I'm reproducing below the comment I made on Shantanu's blog, for the record. I will continue to write on religious liberty in other posts (my article on religious freedom will be published in Freedom First on 1 September).
As I’ve elaborated in The Discovery of Freedom (http://bit.ly/9dRrPE) ALL religions have displayed tendencies for tolerance and intolerance. To start our journey to the (scientific) truth about reality, and hence to gain a level of control over nature, leading us to wealth and health, all modern societies have had to firmly break out of the choking grip that religions have exercised on our minds.
Thus, I don’t know of any religion which can’t be faulted on intolerance displayed. For instance, in the last few days some people on my blog have informed me that anyone involved in cow slaughter in India must be killed (capital punishment!). Thus, I haven’t come across a ANY fully tolerant religion so far. They don’t exist.
All religions have an EXTREMELY EVIL underbelly – of fanatic followers ready to kill others on the slightest pretext. Emperor Tiberius remarked, ‘if the gods think that they have just claims for grievance, they can surely take care of themselves’. But it appears that religious followers need to settle scores themselves.
It has been a very hard journey for USA over the past 9 years. One must sympathise with its travails. It is also a journey that seems to be increasingly risking US liberty.
The USA was founded by Protestants who had fled from the murderous Catholics of Europe. Today it faces a difficult choice:
1) If it blocks Imam Rauf’s centre, it risks reneging on the social contract of liberty it signed in 1776.
2) If it lets Imam Rauf’s centre be built, it risks strengthening those who will put pressure on USA’s liberties in the future.
The risks to liberty in BOTH cases are severe and urgent. The matter can’t be allowed to hang as it is, for when liberty declines in the USA, there will be no other place left in the world to uphold liberty. India is so far behind I can’t (now) see it leading the world in my lifetime. We must encourage the USA to defend liberty – above everything else in the world.
I therefore suggest a way forward: Take a written oath from Imam Rauf (and the Muslim community in NY) to be lodged with NY council asserting that Rauf and his fellow Muslims will NEVER demand a reduction in liberties in USA on religious grounds and that they will FIGHT SOLELY FOR USA as its citizens.
Once that oath is taken, Imam Rauf must be permitted to build the Cordoba Centre. As I note in DOF, Cordoba was a great case study in tolerance in Medieval Europe, at a time when Christianity was the world’s most intolerant religion. But Islam has subsequently lost the trust it once might have held in the minds of some. It must re-build this by making PUBLIC and credible statements to defend LIBERTY.
There are also very good, rational reasons for USA to demand such an oath. Too much blood has been spilled by Islamic fanatics. Any sign of weakness at this point in the USA will be exploited by fanatics within Islam to impose medieval ‘moral’ standards on the entire world! That must be stopped!!
The dangers posed by fanatic Islam are now obvious and self-evident. Too long have fanatics who have been plying a medieval trade of destruction of human liberty been allowed to get away because of confused moral relativism. Moral relativism must end. The supreme morality of liberty must be asserted. BOLDLY. You want to live in a free society like USA, then OBEY the fundamental tenets of freedom. Else go back to your own ancient land. No one will bother you there.
Note that after European Catholics had killed hundreds of thousands of Protestants, the Pope finally issued a statement in 1965 acknowledging the PRIMACY of religious freedom: “the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”
It is time for ALL PEOPLES of the world to sign such an oath. The FTI policy on religious freedom (http://bit.ly/c2rL1h) is the best document known to mankind so far on this subject, and should be used as a starting point for such an oath by all citizens of civilised nations.
This oath must also apply also to those who are re-asserting medieval ideas in India (e.g. Baba Ramdev and the Hindutva brigade). India is faced with a great challenge: If liberty is not strongly defended by this generation, I expect India to go down the gurgler and end up with mayhem – very much like Pakistan. And it will finally splinter into a thousand pieces. Liberty and tolerance is the ONLY glue that can unite India.
The world must now split into two: the FREE and NOT FREE. Let the milk and water be separated. Those who oppose liberty must exit the FREE societies. Let them live their disastrous medieval brutal lives wherever they want, but not in the free societies. The world can’t continue tolerating this inner tension that is making it virtually impossible to live in peace anywhere now.
All people who enter free societies must SWEAR to uphold religious liberty.
Recall that America was founded ON LIBERTY. There was really no other reason for its foundation. Therefore those who migrate to America for economic gain must prove their are first committed to liberty, before they are allowed to participate in the fruits of freedom. No one has a right to live in a free nation only to exploit its economic benefits. The purpose of living in a free nation is first and foremost this: to ensure human liberty. Economic migrants from illiberal roots must therefore be forcibly prevented from entering free societies – and sent back to their illiberal shores. Let the world split into two: at least there will be clarity between the White and Black, then.
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