Banning the burqa

The actual subject of Michael Gerson’s column, quoted above, is the vogue in a number of European countries to ban the burqa, the Islamic garb that swaths women so that their bodies cannot be seen.  After criticizing the practice, Gerson criticizes the atempts to outlaw it:

The motives of European leaders in this controversy are less sympathetic. Some speak deceptively (and absurdly) of a security motive for banning Islamic covering. Who knows what they are hiding? But by this standard, the war on terrorism would mandate the wearing of bikinis. The real purpose of burqa bans is to assert European cultural identity — secular, liberal and individualistic — at the expense of a visible, traditional religious minority. A nation such as France, proudly relativistic on most issues, is convinced of its cultural superiority when it comes to sexual freedom. A country of topless beaches considers a ban on excessive modesty. The capital of the fashion world, where women are often overexposed and objectified, lectures others on the dignity of women.

via Michael Gerson – Europe’s burqa rage.

If the freedom of religion is an important principle for us Christians, we need to defend the freedom of religion for non-Christians as well.  Don’t we?  Do you see how this is different from outlawing widow burning?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Do you see how this is different from outlawing widow burning?

    No. In the context of the terrorist movement and the practices it represents, banning the burqa is morally permissible and appropriate.

  • Carl Vehse

    Do you see how this is different from outlawing widow burning?

    No. In the context of the terrorist movement and the practices it represents, banning the burqa is morally permissible and appropriate.

  • colliebear06

    This is a very interesting debate, one that goes deep in many directions, including questions of religious liberty, freedom of expression, disrespect of women to name a few.

    The one parallel that springs to mind is the outlawing of polygamy, which was once practiced openly by Mormons. Couldn’t we apply the same logic to that situation, that since it is a part of their religion, and it doesn’t affect the rest of us, we should just let them practice it?

    I suppose I could accept the burqa as long as the woman’s face is exposed. But I would not accept the ‘tents’, sorry I can’t remember the name of the ones used primarily in Afghanistan, which shield even the face of the wearer from view; basically just identity-stealers or excuses to hide in plain sight.

    Yes, this issue is far removed from widow burning.

  • colliebear06

    This is a very interesting debate, one that goes deep in many directions, including questions of religious liberty, freedom of expression, disrespect of women to name a few.

    The one parallel that springs to mind is the outlawing of polygamy, which was once practiced openly by Mormons. Couldn’t we apply the same logic to that situation, that since it is a part of their religion, and it doesn’t affect the rest of us, we should just let them practice it?

    I suppose I could accept the burqa as long as the woman’s face is exposed. But I would not accept the ‘tents’, sorry I can’t remember the name of the ones used primarily in Afghanistan, which shield even the face of the wearer from view; basically just identity-stealers or excuses to hide in plain sight.

    Yes, this issue is far removed from widow burning.

  • Kirk

    If the war on terrorism is the most important priority of this country, superseding rights to self expression and religious freedom, then yes, it would be permissible to ban the burqua. However, I hope, however, that the war on terror is actually subservient to those ideals which Americans hold dear. I think it is, as the point is as much preserving our way of life as it is preserving our physical safety.

    If we want to live in a free society, that means that means we have to accept the risks that our freedom permits. In many ways, I see it as the same as a person enlisting in the army. By doing so, he accepts an elevated risk to death. Similarly, if we enjoy our freedoms, we must accept that we are at an elevated risk of attack and exploitation because of them. Is burqua wearing the lynch pin of the American way? No. But I see at as a “First they came for the X, and I said nothing,” principle.

  • Kirk

    If the war on terrorism is the most important priority of this country, superseding rights to self expression and religious freedom, then yes, it would be permissible to ban the burqua. However, I hope, however, that the war on terror is actually subservient to those ideals which Americans hold dear. I think it is, as the point is as much preserving our way of life as it is preserving our physical safety.

    If we want to live in a free society, that means that means we have to accept the risks that our freedom permits. In many ways, I see it as the same as a person enlisting in the army. By doing so, he accepts an elevated risk to death. Similarly, if we enjoy our freedoms, we must accept that we are at an elevated risk of attack and exploitation because of them. Is burqua wearing the lynch pin of the American way? No. But I see at as a “First they came for the X, and I said nothing,” principle.

  • Carl Vehse

    Female genital mutilation (FGM) is another mostly mohammedean practice that should not be permitted except for sound medical reasons.

    Couldn’t we apply the same logic to that situation, that since it is a part of their religion, and it doesn’t affect the rest of us, we should just let them practice it?

    No, it is not logical, nor historically correct. The mormons had to eliminate polygamy (at least officially) from their religion before Utah was allowed to become a state. Polygamy is still practiced by some mormon sects, while state officials, violating their oath of office, often look the other way.

  • Carl Vehse

    Female genital mutilation (FGM) is another mostly mohammedean practice that should not be permitted except for sound medical reasons.

    Couldn’t we apply the same logic to that situation, that since it is a part of their religion, and it doesn’t affect the rest of us, we should just let them practice it?

    No, it is not logical, nor historically correct. The mormons had to eliminate polygamy (at least officially) from their religion before Utah was allowed to become a state. Polygamy is still practiced by some mormon sects, while state officials, violating their oath of office, often look the other way.

  • sg

    Sure, it is different from widow burning. However, majority rights and majority rule are very important democratic principles. Having aristocrats dictate to the people certainly isn’t democratic. Asserting one’s own cultural identity in one’s own country is the right of the majority. If the burqa were not associated with Islam and terrorism, this likely wouldn’t be happening. Are they looking to ban Indian saris? No. What is lacking is the discussion of cultural displacement. European nations should feel comfortable asserting their right to stop immigration and limit foreigners to worker status if they don’t want to be replaced. They have set up inclusive welfare states that are unsustainable and immigration exacerbates the problem. The UN ostensible recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and culture, so, hey that includes Europe, too. A large well ordered prosperous place like Europe, is going to attract foreigners who will bring disorder. Entropy.

  • sg

    Sure, it is different from widow burning. However, majority rights and majority rule are very important democratic principles. Having aristocrats dictate to the people certainly isn’t democratic. Asserting one’s own cultural identity in one’s own country is the right of the majority. If the burqa were not associated with Islam and terrorism, this likely wouldn’t be happening. Are they looking to ban Indian saris? No. What is lacking is the discussion of cultural displacement. European nations should feel comfortable asserting their right to stop immigration and limit foreigners to worker status if they don’t want to be replaced. They have set up inclusive welfare states that are unsustainable and immigration exacerbates the problem. The UN ostensible recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and culture, so, hey that includes Europe, too. A large well ordered prosperous place like Europe, is going to attract foreigners who will bring disorder. Entropy.

  • Kirk

    I’m failing to see how burquas destroy western culture or cause entropy. It’s a woman in a tent.

    I understand that there are some security risks to a person being completely covered from head to toe, but are there any crime statistics showing that this has been a problem in western nations?

    And does a woman in a burqua really degrade our society, or is it just that westerners find it offensive because it’s different or a person expressing a belief that most westerners don’t hold in common. If the latter, isn’t that text book bigotry?

  • Kirk

    I’m failing to see how burquas destroy western culture or cause entropy. It’s a woman in a tent.

    I understand that there are some security risks to a person being completely covered from head to toe, but are there any crime statistics showing that this has been a problem in western nations?

    And does a woman in a burqua really degrade our society, or is it just that westerners find it offensive because it’s different or a person expressing a belief that most westerners don’t hold in common. If the latter, isn’t that text book bigotry?

  • Booklover

    I’m confused as to why they are banning the burka, but doing nothing to curtail male activities, and nothing to curtail the building of mosques. Why the focus on the female?

  • Booklover

    I’m confused as to why they are banning the burka, but doing nothing to curtail male activities, and nothing to curtail the building of mosques. Why the focus on the female?

