September 26, 2012

American Humanists' Approach to Islam

AmericanHumanistLogoThe American Humanist Association has a post titled "A sensible Humanist approach to Islam" at Secular News Daily that is worth reading. Since this topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately, I wanted to share a few brief reactions to the post.

First, I agree with their reminder that those committing acts of violence do not represent all Muslims. While it is true that we do not hear nearly enough from moderate Muslims, I suspect that is due to their understandable fear of reprisal and the refusal of our corporate media to cover anything moderate these days. I certainly do not blame all Muslims for the violent acts committed by a few.

Second, the AHA was right to call attention to widespread bigotry directed at Muslims in the West. Fueled by misinformation, ignorance, and manipulative politicians on the far-right, this is a reality faced by ordinary Muslims who would never consider violence against critics of their religion. They are viewed as terrorists simply because of their clothing or their physical appearance, and this subjects them to undue suspicion and violations of their civil liberties.

So yes, I applaud the efforts of the AHA to craft a position statement in which they condemn both Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Both of these points need to be made more often, especially in combination. I agree completely with their suggestion that, "Humanists should assess Islam using the same standards applied to all belief systems." Part of what this means is that we should feel every bit as free to mock Islam as we do other religions. And I was happy to see their clear condemnation of theocracy.

While the AHA does not explicitly state that people must remain free to criticize religion without fear of violence, they do defend "The freedom to think and believe or not believe, and to profess or critique, resisting efforts to impose one’s religious beliefs on others through coercive and punitive measures." I take that as meaning the same thing and was happy to see it here.

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