Baroness O'Neill
Civil Liberties

Chair of EHRC admits "terrible muddle" over freedom of religion

 

Theos is a Christian think tank that plays crucial role delving into the sometimes murky relationship between religion and society in this country. It also happens to be an organisation full of lovely people. Their director, Elizabeth Oldfield’s slots on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day are actually worth listening to, Nick Spencer, Head of Research, is the human embodiment of Brains from Thunderbirds and everyone else on the team is always terribly keen to say hello and thank me for attending when I turn up at their events. So it wasn’t a difficult decision to make when I was invited to attend their 2015 Annual Lecture in London on Monday evening.

These lectures are a chance to hear a knowledgeable speaker imparting their pearls of wisdom to us mere mortals. The hope is that I come away enlightened and just that bit more educated than I was at the start of the day. The last time I attended one of these Lectures, I had the guilty pleasure of watching the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams baffling the BBC’s Mishal Husain, who was chairing the evening, as he picked apart the mysterious nature of what it means to be a person.

This time round it was the turn of Baroness O’Neill who as the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should have had plenty to say on her subject of Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion. If ever we needed clarity of thought on this weighty subject, then this is such a time and the Baroness is in a perfect position to use all of her intellect to plough a furrow throughCh the field of competing rights and interests. She is a philosopher and ethicist with a list of honours and distinctions that put all but the greatest academics to shame and her brain was once described as ‘terrifying but brilliant’.

Perhaps when so much is expected of someone, it’s hard not to come away disappointed unless they have kept you captivated the entire time, but this is exactly how I felt as the evening drew to a close. The problem was not so much to do with what was said, but what was not said.

This was a lecture that tackled the some of the big issues relating to the Rights to Freedom of Expression (Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and to Freedom of Religion and Belief (‘thought, conscience and religion’ in Article 9). As we know there are some countries where their importance is ignored or even deliberately opposed with the criminalisation of apostasy, often tied to draconian laws, or various other religious restrictions. Even for countries such as ours that look to uphold and promote these rights there is a tension when dealing with others that blatantly flout them. In China crosses are being ripped down from churches on government orders. Some are being closed down or completely destroyed and Christian clergy are being arrested. But still we do our best to make trade deals and build closer relationships and when the Chinese premier was asked to justify his country’s terrible human rights record by a BBC journalist, President Xi’s explanation was that, “We have found a part of human rights development suited to China’s national conditions.”

We as a country have done a huge amount over the years to form and establish the principle of human rights around the world and yet we find ourselves mumbling when anyone who we’d like to do business with disagrees with these basic frameworks or seeks to challenge the boundaries. At home we’re doing little better; we are in a “terrible muddle about the shape that rights of [freedom of belief and expression] may take” according to Baroness O’Neill. For example, there are ridiculous inconsistencies as to what constitutes a belief or religion. As she pointed out: “It is puzzling to find opposition to fox hunting classified as a ‘religion or belief’, but support for fox hunting not classified as a ‘religion or belief’.” A viewpoint on a single issue cannot be considered a belief, no matter how passionately it is held, in the context of human rights, otherwise we would have an unending list of protected views that would render the whole concept of a right meaningless.

The Baroness also made it clear that the growing belief that there is a right not to be offended is completely misguided and perverse; no such right exists nor should it:

Offence is a subjective matter, and what offends A may not offend B. There is no way of securing freedom of expression if we also maintain that there is a right not to be offended. Speech acts that incite hatred, or that intimidate, or that defraud, or that abuse, can be regulated without putting freedom of expression at the mercy of others. But if there were a right not to be offended, this would put everyone’s freedom of expression at the mercy of others…

Nor can any adequate interpretation of rights endorse supposed rights whose successful exercise would prevent others from enjoying like rights: there can therefore be no rights to coerce, to destroy, or to control others, and no rights not to be offended or not to encounter religions or beliefs that we do not share: any of these supposed rights would evidently undermine others’ like rights.

A right is only a right if it is able to be held by everyone. Anyone claiming special protection of their particular views or beliefs cannot claim this as a right, but too often we are seeing individuals and groups attempting to do just that.

Baroness O’Neill clearly has a great mind and a sound understanding of the concept of human rights and was not afraid to challenge attacks on those rights at a philosophical and ethical level. The problem though is that human rights aren’t to be kept in the heads of philosophers. They are by their very nature pragmatic, defining what we should be able to expect in our everyday lives. The problems rise to the surface when the protection of those rights is withheld or applied in an uneven or detrimental fashion.

Bearing in mind that the Baroness is Chair of the EHRC, one might reasonably expect her to have considered views on high profile cases that have made it into the news. During the questions after the lecture something curious and frustrating developed. When asked about real world examples, the replies were limited often dodged the issue.

