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Backlash Against Islamic Militants Felt Worldwide

December 2, 2009
120 year old Bible back (2005, American)
Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

The Swiss ban on minaret building has created a worldwide commentary on the government’s stance on calling the devout muslims to prayer.  While it might seem that the Swiss government is imposing a stance against freedom of religion, I have known local churches that have been cited with tickets for violating city ordinances for noise violations while ringing their bells.  In fact, the church was prevented from ringing its bells whenever it wanted, as this imposed a religious communication upon the general public that was against their will.  So, in effect, the ban on minarets, while possibly disappointing and on the face, upsetting, may  not be limiting freedom to practice religious beliefs on the basis that those practices may not impose a communication on the general public.

Worldwide, governments are taking a stance on signs of religious expression within governmental institutions, and I really think it’s been a long time coming, too long for my sake.  But, here is a list of the most recent limits on religous expressions in a governmental agency.  We should also make note that the place to express religious sentiment should not be in a governmental institution unless that government follows religious laws:

Anxieties about growing Muslim minorities have rippled across Europe in recent years, leading to legal changes in some countries. There have been French moves to ban the full-length body covering known as the burqa. Some German states have introduced bans on head scarves for Muslim women teaching in public schools. Mosques and minaret construction projects in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have been met by protests.

In the U.S. the 10 Commandments must be removed from court rooms.  Prayer is not allowed in schools, in any form, nor any crucifix, Bhudda, Hindi God, menorah, burqas or other forms of religious expression or practice.  In fact, there is commentary about how “under God” should be removed from our nation’s pledge to allegiance.   Local districts in Michigan have issued a notice that a nativity scene can not remain on governmental roadways.  It’s not just a matter of limiting a particular religious expression but any religious expression in a setting that imposes a religious communication on the general public.

There is no real interference with religious tolerance if the government says that a religion is not free to come into a society and impose its communications/call to prayer at that particular church, on the entire public populace. As NPR reported in the above quote, governments have started taking a stance on the manner in which religious expressions can be supported by a governmental agency.

In Michigan, the courts have ruled that a judge may require a woman to remove her head covering upon entering the court room.  And other states have passed laws stating that a government identification card fails to meet identification purposes or constitute a government i.d. if a woman fails to remove her facial coverings.

Of course, one could argue that Christ was crucified for going into a governmental structure and accusing the government of taking money, practicing their religion incorrectly and starting a new church critical of the government in power.  While crucifixion is no longer the norm when dealing with subversive religious movements, apparently war still is.  So, when a country has determined that it won’t allow a particular religion to force it expression (in the form of head coverings, calls to prayer, facial coverings, etc.) on the public or in governmental institutions, I would say that it’s a matter of guaranteeing rights for all the public as opposed to denying the right to impose a religious stance through a governmental office.  But then again, my blog is ” Unasked Advice.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. copykatparis permalink
    December 11, 2009 10:18 am

    I think it was Switzerland, not Sweden, who voted to ban minarets….

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      December 11, 2009 5:46 pm

      You’re right. It was a spell-check typo, selecting the first word it suggested. Fixed, and thanks for letting me know!

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