Sunday, November 08, 2009

Religion and self deception

Self deception is insidious. It keeps us eating pizza when we can’t see our toes. It also keep the crucifix in Italian classrooms under the misguided believe that it is the universal sign for freedom.

Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, the spokesman for the bishops said that the crucifix stood for freedom and the court’s ruling was unjust and sad. He also added that the crucifix symbolized respect for a person’s dignity from his birth to death. He questioned that what would replace the crucifix in classrooms.

A crucifix is the last thing I think of when thinking about freedom.

The European Court of Human Rights Ruled:

"The presence of the crucifix could be ... disturbing for pupils who practiced other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities," the court said. "The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities... restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions,"

This seem reasonable to me. A crucifix is the symbol for the Catholic church. Non-Catholics, even non-catholic Christians, would agree. But 84% of Italians oppose the ruling.

Those in favor included many who are not practicing Catholics. Some 68 percent of those who said they never attended Mass said they still wanted the crucifixes to stay in schools.

It appears that Italians only buy into universal human rights as long as it does not infringe on their closely held beliefs. They are, in a word, hypocrites.

Martin Kugler, and expert in human rights, but only from a Christian perspective, offers 12 reasons why the cross is not a violation of freedom. I offer a few here:

"The right to religious freedom can only mean its exercise -- not the freedom from confrontation. The meaning of 'freedom of religion' has nothing to do with creating a society that is 'free from religion.'

"Forcibly removing the symbol of the cross is a violation on the same level as it would be to force atheists to mount this symbol.

"The blank white wall is also an ideological statement -- especially, if over the previous centuries, it had not been empty. A 'value-neutral' state is fiction, which is often used for propaganda purposes."

"Anti-religious fundamentalism makes itself an accomplice of religious fundamentalism when it provokes through intolerance," the expert observed.

And, "the majority of the affected population would like to retain the cross. It is also a problem of democratic politics, giving priority to individual interests so blatantly."

I’m not going to go down the list point-by-point to explain the whiney logical fallacies. Suffice it to say… what the hell? Freedom of religion simply means that we have the right to believe as we choose without the state endorsing a religion (or forcing one on us). Can they honesty say that putting a crucifix in front of an Atheist  or Muslim child while at school is neutral? No, it is state sponsored religion. How hard is that to see?

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