incompatible with a Free Society

By theological intolerance, he means being intolerant of those who do not share your religion.  This quote is best understood by imagining it coming from an intolerant religious bigot:
It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned; to love them would be to hate God who punishes them: we positively must either reclaim or torment them.
Rousseau then explains why...
Wherever theological intolerance is admitted, it must inevitably have some civil effect; and as soon as it has such an effect, the Sovereign is no longer Sovereign even in the temporal sphere: thenceforce priests are the real masters, and kings only their ministers.  
This is the standard to which we must hold every American.  Muslim, Christian, Atheist.  It matters not what your faith is, so long as it is compatible with our civil religion. 

(Rousseau - Social Contract, Book IV, Chapter 8, Civil Religion)


tha malcontent said...

Very well put and said.
Great work.

Silverfiddle said...

Thanks Mal. I ain't that smart, so I reach for the greats to get my point across.

WomanHonorThyself said...

its going from bad to horrific ..sigh

Most Rev. Gregori said...

All sounds reasonable to me.

Back when I was in Jr. High, my History teacher said: "God created mankind, and mankind created religion."

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