Calling Yourself Liberal and Religious won’t MAKE You a Good Person

PartyPlayFairDemo

Today we have two re-writes of older articles that seem very relevant today:

First, we will take the “Liberals” as well as the “Conservatives” to task for partisan hypocrisy…

Nowadays the word Liberal is often used as a pejorative; I often use it that way myself for good reasons.

Yet I am a moderate, and probably spend about 40% of the time cursing the idiocy of the Left, and 60% of it complaining and worrying about the Right (It is too bad there are not more real conservative minds in the Conservative camp these days.). Of the two the Conservatives tend to scare me a bit more but the Leftists in total power would be/ have been worse. But the actions of the radicals on either side do not condemn entire schools of thought to a mature mind.  This should be remembered by pundits on both sides in this age of attack politics.

 Lately a radically Conservative group has taken over almost all the political voice of conservative American Christianity.  They have used their pulpit to propound, and pound in, their own view of history, and how Christianity has influenced the development of the United States as a nation.

 They are not actually lying about the influence of the churches. The problem is that they have forgotten from just where in the Church all that influence came.  Yes, it was those damn liberals every time!

 In American history, every time the religious culture has had a profound positive influence (as judged by successive generations) on changes in society those influences have their roots in the Liberal-to-Radical churches. They most certainly did not come from the Conservative ones!

 The Conservative Churches in every case have held the line with the status quo through history whether it was regarding the Revolution, slavery, child labor, workers rights, racial equality or now, gay rights.  Yet the Conservative Churches of today want to shine their halos with the contributions made for the most part by the Liberal Churches of the past.

This activity is not unique to Christianity by any means.  A Radical Conservative Jew will spend much energy telling you about Judaism’s amazing contributions to Western society, but will refuse to see that his brand of thinking never produced any of it.  Find a Conservative Imam, and you will find a man eager to convince you that Islam has been an enormously positive contributor to civilization over the centuries.  But if you remind him that blind faithfulness to Islam’s Conservative philosophy had nothing to do with the various periods of (heretically liberal) Islamic glory that he is polishing up for you to admire; he may even take offense.

  In every case where religious and political power intermingle the things that modern world civilization would call progress has only come when the dominant Church(s) is(are) liberal to the point of being heretical (to the parent dogmas and doctrines), tolerant and more focused on understanding, accepting and spreading the “love behind the Law” rather than promoting a zero-tolerance attitude regarding adherence to the “Letter of the Law.”

But only stagnation and decay ensue when the Churches are conservative and cling to a memory, or fictitious ideal, of “the way it should be.”

 It should be noted that Conservative religious thought can have a greatly positive influence on society but, that usually the effects remain chiefly negative.

 Witness: the defense of slavery, and the stances of “Godly” preachers and priests against child labor laws, and minority civil rights laws.

Witness: the attempts at forced, coerced and violent conversions directed at any people of another religion that are under the influence of a politicized religion (theocracies, inquisitions, shari’a states).

 We all admit that Conservatism is designed to be highly successful at keeping the wheels of a society turning. Who but a fool will deny that there is a true virtue most times in maintaining most of the status quo; Leftists take note of the qualifications and keep your straw men to yourselves – I am not Christian, and never have been a Republican, or supporter of either Bush.

 But, it also must be admitted that Conservative governments and organizations have a poor track record when attempting to grease those wheels, to make accommodation for the fact that seems “odd“, “weird“, “different” to the average mind; whether the ideas are good ones or not!

When the going gets rough or to be a creative inspiration for the people who bear the main burdens of pushing the cart of civilization further, faster and safer than our ancestors ever believed it could go Conservatives can be of more a drag chain when they should be acting like the regenerative brakes that go with a hybrid engine.

 Conservative ideology certainly does not allow real flaws in the basic social system to be changed without a protracted, and often ugly, fight with the liberal mindset who are busy finding things that are not really broken to make into really nasty situations with well-meaning new laws and more, and more, and more tension from enforcement, and less and less elbow room for the well-intentioned citizen just trying to get along and improve their lives.

 Without a Liberal element in society, one that has enough influence to smack the current bosses on the head now and then but, not enough to dominate society  a person lives in what is at best a well upholstered slave camp destined to fade into the dust of history.

And…

Without a Conservative element at the core to give perspective and balance a people will… well, just look at the aftermath of every single revolution in the past – the American revolution was actually a colony revolt – it was an independently evolving, functioning society that broke away from the parent nation/culture rather than an indigenous movement to topple all the central power structures and replace them ad hoc with unproven or dis-proven but, “much better” institutions; not long after they succeed the real bloodshed is just beginning!

 Who was it again that decreed with proven ‘Holy Authority‘ that all human problems can, and may, only be solved by a totally Left-wing or totally Right-wing ideology? When did admitting that your Party’s platform cannot solve all problems if followed by “good” people?

The voting public needs to take off their trendy, strait-jackets/sheep-outfits, grow up, and look at reality – of the real kind, rather than the oh-so-importantly-unimportant political sort – and then find the ideal solutions, not the solutions that serve your political tribe while walking over everyone else’s Lives’, Liberties, and frantic Pursuits of Happiness.

