Islam, Tolerance and Religious Freedom

Not all religions are equal. Some are inherently inimical to genuine pluralism and religious tolerance. Others have in fact paved the way for those goods. Islam is an example of the former, while Christianity is an example of the latter. Christianity has made religious pluralism possible, along with a properly understood separation of church and state.

Neither are found in Islam. Nor can they be. Religion and politics are one in Islam. So too are mosque and state. That has always been the case with Islam, which is why democracy, freedom and other Western values are so rarely found in Muslim-majority countries.

The roots of all this go back to Muhammad himself. As Dinesh D’Souza says, “The prophet Muhammad was in his own day both a prophet and a Caesar who integrated the domains of church and state. Following his example, the rulers of the various Islamic empires, from the Umayyad to the ottoman, saw themselves as Allah’s viceregents on earth.”

Or as historian Rodney Stark explains, “Muhammad was not only the Prophet, he was head of state. Consequently, Islam has always idealized the fusion of religion and political rule, and sultans have usually also held the title of caliph.” Middle East expert Bernard Lewis put it tersely: “Muhammad was, so to speak, his own Constantine”.

He reminds us of how profound a difference there is between the two religions: “In classical Arabic and in the other classical languages of Islam, there are no pairs of terms corresponding to ‘lay’ and ‘ecclesiastical,’ ‘spiritual’ and ‘temporal,’ ‘secular’ and ‘religious,’ because these pairs of words express a Christian dichotomy that has no equivalent in the world of Islam.”

And he says this of the church: “Throughout Christian history, and in almost all Christian lands, church and state continued to exist side by side as different institutions, each with its own laws and jurisdictions, its own hierarchy and chain of authority.”

As philosopher Roger Scruton explains, “The separation of church and state was from the beginning an accepted doctrine of the church.” Jesus himself set the stage for this way of thinking. He made it clear that earthly rule and heavenly rule were not identical. He said that we should “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” He also said “my kingdom is not of this world”. The early church of course accepted, and elaborated upon, this fundamental concept.

As George Weigel wrote in his 2007 volume, Faith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism: “Christianity taught that, while Caesar was to be given his due, so was God (see Matthew 22:21). And if there are things of God that are not Caesar’s, then Caesar’s power is, by definition, limited power….

“By stripping political authority of the mantle of the sacred, Christianity helped create the possibility of what we know as ‘limited government’: government that has specific and enumerated powers, government that ought not reach into that sphere of conscience.”

He continues, “The rich social pluralism of the West did not just happen. It emerged in a society formed by the biblical idea of the dignity of the human person and the culture that epic idea shaped.” So we have mega-differences between Islam and Christianity when it comes to such key issues as pluralism, freedom and democracy.

All this explains why, as Mark Steyn put it, “In the 2005 rankings of Freedom House’s survey of personal liberty and democracy around the world, five of the eight countries with the lowest ‘freedom’ score were Muslim. Of the forty-six Muslim majority nations in the world, only three were free.”

This also explains the continuing placating of Islam in the West. While it is open season on Christianity there, hardly any of our elites or those in the MSM will dare to touch Islam. They know that Christians won’t issue fatwas or fly jumbo jets into buildings.

And some have even admitted to this themselves. Consider this shocking admission from the director general of the BBC who said that they will mock Jesus but never mock Muhammad. As one report puts it: “The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

“He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the ‘emotional force’ of ‘grotesque child pornography’. But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.

“Mr Thompson says the BBC would never have broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera – a controversial musical that mocked Jesus – if its target had been Mohammed. He made the remarks in an interview for a research project at the University of Oxford.”

It is not just the media, but many Western leaders as well who are grovelling before Islam, making concessions to those promoting sharia, and in effect becoming dhimmis. They will bend over backwards to appease the Islamists, apologising for any perceived slight or offence.

President Obama’s recent apology to Muslim radicals in Afghanistan is just the most recent obvious case in point. Frank J. Gaffney Jr has just recently penned a very good article on all this, discussing “Shariah’s threat to civil rights,” noting how “Islamic law practitioners resemble modern version of Ku Klux Klan”.