  • Carl Vehse

    “destroy western culture…” “cause entropy…” “degrade our society…” “text book bigotry”

    Don’t forget “raise cholesterol level” and “leave dishwasher spots.”

  • Carl Vehse

    “destroy western culture…” “cause entropy…” “degrade our society…” “text book bigotry”

    Don’t forget “raise cholesterol level” and “leave dishwasher spots.”

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  • Tom Hering
  • Tom Hering
  • fws

    sg @5

    ” majority rights and majority rule are very important democratic principles. Having aristocrats dictate to the people certainly isn’t democratic. Asserting one’s own cultural identity in one’s own country is the right of the majority”

    This would mark you as a son in spirit of the radical french revolution. We know how that all turned out.

    The united states is a republic. Our leaders are sworn to protect the constitution. This is odd if one thinks of it eh? majority rule needs no constitution. it is a dictatorship of the fickle 51% over the 49% who just have to suck it up.

    This would force christians to follow sharia law if muslims were the majority (death for anyone leaving the muslim faith this includes). It is this view that makes christians and pagan liberals use identical methods. Identical. End justifies means. Not.

    I will take a nation ruled by law (constitutional republic) over democracy any day of any week of any year. I hope most here agree.

  • fws

    sg @5

    ” majority rights and majority rule are very important democratic principles. Having aristocrats dictate to the people certainly isn’t democratic. Asserting one’s own cultural identity in one’s own country is the right of the majority”

    This would mark you as a son in spirit of the radical french revolution. We know how that all turned out.

    The united states is a republic. Our leaders are sworn to protect the constitution. This is odd if one thinks of it eh? majority rule needs no constitution. it is a dictatorship of the fickle 51% over the 49% who just have to suck it up.

    This would force christians to follow sharia law if muslims were the majority (death for anyone leaving the muslim faith this includes). It is this view that makes christians and pagan liberals use identical methods. Identical. End justifies means. Not.

    I will take a nation ruled by law (constitutional republic) over democracy any day of any week of any year. I hope most here agree.

  • fws

    Since faces are used as the primary form of identity and security. I can see a law that would require the face of someone to be in plain site as a security issue. An individual or group walking around wearing ski masks in miami reasonably can be seen as a security issue, even if there were some religious group that mandated the wearing of them.

    There have been many cases of suicide bombers dressed in burkas. The distance between a bikini and a burka is alot larger than the distance between a dress/business suit and a bikini.

    So yes I am vibing to ALL the arguments against a majority impulsing culture, but I don´t think that view rules out the fact that there are reasonably arguable security issues.

    Maybe the compromise would be to require that burkas be temporarily be removed in certain situations?

    Sometimes being religious carries a price. Christians don´t have any extermal rules. But if someone required me pray with others as a job requirement, I maybe would lose my job. Maybe women with burkas would just not be able to work at or go to certain places?

    Dr Veith your question is excellent.

  • fws

    Since faces are used as the primary form of identity and security. I can see a law that would require the face of someone to be in plain site as a security issue. An individual or group walking around wearing ski masks in miami reasonably can be seen as a security issue, even if there were some religious group that mandated the wearing of them.

    There have been many cases of suicide bombers dressed in burkas. The distance between a bikini and a burka is alot larger than the distance between a dress/business suit and a bikini.

    So yes I am vibing to ALL the arguments against a majority impulsing culture, but I don´t think that view rules out the fact that there are reasonably arguable security issues.

    Maybe the compromise would be to require that burkas be temporarily be removed in certain situations?

    Sometimes being religious carries a price. Christians don´t have any extermal rules. But if someone required me pray with others as a job requirement, I maybe would lose my job. Maybe women with burkas would just not be able to work at or go to certain places?

    Dr Veith your question is excellent.

  • Amy

    Anybody could be a terrorist. A woman in a puffy winter coat could be hiding a bomb. A man in a Speedo could have swallowed an explosive by which he intends to blow up himself and a shopping center. You can’t outlaw clothing in the name of preventing terrorism — not only is it impossible, but it’s stupid to try.

    Muslim extremists have caused a lot of major terror in the world recently, yes. But it wasn’t too long ago that the big terrorists were suburban white guys with a grudge. There will always be terrorists. You can’t find them by profiling, and you can’t prevent them by banning their traditional clothing. How would we Christians feel if we were made to surrender our Bibles because a small group once upon a time used them to hide guns?

    I understand the spirit of the legislation: trying to prevent terrorism. But it won’t prevent terrorism. All it will do is cause the many peaceful Muslims in the world to feel discriminated against and frightened.

  • Amy

    Anybody could be a terrorist. A woman in a puffy winter coat could be hiding a bomb. A man in a Speedo could have swallowed an explosive by which he intends to blow up himself and a shopping center. You can’t outlaw clothing in the name of preventing terrorism — not only is it impossible, but it’s stupid to try.

    Muslim extremists have caused a lot of major terror in the world recently, yes. But it wasn’t too long ago that the big terrorists were suburban white guys with a grudge. There will always be terrorists. You can’t find them by profiling, and you can’t prevent them by banning their traditional clothing. How would we Christians feel if we were made to surrender our Bibles because a small group once upon a time used them to hide guns?

    I understand the spirit of the legislation: trying to prevent terrorism. But it won’t prevent terrorism. All it will do is cause the many peaceful Muslims in the world to feel discriminated against and frightened.

  • sg

    “And does a woman in a burqua really degrade our society, or is it just that westerners find it offensive because it’s different or a person expressing a belief that most westerners don’t hold in common. If the latter, isn’t that text book bigotry?”

    Kirk, the problem is not the burqa. The problem is castrated Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration. So they make stupid symbolic gestures like banning the harmless burqa instead of banning the harmful people.

  • sg

    “And does a woman in a burqua really degrade our society, or is it just that westerners find it offensive because it’s different or a person expressing a belief that most westerners don’t hold in common. If the latter, isn’t that text book bigotry?”

    Kirk, the problem is not the burqa. The problem is castrated Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration. So they make stupid symbolic gestures like banning the harmless burqa instead of banning the harmful people.

  • sg

    I have to laugh at the bigotry assertion. So are other countries bigoted against westerners because they don’t want us to come in and take over their countries and supplant their cultures?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It is a security issue. State security forces acquire intel primarily by running public video feeds through facial recognition software. I don’t see why anyone should be exempt from this.

  • sg

    I have to laugh at the bigotry assertion. So are other countries bigoted against westerners because they don’t want us to come in and take over their countries and supplant their cultures?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It is a security issue. State security forces acquire intel primarily by running public video feeds through facial recognition software. I don’t see why anyone should be exempt from this.

  • kerner

    I think we should force Lutheran pastors to take off those silly robes they wear. After all the majority doesn’t wear them, and the majority has the right to assert its cultural identity. The same goes for Roman Catholic nuns in the black tents they traditionally wear. And what’s with the Amish? Shave their beards and sew buttons on their clothes now! Make Amish women wear miniskirts! And Make them drive cars or take the bus or something like all real Americans do!

  • kerner

    I think we should force Lutheran pastors to take off those silly robes they wear. After all the majority doesn’t wear them, and the majority has the right to assert its cultural identity. The same goes for Roman Catholic nuns in the black tents they traditionally wear. And what’s with the Amish? Shave their beards and sew buttons on their clothes now! Make Amish women wear miniskirts! And Make them drive cars or take the bus or something like all real Americans do!

  • Winston Smith

    The burqa is only one form of speech or expression that Christians find distasteful.

    Like flag burning, like the Howard Stern show, like the continued preaching of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism and other detestable religions that send people to hell, it is the price that we conservative Protestant Christians pay for our freedom. If the muslims were in charge, they would suppress our Gospel in an instant, the way they do in Saudi Arabia. Under the First Amendment, the playing field must be level for all viewpoints. If the lady with a bag over her head is the price I pay to read this blog, or to hand out gospel tracts on the street, so be it.

