Assignment 2: class debate


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Assignment 2: class debate

  1. 1. STATE RELIGION A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. A state with an official religion, while notsecular, is not necessarily a theocracy. State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion, but neither does the state need be under the control of the church (as in a theocracy), nor is the state-sanctioned church necessarily under the control of the state. TYPES OF STATE RELIGION The degree and nature of state backing for denomination or creed designated as a state religion can vary. It can range from mere endorsement and financial support, with freedom for other faiths to practice, to prohibiting any competing religious body from operating and to persecuting the followers of other sects. In Europe, competition between Catholic and Protestant denominations for state sponsorship in the 16th century evolved the principle cuiusregioeiusreligio("states follow the religion of the ruler") embodied in the text of the treaty that marked the Peace of Augsburg, 1555. In England the monarch imposed Protestantism in 1533, with himself taking the place of the Pope, while in Scotland theChurch of Scotland opposed the religion of the ruler. In some cases, an administrative region may sponsor and fund a set of religious denominations; such is the case in Alsace-Moselle in France under its local law, following the pattern in Germany. In some communist states, notably in North Korea and Cuba, the state sponsors religious organizations, and activities outside those state-sponsored religious organizations are met with various degrees of official disapproval. In these cases, state religions are widely seen as efforts by the state to prevent alternate sources of authority. SECULAR STATE Secular states with secular governments that follow civil laws—as distinct from religious authorities like the Islamic Sharia, Catholic Canon law, or Jewish Halakha—and that do not favor or disfavor any particular religion.
  2. 2. SUPPORT/POINTS A college has renamed the traditional Christmas and Easter breaks in a bid to avoid offending students from other religions. The college's new calendar shows that both of the traditional holiday periods have now been re-branded as 'end of term breaks'. Critics have complained that the decision by Yorkshire Coast College is nothing more than 'political correctness'. Rabbi David Goldberg, a jovial 64-year-old Israeli who serves a community of about 400 Jews in Hof, has become an international cause célèbre after four German citizens filed criminal complaints against him with the local prosecutor. His alleged crime, which made headlines in Israel and elsewhere, was performing ritual circumcisions. ―It’s a secular society. People don’t have much sense about religion or much knowledge of religion,‖ said Ervin Kohn, a Jewish leader in Oslo. On the other hand, the government has refused to ban the Burqa in the name of this freedom. What do you think about this apparent difference of treatment? In the name of the individual freedom of women, French government came to the opposite conclusion. Let me emphasize only one point: our idea of what a religion is, hence, of what freedom in religious matters should be, arose many centuries ago, and it was tailored on a definite religion, i.e. Christianity. Our governments have the know-how as far as dealing with Christians is concerned, even when they act against Christians... On the other hand, they are at a loss in front of a religion like Islam that does not clearly distinguish between the public and the private. Hence, they understand wearing the Burqa or, for that matter, any kind of obedience to she Sharia, as a private decision. As for the precise question, Christianity is the first religion that did not bring new or special commands but contented itself with common, ―pagan‖, run-of-the-mill morality. The so-called ―Christian morals‖ is none other than the Ten Commandments that are already in the Old Testament (Exodus, 20), and in other cultures. Little wonder, since they are the basic survival kit of mankind. The Burqa is a definite interpretation of Islamic Law, grounded on two verses of the Qur’an asking women to be veiled (XXIV, 31; XXXIII, 59). The problem is that a pious Muslim believes his Holy Book to have been dictated word for word by an omniscient God, who outsoars time and space. If this is the case, you have to obey without further ado. The only loophole left for interpretation will be the precise meaning of the words: how long must be the veil, how opaque, etc.?
  3. 3. Even though the problem started emerging in the late 1980’s, what made the question famous worldwide was the decision in 2004 by France to ban any ―apparent‖ sign or dress that overtly stated a person’s religious belonging at schools. It is important to note that this law is only applicable to students indoors and I have myself witnessed a young girl arriving to class with it and taking it off as she was entering her high school. The latest debate that sparked fresh tensions between 2009 and 2010 involved the complete ban of the integral veil, or niqab. This was a very different story that involved a tiny number of individuals and that were put forward for political reasons linked to immigration and gaining votes from the extreme right. Unfortunately, various politicians played on the population’s fears and often used the word ―burqa‖ (non-existent in France) instead of niqab, making an easy parallel with the awful conditions of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. This time the main arguments put forward were the fight against Islamic fundamentalism, upholding women’s rights and security issues linked with identification. The law was passed but the stain of intolerance remained.
