Liberal Muslims

I often complain about the scarcity and relative lack of influence of liberal Muslim groups. Nevertheless, they exist, and secularists and infidels should hope that they get stronger. They are natural allies. For example, the mission statement of the Muslim Canadian Congress expresses liberal-minded convictions that any secularist can celebrate.

I point out such organizations especially because lately I have often run into the sentiment that liberal religion is merely a weak-kneed cover for more fundamentalist faiths. Well, not really. Life is complicated, so sometimes liberal religion does excuse the nastier variety of faith-based attitudes. But by and large, liberal religious people are politically closer to nonbelievers.

Note that I do not say that liberal supernatural belief is intellectually respectable. Gentle gods are as fictional as the celestial tyrants of fundamentalists. Humane reintepretations of scriptures do not lessen the absurdity of the notion of revealed truths. But in the end, liberals are content to leave our disagreements over the gods as intellectual disagreements. They don’t want everyone to live under religious laws, they don’t want to silence me because criticism insults religion, and they prefer confessional matters not to directly affect public life. They do not want to live under the thumb of priests and mullahs any more than I do. For a political alliance, that is more than enough.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12763971505497961430 Jeffrey Shallit

    The only problem is that this organization seemingly hasn’t been active for over a year, apparently because one of its officials received death threats.

    See

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/012518.php

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    According to its web site, the MCC is still quite active; even now, more than a year after the threats and resignation described on jihadwatch.org. It holds regular events and does press releases etc.

    By the way, any ultraliberal Muslim group such as MCC risks violent responses from fanatics. All the more reason to support them, and hope they don’t go under.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03743116454273042629 Sheldon

    Bravo Taner,
    In the Christian/American context I have been rather disturbed by fellow atheists who have not been able or willing to make distinctions between shades of belief. The majority of people are not going to abandon their religious beliefs, but we should encourage the moderation of their belief and public agenda. I wonder if the “New Atheism’s” rhetoric might make that more difficult? A kind of “circle the wagons” effect?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05501109533475045969 Explicit Atheist

    Political alliances between atheists and liberal religionists on the one hand and atheists criticizing liberal religion on the other hand (and liberal religionists criticizing atheism) are compatable. I have never heard the leading spokepeople for the “New Atheists” denigrating such political alliances. On the contrary, the impression I get is that they want more political engagement/activism on behalf of secularism.


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