Anne Atkins, a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, asked a very reasonable question about Catholic adoption agencies having to close even though they had offered to refer gay couples to other organisations.  This has been a key example where inflexibility in equality law has done more harm than good. It could have been a defining moment of the evening, but the response was a brief thought on a framework of rights and little else.

The chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum wanted the Baroness’ opinions of the case involving Pastor James McConnell, a preacher from Northern Ireland who described Islam as “Satanic” in a sermon which was then made available on the internet. He has subsequently been prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act (His Grace has discussed this case previously). In reply the Baroness said she didn’t know the details of the case and thought that the question would relate to the ‘gay cake’ episode that has been widely covered by the media. For neither of these did she offer any hard answers.

Afterwards I was talking to a prominent academic who was intending to gauge her thoughts on whether the concept of human rights is compatible with Islam, but said that he was so disappointed with her limp answers that it simply wasn’t worth bothering.

Human rights have always been a rich source of debate for philosophers and academics. These arguments are necessary in order to produce a solid framework that is fit for purpose, but they will only be of value if those holding the keys are able to apply them and provide solutions when our society encounters conflict in this whole area. To have the Chair of the EHRC ducking the matters at hand or even admit that she hasn’t come to a firm conclusion on some, is more than worrying. She is not the only person on the commission and her job is not to provide all of the solutions, but surely as its figurehead we should expect more? How can the EHRC be trusted on this evidence to be of any practical use if it cannot offer wise guidance and advice on actual situations and circumstances that fall under its remit when needed? If the EHRC can’t offer solid answers to this “terrible muddle”, then what hope have we got?

The full audio and text of the 2015 Theos Annual Lecture is available here.

  • The Inspector General

    Withdrawal from the ECHR is inevitable. It is a trouble making organisation. Nothing wrong with the British law it supplanted. There you are, problem solved.

    • wayne

      The danger is it’s replacement UN human rights run by the Saudi’s and will be abrogated to Sharia law. I’ll predict for you now that the EU will accept it as a replacement as soon as the Saudi’s have finished their work.
      Don’t believe Check out the source of law for the “cairo declaration of human rights in Islam” and see it isused for anti terrorism laws. There is skullduggery afoot.

  • Law & Religion UK

    In fairness to Bs O’Neill, she’s not simply a private individual: she’s Chair of EHRC. In the circumstances it’s hardly surprising that she had to be guarded in reply to impromptu questions, in case her answers were taken to represent EHRC policy.

    • James Bolivar DiGriz

      That is so thin a defence as to be see-through. She could have made it clear that any opinions were her own and not those of the Commission (she is not the only Commissioner after all) or if she really thought that was not enough then she could have said she would not take questions about real cases. But to accept questions such questions and then not answer them is terribly weak.

      • Law & Religion UK

        OK Gentlemen: we just disagree.

    • Albert

      I listened to Bishop Pete Broadbent talking about the monarchy the other day. Despite being a bishop of the Established Church, which has the Queen as the Supreme Governor, despite the fact that his position requires him to give oaths to the Queen, and receive such oaths on her behalf from others, despite the fact that he is the only bishop on the bench who is a republican (as far as he knew) despite all this, he was able to say that his disagreed with monarchy full-stop. There was no problem with that.

      So I don’t see your argument here as a defence. If it is true, then we have a problem of freedom of expression (= freedom of thought) in the heart of EHRC. If it is not true, then it just seems she is inadequate. Either way, given how human rights legislation interferes with freedoms (whether rightly or not), her failure to engage in some of these issues is a serious concern.

  • Anton

    Intelligence isn’t the same as wisdom, Gillan.

  • Anton

    The basic premise should be this: freedom of speech that does not directly incite violence, but not necessarily freedom of political action. When a religion is intrinsically political and bellicose in its scriptures, will it be treated as a religion or as a political movement? That is the central issue.

    • Jon Sorensen

      “freedom of speech that does not directly incite violence”
      So you can’t criticize or challenge *some* religions then?

      • Anton

        I don’t understand you. I advocate freedom of speech that does not directly incite violence, by which I mean that a public speaker pointing at a heckler in the crowd and yelling “Kill him!” should be illegal. If you want a constructive discussion, please give an example of what you think should be legal and you think I think shouldn’t.

        • Jon Sorensen

          If my holy books says that anyone criticizing my religions should be killed, is criticizing my religion inciting violence?

          • Anton

            No. Everybody is responsible for their actions. I should have said “inciting violence against others”.

          • Dreadnaught

            Why should the Koran be given a free pass to incite, direct even, violence and intolerance?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Why are they not entitled for Freedom of Religion like anyone else?

