03 May 2011

Philadelphia freedom

A Jewish mate here in Sydney sent me a link to this report from Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the USA. David Rusin wrote this amazing article (titled "May Christians Preach Outside a Philadelphia Mosque?") about an event from 2010 and the commensurate trial. "Yes, the First Amendment still protects Christians preaching to Muslims. But as the Philadelphia case and recent controversies prove, exercising free speech rights amid hypersensitivity toward Islam does not come without costs."

Rusin is director of Islamist Watch, a part of Middle East forum

The case and another one [a month earlier in 2010] in Dearborn, Michigan, highlight the dangers of practicing free speech in relation to Muslims. At least in the changing United States. Where various forms of Christianity are still the state religion in many states, the new state religion may be multiculturalism. Or more specifically a variant form of it.

I enjoy good choral music. Part of what I like is the combination of melody, harmony, countermelodies-- the drama of who is singing what at any particular time. When multiculturalism goes mad, and the courts and police want peace at any cost, then choral music goes thin...it becomes unison singing. Don't get me wrong; I like unison singing, too, but it's not as good, not as thick, not as meaningful to me. I think the world of music improved when Gregorian Chants gave way to Bach and Mozart.

What I mean, if you missed it, is this. If we are really going to practice multiculturalism, then that must include your culture and my culture. It must include the Christians and it must include the Jews and it must include the Muslim, etc. Harmony is the word for it in music, and unison is not what we need.

Governments have to allow Christians to preach in a civil manner in public fora. Offense is not chargeable. Being stupid is not chargeable. No one should prevent someone else from believing what he wants or trying to spread that message to others. Conversations between people on university campuses should not be monitored by the Thought Police to see if the speech is acceptable. Or offensive.

I hope you are not offended by this commentary.

1 comment:

Sarah of the Collage said...

Interesting thoughts.

My understanding is that there are two "types" of secular when it comes to expression of faith. One is that faith is a private matter and therefore it should not be allowed to be expressed in public places such as schools, hospitals or common land. The other is that all faiths should be expressed equally and in a way that respects others so as to not be discriminatory.

Both can easily get carried away with political correctness. The latter has some potential to achieve the harmony you speak of if it is applied in moderation and with common sense.

Those I know who push for either or both seem to be an overwhelming majority of atheists. An example I can give is my dad who world in a private hospital. He puts Gideons bibles in the drawers. He has friends there of various faith backgrounds who have raised no objection to bibles being around and has conversations about God with these people often initiated by them. But the two people who did raise objections were atheists who said it was offensive and discriminatory towards people of other faiths. Another example is the push for there to be no prayer in parliament because of this notion it excludes other faiths or cultures. Yet I don't know of muslims or Jews or people of other faiths who are offended by it.

There is a fine line between free speech and being provocative or unnecessarily offensive. I personally would not support Christians doing street evangelism outside a mosque. It is as close as one could get to preaching Christianity inside a mosque and i think it is more likely to achieve the opposite of the desired effect. How would those Christians feel if muslims were preaching at them against their God as they were entering their place of worship on a Sunday?

Legislation was passed in the US prohibiting people from protesting at funerals of fallen soldiers because of the antics of Fred Phelps and his Westboro minions. It is disgraceful that they had to legislate such a thing, but i wonder if the actions of some Christians will bring about further restrictions which would affect the majority of peace loving Christians who just want to simply be and express who they are? From sharing the story of what God has done for them to a friend in need?