    Let truth contend with error. Let freedom ring. This is separation of church and state in its best sense.

  • Winston Smith

    The burqa is only one form of speech or expression that Christians find distasteful.

    Like flag burning, like the Howard Stern show, like the continued preaching of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism and other detestable religions that send people to hell, it is the price that we conservative Protestant Christians pay for our freedom. If the muslims were in charge, they would suppress our Gospel in an instant, the way they do in Saudi Arabia. Under the First Amendment, the playing field must be level for all viewpoints. If the lady with a bag over her head is the price I pay to read this blog, or to hand out gospel tracts on the street, so be it.

    Let truth contend with error. Let freedom ring. This is separation of church and state in its best sense.

  • kerner

    sg @12:

    Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration, because they don’t have the guts to say “yes” to procreation.

  • kerner

    sg @12:

    Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration, because they don’t have the guts to say “yes” to procreation.

  • kerner

    Winston Smith @ 16:

    right.

  • kerner

    Winston Smith @ 16:

    right.

  • Kirk

    @13: So our cultural identity is tied up in people not being allowed to wear burquas? I was under the impression that our culture valued freedom of religion and expression. Or do you have to be a WASP to be a true westerner?

  • Kirk

    @13: So our cultural identity is tied up in people not being allowed to wear burquas? I was under the impression that our culture valued freedom of religion and expression. Or do you have to be a WASP to be a true westerner?

  • sg

    “I was under the impression that our culture valued freedom of religion and expression.”

    Sounds swell. How do you deal with the religious expression of wishing to supplant your religion and culture? If the true westerner is tolerant of those who are not tolerant of him, then he is just a loser.

    @kerner

    “Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration, because they don’t have the guts to say “yes” to procreation.”

    You got that right. Socialism kills social cohesion. Interesting paradox.

  • sg

    “I was under the impression that our culture valued freedom of religion and expression.”

    Sounds swell. How do you deal with the religious expression of wishing to supplant your religion and culture? If the true westerner is tolerant of those who are not tolerant of him, then he is just a loser.

    @kerner

    “Europe doesn’t have the guts to say “no” to immigration, because they don’t have the guts to say “yes” to procreation.”

    You got that right. Socialism kills social cohesion. Interesting paradox.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Well, this is enlightening.

    The security issue is a nonsense. The terrorists of 9/11 used aeroplanes to carry out their attacks, for pete’s sake! The 7/7 London bombers used rucksacks. The only known threat of the burqa have been men trying to escape the police in a burqa. But then Western journalists in Afghanistan have done the same.

    The culture thing is likewise a nonsense. Yes, it’s a problem for European culture that Muslim culture is encroaching on it. But the real problem is in part demographic (Muslims have more babies on average), partly eco-political (immigration), and partly due to the slow inward collapse of European culture. A vacuum always gets filled. And if there’s a lot of filling going on, likely there’s a vacuum nearby. Ask your local weatherman.

    In the end, it comes to freedom, as Dr. Veith points out. If you want freedom, you’ve got to have freedom. It’s like democracy: it’s nice but dangerous. If you want only freedom for you, it’s not freedom. And, given the demographics, there’s the danger that one day you (or your children or your children’s children) will be at the butt end of your principle of ‘freedom for me ’cause I’m the majority’.

    Now, I’m a European not in France. So I haven’t grown, and don’t live, in a libertarian democracy a la US/French revolutions. However, the way it looks to me, freedom is what you guys price above most other things. And you either have it or you don’t.

    But if we are to start banning clothing that offends our sensibilities—and we have to take seriously the possibility that banning the burqa, like the ban on the hijab, offends many of the women in question as much as it offends men, because these women live inside the culture that produces the burqa and the hijab and hence value them—then we’ve got to be consistent. The baseball cap offends my cultural sensibilities. Not to mention a vast proportion of the kind of clothing worn by women and girls under the age of 30. The butt-revealing baggy trousers worn by your average skateboarding teenage boy are most certainly a security risk, and offensive. But then my clerical collar offends many too (and I’m not even an Irish catholic priest). Oh, and someone from another Western sub-culture would no doubt be able to produce a list that is the diametrical opposite of mine.

    What offends me most, though, is dressing up prejudice as something other than what it really is in the name of, well anything really.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Well, this is enlightening.

    The security issue is a nonsense. The terrorists of 9/11 used aeroplanes to carry out their attacks, for pete’s sake! The 7/7 London bombers used rucksacks. The only known threat of the burqa have been men trying to escape the police in a burqa. But then Western journalists in Afghanistan have done the same.

    The culture thing is likewise a nonsense. Yes, it’s a problem for European culture that Muslim culture is encroaching on it. But the real problem is in part demographic (Muslims have more babies on average), partly eco-political (immigration), and partly due to the slow inward collapse of European culture. A vacuum always gets filled. And if there’s a lot of filling going on, likely there’s a vacuum nearby. Ask your local weatherman.

    In the end, it comes to freedom, as Dr. Veith points out. If you want freedom, you’ve got to have freedom. It’s like democracy: it’s nice but dangerous. If you want only freedom for you, it’s not freedom. And, given the demographics, there’s the danger that one day you (or your children or your children’s children) will be at the butt end of your principle of ‘freedom for me ’cause I’m the majority’.

    Now, I’m a European not in France. So I haven’t grown, and don’t live, in a libertarian democracy a la US/French revolutions. However, the way it looks to me, freedom is what you guys price above most other things. And you either have it or you don’t.

    But if we are to start banning clothing that offends our sensibilities—and we have to take seriously the possibility that banning the burqa, like the ban on the hijab, offends many of the women in question as much as it offends men, because these women live inside the culture that produces the burqa and the hijab and hence value them—then we’ve got to be consistent. The baseball cap offends my cultural sensibilities. Not to mention a vast proportion of the kind of clothing worn by women and girls under the age of 30. The butt-revealing baggy trousers worn by your average skateboarding teenage boy are most certainly a security risk, and offensive. But then my clerical collar offends many too (and I’m not even an Irish catholic priest). Oh, and someone from another Western sub-culture would no doubt be able to produce a list that is the diametrical opposite of mine.

    What offends me most, though, is dressing up prejudice as something other than what it really is in the name of, well anything really.

  • Kirk

    @sg: It’s called rule of law.

  • Kirk

    @sg: It’s called rule of law.

  • ptl

    We have freedom of religion but limit it to what you believe, but not necessarily practice. some examples….you can believe in ancient Aztec/Inca/Mayan rites of human sacrifice, but you cannot practice them….you can believe in the value of animal sacrifice, but you can’t practice it….you can believe in the spiritual value of sex with temple priestesses (sp?) but you can’t practice it here. on a lighter note, you can believe in the purity of healing thru prayer and faith against the evil of modern medicine, but you can’t practice it…you can believe in the creation of the universe, but you can’t teach it…..you can believe in polygamy, but you can’t practice it…and on and on. am not a lawyer, but guess the reason involves a conflict between rights, and one has to trump the other. so if this clothing is not allowed, it will be because it was trumped by another more important purpose. they can still believe that it is the most God pleasing clothing for them, but can’t practice it here in the land of religious freedom.

