Render Unto Caesar: Religion and the Law

The Archbishop of Canterbury, senior bishop of the incessantly quaint Church of England, is not one to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, he is taken seriously by a number of atavistic Britons, who are probably just awed by his silly hat. Most recently, Rowan Williams gained notoriety after touting the need for some form of sharia law in the UK . Sharia laws are rigid codes of conduct derived from the Koran, governing devout Muslims in every aspect of their lives, from alcohol consumption to contractual disputes. There are five different interpretations of sharia law, varying in degree and severity. Williams suggests that without intervention, sharia codes will become unavoidably ‘enmeshed’ with British law. It’s astounding that the Koran is afforded such credibility that it circumvents law and order usually heralded to the point of exhaustion.

Also in the news recently was beleaguered Islam debunker Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her ongoing troubles due to her involvement in the 2004 Dutch film Submission. Ali has been sought after since contributing the screenplay to director Theo van Gogh’s exposition of the common atrocities inflicted upon Muslim women in the name of Mohammed. The reward was twofold: Van Gogh was brutally murdered in broad daylight by an offended Muslim, who was thoughtful enough to stab a death threat intended for Ali into Van Gogh’s barely cooled corpse; Ali has suffered continued harassment, to the point that she requires state funded protection from the Dutch government. Her financial support was recently rescinded, with the government claiming they are not beholden to her while she resides in the United States (although one would be excused for suspecting their burgeoning Muslim population’s distaste for apostates has something to do with it). The US government claims they are unable to support her due to regulations on protection for non-citizens. France has recently expressed interest in offering her financial support, one would assume in honor of free expression, while other countries continue to treat her like an insubordinate stepchild.

Shouldn’t gadflies like Ali and Van Gogh be afforded hero status in the freedom worshipping west? Ali’s horrid situation evokes Salman Rushdie’s plight after releasing The Satanic Verses. A fatwa (sort of like the Muslim kiss of death) was issued for Rushdie because he dared pen a book of fiction in which he lambasted the religious tenets he was raised with. In a bit of serendipity, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time lamented that British blasphemy laws should be extended to cover all religions, in the wake of furor elicited by Rushdie’s book. Many were too quick to chide Rushdie for his disrespect of Islam, and in turn justify the rabid desire for his head on a sliver platter. Those religious types who openly blamed the author for the death threats were being extremely selfish. These people, supposedly bastions of peace and goodwill, were rationalizing murder for the most ridiculous reason possible.

I suspect that religious leaders are quick to defend other religious beliefs because the Big Three are inexorably linked. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all share the figure of Abraham, who you may remember from such ditties as trying to sacrifice his own son in the name of god, that comedian. While Archbishop Williams claims his intent was to quell rising Muslim discontent in the UK , he is also attempting to cover his ass, so to speak. He is affording these hackneyed beliefs respect because he knows just what it feels like to be on a losing team. No other ideology is afforded this much leeway and nothing could be more dangerous. The devout seem unable comprehend that automatic deference to deities leads to hucksters to claiming authority over a large segment of the population. How can you remain skeptical of those wishing to take advantage of you when your belief system claims that skepticism is evil? How can you maintain stability when your holy book is brimming with god’s tricks and tests with the sole purpose of separating the goats from the sheep?

Religion addressed the unknown and explained the unexplainable in our intellectual infancy. We no longer labor under pre-science illusions such as the sun revolves around the earth, or that demons are the cause of illness. The fact that faith garners so much respect, to the point that we wish to subvert law and order, one of the bastions of civilization, is absolutely inexcusable. What about the legions of Muslim women living in the UK who would feel the acute effects of this simple minded multiculturalism? Who will speak for them? Not their husbands, many of whom consider their wives to be akin to chattel. Progressive thinkers, such as Ali, get reproached for doing just that, all in the name of respecting religion. And the proprietor of love and peace wishes to put these dire decisions in the hands of tyrants, the same people who find it acceptable to stone a woman for adultery (whether or not she had a choice in the matter), or see amputation of limbs a suitable punishment for theft. These are not thoughtless stereotypes or racism. These are actual instances of “justice” enacted at the hands of sharia law. Sharia law in the UK would be a huge a step backward for civilization and all that it supposedly represents.

Stacie Adams is an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable. Her heroes are few, but precious: Bill Hicks, Nat Turner, Orson Welles, and Hunter S. Thompson. She detests useless celebrity, bureaucracy, and unfettered stupidity. "I am disgustingly provincial and I’ve never stepped foot outside the US, but it is my dream to travel the world. My favorite beer is Red Stripe, my favorite movie Irreversible. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 over 100 times. I am an encyclopedia of trivial facts and figures." She can be reached at: Read other articles by Stacie, or visit Stacie's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. HR said on February 19th, 2008 at 1:20pm #

    Excellent article. Here in the land of the brainwashed, we harbor a large number of folks who support a union of church and state. They have already succeeded in getting public funds directed to their religious charities, in total contravention to the Constitution.

