I received two long comments from Muslims on my ‘A Muslim Education’ post. The comments from lwtc247 required more than a simple response from me in the comments section, hence this post.
I suggest you first read lwtc247’s comment at the ‘A Muslim Education’ post, then come back and read this response. I will quote some of lwtc247’s comment here, but for brevity not all of it.
lwtc247: You misunderstood what was meant by “They can’t escape who they are”. It means they are Muslim no matter where they go; …
I understand they can’t switch their ‘Muslimness’ off, what I was trying to say was – why do they have to be Muslim in the first place? Why can’t children be allowed to grow up without being indoctrinated in any religion. As Dawkins says "why do we have to identify children by their religion?"
Yes I do use the word indoctrination because that’s what I, and many others, see it as. From wikipedia:
Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology. It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned. (emphasis mine)
The emphasis is the main difference, between religious instruction (as lwtc247 calls it) and religious indoctrination. Teaching people religion, covering all forms of religion, in a historical, philosophical manner can be called religious instruction or education. However forcing (not the best word, but you get my point) children, to pray, wear specific clothing, disallow them from socialising with the opposite sex, and the hundreds of other rituals, dogmas and ideologies (which have no basis in reality) is indoctrination. Calling it anything else is just using "weasel words".
As the wikipedia entry goes on to say:
Most religious groups instruct new members in the principles of the religion; this is usually not referred to as indoctrination, because of the negative connotations the word has acquired.
"usually not referred to", mostly by the same religious people doing it, strange that!
lwtc247: I think your wider point is about apostasy. Yes, many Muslims look very dimly on apostates, …
Apostasy in any form is just plain wrong, from killing people because they are apostates to just shunning them (all of which occur in all religions to some extent somewhere in the world). I acquaint it as a form of racism, "because they aren’t like me I will shun or punish them". How is that a reasonable thing to do, how can anyone justify it?
lwtc247 then goes on to discuss the penalty for treason, amongst other things, and questions if the punishment is the death penalty. lwtc247 quite rightly points out the complicit nature of Australia assisting in providing evidence they knew "would contribute towards the proclamation of the death penalty for suspects in Indonesia." I agree that this is quite a grey area, in which we denounce the death penalty at home but aid in someone getting the death penalty in another country. I’m open to suggestions here.
As far as the death penalty for treason, that possibly still exists in the UK, however it doesn’t mean it justifies people being killed just because they don’t follow the same religion! In Australia the punishment for treason is life imprisonment.
lwtc247 then asks for my personal opinion: What’s your personal view on the death penalty, … What if someone tortured then murdered members of your family? Would you not wish reciprocation?
Personally I don’t agree with the death penalty, sure, if someone close to me was tortured and murdered I would probably wish to do the same to them. BUT that doesn’t mean I would do it, or that the government or legal system should do it for me. Again there’s a vast difference between blowing innocent people up and leaving your religion! Either way the death penalty is not my choice of punishment.
lwtc247 then gets back to the topic of the original post, but first throws this line in: It seems you really dislike religion (inc Islam), Yes which is your choice, Correct but your dislike of it makes you jump to rather hasty conclusions. Disagree (my answers in red, non-italic)
lwtc247 tries a little math to show that the school is actually subsidising the government.
Epic Fail. I’ve heard this excuse hundreds of times, usually along the lines ‘if the private schools ceased to exist the government would have to pay for the whole lot and wouldn’t be able to afford it’, But that’s never going to happen because the private schools (vast majority of which are religious schools) will still want to exist. So what ever happened to "user pays"? If you want your child to go to a non-government school then you should be prepared to pay for the whole thing yourself. I’m happy for my taxes to pay for schooling, just not happy for it to be paying for segregated religious schooling.
lwtc247: I can imagine why Muslim parents may not be so happy about it because, rightly or wrongly, they feel the secular life will mean their kids are exposed to things which put them in conflict with Islam and hence they seek avoidance of that possibility.