  • ptl

    We have freedom of religion but limit it to what you believe, but not necessarily practice. some examples….you can believe in ancient Aztec/Inca/Mayan rites of human sacrifice, but you cannot practice them….you can believe in the value of animal sacrifice, but you can’t practice it….you can believe in the spiritual value of sex with temple priestesses (sp?) but you can’t practice it here. on a lighter note, you can believe in the purity of healing thru prayer and faith against the evil of modern medicine, but you can’t practice it…you can believe in the creation of the universe, but you can’t teach it…..you can believe in polygamy, but you can’t practice it…and on and on. am not a lawyer, but guess the reason involves a conflict between rights, and one has to trump the other. so if this clothing is not allowed, it will be because it was trumped by another more important purpose. they can still believe that it is the most God pleasing clothing for them, but can’t practice it here in the land of religious freedom.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    ptl, I am not aware of any attempt to ban the burqa in the USA. I don’t think our laws or our Constitution would allow that. It’s France that has banned the burqa, along with some other countries and others that are considering it. France DOES have the historical principle of radical democracy apart from Constitutional protections of the minorities.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    ptl, I am not aware of any attempt to ban the burqa in the USA. I don’t think our laws or our Constitution would allow that. It’s France that has banned the burqa, along with some other countries and others that are considering it. France DOES have the historical principle of radical democracy apart from Constitutional protections of the minorities.

  • DonS

    Returning to the original posted question, I can see no justification for an absolute ban of the burqa on public streets and in public venues. I can certainly see such a ban for airline travelers, or those entering highly secured buildings or areas, such as the White House, Congress, airports, train and bus stations, etc. I can also see laws requiring those wearing burqas to expose their face or to partially disrobe for security reasons when justified, and with suitable and reasonable privacy provisions.

    And, of course, this is a far different issue than banning widow burning. Your right to practice fundamental constitutional rights (I’m considering this question in the context of U.S. law) extends only so far as to where such practice does not materially diminish another’s fundamental constitutional rights. Depriving another of life clearly steps over that boundary. It’s the same reason why those who insist on their right to “privacy” are so out of line — to exercise their supposed right, they are murdering another human being.

  • DonS

    Returning to the original posted question, I can see no justification for an absolute ban of the burqa on public streets and in public venues. I can certainly see such a ban for airline travelers, or those entering highly secured buildings or areas, such as the White House, Congress, airports, train and bus stations, etc. I can also see laws requiring those wearing burqas to expose their face or to partially disrobe for security reasons when justified, and with suitable and reasonable privacy provisions.

    And, of course, this is a far different issue than banning widow burning. Your right to practice fundamental constitutional rights (I’m considering this question in the context of U.S. law) extends only so far as to where such practice does not materially diminish another’s fundamental constitutional rights. Depriving another of life clearly steps over that boundary. It’s the same reason why those who insist on their right to “privacy” are so out of line — to exercise their supposed right, they are murdering another human being.

  • sg

    “@sg: It’s called rule of law.”

    I am all for rule of law. So, I am not sure what you are referring to.

  • sg

    “@sg: It’s called rule of law.”

    I am all for rule of law. So, I am not sure what you are referring to.

  • John C

    Hang on Winston. God is not going to cast 75% of the world’s population into hell because they are not Christian. What sort of God is that?

  • John C

    Hang on Winston. God is not going to cast 75% of the world’s population into hell because they are not Christian. What sort of God is that?

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    @ptl While your general point re. conflict of rights is obviously indisputable, its application to this question is not. You speak of the conflict of rights but then quickly switch to rights vs “purposes” – not the same thing.

    With widow burning, there’s an obvious conflict of rights, with one more fundamental than the other. With the burqa ban, there is no such obvious conflict. Just with what rights does a woman’s wearing of a burqa conflict? The right to see another’s face? The right not to see Muslim religious garb? The security issue is, I still contend, a nonsense. (I would love to see a burqa ban in the US only to enjoy the situation where it’s legal to conceal a gun but not a face!)

    In Europe, the very principle that you can believe what you like but aren’t allowed to act on it is being used to prosecute opponents of women’s ordination, gay partnerships, and other cultural anomalies. The burqa is just another anomaly on that list.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    @ptl While your general point re. conflict of rights is obviously indisputable, its application to this question is not. You speak of the conflict of rights but then quickly switch to rights vs “purposes” – not the same thing.

    With widow burning, there’s an obvious conflict of rights, with one more fundamental than the other. With the burqa ban, there is no such obvious conflict. Just with what rights does a woman’s wearing of a burqa conflict? The right to see another’s face? The right not to see Muslim religious garb? The security issue is, I still contend, a nonsense. (I would love to see a burqa ban in the US only to enjoy the situation where it’s legal to conceal a gun but not a face!)

    In Europe, the very principle that you can believe what you like but aren’t allowed to act on it is being used to prosecute opponents of women’s ordination, gay partnerships, and other cultural anomalies. The burqa is just another anomaly on that list.

  • Anonymous

    “(I would love to see a burqa ban in the US only to enjoy the situation where it’s legal to conceal a gun but not a face!)”

    Exactly right.

  • Anonymous

    “(I would love to see a burqa ban in the US only to enjoy the situation where it’s legal to conceal a gun but not a face!)”

    Exactly right.

  • ptl

    oops, thank you Dr. Veith! Nonetheless my main point is that our religious freedoms have a political component, as they should in a democratic republic….they are shaped/influenced/informed by our own unique American experiences. In my opinion, we should be a bit more humble when we get into the business of telling other nations what to do. they have their own history and values, which are unique to them and they should know better than us what’s good for them and how to define right and wrong in their context. as long as their behavior doesn’t impact our national security, economic stability, etc. then we should “mind our own business!” my observation of world events tells me that many nations are tired of our sense of superiority implicit in trying to enforce our interpretation of human rights down everyone else’s throats? perhaps one thinks that by defending the right to wear a burka, that will generate some goodwill for us in a certain region of the world? am not so sure about that, since so many of our modern western values are at odds with their culture and have already created such a huge divide that would be difficult to bridge with just this one issue?
    so if this issue ever does visit our country (thought it did in Florida with a driver’s license?), then we will have something to say, and we’ll solve it in a way that fits our cultural and historical story and ideas about certain freedoms and conflicts between freedoms. in the meantime, the french should have the freedom of a sovereign nation to do it their way, one that seems best to them and their history and culture, which they live everyday and know better than us…..perhaps we should just mind our own business?

  • ptl

    oops, thank you Dr. Veith! Nonetheless my main point is that our religious freedoms have a political component, as they should in a democratic republic….they are shaped/influenced/informed by our own unique American experiences. In my opinion, we should be a bit more humble when we get into the business of telling other nations what to do. they have their own history and values, which are unique to them and they should know better than us what’s good for them and how to define right and wrong in their context. as long as their behavior doesn’t impact our national security, economic stability, etc. then we should “mind our own business!” my observation of world events tells me that many nations are tired of our sense of superiority implicit in trying to enforce our interpretation of human rights down everyone else’s throats? perhaps one thinks that by defending the right to wear a burka, that will generate some goodwill for us in a certain region of the world? am not so sure about that, since so many of our modern western values are at odds with their culture and have already created such a huge divide that would be difficult to bridge with just this one issue?
    so if this issue ever does visit our country (thought it did in Florida with a driver’s license?), then we will have something to say, and we’ll solve it in a way that fits our cultural and historical story and ideas about certain freedoms and conflicts between freedoms. in the meantime, the french should have the freedom of a sovereign nation to do it their way, one that seems best to them and their history and culture, which they live everyday and know better than us…..perhaps we should just mind our own business?

  • sg

    “What sort of God is that?”

    There is only one God. He is righteous. All are welcome to repent of their sins and be forgiven. It is the most generous offer ever. Christians are working the world over to spread this great news.

  • sg

    “What sort of God is that?”

    There is only one God. He is righteous. All are welcome to repent of their sins and be forgiven. It is the most generous offer ever. Christians are working the world over to spread this great news.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    I can’t speak for what Europe should do as I don’t share their values or identity.

    Here in America, I don’t think any nationwide banning of the burka would be a good idea. Perhaps we should ban burkas in banks, federal buildings, airports, train stations and courthouses.

    If states wish to go further than that, that is the prerogative of the citizens of those states. In my state of Alabama I don’t favor any restriction on wearing burkas except in airports, etc.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    I can’t speak for what Europe should do as I don’t share their values or identity.

