Iraqi writer proposes a world-wide ban of religion in politics

Iraqi writer proposes a world-wide ban of religion in politics February 2, 2019

SALAM Sarhan, a writer who has lived in London since 1991, this week came up with a radical proposal: that the world needs to make a concerted effort to prevent religion from interfering in politics.

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In a powerful call in the Independent for an international movement to curb religious meddling in secular affairs, Sarhan, above, began his op-ed by saying:

It is an understatement to say that the political use of religion has had a corrosive influence throughout human history. It continues to ignite and sustain the most intractable global conflicts. Unfortunately most of the worst abuses of religion in politics today are carried out in the name of Islam, but the political use of any religion has led – and will always lead – to the same results.

The theocratic revolution in Iran, which is centred on exporting sectarian ideology, was a turning point: it has ignited, over four decades, the rise of dark forces across Middle East and beyond. The situation has only got worse since the destabilising of Iraq by the American-led invasion in 2003 and the subsequent uprisings in many countries in the region in 2011, which opened a Pandora’s box, as any anarchy always does.

He went on to say that the trend towards theocracy is taking hold in countries including but not limited to Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Nigeria. And it holds a significant influence over social groups and individuals across the world, including Western nations.

There is now a need to move towards an international consensus to prevent any invocation of religion – from mainstream as well as extremist religious groups – to support national and political agendas. It is time for a campaign to create an international treaty to ban the political use of religion. 

The campaign can start by attracting the support of influential public figures to mobilise a global movement, leading later to the publication and dissemination of a formal treaty to exert pressure on states that perpetrate such abuses.

He is convinced that such a treaty would offer the international community, particularly the leading global powers, crucial guidelines on how to deal with such inflammatory conflicts and would also provide a starting point from which to refute any claim by terrorists that they are defending Islam, or indeed any other religion.

This would remove a key recruitment technique by which the naive and vulnerable are attracted to their ranks – namely, through the false allegation that there is a war being carried out against their faith.

He suggests that a movement designed to fend off religious interference could take the form of an NGO to push for governmental endorsements to a well-drafted “International Treaty to Ban the Political Use of Religion”, along the lines of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Such a treaty would set out a clear framework for what constitutes the many and varied abuses of religion in politics, and would represent a step towards greater respect for human rights by liberating those who suffer from religious repression – which is, in itself, a major abuse of human rights.

He concluded:

Endorsement of the treaty by powerful countries would help to tip the balance in favour of more moderate, tolerant ideals. It would be a step towards bringing outlier states back to the majority world consensus, similar to events following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in December 1948.

It could also lead to the establishment of a global monitoring service for raising awareness of the abuses of religion in politics, providing media organisations and other interested parties with credible, trustworthy statistics and facts about such abuses.

There are very few countries that would hesitate to endorse such a treaty – including those who can be implicated in such acts, but consistently deny using religion as a political tool.

Ironically, his piece was published just a day before the UK’s House of Lords, yielding to religious pressure, yesterday dropped an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc) Bill which would have removed the exemption for clergy from officiating at same-sex marriages.

Tim Dieppe, of Christian Concern, which I wrote about yesterday, said:

If passed the amendment could compel Church of England clergy to carry out same-sex ‘marriages’ even though this is contrary to Church doctrine and would violate the consciences of many Clergy.

Image via YouTube

The Bishop of Chelmsford, above, represented the Church of England in the debate. He explained that:

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 seeks to strike a balance between the right of individuals to marry a person of the same sex, and the rights of churches and other religious bodies – and of their ministers – to act in a way consistent with their religious beliefs.

Nobody is prevented from entering into marriage with a person of the same sex, but no religious body or minister of religion is compelled to solemnise such a marriage.

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  • Jim Olsson

    “It could also lead to the establishment of a global monitoring service…”

    Like that won’t be contentious!

    As long as you have people who are both religious and politicians, there will be no practical way to implement the treaty… it will just be words on paper.

  • Otto T. Goat Jr.

    If you want religion out of politics try keeping politics out of religion.

  • Michael

    Also, he’d like a pony.

  • Bubblecar

    It’s a damn good idea but he sounds waaaay too optimistic:

    “There are very few countries that would hesitate to endorse such a treaty…”

    Tell ‘im he’s dreaming.

  • Bubblecar

    Actually, reading the article it’s not such a good idea, and seems to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing:

    “The treaty would emphasise the prevention of political disrespect for religions”

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    that the world needs to make a concerted effort to prevent religion from interfering in politics.

    Yeah, this sort of overly simplistic, naive solution is one of the reasons why I shake my head sadly at most atheists. Let’s think like adults for a second.

    One; how do you define ‘religion’? One might say that only organized religions should be banned. Fine. But what qualifies an “organized religion?” Even beyond that, it’s not religion that’s motivating things like the Brexit and Trump and the resurgence of ethnic nationalism. It’s nationalism, patriotism, and jingoism. It’s xenophobia and racism, and movements like revived Fascism and it’s discount Walmart cousin, Trumpism, that embody all of these things. These are religion, but not in any conventional, organized sense. It isn’t a belief in God that’s fucking everything over right now.