          • Dreadnaught

            You daft or what? Their religion brings with it a totally objectionable culture and legal system they mean to impose on all people in this land. And of course you know muslims who are nice and peacable but they won’t go against the mob to preserve the British Culture or be tolerant of anyone who voices dissent. You turkeys have already voted for Christmas.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So because they have different religion and culture they are not entitle to same Freedom of Religion as Christians. Christians tend to want Freedom of Religion, but only for Christians. Equal right under the law is not a Christian thing according to you I guess. Good thing Christians are not allowed to kill witches and non-Christians any more…

          • Dreadnaught

            ‘Equal Rights’ whatever you mean by that, has nothing to do with Christian theology; that said Sharia and it’s enforcers has no place on the fn planet let alone UK and Europe.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “‘Equal Rights’ whatever you mean by that, has nothing to do with
            Christian theology”.
            That is for sure. And Christians still wonder why they are not seen relevant in modern society.

            Christians seem to keep their eye on being better than Sharia law advocates an wondering why young generation are moving on…

          • Dreadnaught

            Christians never seen to condemn Sharia or recognise that we and Europe are already living under a form of Islamic occupation; they seem to think that all religions have the same benign presence as the CoE and that Islam and the rule of the Raging Mob are a fiction that won’t affect them if the are nice to Islam. Idiots.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Europe are already living under a form of Islamic occupation”
            I feel like Europe are already living under a form of Christian occupation…

          • Dreadnaught

            So that’s why all the Syrians are killing themselves to get in. You even more daft than I gave you credit for.

          • Jon Sorensen

            The are coming here because it is better here than in war torn Syrian. Isn’t that obvious?

          • Anton

            I agree. What Jon raised – although I didn’t initially understand what he was saying – was the case in which someone speaks peaceably against the Quran to a crowd of Muslims, and then finds himself in physical danger.Today he’d get locked up for “hate speech” because that’s easier for the police to do than their duty. I think Jon and I agree about that.

            If the Quran advocates violence against atheists and those verses are read out to a bunch of Muslims facing a bunch of EDL then that should be illegal as incitement to violence.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Why can’t they repeat what their holy book says? Why don’t you like the Freedom of Religion?

          • The Explorer

            Quite right. I support the right of a modern devotee of the Aztecs to cut your heart out and offer it as a sacrifice to the Sun to ensure the world doesn’t come to an end.

            I wouldn’t support his right to do it to a member of my family, or to one of my friends, but fine as the fate for all those who share your presuppositions.

          • Jon Sorensen

            The discussion was not about “right to do” but “right to say”.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, it’s an important distinction. But if you want the right to say it, you probably also want the right to do it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Let’s stay on the topic of freedom of speech and freedom of religion…

          • The Explorer

            “We should talk more about Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion.” Your words. I was talking about both. I’d say I was right on topic.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sorry I didn’t realise you consider to cut someone’s heart out as freedom of Religion issue. My comment above was about speech. “If my holy books says that anyone criticizing my religions should be killed, is criticizing my religion inciting violence”

          • The Explorer

            You’ll be pleased to hear I’m not a believer in the Aztec gods; so cutting out hearts is not my style of worship.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You nicely avoided my question there…

          • Anton

            Depends what the relevant scriptures say. You won’t find any advocacy of unlawful physical violence in the New Testament. I can’t speak for other religions.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You are like many Christians. They only what freedom of Christianity, but not freedom of religion, especially the someone who Christians don’t like.

            “You won’t find any advocacy of unlawful physical violence in the New Testament”
            But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me. Luke 19:27. What was non-violent message in that one?

          • Anton

            That was a character in a story told by Jesus. He told plenty of stories in which the characters were good, bad or ugly.

            I can teach you the meaning of this parable if you wish. Who do you think the character in question is and what do you think its point is?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Yes. Please tell me why the ruler advocated unlawful physical violence, and who ruler symbolises; Jesus, Satan or earthly nobleman?
            And why did Jesus tell this story of someone going a way to receive this kingdom and then coming back to judge people.
            And is it lawful/moral for anyone to slaughter others (untrained bondservants) for bad investment decision?

          • Anton

            You asked to be taught. I’m going to do it by the socratic/rabbinic method. Please read the passage and answer my questions. At the end, you can put your questions again if you would still like.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So I refuted your claim. You won’t give a straight answer but “offer” a Socratic Bible study. Sorry, no thanks. I think I’ve studied that passage enough. Why did I expect a Christian to give a straight answer when refuted….

          • Anton

            Let readers of this exchange decide for themselves whether you asked to be taught and then changed your mind, and what if anything you refuted.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sure. Maybe they won’t even notice that you didn’t respond to my Luke reference…

          • Anton

            What do you mean? The parable whose meaning I offered to teach you was the one you quoted from Luke.

          • Don’t be so proud Jon let Anton teach.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Don’t confuse willing to “teach” with evasion.

            He challenged me with violence passage. I refuted him with Luke 19. He didn’t want to answer that. He offered to “teach” rather than answer with one clear sentense. When people don’t want to give a straight answer there is a reason for it.

