Is it possible that we might correct many of our problems by simply examining how we go about determining the appropriateness of the categories into which we tend to place things? I tend to think so.
Religion is, in its purest respect, a ‘binding’ to a set of beliefs; a living out of those beliefs in the world. But we tend to use the word to express simply what one believes in connection to God or gods and how we worship our deity/deities. So we have a subset of religion (proper) being used to describe our Western values, which, in a restricted sense, all should support, known by the phrase, religious liberty. I would say that the wider society does not accept religious liberty for all religions or we would have outward examples of religions which practice human and animal sacrifice or religions that rely upon illegal hallucinogenic substances to get closer to their spirit gods. And then, of course, there are those demon worshippers that are categorized as religions who find that orgies and raping of young children is an expression of their devotion to the demon of their choice. I am not sorry that we exclude them from the protection that we call religious liberty. It seems that the wider society (of Western Europe and most civilized societies) has agreed that this is non-sensical . . . or at least found it so in the past. But strictly speaking, they are religions with beliefs and practices and ways of life; though they are not acceptable to our way of life or thinking. So these religions and religious practices are usually practiced behind closed doors and out of the eyes of society . . . illegally. In other words we do discriminate against and even forbid certain religions and/or religious practices; thank God.
Now culture is very much influenced by the predominant religion or religious beliefs and practices among a particular society. So they are not usually completely distinct from one another. This new, modernest, giddiness regarding multi-culturalism is a faddish, empty phrase without much regard to what that phrase might mean to an established society or nation. Where religion binds people to both a way of life and to one another, culture is mostly reserved to a common set of customs (speech, diet, music, holidays, dance, dress, wearing of hair etc.) which distinguish one culture from another. If that were the whole of it, few would be repelled by multiculturalism within a society as long as it was considered decent. In other words, walking about naked with spears and clubs might not be appropriate in NYC (though I think I’ve seen that there . . . or was that San Francisco). But where culture is fueled by religion, we have a clash of religion and a clash of culture going on. Among the simple varieties of people that still hold most of the principles that our civilization continues to uphold (human values; such as a prohibition against murder, theft, rape etc.) there might still be some peace possible amid the many differences: arguments and fights perhaps but in large we would try to get along. But if a culture that prizes cannibalism or some other heinous act were to make its way into our society at large, it would be prohibited and eradicated with due haste. Once again, we do discriminate against certain cultural practices as well; and as before, thank God.
There should be restrictions on certain customs, cultures and religions if they are incompatible with society as a whole. For such may be the case for these differences which can and do place other people in harms way, unravel the fabric of a universal ethos, or hold beliefs that make them as useful as a parasite. Such might be the case by refusing to engage in the commerce of their host nation because they hold to a set of beliefs or ideologies that contend, for instance, that government is responsible for their well-being. They will not fight for their host nation nor will they abide by the laws because they feel that they are unjust. They simply want to form a society within a wider society that collects the benefits from the larger without leaving their smaller enclave which holds to norms and practices antithetical to the wider population. Or worse, they could be subversive; wishing to overthrow the present order of things in order to place the wider society under the restraints and political systems that might be dictated by their ideology, culture or customs.
I think we have already, in this country, gone too far in our categorizing of religions. For instance, is Scientology truly a religion or a culture that developed among men which deserves to be listed among the religions of this planet? Not in my book but maybe that is just me. But then, neither would I give religious status to the Wiccan or Satanist or any similar cult. This brings me to our most perplexing problem of this 21st century: how do we categorize Islam? For if it is a religion, as most contend, then it is afforded rights though that does not prevent us from the right to violate their religious liberty or culture should we choose to place them in the same category as others of which I spoke above. I think that perhaps we have made the religion category too wide and further, we have made the system of Islam too small in calling it merely a religion and culture: for it is far more than that.
Islam has a religious component for sure: though the beliefs of this religion seems to be under review as being an unsuitable fit to live beside non-Muslims and especially Jews and Christians. Their culture, likewise has components that are glaringly in opposition to Western culture, such as their treatment of women and the veiling of faces to wit we cannot identify the person should legal reasons require it. But, far worse yet is that there is an ideologically driven and elaborate framework therein that fosters its own type of governance according to their own rule of law which is often in direct contradiction to the rule of law of many Western Nations. Their belief that all infidels must either submit to their faith or pay a tax is also not compatible with the melting pot ideals that have swept from the US through the EU in recent years. It seems many would like to force a square peg in a round hole and it is not going to work now and I do not foresee a time when it will ever work.
Yes, we all know some ‘good’ Muslims from our schools or work which seem to have assimilated into our society. We are loathe to maintain that they are a danger and yet the terrorists whom have perpetrated much harm on our societies were also known as good, well-assimilated people as well. It is always a shock for the neighbors and co-workers of these individuals. Terrorists are quite adept at placing themselves below the radar of most people. And part of that problem is expressed in this article. So what should we do?
At present we differentiate between the ‘good’ non-fundamentalists and the ‘evil’ jihadists. Yet there is a segment, and if I believe that the interviews with ordinary Muslims in our cities was not a setup, a very large segment who believe in Sharia and support, at least morally, the actions of the fundamental Islamists. Some are not ashamed to say that if they could choose to live under Sharia or the Constitution of the US that they would choose Sharia. This is to me not a problem that requires us to persuade them to our point of view but conversely a problem, for those of such a mind, that common sense would dictate they be on the next boat bound for another Islamic state.
Immigration laws and welfare laws are being used against us. They are being utilized to remake entire nations into nations that were hitherto confined primarily to the Middle East. So the question in regards to Muslims is are they of sufficient threat to our way of life to be banned from entry or are they ‘mostly’ benign and how do we know? I know my leanings but it would be interesting to hear from others about how they would assure that their posterity is not being put into jeopardy, or if the other religions and cultures present in our society will survive; not forgetting the nation as we know it and as it was delivered us.
For a different analysis (but with similar conclusions) of this situation you may like to read the following article, also linked above, before responding.