Secular Muslim Manifesto

Submitted by admin on 17 November, 2004 – 15:06. IHN 2004.4 November
International Humanist News

By Tewfik Allal and Brigitte Bardet

We are of Muslim culture; we oppose misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and the political use of Islam. We reassert a living secularism.

We are women and men of Muslim culture. Some of us are believers, others are agnostics or atheists. We all condemn firmly the declarations and acts of misogyny, homophobia, and anti-Semitism that we have heard and witnessed for a while now here in France, and that are carried out in the name of Islam. These three characteristics typify the political Islamism that has been forceful for so long in several of our countries of origin. We fought against them there, and we are committed to fighting against them again – here.

Sexual equality: a prerequisite for democracy

We are firmly committed to equal rights for both sexes. We fight the oppression of women who are subjected to Personal Status Laws, like those in Algeria (recent progress in Morocco highlights how far Algeria lags behind), and sometimes even in France via bilateral agreements*. We believe that democracy cannot exist without these equal rights. Accordingly, we unambiguously offer our support for the “20 ans, barakat!” (20 years is enough!) campaign of the Algerian women’s associations, demanding the definitive abolition of two decades old family code.

It is also for this reason that we oppose wearing the Islamic headscarf, evenif among us there are differing opinions about the law banning it from schools in France. In various countries, we have seen violence or even death inflicted on female friends or family members because they refused to wear the scarf. Even if the current enthusiasm for the headscarf [among some Muslims] in France was stimulated by discrimination suffered by immigrant children, this cannot be considered the real cause of the desire to wear it; nor can memories of a North African lifestyle explain it.

Behind this so called “choice” demanded by a certain number of girls is the promotion of a political Islamic society based on a militant ideology which aims to promote actively values to which we do not subscribe.

Stopping homophobia

For Islamic fundamentalists, (as for all machos and fundamentalists), “being a man” means having power over women, including sexual power. In their eyes, any man who favors equality of the sexes is potentially subhuman, or “queer.” This way of thinking has proliferated since the rise of political Islamism. Its ferocity is equaled only by its hypocrisy. One of the organizers of the demonstration on Saturday, January 17th 2004 in favor of the headscarf declared that “It is scandalous that those who claim to be shocked by the headscarf are not shocked by homosexuality.” Undoubtedly he thinks that a virtuous society hides women behind headscarves or puts homosexuals behind bars, something we have already seen happen in Egypt.

We shudder at what the triumph of these attitudes implies for “shameless” persons in society-like women who fail to wear the headscarf, or homosexuals or nonbelievers.

In contrast, we believe that recognition of the existence of homosexuality and the freedom for homosexuals to live their own lives as they wish represents undeniable progress. As long as an individual – heterosexual or homosexual – does not break the laws protecting minors, each person’s sexual choices are his or her own business, and do not concern the state in any way.

Fighting anti-Semitism

Finally, we condemn firmly the anti-Semitic statements made recently in speeches in the name of Islam. Just like “shameless” women and homosexuals, Jews have become the target: “They have everything and we have nothing,” was something that we heard in the demonstration on January 17th. We see the use of the Israel-Palestine conflict by fundamentalist movements as a means of promoting the most disturbing forms of anti-Semitism.

Despite our opposition to the current policies of the Israeli government, we refuse to feed primitive images of the “Jew.” A real, historical conflict between two peoples should not be exploited. We recognize Israel’s right to exist, a right recognized by the PLO congress in Algiers in 1988 and the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut in 2002. At the same time we are committed to the Palestinian people and support of their right to found a state and to be liberated from occupation.

Living secularism

Islam has not received sufficient recognition in France. There is a lack of places to pray. There are not enough chaplaincies nor enough cemeteries. We are aware that young French people, the sons and daughters of Muslim immigrants, are still held back socially and suffer discrimination. All monitoring bodies recognize this. Consequently, “French-style” secularism has lost a great deal of value in the eyes of these young people.

Two possibilities lie before them. They can rediscover the strength of a real, living secularism, that is, political action on behalf of their rights and to demand the social gains fought for by their fathers and mothers-who belonged to social classes, cultures, peoples and nations before they belonged to Islam. Or they can see themselves in an imaginary, virtual “umma” [Islamic community – ed.] that no longer corresponds to reality, and then masquerade in republican or tiers-mondistes (Third-Worldist) rags. This only ends up securing unequal, repressive, and intolerant societies. This latter path cannot be ours.

*France has bilateral agreements with Algeria, which allow the application of Algeria’s “Family Code” to emigrants in France. It particularly affects issues of divorce and discriminates against women.

Tewfik Allal, a French union activist, who was born in Morocco of Algerian parents, and his wife Brigitte Bardet, a teacher and feminist activist are the authors of this Manifesto. The Manifesto attracted several hundred signatories and a list of “Les Amis du Manifeste” (Friends of the Manifesto) composed of non-Muslim intellectuals expressing their solidarity. www.manifeste.org