    Here in America, I don’t think any nationwide banning of the burka would be a good idea. Perhaps we should ban burkas in banks, federal buildings, airports, train stations and courthouses.

    If states wish to go further than that, that is the prerogative of the citizens of those states. In my state of Alabama I don’t favor any restriction on wearing burkas except in airports, etc.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There are, of course, many different interpretations of Islamic female modesty. It’s not clear which of them we’re talking about here, since the word “burqa” tends to get slapped on many of them by Westerners who only learned the word a decade or two ago.

    I find the general outrage towards (or at least distaste for) the burqa from culturally conservative Christians to be amusing. After all, on a different day, many of these people would be complaining about the skimpy clothes young ladies wear. So the rule is, what, exactly? Modest, but not too modest? Or perhaps just: modest, but not, like, foreign looking and stuff.

    A female friend of mine had to travel to Saudi Arabia recently, and she wrote about her experiences wearing a burqa (or some form of modest dress). She actually enjoyed it, because it meant that men weren’t staring at her and sizing her up constantly. Of course, many women enjoy being stared at, but I don’t think we Christians tend to encourage their behavior (even though not a few of them can be found in our churches, without anybody saying anything to them for fear of offending). But burqas are quite nice for smoothing over body image issues. Unfortunately, such modesty simply will not do for some people, merely because it is too foreign.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There are, of course, many different interpretations of Islamic female modesty. It’s not clear which of them we’re talking about here, since the word “burqa” tends to get slapped on many of them by Westerners who only learned the word a decade or two ago.

    I find the general outrage towards (or at least distaste for) the burqa from culturally conservative Christians to be amusing. After all, on a different day, many of these people would be complaining about the skimpy clothes young ladies wear. So the rule is, what, exactly? Modest, but not too modest? Or perhaps just: modest, but not, like, foreign looking and stuff.

    A female friend of mine had to travel to Saudi Arabia recently, and she wrote about her experiences wearing a burqa (or some form of modest dress). She actually enjoyed it, because it meant that men weren’t staring at her and sizing her up constantly. Of course, many women enjoy being stared at, but I don’t think we Christians tend to encourage their behavior (even though not a few of them can be found in our churches, without anybody saying anything to them for fear of offending). But burqas are quite nice for smoothing over body image issues. Unfortunately, such modesty simply will not do for some people, merely because it is too foreign.

  • ptl

    tODD, very good points and totally agree….to me perhaps one thing that bothers westerners about burqas is that they are not sure it is always voluntary, and that it is representative of a whole lifestyle that is in the control of others? in that sense, they may feel a need to help out with the liberation of the perceived oppressed? in any case, the tension between freedom of religion and other freedoms and the national and international politics certainly is brewing into a perfect storm in this issue!

  • ptl

    tODD, very good points and totally agree….to me perhaps one thing that bothers westerners about burqas is that they are not sure it is always voluntary, and that it is representative of a whole lifestyle that is in the control of others? in that sense, they may feel a need to help out with the liberation of the perceived oppressed? in any case, the tension between freedom of religion and other freedoms and the national and international politics certainly is brewing into a perfect storm in this issue!

  • Petersen

    ptl, you raise a sensible point about misunderstandings.
    What prevents us from getting to know our Muslim neighbors? I think that, if we did so, we might be surprised at the variety of thought and opinion we’d find among them on this and other issues.

  • Petersen

    ptl, you raise a sensible point about misunderstandings.
    What prevents us from getting to know our Muslim neighbors? I think that, if we did so, we might be surprised at the variety of thought and opinion we’d find among them on this and other issues.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ptl (@35), the issue of whether actions are “voluntary” is an interesting one. What about the teenager wearing a nice shirt to church against his will (he wanted to wear a t-shirt)? Is that offensive? The young man wearing a black suit, black hat, and uncut ringlets in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood — how voluntary are his actions? Or does he feel social or familial pressure to look like that? And how do we know whether it’s voluntary without (as Petersen notes @36) talking to the people?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ptl (@35), the issue of whether actions are “voluntary” is an interesting one. What about the teenager wearing a nice shirt to church against his will (he wanted to wear a t-shirt)? Is that offensive? The young man wearing a black suit, black hat, and uncut ringlets in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood — how voluntary are his actions? Or does he feel social or familial pressure to look like that? And how do we know whether it’s voluntary without (as Petersen notes @36) talking to the people?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Banning burqas altogether doesn’t pass Constitutional muster, but the police do have the right to require women to have a picture of their face on their drivers’ license–and I would infer that said face must be exposed upon lawful demand at a traffic or other lawful police stop.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Banning burqas altogether doesn’t pass Constitutional muster, but the police do have the right to require women to have a picture of their face on their drivers’ license–and I would infer that said face must be exposed upon lawful demand at a traffic or other lawful police stop.

  • Joe

    sg – “How do you deal with the religious expression of wishing to supplant your religion and culture?”

    You let the Word and the Spirit win out. We must preach the Word and administer the Sacraments and God will take care of the rest.

  • Joe

    sg – “How do you deal with the religious expression of wishing to supplant your religion and culture?”

    You let the Word and the Spirit win out. We must preach the Word and administer the Sacraments and God will take care of the rest.

  • ptl

    tODD…it doesn’t offend me if the parents make the kid put on a nice shirt for church….it doesn’t offend me either if the parents make the kid go to church in the first place. just because something is not done voluntarily does not offend me, especially when it involves kids and not adults. am pretty naive, but have heard that there are folks out there who are offended when parents make their kid go to church, or go thru the torture of lutheran catechism classes (just kiddin!) or get baptized…..perhaps those are extreme cases, but have heard of legal types who would like to see more rights for kids. guess that’s a topic for another day?

    would like to say that it doesn’t bother me if a women wears a burqa for any reason….my point was to hypothesize why others may be offended by it. Just thought some might be offended by an adult being required to do something against their will? Or thought perhaps that might be a ruse because they would like to get rid of the entire way of life that supposedly treats women in a way which offends them. want to emphasize am talking about why others may want to ban the burqa, not me……in general, like to mind my own business unless your business interferes with mine, significantly, that is.

    as per talking with others about why they do something….kind of hard to always do, so do have to rely often on what you read and what you hear and hope your sources are accurate and unbiased (good luck, but you have to try!) and in that regard have heard in the media, perhaps the liberal womens rights media, that many of the women in certain countries do not appreicate what they feel is a lack of freedom. didn’t they make a big deal in Afghanistan after the liberation that women could go back to school and show their faces in public, or similar things like that? don’t some women in iran complain about how they must live? have not seen the movie “the stoning of soyama m” but have heard it has something to do with these kind of issues.

    but want to wrap it up and so want to emphasize that i have no real way of knowing whether any of the above is valid, but if the reports are then i can see why folks who fight for the rights of people to be free, as far as they define freedom, may make an issue about the banning of the burqa. in my opinion, it can be a voluntary expression of your religious beliefs and there may be some overlap with a christians view of chastify and modesty.

    so my comments were not about what i think about it, but what it may be others are thinking about it, in particular, those who want to ban the burqa….but then, really what do i know? a very good chance i have no idea about any of this….that’s ok with me, as would be better off to just mind my own business :)

  • ptl

    tODD…it doesn’t offend me if the parents make the kid put on a nice shirt for church….it doesn’t offend me either if the parents make the kid go to church in the first place. just because something is not done voluntarily does not offend me, especially when it involves kids and not adults. am pretty naive, but have heard that there are folks out there who are offended when parents make their kid go to church, or go thru the torture of lutheran catechism classes (just kiddin!) or get baptized…..perhaps those are extreme cases, but have heard of legal types who would like to see more rights for kids. guess that’s a topic for another day?