He begins this way: “As we witness surging Muslim violence against non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt and even here, the response seems increasingly that the victims must apologize to the perpetrators. In particular, the United States government – from President Obama on down – has been assiduously seeking forgiveness for giving offense to Islamic sensibilities after accidentally burning Korans. This was felt necessary even in a case in which the books had been defaced by captured Afghan jihadis as a means of encouraging their comrades to further acts of violence against us.

“It seems that Christians are also widely considered to be at fault for having churches, Bibles and religious practices that offend the ascendant Islamists in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Certainly, no apologies are forthcoming when the Christians are murdered or forced to flee for their lives, their churches and sacred texts put to the torch.

“In America last week, a Pennsylvania judge felt the need to dress down a man assaulted for parading in a Halloween costume he called ‘Zombie Muhammad.’ Far from punishing the perpetrator, a Muslim immigrant, Judge Mark Martin sympathized with him for the offense caused, noting – seemingly without objection – that it was a capital crime to engage in such free expression in some countries.

“Worse yet, the judge suggested that the victim in this case had exceeded the ‘boundaries’ of his ‘First Amendment rights.’ Such a view seems to track with the Obama administration’s collaboration with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in fashioning international accords that would prohibit ‘incitement’ against Islam.

“This is a short step from – and en route to – the OIC’s larger goal of banning and criminalizing any expression that offends Muslims or their faith. As such, it poses a mortal peril to the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.”

He concludes this way: “Muslims are, of course, free to practice their faith in America like anyone else – provided they do so in a tolerant, peaceable and law-abiding way. What they are not entitled to do, in the name of religious practice, is subvert our Constitution, deny us our rights or engage in sedition without facing concerted opposition – if not prosecution.

“Today, every bit as much as in the civil rights struggles of the past, there are those who are prepared to go along with what they know is wrong in order to get along. Now, as then, the few who recognize that any such accommodation makes more certain the ultimate triumph of evil, may be vilified and even harmed. But now, as then, more and more Americans are emerging who see the danger posed by our time’s totalitarian threat – Shariah – and will do their part to secure freedom against it, both here and, as necessary for that purpose, elsewhere.”

Exactly right. I encourage you to read his entire article. The truth is, we are in a war. Appeasement and compromise never help in a time of war. What was it Churchill once said about this? “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

As I said, not all religions are equal. Those who value such things as democracy, religious freedom, freedom of speech and conscience and the like, need to stand strong for those values, and stand against a religion which respects none of these things.

Either freedom wins, or sharia wins. But both cannot peacefully coexist.

[1455 words]

7 Replies to “Islam, Tolerance and Religious Freedom”

  1. Thanks Bill – well said. NY Times today over the burning of the Quran – “There are some crimes that cannot be forgiven, but that need to be punished,” said Maulavi Khaliq Dad, a member of the Ulema Council. “This is not any book; this is the book of the whole Muslim nation, and if a few people are punished, America will not be destroyed. But if that doesn’t happen, it will create animosity and enmity between America and the Muslim world.”
    Looks like we can only expect destruction for burning books – yet ironically Bibles are routinely confiscated and burnt in these countries. It’s the double standards when it comes to demands for respect, recognition and preferential treatment. All religions are definitely not equal.
    Vickie Janson

  2. Thanks Bill. Indeed no amount of appeasement will allow Islam to tolerate Christianity. Churchill’s statement is right. In biblical times, King Hezekiah attempted to appease the Assyrian king so he could be free from attacks. Despite exacting a fortune from King Hezekiah, the Assyrian king still wanted Jerusalem – the pride and the centre of the Jewish nation (2 Kings 18:13ff). Honestly I still do not understand why Australia and other peace loving nations should continue to open their doors to Moslems and Islam. Very soon they will start demanding that all laws be changed to suit them.
    Michael Ntanu

  3. Michael,
    Not very soon, now, they already are demanding, and getting the laws changed to suit them.

    Even now, in England, there are over 80 sharia courts, which are running completely parallel to the civil system. In Australia they are running illegal sharia courts in NSW, VIC that the authorities are turning a blind eye to.

