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Islam Johnson on 18 Aug 2008 12:01 am

Thought experiment: What should we do when religious beliefs become dangerous?

Imagine that there is a new religion. This new religion teaches its followers a set of beliefs that are clearly dangerous to other people. For example, imagine a new religion that teaches that people who are outside the religion should be killed, or raped.

Now imagine that this new religion spreads rapidly. A scientific study is commissioned, and it is found that adults exposed to this new religion become more dangerous once they convert. Also, children raised in households where this religion is practiced are, statistically, much more dangerous than normal children as they become teenagers.

Would we allow this new religion to freely proliferate under the idea of “religious freedom”?

It is an interesting thought question to ponder. Why might we allow this new religion to proliferate? Why not?

Now extend the thought experiment. What if existing religions have these characteristics? Should they be allowed to freely proliferate?

For example, Islam already has more than a billion adherents and is proliferating rapidly. But it seems to harbor a number of unsavory features that are dangerous to people outside the Muslim faith:

Example 1: Salute the Danish Flag – It’s a Symbol of Western Freedom

This article contains statistics from a remarkable, unintentional Muslim experiment that is underway in Denmark. For example: “Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark’s 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country’s convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim.”

Example 2: To beat extremism we must dissolve religious groups

This article cites startling statistics from a survey of Muslim college students in Britain. For example: “Four out of 10 Muslim students in Britain support the introduction of sharia into UK law for Muslims, according to a YouGov poll. Almost a third of them said that killing in the name of religion was justified; 40% said they felt it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely; and nearly a quarter do not think that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah.”

You read that right: Killing in the name of religion is justified for a third of the students surveyed.

Example 3: We need to stop being such cowards about Islam

This article discusses a book that cannot be published in the U.S. because it might offend Muslims. From the article:

The Jewel of Medina was written by a journalist called Sherry Jones. It recounts the life of Aisha, a girl who was married off at the age of six to a 50-year-old man called Mohamed ibn Abdallah. On her wedding day, Aisha was playing on a see-saw outside her home. Inside, she was being betrothed. The first she knew of it was when she was banned from playing out in the street with the other children. When she was nine, she was taken to live with her husband, now 53. He had sex with her. When she was 14, she was accused of adultery with a man closer to her own age. Not long after, Mohamed decreed that his wives must cover their faces and bodies, even though no other women in Arabia did.

You cannot read this story today – except in the Koran and the Hadith. The man Mohamed ibn Abdallah became known to Muslims as “the Prophet Mohamed”, so our ability to explore this story is stunted. The Jewel of Medina was bought by Random House and primed to be a best-seller – before a University of Texas teacher saw proofs and declared it “a national security issue”. Random House had visions of a re-run of the Rushdie or the Danish cartoons affairs. Sherry Jones’s publisher has pulped the book. It’s gone.

Not only has the Muslim religion limited freedom of speech for the rest of us (the author cannot speak, and none of us will have the opportunity to read what she wrote), but this story also demonstrates how and why the Muslim faith subjugates women to the role of second class citizens. This subjugation affects hundreds of millions of women every day, whether they agree with the beliefs or not.

When you throw things like 9/11 into the mix, it becomes clear that the believers of Islam are having a dangerous, negative impact on the rest of us. The question: Should these dangerous beliefs be allowed to proliferate freely under the mantle of religion freedom? Or is it time to understand that when beliefs endanger other people in society, those beliefs no longer deserve protection?

8 Responses to “Thought experiment: What should we do when religious beliefs become dangerous?”

  1. on 18 Aug 2008 at 7:55 am 1.Pasta Lover said …

    “We need to stop being such cowards about Islam”. Amen, Johnson! Religion is being given acceptance without accountibility. If someone endorses this holy book or that, they should be answer for all evil it contains.

  2. on 18 Aug 2008 at 12:07 pm 2.emodude said …

    “This article discusses a book that cannot be published in the U.S. because it might offend Muslims.”

    In this one sentence, you have summarized the entire problem. Religious freedom isn’t necessarily the problem. It’s when certain aspects of society, such as religion, hold a position of such authority as to be above criticism that we begin to see serious problems.

    The fact that no publishing company in America has the balls to print such a book that would offend muslims sickens me. Or news media that won’t publish a picture of Mohammad because it upsets muslims sickens me. This is the crux of the problem; big corporations that kowtow to the public opinion.

  3. on 18 Aug 2008 at 12:35 pm 3.Snag said …

    If it were a gang, we would arrest the gang members.

    If it were a cult living in a compound, we would raid the compound.

  4. on 18 Aug 2008 at 12:48 pm 4.Kim said …

    And here I thought I had been depressed enough before…

  5. on 18 Aug 2008 at 1:07 pm 5.D. said …

    Most religious ‘holy’ texts speak about the duty to kill others that do not have this particular faith. Not only in Islam, but also in Christianity one can find these texts.
    To judge the people of such a faith, one should only look at their actions. As long as they only believe this nonsense, it’s fine. But when they start to act like it… well, we should act too.

  6. on 23 Oct 2008 at 1:13 pm 6.Paula said …

    You should read a book called Infidel. It tell of this violence against women through the Muslim faith

  7. on 31 Oct 2008 at 12:32 pm 7.anonymous said …

    im a muslim. ive never done anything wrong, hurt anyone etc like u guys say muslims do. God says if u kill one person its like killing the whole of mankind, u save one person its like saving the whole of mankind. It doesnt say to murder non-muslims anywhere in islam- ive looked it up so many times.

    when there was a battle in the prophets time the prophet was ordered by god to go ahead with it as he had to defend himself and the muslims otherwise the non muslims (makkans) would have killed them all. Thats when god says kill the non-muslims- as they were the attackers. and anyway these battles were like 1400 years ago, and it was the muslims who were being attacked each time- driven out of their lands.

    In hadith (sayings and actions of the Muhammad) you see muhammad to be one of the best of characterisitcs to muslims and non-muslims. He would help this old lady (non-muslim) who totally hated him because of what she heard about him- but never actually met him. When she asked him his name she realised she had been judging him wrongly.

    Im not saying hey everybody be muslim, but rather that God only wants the best for his creation- muslim, hindu, atheist, jew etc and to stop hating.

    Those “extremists” in the media are SO NOT muslim, because they go against the basic teachings of Islam.

    To be quite frank if i wasnt muslim and say the “islam” portrayed in the media- i’d be outraged like everyone else and id condenm these beliefs and practises.

  8. on 31 Oct 2008 at 6:33 pm 8.Hermes said …

    Anonymous, as a Muslim what are you doing to address the acts performed in the name of Allah that you do not think Allah would condone as acts of a Muslim?

    As a non-Muslim, I see the bad acts loud and clear but I do not hear many voices standing up against those bad acts.

    I realize that you may not see it as your fault or even your responsibility to address those who you do not see as following Islam properly. Yet, fair or not, it is your problem before it is the problem of non-Muslims.

    Instead of strong voices, I see a few voices and a sea of silence. I see Ayaan Hirsi Ali hiring heavy bodyguards to protect her from attempts on her life. Do Muslims donate for her defence?

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