    would like to say that it doesn’t bother me if a women wears a burqa for any reason….my point was to hypothesize why others may be offended by it. Just thought some might be offended by an adult being required to do something against their will? Or thought perhaps that might be a ruse because they would like to get rid of the entire way of life that supposedly treats women in a way which offends them. want to emphasize am talking about why others may want to ban the burqa, not me……in general, like to mind my own business unless your business interferes with mine, significantly, that is.

    as per talking with others about why they do something….kind of hard to always do, so do have to rely often on what you read and what you hear and hope your sources are accurate and unbiased (good luck, but you have to try!) and in that regard have heard in the media, perhaps the liberal womens rights media, that many of the women in certain countries do not appreicate what they feel is a lack of freedom. didn’t they make a big deal in Afghanistan after the liberation that women could go back to school and show their faces in public, or similar things like that? don’t some women in iran complain about how they must live? have not seen the movie “the stoning of soyama m” but have heard it has something to do with these kind of issues.

    but want to wrap it up and so want to emphasize that i have no real way of knowing whether any of the above is valid, but if the reports are then i can see why folks who fight for the rights of people to be free, as far as they define freedom, may make an issue about the banning of the burqa. in my opinion, it can be a voluntary expression of your religious beliefs and there may be some overlap with a christians view of chastify and modesty.

    so my comments were not about what i think about it, but what it may be others are thinking about it, in particular, those who want to ban the burqa….but then, really what do i know? a very good chance i have no idea about any of this….that’s ok with me, as would be better off to just mind my own business :)

  • Matt

    Spreading the Christian faith is a pretty subversive activity itself, even in the present day US. Unbelievers don’t like hearing that they are a sinner, in absolute need of a Savior, and only through Christ can they find salvation. I recently read an article about how Christian students were not allowed to gather together and pray on school property in Vermont. For Christians it’s much to our advantage to protect freedom of speech or dress in public areas. Because as much as we might find burqas distastful, unbelievers find it just as distastful that we might actually want to spread our faith – our joy in Christ – to every man, woman in child on earth.

  • Matt

    Spreading the Christian faith is a pretty subversive activity itself, even in the present day US. Unbelievers don’t like hearing that they are a sinner, in absolute need of a Savior, and only through Christ can they find salvation. I recently read an article about how Christian students were not allowed to gather together and pray on school property in Vermont. For Christians it’s much to our advantage to protect freedom of speech or dress in public areas. Because as much as we might find burqas distastful, unbelievers find it just as distastful that we might actually want to spread our faith – our joy in Christ – to every man, woman in child on earth.

  • kerner

    sg @ 21:

    Can’t agree with you. If westerners start believing that we have to become like them to avoid being “losers”, THEN our culture truly will have been supplanted. If we have to become just like our enemies to “defeat” them, then what difference does it make who wins? Our culture will be just like theirs, and not worth fighting for.

  • kerner

    sg @ 21:

    Can’t agree with you. If westerners start believing that we have to become like them to avoid being “losers”, THEN our culture truly will have been supplanted. If we have to become just like our enemies to “defeat” them, then what difference does it make who wins? Our culture will be just like theirs, and not worth fighting for.

  • Dan Kempin

    Veith: “If the freedom of religion is an important principle for us Christians . . .”

    That only just sunk in.

    Is freedom of religion a Christian principle?

  • Dan Kempin

    Veith: “If the freedom of religion is an important principle for us Christians . . .”

    That only just sunk in.

    Is freedom of religion a Christian principle?

  • kerner

    Dan:

    It seemed like it was until Constantine came along. Then all of a sudden it wasn’t. I’ll have to look into that myself.

  • kerner

    Dan:

    It seemed like it was until Constantine came along. Then all of a sudden it wasn’t. I’ll have to look into that myself.

  • Booklover

    I think I shall don a burqa and eat everything I want at this week-end’s myriad graduation parties. :-) Oh wait, they may be too hot. . .

  • Booklover

    I think I shall don a burqa and eat everything I want at this week-end’s myriad graduation parties. :-) Oh wait, they may be too hot. . .

  • Dan Kempin

    Kerner, #44,

    “It seemed like it was until Constantine . . .”

    I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean that Christianity became a political force at that point? Even so, they were “tolerant” of other religions. They didn’t, for instance, compel pagans to convert by force or kill them in the arena for practicing illicit religions.

    Nevertheless, the reason for that would have been (or so I would reason) basic human compassion and the hope that they might be converted, as opposed to a “principle of freedom.”

    Back to the general discussion . . .

    It strikes me that the great commission was to make disciples of all nations, not to make disciples of everyone who was currently unaffiliated and to leave alone those currently practicing a religion.

    The Christian religion is a matter of truth, not personal belief. Two contrary things cannot both be true at the same time. A person has the “freedom” to reject the truth, but is that a virtuous principle? Did Jesus ever instruct us to respect that boundary?

    Perhaps it is a matter of distinguishing the two kingdoms. Religious freedom is an important principle for Americans, and American Christians would agree that the state should not take upon itself to endorse one citizen’s religion over another. A Christian should not receive special treatment in court over an atheist, for instance. That would be unjust. Each of them has the right as a citizen to exercise their religion.

    Nevertheless, the guiding Christian principle is truth, not freedom. Those who embrace a false religion will perish in it. Is the most loving approach for such a person to respect their “freedom” more than the truth?

  • Dan Kempin

    Kerner, #44,

    “It seemed like it was until Constantine . . .”

    I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean that Christianity became a political force at that point? Even so, they were “tolerant” of other religions. They didn’t, for instance, compel pagans to convert by force or kill them in the arena for practicing illicit religions.

    Nevertheless, the reason for that would have been (or so I would reason) basic human compassion and the hope that they might be converted, as opposed to a “principle of freedom.”

    Back to the general discussion . . .

    It strikes me that the great commission was to make disciples of all nations, not to make disciples of everyone who was currently unaffiliated and to leave alone those currently practicing a religion.

    The Christian religion is a matter of truth, not personal belief. Two contrary things cannot both be true at the same time. A person has the “freedom” to reject the truth, but is that a virtuous principle? Did Jesus ever instruct us to respect that boundary?

    Perhaps it is a matter of distinguishing the two kingdoms. Religious freedom is an important principle for Americans, and American Christians would agree that the state should not take upon itself to endorse one citizen’s religion over another. A Christian should not receive special treatment in court over an atheist, for instance. That would be unjust. Each of them has the right as a citizen to exercise their religion.

    Nevertheless, the guiding Christian principle is truth, not freedom. Those who embrace a false religion will perish in it. Is the most loving approach for such a person to respect their “freedom” more than the truth?

  • colliebear06

    re: freedom to wear a burqa – I’m all for it, with the restriction that the face must be showing in instances where the wearer is dealing with the public; not only in airports and train stations, but in everyday encounters, such as coffeeshops.

    Yes, we live in a free country, but free expression that has limitations, i.e. can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. If I were a small business owner, I would think it threatening to have to deal with a customer when I can’t even see their face. I guess I would have to think longer about the freedom to walk around with the face totally covered – I might let that one go. In everyday commerce, my thinking is no way.

    re: conservative Christians being uncomfortable with the burqa. I think tODD addressed this; Count me as one who thinks the human body is a wonderful piece of engineering, but showing too much of it can be problematic (our culture has gone overboard in too much exposure)
    In Arabic cultures, they have addressed this issue with the burqa, which is fine – maybe a bit of an over-correction, but I
    don’t judge their freedom or even their motives to use them.

    My next-door neighbor several years ago in South Florida was Palestinian, and while she didn’t wear a burqa, she always wore long sleeves and long pants or dresses and always in the color of black. Yes, our houses were air-conditioned, otherwise I don’t know how she would survive 95 degree heat and humidity everyday. We chatted everyday as our children waited for the bus.

    So, I have had contact with Arabic culture and interacted with them. Their children have played in my house with my children. That doesn’t change my opinion that covering one’s face in public is inappropriate, in most circumstances.

