Tag Archives: Religious freedom

I Am a Terrorist According To Saudi Arabia

I dream of the overthrow of theocracy. By people peacefully rejecting clerical fundamentalism. With a transition to democracy where atheists and wahhabists, let alone men and women, are equal citizens before secular law. Where thought is not a crime as opinion is voiced openly and freely. As I am doing above in front of the camera outside The White House.

This would make me not just a criminal but a terrorist for encouraging atheist thought in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That theocratic monarchical thought crime state that allies with liberal secular democracies. Democracies that call for the very things I just opened with. Strange bed fellows are made by circumstance, and the bastard child that came out of this arrangement was militant jihadism. Which has, thanks to generous patronage in Saudi Arabia, gone global as a movement. 

The interior ministry regulations include other sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam. These “terrorism” provisions include the following:

 

  • Article 1: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.” [Source]

In this strategic arrangement the oil flows to the developed world, and the blood is meant to only run down the streets of the developing world. The Saudis are offering the US a proxy war in Syria backing a third force which will attack Assad’s forces and the Jihad groups like ISIS. Part of this clamp down on terrorism by Saudi Arabia includes atheists. The British started the ball rolling supporting the House of Saud and the USA continues the relationship. We need to rethink how this relationship is working.

This is a classic Saudi move; give the west a bone while beating down with a stick domestically, to preserve the House of Saud in unstable times. An outstretched hand of friendship while the other pummels dissent and thought into submission before fanatical tyranny. The kingdom where tweeting this article might lead to a visit from the security services. 

The stance of the west is weakened by our over reliance on Saudi Arabia as an ally. The price is the continued subjugation of people to a theocratic police state. We tell ourselves this is the price of sleeping well in our beds. The cost of filling up our tanks so we have the freedom to live happy and prosperous. 

My support for the Dawkins’ OUT Campaign, encouraging atheists to be open in rejecting religion, makes me subject to the same terrorism laws as Al Qaeda. To quote Jarvis Cocker ” We won’t use guns, we won’t use bombs. We’ll use the one thing we’ve got more of; that’s our minds.” To secularists that are threatened and fear for their freedom and loved ones, I cannot imagine what you are going through.

I am determined to make use of the liberties I have to call for freedom and criticize government policy that makes your plight worse. Religious freedom is for all whether Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Wahhbist, Ahmadi, non Islamic faith or atheists. None of them should be treated by the state as terrorists. 

Secularism is a terror to theocratic despotism because it dares to call for equal liberty of all no matter what they think. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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London South Bank University Ban Atheist Society Pastafarian Advert

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Non-religious students at London South Bank University have had posters advertising their society banned for being ‘offensive’. The poster publicising the South Bank Atheist Society (SBAS) depicted Michelangelo’s famous ‘Creation of Adam’ fresco from the Sistine Chapel but with the character of god replaced with the satirical online deity the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ (FSM).

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Students Societies (AHS), of which SBAS is a member, have expressed exasperation and condemned the decision as ‘utterly ridiculous’ and part of ‘rising tide of frivolous censorship that is curtailing the legitimate activities of our members.’ [BHA]

We are reaching a point where student humour and the ability to express ourselves irreligiously is being increasingly challenged on campuses. With social media these stories get out there much quicker, and with photoshop the ability to make sacrilegious imagery is much easier. The growth of AHS societies at universities and challenging debate by calling a Pineapple Mohammed, or wearing a t-shirt depicting the prophet have hit mainstream media. The debate is there to be had, and lampooning each other is par for the course.

Satire is the sauce that lets the meatballs go down, and noddles brought to a simmer bring out the full texture and richness to be had. Denying students such a rich diet is a betrayal of an education which they are paying for. To be challenged, taken out of their comfort zone, and be stronger and more determined in what they believe as graduates than before they embarked on improving their minds.

It is the right to see the world differently and express it openly.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Reblog: “Is it a crime to be an Ahmadi?”

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“I am an Ahmadi Muslim. Yes, my faith and my religion are surrounded by Islamic motions and no one has the right or the power to change my belief or dictate who I am.

….

This is not the Pakistan I once took an oath to die for. This is not the Pakistan that I had hope for and which gave me hope. This is the Pakistan which has killed me whilst I lived.”

A heartfelt must read post – please follow the link here to read the full post of the persecution which is happening told in a personal narrative.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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John F Kennedy And The Religious Test For Office

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Though in November, book publishers are already releasing new works on an already saturated market.

