Wednesday, December 23, 2015
A school in Virginia was teaching students to write the Muslim declaration of faith, the shahada which says: "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God"
Blogger and law professor Ann Althouse remarks:
I would observe that students were not required to declare a faith, only to copy a declaration of faith. That's like the difference between praying in school and staging a play in which a character says a prayer. That is, I don't think it violates the Establishment Clause to require students to copy the statement of faith as a calligraphy exercise as the students are taught not that Islam is the true religion but the history and substance of the religion of Islam.
Bob R, commenting at Althouse, says something profound about Americans understanding of Muslims.
The biggest problem here is people who don't take religion seriously teaching people who take religion seriously about other people who take religion seriously. It's all pen strokes to them. It's time to end the government monopoly on education.
Moreover, it imposes a Western-centric view on what is a non-Western system. Students were required to make the Islamic profession of faith. Period. That it was written, that it was written in a language that they did not understand, that the students may not have even known what they are saying -- all this does not matter from the Muslim perspective. From that perspective, merely making the profession makes one Muslim. That you understand it is not necessary. There are plenty of voluntary Muslims out there reciting the Koran in Arabic who have no idea exactly what they are saying because they do not speak that language. And once one makes the profession, thereby becoming Muslim, for one to then speak contrary to Islam is to make one, not an infidel, but an apostate.
Another comment by R&B:
Americans simply need to stop making declarations about what Islam is or isn't based on their own wishful thinking and humanistic principles. The religion does have its own little codes and rules that apply to both Muslims and others and converts and they aren't simply what you presuppose them to be based on a Western or secular or Christian understanding of how life interacts with religion. It's. Not. The. Same. The amount of commentary on Islamic theology by Westerners who have no understanding of it is astounding and alarming.
Secular people view religion as an outmoded superstition and religious people as either foolish, superstitious, deluded or stupid. Most can put up with it as long as it stays in its place. And that place is out of sight. If they give it any though at all, they view the leading religion in the West – Christianity – as the Department of HEW at prayer. From what they have gathered in popular culture, God is the almighty patsy. “Jesus is love.” The God of Christians is meek and mild, forgiving everything. That’s supposed to be His job even as he’s kicked to the curb. And in the view of the secularists, it's also the role that Christians are supposed to play. If they don't, they're accused of not being Christians.
Many Christian denominations are led be people who have the same opinion. For many it’s a job with no heavy lifting. Parenthetically, there is a history for this. In old England younger sons were sent either to the military or to the Church; their faith or lack thereof was of no consequence.
Judaism is even farther away from”faith” than Mainline Christianity. It’s a cultural identity that doesn’t demand belief in God. Jews who are atheists, and there are many, don’t lose their identity as Jews.
Most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see; not what is really there. Secular people see themselves as neutral. But it’s a neutrality that piously proclaims that its moral and ethical positions are the neutral position. That's deluded. If you want neutrality try Switzerland. That's the real deal; taking no position between the Nazis and the Allies, between killing six million Jews and trying to rescue them. It’s a country where art stolen by the Nazis in World Ware II still shows up.
Neutrality is a lie when Christianity is driven from the public sphere. By removing signs of the religion that the majority of the people in the country profess, the secularists who decide the laws of this country actually believe that they are enforcing a "neutrality" that is specifically forbidden in the American constitution. The part that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereo, ..." That prohibition against free exercise once meant that people were free to exercise their religion, but no more. Now it's not OK to exercise your religion if they catch you doing it on public lands or in public places maintained by public funds. A valedictorian may not speak of her faith in Jesus and a football team may not pray before a game. A cross may not exist on public lands and if the Decalogue stands on public land it must be removed. The excuse usually given is that the expression of Christian faith may offend non-Christians, a right that is NOT found in the Constitution. And all this, they tell each other - and us - is to protect religious freedom. The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.
The secular chattering classes disdain those countries like Iran that are ruled by the Ayatollahs. But we have our own Ayatollahs: people who tell us and our elected officials what they can say and do. They are referred to as the Supreme Court. Once they were limited by the words in the Constitution but now they are free of those constraints. Instead of a brake on the passions of the moment, they now lead the march to that glorious future. The very thought of breaking one of their commandments is grounds for accusations of heresy. One may burn the American flag and be praised as a brave defender of freedom, but vigorously dissent from the Supreme's diktats and, if there is a stake handy, you will be burned on it. Presidential elections often hinge, not on who the temporary holder of that office, but on whom he will appoint to that much more important tribunal. They are the ones who make the really important decisions. It's their world, we're just living in it.
This is why Ann, everyone in the press and every Democrat doesn’t get it. First, they don’t take religions seriously. Would anyone in that group die for their faith? Multitudes of Christians who are being martyred in the Middle East are. To ask the question is to answer it. They view all religions as important as flavors of ice cream. Today I like chocolate and tomorrow vanilla and it’s all a matter of taste. They are incapable of understanding that Islam is not something that’s practiced one day a week. The really “smart” may even know that Muslims pray five times a day. But they don’t know what makes a Muslim. They may know that the real head of Iran is a Muslim cleric but don’t really understand why.
This far the ignorance and cultural arrogance of Ann and the rest of secular America has not impacted their lives all that much. It’s exhibited in the inevitable media reactions following some kind of attack - fear of the backlash by Americans against Muslims that never comes. It’s funny in a way. Drawing cartoons of Mohammad is followed by riots throughout the world with dozens killed. The press is afraid to publish the cartoons. Murder 14 Americans in San Bernardino and Democrats go to a mosque to show their solidarity.
“At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right” Miguel de Unamuno