Australian Islamist Monitor

Islam Under Scrutiny

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No religion in schools – unless it’s Islam!

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We must not indoctrinate young minds with religious beliefs, as we know that religion (the Judeo/Christian variety) is the source of all evil. Let’s hear it from a prominent humanist:

AUTHOR and campaigner Leslie Cannold has called on atheists, humanists and religious people who believe in the secular state to unite and kick religious education volunteers and chaplains out of public schools. 

 Accepting the Australian Humanist of the Year award, Cannold urged her audience to fight back against religious fundamentalists who take advantage of Australia's acceptance of religious freedom to push their ''violently intolerant ideologies''.

In Australia the risks from this ''emanate primarily from evangelical Christian fundamentalists, not jihadist Muslims''. She said that Australia had a similar constitutional provision as the United States guaranteeing a non-religious state, but we had tried to be more inclusive and allow religions into, for example, public schools. The Australian experiment, she argued, had been a ''miserable failure''. (source)

Yes, evangelical Christians are mighty dangerous. Once one tried unsuccessfully to persuade me to accept Jesus as the Messiah, and while outwardly friendly, I am convinced that she is planning to chop my head off! 

Nevertheless, one can’t help but admire Cannold’s persistence in vilifying Christianity:

A mother writes to me, torn with guilt about a decision she made about the education of her daughter, who began kindergarten this year. The family doesn’t believe in “structured religion”, preferring instead to raise their children as “tolerant of all religions but followers of none”.
For this reason, she refused her child’s participation in scripture instruction …but she was the only child in her year to be excused from the lesson and so was forced to sit alone outside the classroom. The little girl was so distressed that her mother reluctantly gave permission for her to attend Anglican scripture. But the decision doesn’t feel right and she’s still not sure that it is. What should she do?

And all this thanks to radical Christians!

 I’m not sure what part of this dilemma astounded or offended me more. That in 2010 supposedly secular schools are teaching religion or that parents who see such tutelage as inappropriate or inconsistent with their personal values or minority religion beliefs must choose between raising their kids as they see fit or being party to their symbolic casting out.

Children should never be sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ principles.
But in the long-term Karen, and others like her, must fight. Beat on the door of the Education Minister until she amends the department’s policy that prescribes suitable alternatives being provided for kids whose parents say no to scripture. So that no parent, or child, has to endure what they’ve had to again. (source)

Let’s hope Cannold is equally vociferous about the COMPULSORY foisting of Islam into our schools via the LFOA, which insists that a Muslim perspective be given to our kids in every subject. Contrast the VOLUNTARY one hour a week teaching of other religions.

While Cannold shows some awareness of the horrors of Islam, she can’t resist implying that other cultures are equally oppressive:

In a range of pluralist, liberal states – Australia included – pockets of cultural and religious minorities engage in practices that express limited views about the full humanity of women, and undermine equity between the sexes. From the insistence of pockets of Somali immigrants on “circumcising” their infant girls, or the refusal of parts of the Anglican and Catholic Churches to ordain women… some religious and cultural sub-communities persevere with practices that express particular views about “proper” roles for women rejected by the majority.

Hmm somehow mutilating infant girls doesn’t rank on the same scale as the refusal of churches to ordain women. But to a true feminist, they are equivalent assaults on the “humanity of women”.

So what should be done when the values we hold about cultural and religious diversity, and our beliefs about equality between the sexes, collide? A number of Australian politicians have recently made their views clear. Members of minority cultures or religions can either do as we do when it comes to gender equity, or go home. “If a person wants to live under Sharia law there are countries where they might feel at ease”, Peter Costello informed Australia’s Muslim minority…Victorian MP Andrew Robb argued that the successful integration of first and second generation Muslims into Australia was dependant on these Australians “demonstrat[ing] their commitment” to, the “Australian value” of equality between the sexes.
Some supporters of multiculturalism – many of whom are feminists – have taken umbrage at such remarks, which have been interpreted as thinly-veiled racism against Australian Muslims.
Yet, beneath this discomfort may have lurked another: that however unjust the discrimination some minority groups suffer, such groups may also perpetrate injustice - systematically and unapologetically – against “their” girls and women. Whether it’s Muslim parents forcing their daughters overseas for an arranged marriage with an (often far older) co-religionist, Orthodox Jewish males thanking God daily for not making them women, or leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention instructing female congregants to “submit themselves graciously to the servant leadership of their husbands” … culture and religion are regularly used as defences for practices that demean, deprive, limit and otherwise oppress women.

Again with the equivalence! There is a huge difference between forced marriage, and Jews and Christians preaching sexist messages, which in my experience are mostly ignored.

Ironically, at the same time as girls and women are burdened by the patriarchal attitudes of traditional religious and cultural communities, they are also seen as responsible for their preservation and perpetuation… Philosopher Susan Okin tells a story of an Indian student facing a forced marriage. While the 17-year old admitted that her parents’ decision had “messed up” her dreams and plans, leaving her “tormented”, she bristled at her teacher’s suggestion that she might resist. “In our religion, we have to think of our parents first…I will do it the Muslim way”.

For Okin… one solution to the clash between feminism and multiculturalism is to ensure female members of religious sub-groups have “realistic rights of exit”. Liberal pluralist societies should only tolerate the rights of minority groups to discriminate against women when those women are truly free to respond to such discrimination – to leave the group, and build an alterative life elsewhere.

But the right to escape a community that is oppressive is not enough. Gender-discriminatory cultures and religions have a profound impact on women’s beliefs about their legitimate entitlements in this life. If girls grow up hearing, as they do if they attend some private fundamentalist Christian schools, that their failure to accept a subordinate and obedient role in the home leaves the “doors open to Satan”, their opportunities to exit are significantly undermined. As a consequence, asserts Okin, where multicultural practices eviscerate the self-esteem necessary for girls and women to develop their own values and plans, the State is well within its bounds to outlaw them. The alternative – that oppressed women can either “lump it or leave” – not only deprives women of the opportunity to participate in and enjoy the positive aspects of their cultures, it ensures the entrenchment in such cultures of gender-oppressive attitudes and behaviour. After all, if the women who object to them have no other option but to leave, it’s hard to see from where the force for change will come.

It’s generally agreed that leaving Islam is deadly dangerous for women. Yet Cannold seems to suggest that the sexist teachings of Christianity can also undermine girls’ opportunities to leave and that the State should therefore outlaw such oppression of women.

Philosopher Ayelet Shachar has observed that “a disproportionate share of the costs of multiculturalism” is born by the most vulnerable groups in the community: children, women and homosexuals…This is something to keep in mind when the most powerful members insist on majority toleration of a practice that results in the least powerful copping it sweet. (source)

Ah, finally something I can agree with!

It seems humanists and feminists are caught in a trap of their own making. By refusing to see the good in any religion, they are not able to discern the wide gulf of difference between religions which preach a message promoting civilized behaviour and so benefitting humanity, and ideologies masked as religions which are downright dangerous to humanity, especially the most vulnerable.

Yet here’s the contradiction: humanists dislike religion, but are much more willing to give Islam a free pass and be heavily critical of other religions, especially Christianity.

I don’t quite understand their rationale, but I welcome an explanation from our readers.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 19:55  

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