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Democracy Comes Before Religion

Agora has an English translation of an article by Paul Hojlund that appears today in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. It effectively argues that Freedom of Religion is only guaranteed if religion is practiced within the parameters of Democracy. This is also a concept radical Islam and its apologists refuse to acknowledge.

Here's a portion:

Apparently a lot of people in high places in our Democracy have a hard time understanding the simple fact that Islam as traditionally interpreted is not compatible with Democracy. In a reversal of priorities, they are defending Islam's Freedom of Oppression by referring to the Freedom of Religion. Some even manage to bring the immigration debate into play: distancing oneself from the lack of Freedom in Islam is the same as discrimination or even racism.

Why is diminished Freedom acceptable when Religion is involved? Did not the Boers of South Africa call apartheid part of their faith? The Ku Klux Klan maintain their right to lynch black people as part of their faith - are they suddenly sacrosanct? No. None can be allowed to justify violations of Human Rights by invoking 'Religious Beliefs'...

...Helle Thorning Schmidt said it succinctly: Democracy comes before Religion. That is necessarily the order of things in the part of the world that fancies itself Democratic. A prerequisite for Democracy is that all men and women have their spiritual freedom and the corresponding uncensored Freedom of Speech, answerable only to the courts; it presupposes that no power is above the Democratic power of the state and that all exercise of religion takes place within this framework.

Islam has, alone among the great religions of the world, a problem with these demands. Or to be more precise: These demands are incompatible with Islam in the current official version. This is not about racism or xenophobia, nor is it about offending beliefs or ridiculing Moslems. That is not what this is about - notwithstanding that one of the Moslems' religious taboos has been broken. This is solely about Democracy and its prerequisite, Freedom of Speech.

This paragraph is of particular interest.

The Islamic world is not content with minding its own affairs; it wants for its religion to spread around the world and the means to do so is the demand for respect for Islam. But respect for Islam leads to submission since all criticism of Islam is the same as disrespect, which again means defaming the prophet. It's hard to understand this for a non-Moslem because we live in the free world. But ask the Moslem dissidents; they know what the price is for transgressing against heavenly laws. Or consider those who are murdered for offending the beloved prophet. Or ask Naser Khader who has around-the-clock protection by the police.

Or ask Dr. Wafa Sultan, who feels the need to go into hiding to protect herself and her family after publicly criticizing radical Islam in a television interview. And she lives in the United States.

Comments (12)

The truth, hard and cold th... (Below threshold)
Dan Patterson:

The truth, hard and cold though it may be, will set you free: "The Islamic world is not content with minding its own affairs; it wants for its religion to spread around the world and the means to do so is the demand for respect for Islam".

Why is islam such a threat? Because they want you dead. DEAD. Not a co-exsisting equal. Not a brother. Not a neighbor. A subject. A piece of property that can be desposed of at the whim of the believer.

If you as a non-believer do not treat the goat king as a god you will become a corpse. Your throat will be slit and your blood used to fertilize a patch of briars. Then the believers will to the arm-waving monkey-dance so al-ah will be pleased.

Human sacrifice. Compare that to your values of treating other people with respect and dignity. Even if me and you do not live our lives as we should, how often do we slit someone's throat or stone a women or detonate a car bomb? I thought so.

We are at war. Pick a side.

Dan Patterson
Arrogant Infidel

I get what the author is tr... (Below threshold)

I get what the author is trying to say, but I think it's probably not true that Democracy comes before religion. It didn't in America where the Declaration founds our unalienable rights in a particular conception of the divine. It didn't in the case of the Magna Carta which even more explicitly based rights on a theological basis. I'm less familiar with the ancient Greek city states but my understanding is that Athens, for instance, was not particularly secularized.

Our first amendment garuntees freedom of religion and speech in the same breath. Places, like China, that lack one usually lack the other. So I think we should be careful about assuming freedom and human rights can exist apart from a prior "religious" commitment to such values. Whether Islam in particular is compatible with such values is an open question. At the moment, I think the evidence suggests it is not.

Islam was invented out of w... (Below threshold)

Islam was invented out of whole cloth as a justificaton for hegemony.The Myth of Mecca by Jack Wheeler-

The myth of an original orthodoxy from which later challengers fall away as heretics is almost always the retrospective assertion of a politically dominant group whose aim is to establish their supremacy by appeal to divine sanction.
The article further cites apostates who agree, but with the caveat:
As Al-Rawandi puts it:
The claims of Islam do not depend on historical origins, but on an inner knowledge of God, the accompaniment and reward of piety. What makes Islam true is the spiritual life of Moslems, not religious history but religious experience.
These are the teachings of a school of Islamic thought known as Sufism. How Islam must reinvent itself to emerge out of the Islamic Dark Ages it has inhabited for the last several hundred years, and join and flourish in the civilized world, is to combine the teachings of Sufism with those of Jadidism, the attempt by Central Asian Islamic scholars 100 years ago to make a revitalized Islam compatible with the modern world.
Unfortunately, the vile Saudi Wahabbism has become the current interpretation which won't accept democracy as a framework for religious freedom. We can continue to sacrifice our national treasure in fighting a protracted war or utterly destroy them for the sake of freedom.

