Sunday, 27 March 2016

On choosing a religion or none

Around the world millions of Christians are celebrating Easter an important date in their religious calendar. More than a few Jews have been celebrating Purim. Others like me are simply having a holiday. And yet as we are are seemingly able to live with each other in the West, problems are arising that will cause problems for the future if not tackled head on.

My own background is that of someone from a mixed religion family. A Christian father and a Jewish mother. Caused no problems for me when growing up in the sixties and seventies when like many of my generation I chose simply not to believe.

Nobody I knew was that bothered at my choice, except my (Christian) religious studies teacher at school who kicked me out of the classroom on one occasion for raising Eric Von Danekin's theories from Chariot of the Gods.

My first taste of religious intolerance, but sadly not the last.

The news this weekend has been pretty dire considering the supposed increase of secularisation of British society.

First we heard of the tragic murder of a Glaswegian shopkeeper. The Daily Record reports:

POLICE have arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with the death of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah.

And they say they are treating the popular shopkeeper's death as "religiously prejudiced"....

This has been further exacerbated today in the follow up to the story:

DETECTIVES probing Asad Shah’s murder believe his killer may have travelled from Bradford to launch a premeditated attack.

They are investigating the theory the attacker became enraged over faith-related posts the 40-year-old had made on social media.

Asad was a member of the ­Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, who preach a message of peace and tolerance to other religions under the motto Love for All, Hatred for None.

The shopkeeper made regular posts online promoting his faith.

The most recent was wishing his Christian customers and friends a Happy Easter on Thursday a few hours before he was attacked.

Police believe the killer had already travelled to Glasgow.

They have already confirmed the murder was “religiously prejudiced” and that both men were Muslim.

A source said: “The police are ­looking at claims that this man has taken offence to religious posts that Asad made.

“The theory is that he saw what Asad was saying on Youtube and Facebook and drove up to track him down. The hardline Sunni Muslims call Ahmadiyya Muslims kafir. They say they are non-believers.

“It’s not unusual in other countries to see them killed just for their beliefs, it’s been going on for years.

And now it's happened here.
At the same time I read with complete disbelief at the judgement of a British Court. The Daily Mail tells us:
A British father has been banned from taking his son to a church after the boy's Muslim mother won a controversial court order preventing the boy from attending.

The father – a non-practising Muslim who has forged close connections to his local Christian community and is divorced from the boy's mother – has been warned that he could be denied access to the nine-year-old if he attempts to take him to church or to a leisure centre it runs.

Now the father, who was born in the UK to Pakistani parents, is challenging the ruling made by District Judge Williscroft at Derby County Court earlier this month.

Last week, he lodged an appeal with the High Court to have the order overturned. 'This judge is simply scared of being branded Islamophobic,' he said. 'I want my son to have a balanced life in which he is exposed to different faiths and can make up his own mind about which, if any, religion he follows.'

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said his ex-wife insisted their son, whom she is bringing up in the Muslim faith, could 'become confused' if he is subjected to other religions.

'My son is being indoctrinated and the only way I can show him other things is to take him to other places,' said the father.

'If I don't show him other types of life he will become just like a dumb sheep. I want him to see and learn about different cultures.

The father's point of view is one that should be supported in this case. An ex-Muslim who has chosen to follow Christianity has just as much right to teach his son as the mother.

But Islam it seems has been given an unacceptable precedent in law by this Judge.

Imagine the furore if it had been the other way round.

No religion should have sole rights to any education or otherwise in our society. There must be equality in all things before the law. No religion should be given precedence over another.

That's why we need to fight for a secular society where religion and the state are separate.

Only this way will tolerance be learnt. There can be no privileges for religion. In my view all are equally wrong, but some practitioners seek to impose their views on the rest of us.

The struggle against all forms of religious supremacism and fundamentalism has to start now.

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