  4. 4. PROHIBITIONS Puritans who felt that the Reformation of the Church of England was not to their satisfaction but who remained within the Church of England advocating further reforms are known as non-separating Puritans. This group differed among themselves about how much further reformation was necessary. Those who felt that the Church of England was so corrupt that true Christians should separate from it altogether are known as separating Puritans or simply as Separatists. Puritan in the wide sense includes both groups. Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Born into the middle gentry, he was relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life. After undergoing a religious conversion in the 1630s, Cromwell became an independent puritan, Cromwell enforced many laws in England, with penalty of fine, imprisonment, or death for those who would not comply. Some of the laws under Cromwell included: Make-up was banned: women found wearing make-up would have their faces forcibly scrubbed. Colorful dress was not permitted: women were expected to wear long black dresses with a white head covering, and men wore black clothes and short hair. This is the archetypal fashion associated with American Pilgrims (also Puritans). Women caught doing unnecessary work on Sunday could be put in stocks. Most sports were banned: boys caught playing football on Sunday could be whipped. Christmas was banned: Cromwell's soldiers were sent among the streets to remove food cooking for Christmas dinner, and decorations for Christmas were not allowed. All other Christian Holy Days were disallowed, including Easter. In January 1645, a group of ministers declared: "festival days, vulgarly called Holy Days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued."
  5. 5. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Some years ago, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coined the term "exclusivist secularism" to describe a disturbing phenomenon in Western societies: the determination of some intellectuals, activists and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of "tolerance" and "inclusion." Taylor’s "exclusivist secularism" is not the benign "secularity" — the separation of religious and political institutions in a modern society — that Pope Benedict XVI has praised for helping Catholicism develop its understanding of the right relationship between church and state. No, by referring to "exclusivist secularism," Taylor was raising a warning flag about an aggressive and hegemonic cast of mind that seeks to drive out of the public square any consideration of what God or the moral law might require of a just society. Aggressive secularism was once thought to be a primarily European malady. Then it migrated to Canada. Now it has become a serious problem in American public life. Catholics can do something about that if they understand what the Church asks of the "world." The Catholic Church asks — and, if circumstances require, the Church demands — two things of any political community and any society. The Church asks for free space to be itself, to evangelize, to celebrate the sacraments and to do the works of education, charity, mercy and justice without undue interference from government. The Church freely concedes that the state can tell the Church to do some things: to obey the local sanitary laws in church kitchens hosting pancake breakfasts, for example. But the Church refuses to concede to the state the authority to tell the Church what to think and preach or how to order its ministerial life and serve the needy. Moreover, the Church asks, and if necessary demands, that the state respect the sanctuary of conscience, so that the Church’s people are not required by law to do things the Church teaches are immoral. The Church also asks any society to consider the possibility of its need for redemption. The "world" sometimes doesn’t take kindly to this suggestion, as the history of the martyrs reminds us. But overt persecution isn’t the only way the "world" resists the Church’s proposal. Societies can affect a bland indifference to the truths taught by biblical religion. Cultures can mock the moral truths taught by God’s revelation to the people of Israel and God’s self-revelation in his Son, Jesus Christ.
  6. 6. Educational systems can inculcate an ethos of nihilism and hedonism, teaching that the only moral absolute is that there are no moral absolutes. On both of these fronts — the political-legal front and the social-cultural front — the Catholic Church is under assault in the United States today. Over the past four years, the federal government has made unprecedented efforts to erode religious freedom. The gravest assault was the "contraceptive mandate" issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an offense to conscientious Catholic employers who believe what the Church believes about the morality of human love and the ethics of the right to life and a frontal attack on the institutional integrity of the Church. For, with the HHS mandate, the federal government seeks nothing less than to turn the Catholic Church’s charitable and medical facilities into state agencies that facilitate practices the Catholic Church believes are gravely evil. Rather than truckle to such coercion, Catholic bishops across the country have made clear that they will, if necessary, close the Catholic medical facilities for which they are responsible — a drastic action that would seriously imperil health services to the poor. But it doesn’t have to come to that. Aggressive, hegemonic secularism need not have the last word in the United States. In this election cycle, Americans can issue a ringing call for religious freedom in full. U.S. Catholics can — and must — demand of all candidates an unambiguous commitment to the Church’s institutional freedom and to the freedom of the Church’s people to follow the dictates of conscience, as shaped by the moral truths the Church guards and teaches. Self-respect requires nothing less.