  2. Neal said on February 19th, 2008 at 2:37pm #

    For once, an article that says something important. Perhaps the left has not completely destroyed itself.

  3. Michael Kenny said on February 19th, 2008 at 3:11pm #

    In the little blurb where she brags about how humble she is, Ms Adams describes herself as “unassuming” but her article is a long list of assumptions, mostly unwarranted!

    First of all, she assumes that the Archbishop actually said was what the US media claimed he said. Yet, all he was talking about were thing which already exist in English law or exist already in regard to Christianity and Judaism. Anything else would infringe the European Convention of Human Rights (equality before the law!) and would be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights.

    As for Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a Dutch citizen, although she seems to have acquired that nationality by fraud, and has gone to live in the US at the invitation of an Israel Lobby think tank. It is for the authorities of the place where she chooses to live to provide her with protection if she needs it. As a Dutch citizen, she can live in any EU Member State and will recieve whatever protection is necesary there. There is no doubt that Europe heaved a sigh of relief when she went to the US and nobody wants to see her coming back here. As long as she lives in the US, it for the US authorities to protect her. If she needs private protection, her Israel Lobby friends are not poor and money spent protecting her is money that will not be spent killing Palestinian children! Ms Adams will thus certainly not be excused for assuming that the Dutch authorities’ unwillingness to protect her in a country where the Dutch police have no jurisdiction has anything to do with Islam.

    As for the French, they are having municipal elections next month and Sarko is in deep trouble. He is thus running around even more frantically than usual, promising everything that he thinks will get him a few votes. The French promises will be forgotten after the elections! Yet another unwarranted assumption!

    All in all, and the pseudo-feminist poses notwithstanding, the article is an amusing melange of ignorance, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Wouldn’t have been more at home on an Israel Lobby site?

  4. Victor Purinton said on February 19th, 2008 at 4:19pm #

    Bottom line, as far as the US is concerned:

    Permanent secular democracy. Sacred texts and traditions have zero authority in US courts, and that’s the way it will always stay.

    Anyone working to change that is an enemy of the state.

    Short and sweet.

  5. Ridwan said on February 20th, 2008 at 10:46am #

    Did I just read this racist nonsense on Dissident Voice?

    If Ms. Adams familiarized herself with the debate in Britain she will know that the Archbishop was only opening up a discussion of very limited application.

    He was talking about allowing certain aspects of Sharia as it pertains to divorce, for example, to apply where so chosen.

    He was also very clear that Sharia could not be at odds with British law.

    What he was not saying is the kind of racist nonsense that lumps all Muslims together in an unwarranted and biased diatribe.

    Can anyone take Adams’ serious when she level this kind of racist ignorance at the Qur’an:

    “How can you maintain stability when your holy book is brimming with god’s tricks and tests with the sole purpose of separating the goats from the sheep?”

    And this from someone who assumes she can speak on behalf of civilization.

    No thanks to this kind of disgusting bigotry.

    Ridwan Laher
    South Africa

  6. Terry said on February 20th, 2008 at 12:19pm #

    Not so short and sweet if the Religious Right ascends to greater power.

  7. Mike McNiven said on February 21st, 2008 at 3:25am #

    The British governmental church would do anything to prevent the fall of imperialism! This is just one of their plans!

  8. Jimmy said on February 22nd, 2008 at 9:59am #

    Ridwan said: Did I just read this racist nonsense on Dissident Voice?


    That very comment you just made is racist. There are 1.3 Billion Muslims in the word and – guess what – approximately 1 Billion of then are not Arab!

    There are Anglo Muslims (Balkans and Chechnya), Asian Muslims (India, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia), Black Muslims (Africa) – and there are evn Arab Muslims, too!

    So, how can criticizing Islam be racist – unless you think that true Islam can only be practised by a particular race?

    Time for a reality check.

  9. John Hatch said on February 22nd, 2008 at 7:32pm #

    I’ll repeat a comment I posted with regard to another interesting DV article (on God).

    The largely villified and misunderstood Nietzsche got it about right when he described organized religion as ‘voluntary stupidity’. So many volunteers! So much stupidity!

  10. Ridwan said on February 23rd, 2008 at 9:03am #

    Jimmy I am aware that Islam includes all races, ethnicities, and nations. I am a Muslim and South African.

    But that that is not my point.

    My purpose was to point to the racist manner in which the author ignores Islam’s diversity and inclusivity.

    A point you obviously miss in her article but ironically derive from my brief comment.

    The issue of Sharia in Britain speaks to the Muslim community there and is particular to its context.

    Yet the author is quick to lump Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie into her analysis., for example. She also ridicules the Qur’an.

    It is this lumping together and gross generalities about Islam that is racist.

    Also, I have not said that Islam belongs to any race. This is your assumption.

    Nontheless, thanks for your little misguided lecture on Islam and race.

    Ridwan Laher