  • colliebear06

    re: freedom to wear a burqa – I’m all for it, with the restriction that the face must be showing in instances where the wearer is dealing with the public; not only in airports and train stations, but in everyday encounters, such as coffeeshops.

    Yes, we live in a free country, but free expression that has limitations, i.e. can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. If I were a small business owner, I would think it threatening to have to deal with a customer when I can’t even see their face. I guess I would have to think longer about the freedom to walk around with the face totally covered – I might let that one go. In everyday commerce, my thinking is no way.

    re: conservative Christians being uncomfortable with the burqa. I think tODD addressed this; Count me as one who thinks the human body is a wonderful piece of engineering, but showing too much of it can be problematic (our culture has gone overboard in too much exposure)
    In Arabic cultures, they have addressed this issue with the burqa, which is fine – maybe a bit of an over-correction, but I
    don’t judge their freedom or even their motives to use them.

    My next-door neighbor several years ago in South Florida was Palestinian, and while she didn’t wear a burqa, she always wore long sleeves and long pants or dresses and always in the color of black. Yes, our houses were air-conditioned, otherwise I don’t know how she would survive 95 degree heat and humidity everyday. We chatted everyday as our children waited for the bus.

    So, I have had contact with Arabic culture and interacted with them. Their children have played in my house with my children. That doesn’t change my opinion that covering one’s face in public is inappropriate, in most circumstances.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Booklover, you might find they’re cooler than you think. Engineers did a study of Middle Eastern attire, and found that the structure of the robe/hijab/burqa actually pulls air through to cool the wearer. Ironically, black attire often kep the wearer cooler than white!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Booklover, you might find they’re cooler than you think. Engineers did a study of Middle Eastern attire, and found that the structure of the robe/hijab/burqa actually pulls air through to cool the wearer. Ironically, black attire often kep the wearer cooler than white!

  • kerner

    Dan:

    I meant that when Christianity was a minority religion, its adherants probably favored freedom to practice minority religions. On the other hand, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Emire, Christians began to consider usung the force of law to compel conversion.

  • kerner

    Dan:

    I meant that when Christianity was a minority religion, its adherants probably favored freedom to practice minority religions. On the other hand, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Emire, Christians began to consider usung the force of law to compel conversion.

  • sg

    “Can’t agree with you. If westerners start believing that we have to become like them to avoid being “losers”, THEN our culture truly will have been supplanted. If we have to become just like our enemies to “defeat” them, then what difference does it make who wins? Our culture will be just like theirs, and not worth fighting for.”

    Um, when your people and culture are being supplanted, there is nothing wrong with defending yourself and your country. It doesn’t make you “just like them” in any sense other than that both are groups of human beings in competition. If they manage to enter your country and establish their people, culture and laws, then voila, you are losers. You lost your country.

  • sg

    “Can’t agree with you. If westerners start believing that we have to become like them to avoid being “losers”, THEN our culture truly will have been supplanted. If we have to become just like our enemies to “defeat” them, then what difference does it make who wins? Our culture will be just like theirs, and not worth fighting for.”

    Um, when your people and culture are being supplanted, there is nothing wrong with defending yourself and your country. It doesn’t make you “just like them” in any sense other than that both are groups of human beings in competition. If they manage to enter your country and establish their people, culture and laws, then voila, you are losers. You lost your country.

  • sg

    All the burqa wearing folks have a homeland they can go back to where their culture is venerated and protected. Where can the French go where their culture is venerated and protected? There is nothing inhumane in expecting foreigners who can’t handle living in France to go right back home and live where things are more to their liking. Why can’t they be happy in their own countries? Why do they have a right to go to France and start dictating to the French?

  • sg

    All the burqa wearing folks have a homeland they can go back to where their culture is venerated and protected. Where can the French go where their culture is venerated and protected? There is nothing inhumane in expecting foreigners who can’t handle living in France to go right back home and live where things are more to their liking. Why can’t they be happy in their own countries? Why do they have a right to go to France and start dictating to the French?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sg, since you clearly don’t understand what America is about — its ideals, its history, its people, where its culture comes from — why don’t you go back to your ancestral homeland of Norway? Because there certainly are a lot of people who do understand what America is about and would love to live here. Maybe you could make room for them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sg, since you clearly don’t understand what America is about — its ideals, its history, its people, where its culture comes from — why don’t you go back to your ancestral homeland of Norway? Because there certainly are a lot of people who do understand what America is about and would love to live here. Maybe you could make room for them.

  • Joe

    sg – I think you getting your timeline mixed up. The burqa wearers did not move to a country that had a burqa ban and then demand the freedom to don a burqa. Instead, they moved to a country that had not ban and have been wearing one since day one and now the country is changing the rules on them. I think they get to voice their opposition.

    Also, where are they dictating to the French? I have not seen them telling the overly naked French women to cover up – at least not via the enactment of a law forcing them to change their behavior.

  • Joe

    sg – I think you getting your timeline mixed up. The burqa wearers did not move to a country that had a burqa ban and then demand the freedom to don a burqa. Instead, they moved to a country that had not ban and have been wearing one since day one and now the country is changing the rules on them. I think they get to voice their opposition.

    Also, where are they dictating to the French? I have not seen them telling the overly naked French women to cover up – at least not via the enactment of a law forcing them to change their behavior.

  • http://spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    #52 In what does sg not get what America is about?

    How does sg’s political difference on this minor issue, suggest he/she doesn’t get what America is about?

  • http://spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    #52 In what does sg not get what America is about?

    How does sg’s political difference on this minor issue, suggest he/she doesn’t get what America is about?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SAL (@54), I was specifically thinking of Sg’s comment (@50) fears of “people and culture are being supplanted” by certain types of immigrants, of “cultural displacement” (@5): “If they manage to enter your country and establish their people [and] culture … then voila, you are losers.” In theory, these were only applied by her to European countries, but even those countries (like America) seem to be more multicultural than Sg thinks is right.

    There has always been a (thankfully minority, to date) voice in America that expresses fears about “cultural displacement” — that “they” will overpower “us” and ruin this fine country. It could have been applied to the “them” of the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Poles, the Mexicans, the Vietnamese, the Japanese, the Arabs, and so on.

    Maybe I was reading too much into her comments here, but then, I had in mind her thoughts from another thread:
    “The question is why people don’t want to change the governments in their home countries. If they have awful governments, they need to change it. The answer to bad government can’t just be run to America.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SAL (@54), I was specifically thinking of Sg’s comment (@50) fears of “people and culture are being supplanted” by certain types of immigrants, of “cultural displacement” (@5): “If they manage to enter your country and establish their people [and] culture … then voila, you are losers.” In theory, these were only applied by her to European countries, but even those countries (like America) seem to be more multicultural than Sg thinks is right.

    There has always been a (thankfully minority, to date) voice in America that expresses fears about “cultural displacement” — that “they” will overpower “us” and ruin this fine country. It could have been applied to the “them” of the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Poles, the Mexicans, the Vietnamese, the Japanese, the Arabs, and so on.

    Maybe I was reading too much into her comments here, but then, I had in mind her thoughts from another thread:
    “The question is why people don’t want to change the governments in their home countries. If they have awful governments, they need to change it. The answer to bad government can’t just be run to America.”

  • kerner

    Sg @50:

    We don’t need them to change our laws and culture. You want to change our laws and culture to be like theirs. Our laws and culture protect personal liberty. Constitutional protection of personal liberty is the cornerstone of our laws and culture.

    It is true that all predominantly Muslim cultures that I am aware of restrict personal liberty more than our culture and laws do. But your solution to Muslims among us seems to be to restrict their personal liberty. To treat them as you believe they would treat us.

    So, I say again, if we undermine a fundamental foundational principle of our laws and culture (personal liberty) we will have become like the cultures we fear. And “voila” it no longer matters whether we win or lose, because we will have lost our liberty.