John, Islam specifically ca... (Below threshold)

John, Islam specifically calls for a state religion. The First Amendment of the Constitution is specifically against the establishment of a state religion. You HAVE to side with one or the other, because you cannot have both.

Democracy can coexist with religions like Chrisitianity or Judaism because neither of those require a state religion. Only when Muslims deny the part of their religion that requires a state religion, can they peacefully live in a democracy.

Ed,We're in agreem... (Below threshold)


We're in agreement. In my view this is the lesson that Europe refuses to learn: Not all religions are alike. Wahhabist Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democratic freedoms.

Nevertheless, one can not have human rights without commitments to certain values which precede democratic systems. Democracy is a means of achieving noble ends for humans living in large communities. But I would argue you start with those ends in mind, not the other way around.

[email protected]<... (Below threshold)



It didn't in America where the Declaration founds our unalienable rights in a particular conception of the divine.

What about the part where "Congress shall make no law..."? Doesn't that put Religion in a subordinate role compared to Democracy?

John, I think we are making... (Below threshold)

John, I think we are making slightly different arguments.

You are arguing: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I am arguing: Which is more important, the chicken or the egg?

Just replace chicken and egg with democracy and religion.

What about the par... (Below threshold)
What about the part where "Congress shall make no law..."? Doesn't that put Religion in a subordinate role compared to Democracy?
If Congress were an agent of religion it would, but Congress is an agent of the Democracy. This is more like a "separate but equal" definition. It keeps Democracy from playing favorites with religion.
If Congress were an ... (Below threshold)

If Congress were an agent of religion it would, but Congress is an agent of the Democracy. This is more like a "separate but equal" definition. It keeps Democracy from playing favorites with religion.

What are ya'll reading? Seems those revisionist historians may have taken root. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a federal republic with strong democratic tradition.

What about the part where "Congress shall make no law..."? Doesn't that put Religion in a subordinate role compared to Democracy?

It is not about subordination, it is about jusrisdiction. The state does not have jusrisdiction in the affairs of religion.

Democracy is a red herring!... (Below threshold)

Democracy is a red herring! Democracy guarantees nothing the majority deems unacceptable. (John, you're on the right track.) Inalienable rights come from God alone and as we're instinctually aware, God or His laws do not change with the times; times just get better or worse depending on mankind's willingness to stay conformed to them. The United States is a REPUBLIC which is a nation based on those laws = the 10 commandments. And, really, as much as I like the Danes , don't forget, child pornography was legalized there (and tacitly in much of Europe as well in the 1970s)and sold in the malls next to kitchenware because the "democrats" voted to legalize it. In other words, the limits of power in a democracy don't exist; it takes a constitution of laws (a republic) to guarantee ANY rights and those only with some vigilance (hence, W's use of the word "vigilante as an epithet).

braynD, what the heck are y... (Below threshold)

braynD, what the heck are you smoking, son?
Republic does not equal having a constitution.
Republic = non monarchy govt in which the power is derived from a body of citizens which vote for representatives responsible to them.
Vigilante is used by as an epithet by most people in America, because a vigilante is one that takes the law into his own hands...
Did you not have a civics course in school, or are you too young to have gotten to these chapters?

A democratic form of govern... (Below threshold)

A democratic form of government has evolved in the USA because our founding fathers separated man from opressive government and religion, the two most evil hindrances to the common mans ability to fulfill his destiny.

The USA's, for those who don't know, form of government is not a Democracy, but is a Constitutional Republic. This type of government reflects the will of the people thru a representative. However, no majority can force its will on others if their intent is unconstitutional. No sane person would want to live in actual democracy, where the majority creates the laws. This would be a tyranny of the majority.

Our secular form of government creates laws which need to be enforced. They are the only laws that exist. There is no such thing as a Gods law since there isn't any God. But for those who think there is and feel they have been ordained by this God to speak fot it, then your only defense to your posture is to product the God. If you can't, then quiet down.

Religion is totally incompatible with Democracy, as we practice it, as well as with Science. All religions, are by definition tyrannies, whose goal is to step on other peoples rights who don't pay homage to their particular insanities. They can't do this in America, because our founding fathers understood this and wrote the Constitution which protects citizens from religion.

As for bryanD's claim that our laws are based on the ten commandments and religious laws, his claim is absurd. The 10 commandments is religious dogma that has nothing to do with civil law. Our civil law emanated from English common law.

What law came from the 10 commandments, bryan? Is there a law that punishes you for not worshiping one god; for making a graven image; for not honoring your parents?






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