    The oic are trying to get the laws changed to stop anything the muslims find “offensive” in the UN. “offensive” in islam is anything that is not glowing of mohamad, allahat, islam, koran, hadith, surra, reliance on the traveller. The head of the oic was recently the guest of honour of non other than K Rudd, who whilst here spoke of the need to curb “freedom of expression” when it comes to islam, ie: complete dhimmi status of all non-muslms, or not the “right kind of muslim”.

    The whole thing started with two tiny items of sharia law, 1. burka, 2. halal slaughter. Now that disagreeing with those two things will get you practiacly jailed, they have got the nose of the camel in the tent.

    So sir, I say to you in all humility, not very soon, but already happening. But I understand where you were coming from btw.

    Neil Waldron

  4. Muslims can’t be made to tolerate Christianity just as those trying to get SS out of the classroom can’t be made to tolerate Christianity. If Muslims are successful in having their laws introduced into this country then we need to take that up with our members of parliament; parliament makes the laws not the Muslims. We know a Muslim couple. If you didn’t know they were Muslims you would think they were wonderful Christians. It doesn’t matter if Muslims don’t respect us Christians but it does matter if we don’t respect them.
    B T Walters

  5. Here is a link that supports exactly what you are saying Bill.
    An advertisement being run on channel 7 blaspheming Jesus:
    As we know this company would not do this against Muhammad. Please I encourage everyone to complain to Channel 7 and ACMA.
    Robyn Grace

  6. Today’s news media, including the BBC’s news web site, carried footage and reports of Islamist radicals in Benghazi desecrating graves and monuments in the World War II Allied military cemetery. I shuddered – Not only a monument in the shape of a Christian cross was assaulted, the person taking the video made a point of displaying the uprooting of the headstone of a soldier who was buried according to the rites of the Jewish faith! The Star of David is clearly visible in the video footage of the uprooting of the headstone.

    I do not expect radical Islamists or Pan-Arab nationalist radicals to desecrate the war graves of Rommel’s Afrika Korps or their Fascist Italian allies. Alex Grobman’s The Palestinian Right to Israel, (Icon Publishing, Noble, Okhlahoma, 2010, chapter 4) details how the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his anti-Zionist, radical Pan-Arab nationalists worked hand-in-glove with Hitler’s Nazi Third Reich to oppose both the League of Nations Mandates over Arab lands in the Middle East and globalise Hitler’s Final Solution to The Jewish Question and its Zionist “core”.

    To this day, radical Islamists from Iran to Libya regard Hitler and his Third Reich as heros of the radical Islamist and Pan-Arab causes. Hitler’s favourite philosopher, Nietzsche abominated Christendom and Judaism. However, amid his disparagement of religions in general, Nietzsche spoke approvingly of Islam as embodying “the male principle” in its open embrace of the unashamed exercise of the will to power.

    John Wigg

  7. Six comments to this blog in a fortnight is perhaps a reflection of either our misunderstanding of stealth jihad or a subtle fear of standing out from the crowd.

    Recently I forwarded an Australian Christian Nation Association email about Federal grants supporting the Muslim cause to our local Federal Member Ms. Sharon Bird MP.

    In part her response went to ‘Counter – Terrorism’ and the $9.7 million allocated in the 2010 – 11 Budget, which is in addition to $77 million that services social inclusion and national security agenda.

    During the 20th and 21st century how much money was spent on protecting us from death and injury arising from other immigrants threatening us in our own country? Very little I would suggest.

    Ms. Bird also stated that the premise of the entire ACNSA is wrong and misleading. No reason was given.

    My response was to suggest that how do we the innocent public know what is ‘wrong & misleading’ if there is no other side response or public debate.

    I do not expect a response.

    Ray Robinson

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