Reading the linked to article in the New Republic above made me revisit JFK’s religious freedom speech. The video includes introductions, worth listening for the context that his Catholicism was used by some as a reason not to vote for him. His speech starts just after the 3 minute mark, and is worth ten minutes of your time to listen to.

    “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Religious freedom is still an issue whether building a mosque in New York, a religious public symbol for 9/11, or the Mormonism of a Presidential candidate.

I did post about how it was being emphasised that Obama really was not a Christian but Romney really believed in everything Mormonism said here. I’m going to be less equivocal now.

No one, including atheists, should be advocating a religious test for public office. The constitution should be upheld by not just the President who swears to defend it, but by all citizens too. Should anyone wish to subvert the constitution let them put forward an amendment as part of the democratic process, so we can both debate and expose the threat to the Bill of Rights.

    National Atheist Party Reborn

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The “National Atheist Party” has voted to change it’s name to “Secular Party of America”. Note the emphasise on attracting non atheists to the secular movement.

The name bothered me too, as I mentioned when their leader resigned unexpectedly after two years. This seems like the organisation restructuring itself for the better. My criticism still holds for a minority party:

    So my advice to the 8,000 members that they lay claim to is that promoting secularism should not be a fringe political party movement. Rather, you need to influence the two main parties on the national stage: Democrat or Republican (yes I said that) as party members. Or, you could try for yourself as independents.

    There are huge issues that need tackling at home and abroad: economic growth, employment, poverty, the environment, human rights, international security, homeland security, health care, education and the constitution (to name a few). A one issue party, and in this case an only atheist party membership, is doomed never to be taken seriously or have the impact on secularism that is needed in the political arena.

For me pressure groups are the better way for promoting the secular movement.

As ever, Mr Jefferson build up that wall.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Religious Freedom is For Everyone

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Thomas Jefferson liked to think, and for him free thought was more than just an inalienable human right. It was an essential part for humanity to make progress. How infidels of the past were viewed he was all too aware was how his compatriots (and fellow slave owners) would be viewed in the future. Religious freedom is an essential liberty, and in the Virginia Statute he created made this clear:

II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

It was not just a revolutionary thought then, written by the man who would become the intellectual provocateur with Thomas Paine for Independence. It still speaks to us that when we think of that wall of separation between church and state, and how a secular society functions.

No one should suffer on account of their religious opinions or beliefs, all shall be free to profess, and maintain their opinion in matters of religion.

The historical underpinning of religious freedom was to safeguard the plurality of religious thought – and the protection of infidels. As Jefferson argued to his nephew the inquiry into the nature or existence of God was one any such being if He existed would welcome, and without impediment such thought should be allowed by humanity.

We live in an age now where Alain de Botton can call the existence or non existence of God boring – like Jefferson he wants to separate the gold from the religious superstitious faith experience. Yet, as Richard Dawkins acknowledges whether you genuinely think there is or is not a God fundamentally changes the nature of your existence on earth – belief for him is wrongly making sense of the world for what appear to be valid reasons, a delusion. Peter Hitchens believes noting that there is no scientific evidence for God, and no divine mandate for humans to enforce on others but for him it makes sense to believe, so chooses to. Lawrence Krauss argues that you can have a universe from nothing.

The debate goes on, and the scientific advances in thought and empirical evidence gathering would have enraptured Jefferson as I imagine the debate today would have. However religion is still with us. Those values of religious freedom are still valid now.

So when we go on twitter we can express our religious opinion, and be challenged in that opinion. We can refuse to justify ourselves to anyone for our personal beliefs and we can can freely chose to argue for them.

We may never force anyone via the state or other coercion to suffer for their belief by those that do not chose to hold them, whether they be a minority of one or the majority. This secularism has remained from childhood student of Jehovah’s Witness to Atheist blogger.

Jefferson’s memorial is not just a monument for atheists, like the group I led above after the Atheist Alliance International Conference in 2007, starting at the memorial site onto the White House in support of religious freedom and the OUT campaign as atheists.

It is for all of humanity – and we have still to live in a world where those of faith, infidels and apostates have the religious freedoms that Jefferson wanted to be remembered for espousing.

Secularism is for the religious and the non religious – the cause of religious freedom should unite lovers of liberty and free thought alike.

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Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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