Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 10:07:55 EDT

*David somehow those who push
liberal ideas in government and law need to understand that security and
law enforcement are also important or you get cities with dead, crime
ridden centers.*

I don't see laws protecting religious liberty as "liberal ideas," unless you
mean in the very broad, classical sense of liberal democracy. I would
suggest that a strong stance in favor of protecting religious liberty is a
"conservative" position in a western liberal democracy. Most of your law
enforcement and security concerns about the Burka seem grossly overblown to
me. Obviously, if drug dealers and such use something like a Burka for
cover, the law can address that, given that the garment isn't worn in that
case as part of a sincerely held religious belief. IMHO, most of the
efforts to ban Burkas and other religious garb stem either from fear of and
prejudice against the "other" or from an effort to completely secularize
society. And it continues to amaze me that "conservatives" are willing to
sacrifice, rather than conserve, core freedoms such as religious liberty
under the veil of security concerns.

I'm guessing we're about to draw the moderator's ire for getting too
political, but I'm happy to continue offline with anyone who's interested.

On 5/1/07, Dave Wallace <> wrote:
> David Opderbeck wrote:
> > Dave, you seem to be conflating two different things: (1) a law in a
> > liberal democracy that restricts the wearing of the Burka or head
> > scarf in some public settings, such as public schools; and (2) a law in
> > Islamic theocracies that requires the wearing of a Burka. I do not
> > favor (2) under any circumstances.
> >
> I do not see how I am melding or fusing points 1 and 2 above. In no way
> am I suggesting that because women are forced in some societies to wear
> the burka that we should make it illegal.
> > I would agree that there /may/ be legitimate reasons to require
> > temporary removal of a covering that limits personal identification or
> > that might facilitate concealment of a weapon, based on security
> > concerns, as with entry to a restricted government building. However, I
> > think those circumstances are relatively rare, and that very often other
> > technology (such as retinal scans, etc.) and/or the use of security
> > staff with an appropriate religious and/or gender background ( e.g., a
> > female police officer in a room out of public view) can usually provide
> > less intrusive means of personal identification.
> >
> Retinal scans don't work if the eyes are heavily veiled as well.
> Obviously not as restricted as the rest of the head but still. It
> depends upon how strict the particular group is.
> > I don't see any reason why an athlete or health care provider should be
> > required to remove a religious covering. Nor do I see any reason why a
> > religious covering that does not materially interfere with a peace
> > officer's duties should have to be removed ( e.g., a Sikh police officer
> > wearing a turban).
> I agree fully that a Sikh wearing his turban is just fine.
> "Burqa, an all-enveloping cloak worn by Muslim women of Central and
> South Asia"
> The burka is not just the head covering and treating someone usually
> requires access to the rest of the body which they object to if the
> doctor is male or even sometime a female of another religion.
> >
> > You also said you find the Burka /"an abohorent practice that is
> > demeaning to females." /I think this sentiment is a bit parochial. As
> > I understand it, there are Muslim women who find the Burka liberating
> > and sensual within the context of their culture. And there's plenty of
> > demeaning of women in western culture when it comes to dress -- some of
> > the college kids I teach basically dress like hookers, no doubt because
> > the men in their life like it that way. We might want to consider
> > whether the women of the Bible who are heroes of the Christian faith --
> > say, the Mary's of the Gospels -- would today be more comfortable in
> > something like a Burka or in a belly shirt and mini skirt.
> >
> I find such women's clothes equally abhorrent and almost always refer to
> them as hooker outfits when commenting on them to my wife. But again I
> would not outlaw them in general public. When some of the church young
> people have worn them to church I do complain to one of the female
> deacons or elders. Equally some male get ups would be highly
> inappropriate at church. On the other hand if the young people bring
> one of their friends who dress inappropriately then I certainly would
> make them welcome. Much such dress, hair styles or color is totally
> irrelevant. Had we been able to find a church in the downtown area then
> I would certainly make appropriate allowances. In Toronto our church
> would get street people in. As long as they do not create undue
> disturbance then they must be accepted as they are and welcomed for
> coffee and so on.
> > OTOH, I agree completely that women in any culture should not be
> > compelled by law to wear a Burka or other religious garb. The principle
> > works both ways, which is another key think Dawkins just doesn't get
> > when he jabbers about restrictions on family religious instruction:
> > religious authorites should not run the state, but likewise, the state
> > should not restrict religious freedom.
> >
> Absolutely religious authorities should not run the state and vice
> versa. But how far does one go? What about multiple spouses or child
> brides? The United church here backs same sex marriage and probably
> soon will require ministerial candidates to perform such so then it
> would be part of their religion. How about facial and body tatoos and
> on and on?
> Drug pushers are hard enough for the police to deal with now given the
> liberal laws passed by the government. If you added to the mix people
> who can be totally anonymous that just makes it harder. No I have not
> seen pushers dressing this way yet, but sooner or later as they keep
> changing their tactics as the police and community deal with each thing
> they try, sort of social evolution. A while back, huge numbers of cars
> were having their windows smashed by drug users looking for parking
> change. After our car window was smashed we stopped keeping parking
> change in the car and I expect that most people have stopped and thus
> the problem seems to have abated. Hits of crack are now priced in the $5
> range, so parking change likely buys a hit or two. The current drive is
> to get people to stop giving change to panhandlers. The police
> regularly show up at our community association and were very frustrated
> because when they catch the individuals breaking windows the liberal
> judges usually just let them go. They can't pay fines and other
> punishments are considered demeaning. David somehow those who push
> liberal ideas in government and law need to understand that security and
> law enforcement are also important or you get cities with dead, crime
> ridden centers.
> I know I have moved the discussion a long ways from Burkas but laws that
> eat away at security or that don't protect security get passed or
> rejected one small liberal issue at a time. Each issue is not too big a
> deal but eventually the camel's back breaks.
> Dave W
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue May 1 10:08:38 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue May 01 2007 - 10:08:38 EDT