    You can’t protect liberty by repressing it.

  • kerner

    Sg @50:

    We don’t need them to change our laws and culture. You want to change our laws and culture to be like theirs. Our laws and culture protect personal liberty. Constitutional protection of personal liberty is the cornerstone of our laws and culture.

    It is true that all predominantly Muslim cultures that I am aware of restrict personal liberty more than our culture and laws do. But your solution to Muslims among us seems to be to restrict their personal liberty. To treat them as you believe they would treat us.

    So, I say again, if we undermine a fundamental foundational principle of our laws and culture (personal liberty) we will have become like the cultures we fear. And “voila” it no longer matters whether we win or lose, because we will have lost our liberty.

    You can’t protect liberty by repressing it.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    I just love this discussion!

    There’s a delicious irony in American descendants of European immigrants suggesting that French descendants of North African immigrants should go back home if they don’t like how they are being treated, or decrying the idea of one cultural group entering another country and becoming the dominant cultural group.

    Poor old Sitting Bull must be doing cart-wheels in his grave.

    The question is: is the idea to have liberty, or liberty-to-be-a-certain-way-but-not-another (i.e. be like me and my mates or begone)? You can’t have your cake and eat it.

    Now, of course there are exceptions. If the idea is to have liberty, then that naturally limits freedoms that would destroy liberty. So you can’t be at liberty to detain people at will, or to ban liberty. I can’t see how banning the burqa, much as I have a distaste for the thing itself, is anything other than banning the liberty to wear what you want (with appropriate qualifications for special situations).

    Now, if you were to suggest banning the enforced wearing of the burqa à la the Taliban, that’s another matter.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    I just love this discussion!

    There’s a delicious irony in American descendants of European immigrants suggesting that French descendants of North African immigrants should go back home if they don’t like how they are being treated, or decrying the idea of one cultural group entering another country and becoming the dominant cultural group.

    Poor old Sitting Bull must be doing cart-wheels in his grave.

    The question is: is the idea to have liberty, or liberty-to-be-a-certain-way-but-not-another (i.e. be like me and my mates or begone)? You can’t have your cake and eat it.

    Now, of course there are exceptions. If the idea is to have liberty, then that naturally limits freedoms that would destroy liberty. So you can’t be at liberty to detain people at will, or to ban liberty. I can’t see how banning the burqa, much as I have a distaste for the thing itself, is anything other than banning the liberty to wear what you want (with appropriate qualifications for special situations).

    Now, if you were to suggest banning the enforced wearing of the burqa à la the Taliban, that’s another matter.

  • kerner

    TS @57:

    Poor old Sitting Bull is getting rich off the profits of his gambling operations.

    So, where are you from, amigo?

  • kerner

    TS @57:

    Poor old Sitting Bull is getting rich off the profits of his gambling operations.

    So, where are you from, amigo?

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    kerner @58

    The Sitting Bull I referred to is long dead & buried.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    kerner @58

    The Sitting Bull I referred to is long dead & buried.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@58), Mr. Simojoki, according to his blog, is from Hampshire, UK. Though his name suggests his heritage lies ENE from there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@58), Mr. Simojoki, according to his blog, is from Hampshire, UK. Though his name suggests his heritage lies ENE from there.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    tODD,

    Good work. You are right on both counts. But none of that is relevant to the present discussion, which is why I didn’t respond.

    Kerner,
    Do you take issue with my argument? If so, where did I take a wrong turn?

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    tODD,

    Good work. You are right on both counts. But none of that is relevant to the present discussion, which is why I didn’t respond.

    Kerner,
    Do you take issue with my argument? If so, where did I take a wrong turn?

  • kerner

    TS:

    Actually, I pretty much agree with your argument. Since I believe that liberty, not ethnicity, is the primary foundation of our culture, I am generally against limiting liberty for thew sake of keeping my country from changing ethnicly. I understand the fear that a too great too fast inluux of people that don’t understand the importance of liberty could be a problem, but I think it is best solved by committed education. The problem with that, of course, is that liberty is not well understood by many Americans.

    I know your current residence and home country aren’t relevant to the discussion. I’m just interested. So, if I can guess from the hints you and tODD have dropped, Finland?

  • kerner

    TS:

    Actually, I pretty much agree with your argument. Since I believe that liberty, not ethnicity, is the primary foundation of our culture, I am generally against limiting liberty for thew sake of keeping my country from changing ethnicly. I understand the fear that a too great too fast inluux of people that don’t understand the importance of liberty could be a problem, but I think it is best solved by committed education. The problem with that, of course, is that liberty is not well understood by many Americans.

    I know your current residence and home country aren’t relevant to the discussion. I’m just interested. So, if I can guess from the hints you and tODD have dropped, Finland?

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Spot on.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Spot on.

  • http://hymn-addict.blogspot.com Susan G

    This is going on a bit of a tangent. But what I have been trying to figure out (and haven’t) is whether there is theological significance to wearing a burqa. In other words, if a Christian woman were forced to wear a burqa, would that be the same as being asked to wear a blue coat instead of a red t-shirt? Or would it be like when Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were asked to just bow down and pretend like they were worshiping the idol?

  • http://hymn-addict.blogspot.com Susan G

    This is going on a bit of a tangent. But what I have been trying to figure out (and haven’t) is whether there is theological significance to wearing a burqa. In other words, if a Christian woman were forced to wear a burqa, would that be the same as being asked to wear a blue coat instead of a red t-shirt? Or would it be like when Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were asked to just bow down and pretend like they were worshiping the idol?

  • dr p

    we’re confusing freedom of belief with freedom of action: muslim women may believe that their religion requires the burqa, but that does automatically mean that they can’t be banned from public buildings and transportation without showing their faces. after all, amish must put warning triangles and lights on their buggies inviolation of their beliefs, and mormons may not practise polygamy despite personal beliefs.

  • dr p

    we’re confusing freedom of belief with freedom of action: muslim women may believe that their religion requires the burqa, but that does automatically mean that they can’t be banned from public buildings and transportation without showing their faces. after all, amish must put warning triangles and lights on their buggies inviolation of their beliefs, and mormons may not practise polygamy despite personal beliefs.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    @dr p

    You are right. However, certain beliefs lead to certain actions, and censuring the action is not always indifferent to beliefs.

    Let me illustrate: in some Lutheran churches, which ordain women as pastors, the principle you espouse is put to practice mercilessly. Pastors who are opposed to the ordination of women are told that they are perfectly entitled to their beliefs. But such beliefs must not affect their official duties. So if you take measures to avoid participating in a service in which a female pastor preaches, for example, you are liable to be disciplined by the Church and, more recently, even by secular courts.

    Now that doesn’t mean that a given society should accept any practice that flows out of some belief. Of course not. But the principle must be set out in a sufficiently nuanced way. To ban a particular practice based on a belief requires that it is in violation of some inviolable tenet of said society (e.g. banning Christian preaching in an Islamic state being fundamentally opposed to the state being Islamic).

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    @dr p

    You are right. However, certain beliefs lead to certain actions, and censuring the action is not always indifferent to beliefs.

    Let me illustrate: in some Lutheran churches, which ordain women as pastors, the principle you espouse is put to practice mercilessly. Pastors who are opposed to the ordination of women are told that they are perfectly entitled to their beliefs. But such beliefs must not affect their official duties. So if you take measures to avoid participating in a service in which a female pastor preaches, for example, you are liable to be disciplined by the Church and, more recently, even by secular courts.

    Now that doesn’t mean that a given society should accept any practice that flows out of some belief. Of course not. But the principle must be set out in a sufficiently nuanced way. To ban a particular practice based on a belief requires that it is in violation of some inviolable tenet of said society (e.g. banning Christian preaching in an Islamic state being fundamentally opposed to the state being Islamic).


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