Secularists as another multicultural tribe?

I’m not a political junkie, but I’m beginning to see a familiar sense of panic in some Democratic circles, which might mean a Republican win is likely this November. Christian nationalism may work, once again. So, as far as political secularism is concerned, we’ll get a fast deterioration rather than slow. We should expect, for example, more right wing Supreme Court judges who will usher in a legal regime where government favors religion over irreligion. (It will be generic theism rather than any specific sect that receives endorsement.)

Meanwhile, in Britain, it appears that that quietly, sharia tribunals have been operating. They are empowered to act as binding arbitrators. The report mentions a case in which they have already ruled that male offspring should receive a double share in inheritance.

The first reaction among many, especially secularists, is outrage. It won’t last—people will soon settle down and realize that sharia courts are inevitable if you have a significant conservative Muslim population. In any case, most of us will just get used to having sharia courts around and get on with our lives.

Still, the British situation might point out a solution for American problems. Maybe secularists should claim to be an identity group, or another tribe that can demand its interests be met in a multicultural society. We can have our own enclaves, our own courts where the ten commandments are not displayed, our own neighborhoods where blasphemous material is freely on sale, our own schools where evolution is not under constant pressure.


About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • vjack

    Or we can keep working to change a system that refuses to recognize our worth as citizens.

  • Anthony Camilo

    This is one of those ideas that deserve the “it is so crazy it might just work” comment. Think about it, churches and religious groups are a form of tribal community. It allows the religious people to organize and thus that point the power to be visible by government.
    Trying to change the system won’t work because the infiltration of religion into our government took decades and it was through this “tribal” system that it was achieved. Secularists like us need to start using the same insidious methods by which religion has chipped away at the separation of church and state.

  • Ed Zwart

    Couple (scary) thoughts I’ve had recently on this topic:

    1) if American voters do the ignorant thing again this time around, can we, as non-Americans who are nevertheless affected by the ignorance, invade?

    2) how is this clash of cultures going to turn out any other way than the smart people eventually putting their smarts toward the end of eradicating (or disenfranchising, or whatever) the ignorant ones?


  • Jim Lippard

    In the U.S. we have private binding arbitration, but the element of private law comes from specific contracts that individuals or corporate entities enter into, and the arbitration occurs within the bounds of U.S. law. We have specifically Christian arbitration organizations that exist in the U.S. today, which have been used in the dispute between Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International.

    I don’t see a problem with sharia courts engaging in arbitration on civil matters, within the bounds of the governing laws of the jurisdiction in which it occurs, so long as there is genuine consent on the part of all parties involved. But there need to be mechanisms for intervention or appeal, especially when there is evidence of lack of consent, if children are involved, or if any rulings result in violations of U.S. laws.

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