Same could be said about any religious school. Though it shows a huge measure of insecurity that they would be worried about their children being exposed to things that conflict with their faith. Is their faith that flimsy? Anyway what’s the problem with children realising their faith is wrong? There are thousands of different faiths on this planet, who’s to say which one is right? Perhaps none of them are, have you ever considered that? Have these children been able to consider this?
lwtc247: You claim to reject dogma, but seem to have accepted it as you give no reason why you agree with the Secular Party of Australia’s statement on integration.
I do reject dogma, particularly religious dogma, and I don’t see how putting a quote from the SPA demonstrates I am accepting their dogma. The SPA quote was simply a question asking how the school could justify segregation. A question I considered myself but I thought John’s wording was more eloquent. Nothing more nothing less. I can even agree with some things some religious people say (ie lwtc247’s question on Australia’s involvement leading to a death penalty) this doesn’t mean I’m going to follow any of their dogmas.
lwtc247 then asks what seems like a valid question: If Muslims should integrate and show tolerance and respect for secular and atheist views, why cant atheists and religious secularists accept Muslim opinions with regards to their faith too?
There are quite a few reasons why, I’ll only cover a few, I hope other readers will fill in the rest. This goes for all religions not just Muslim: 1) There is no evidence for what you believe in. 2) Things said and done in the name of your religion are divisive and dangerous. 3) Religious practices negatively impact on the wider community. 4) It costs me money.
If you are asking if I should "respect" your religion, then I suggest you read this article. (only because it saves me the time typing out my own similar views, not because I’m following someone else’s dogma)
lwtc247 trots out the old "we’re not all mad" line: Please don’t underestimate the tolerance Muslims show for non-Muslim religious secular and atheistic practices conducted not just in Oz, but across the globe.
Obviously lwtc247 didn’t watch Foreign Correspondent the other night!
lwtc247: There are reportedly over a billion Muslims world wide and the vast majority live in relative peace with their neighbours. People just want to get on in life and be happy with with their fellow man and surroundings.
I tend to agree with these statements particularly the second one. My only concern has been put much better by others than I could ever do. Tolerant religionists indirectly support the radical religionists. Marcus Brigstocke puts it rather well.
Without the audience to prop it up … fundamentalist religious fanaticism goes away.
I highly recommend all my readers to watch Marcus’ video (about 7 minutes) he argues a few of these questions and my points very well.
Finally I’d like to say that I will make an effort to watch the video lwtc247 recommended. I would also like to point out that lwtc247 you are probably wrong when you state: It’s the kind of information you’re not usually invited to see in secular or areligious indoctrination.
Many religious people would be surprised how much religious material atheists devour. The thing is unless you have both sides of the story it’s more difficult to make an argument against it. I have recently been concentrating on reading secular and atheist literature, but have also read more of the bible than I did even when I did bible study many years ago. I’ve read some portions of the Quran and frequent a few religious blogs to get their side of the story. I watch both religious and non-religious documentaries, in fact I’ve probably watched more religious documentaries than non-religious ones. I will be happy to watch "An Islamic History of Europe", apart from the religious aspect of it, I find history interesting anyway.
Finally I don’t know how you can use "secular or areligious" and "indoctrination" in the same sentence. As I have already pointed out, the difference is; in the religious community you are not expected "to question or critically examine". On the other hand in the atheist, skeptical and secular community questioning and critically examining is de-rigueur, it’s expected.
I’m sure I will get "called on" with some of the things I say, that’s one of the interesting things about writing this blog. If I say something I have to be willing to defend what I’ve said, or if proved wrong be willing to accept the new fact(s). I endeavour to do both to the best of my abilities. Occasionally we may just have to agree to disagree.
Anyone is free to leave comments here, and I welcome all points of view, as long as they are mostly on-topic and not outright defamatory. As often as possible I will reply to those comments; though not always this in-depth. 🙂