    It’s a belief in the inherent superiority of a ethnically idealized state. Let’s get that out of politics.

    Of course, I’d argue the even this is a superficial reading of the situation. The problem isn’t religion or nationalism. It’s human tribalism. Because what else is religion if not a way to say, “my tribe of people?” Get rid of religion and it becomes something else they fight over. So let’s get rid of human tribalism.

    Which, y’know, isn’t realistic at all. Which is my point; this sort of thinking — blaming — doesn’t solve anything. Because the world might as well make a concerted effort to turn the oceans into salt-free lemonade. It’s just as realistic.

  • towercam

    Mr. Sarhan’s proposition is quite impossible.
    We seem to forget that religion has insinuated itself into everything.
    Even if religion isn’t mentioned, its effects on the writer remain.

    Religion is mind poison.

    Religion comforts…and cripples.
    History is clear on this.

  • Phil

    Not radical. I thought that is what the US constitution attempted?

  • Angelina Marie

    Hey I just figured out how to salve the consciences of those clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

    Bar churches from participating in marriage, period. Keep them out of the business of determining who is a couple. Then, no conscience problem, civil servants can do all the work, and everybody else whose business is not directly involved with the couple, can stop complaining.

  • John Do’h

    Was a good idea, was it not?

  • Ohyetwetrust

    Good!! In the US and in every country it’s in, Catholicism has sought to subvert democracy.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    how, pray tell.

  • towercam

    I hope those honorable people attempting to distance religion from politics are well protected.
    Seems to me there are many religious crazies that might take this idea as a threat to their bizarre little world.

  • towercam

    – and what many religious crazies have done their best to ignore.
    You seem to think that Americans are of one mind. Think further.

  • towercam

    It was indeed. Sadly the greedy religious want more control.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Our Founders almost certainly intended – but in order to get broad ppublic support from a still-Puritan consensus, a compromise was necessary. Altho some of the Founders were either Atheist or Secular Humanist -no specific protections for their philosophy could be included. (it’s a moot point today – since nobody really gives a Rat’s Ass about the Constitution – anyway.)

  • rationalobservations?

    Further acceptance that “religion poisons everything”?
    It is most hopeful for humanity that education and free, secular democracy has proved and is proving to be the antidote to the vile poison of religion.

    The good news is that the third largest and fastest growing religious human demographic are the godless non-religious and we now outnumber the membership of any individual business, cult or sect of religion.

    There are millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and Roman’s god-man “Jesus” appear nothing special and there is no evidence of the existence of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and Roman’s god-man “Jesus” appear nothing special.

    It’s not that we atheists pretend to know that any particular god does not exist. We observe there is no evidence of the existence of any gods, goddesses and god-men, (including the one(s) you fail to justify or excuse) and simply do not pretend to “know” that any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods do exist.

    Again (for those who have not read this before):
    Christians are often baffled how atheists could deny the existence of their originally Canaanite god, “Yahweh” and Roman god-man “Jesus”, but they really shouldn’t be. Christians deny thousands of the very same undetectable and undetected gods, goddesses and god-men that atheists deny. Atheists just deny one more god than Christians do (or is that three gods and countless demigod “Cherubim” “angels”, “saints” and other ridiculous imaginary assorted beings, maybe?).

    It’s not that we atheists are “anti” any of the many millions of gods and goddesses that have been invented by men to gain power and wealth for themselves down the ages. We simply do not believe in any and all of them. I wonder if any unreconstructed religionists are “anti” Zeus, Odin, Apollo, Quetzalcoatl, Pratibhanapratisamvit, (Buddhist goddess of context analysis), Acat, (Mayan god of tattoo artists). Or Tsa’qamae, north american god of salmon migration, or any of the millions of other undetectable and undetected totally imaginary deities among which the Judaeo/christian gods appear nothing special and about which there is nothing unique or original? Some religionists accuse atheists of hating their god but hating an imaginary entity would appear as ridiculous as believing in it.

    Atheists and religionists are not so different, after all! Let us celebrate our vast agreement on the non-existence of millions of undetected and undetectable gods and other hypothetical and imaginary beings!

    As for any of the many diverse and different creation myths (including the two contradictory creation myths in GEN 1 and GEN 2)? There is nothing that the science of cosmology has discovered that corresponds to any of the myths that were invented by ignorant ancient barbarians.

    The infinite 13,820,000,000 year old universe has been measured and inspected and we have images of the hot dense young universe as it was shortly after it emerged and started the rapid and accelerating expansion we observe and continue to measure today.
    We understand the material evolution of the universe and accept the growing mountain of evidence that confirms the fact of 4,000,000,000 years of past, current and ongoing biological evolution of life on Earth.

    The alternative to understanding science and accepting the fact of evolution is not creationism – it is ignorance and superstition.

  • Phil

    Do I think that??? Thank you for your insight.