            I don’t think he has ever even used Socratic method. If he had he would know that 1) It does not work well between two people educated in that subject and 2) it does not work well online, only in face to face situation. He was just cornered and wanted to avoid facing the facts. He was never going to give his answer…

          • wayne

            Both sharia law and the Koran obligate killing infidels (now inc christians and jews)
            Quote “obligatory to obey, not lawful to disobey.” page 846 the punishment for breaking such a mandatory important law is apostasy and death (beheading)
            Is this ok to promote through freedom of speech?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Bible’s moral law advocates killing gays. It seem to be on par with Quran. Killing seem to be the Abrahamic solution. If we censor one we should censor the other.

            I like the US style freedom of speech, where there are some limits.

          • wayne

            When was the last time a christian killed a gay for being gay. there is a huge difference. I agree with you that this language should be censored.
            However you miss the point the whole point of changing sharia law to OBLIGATE killing all non Muslims is a message of war to its subscribers. Hence the terrorism and attacks world wide. This is just the beginning. ISIS has sent its troops into the EU that’s why the Russians can’t find them in concentrations. They are waiting for the correct timing and they will be backed by Muslims already here and Maybe Turkey. All with Merkels approval

          • Jon Sorensen

            “When was the last time a christian killed a gay for being gay?”
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/04/02/lgbt-homicides_n_6993484.html
            “The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 (previously called the “Kill the Gays bill” in the western mainstream media due to death penalty clauses proposed in the original version) was passed by the Parliament of Uganda on 20 December 2013 with the death penalty proposal dropped in favour of life in prison. The bill was signed into law by the President of Uganda on 24 February 2014.” -wikipedia
            Christians still kill gays in 2015 even if you choose to close your eyes.

            “I agree with you that this language should be censored”
            I would like to see Christians agreeing to censor the Bible…

            Some Muslims believe that Quran Oblicates them to kill people some do not. Some Christians believe that Bible Oblicates them to kill people some do not. What is the difference? Clearly God commanded his followers to kill gays in the Bible, but not all Christians take this command seriously. It’s the pick and choose world.

            So Merkel approved ISIS sending sleeper troops into EU and the Jihad is upon us soon? Well some people take their word of God more seriously than others.

          • Anna

            “Bible’s moral law advocates killing gays.”

            If you are talking about the Christian faith, precisely where does Jesus advocate the killing of anyone? Even the adulteress was spared, not stoned as required by the OT law. The Corinthian church had lots of (ex) gays.

            Abrahamic solution? Where does Abraham advocate the killing of gays?

            You seem to draw no distinction between the ‘Old Covenant’ (which was fulfilled by Jesus) and the ‘New Covenant’, which governs Christian conduct today. Strange!

          • Jon Sorensen

            “If you are talking about the Christian faith”
            There is no such thing as “the Christian faith”. Different Christians believe different things.

            “precisely where does Jesus advocate the killing of anyone?”
            the “I did not come to change the law” bit about moral law.

            “Even the adulteress was spared, not stoned as required by the OT law. The Corinthian church had lots of (ex) gays.”
            Religious people not following their own laws. Nothing new here…

            Abrahamic solution = solution provided by people from Abrahamic religions

            “You seem to draw no distinction between the ‘Old Covenant’ (which was fulfilled by Jesus) and the ‘New Covenant’, which governs Christian conduct today. Strange”
            When the the moral law change? Is God’s moral laws relative to time and place, or unchangeable?

          • Anna

            I will reply to the (one) valid point you raise in your response.

            ‘When the moral law change? Is God’s moral laws relative to time and place, or unchangeable?’

            God’s moral law does not change; the Ten Commandments are as applicable to us today as they were then. There is, however, a difference between the Old Covenant, made with the Israelites (which ran its course with the coming of Christ) and the New Covenant under Jesus Christ.

            In this context, Jesus made 2 things clear: 1. Our ‘morality’ should go beyond an outward application of the law. It is not enough to avoid murder; you should love others and hating your neighbour equates to murder, and 2. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and judgment would come later.

            Christians are not called to enforce our moral laws in society. Within the church, Paul makes a distinction between associating with unbelievers (allowed) and ‘fellowshipping’ with an immoral person who claims to be a brother (not
            allowed). And the punitive actions allowed within the church goes no further than excommunication with the ultimate aim of restoration (when the immoral person repents).

          • Jon Sorensen

            This is the Christian problem. They claim that “God’s moral law does not change”, but some God’s moral commandments have changed. And they never explain how the New Covenant somehow change some [but not all] moral laws.

            The second problem is that the want “the Ten Commandments are as applicable to us today” and have freedom or religion, speech and expression. You can have both, only one of them.

            “Christians are not called to enforce our moral laws in society.”
            Sure, but to have better and more ethical society you need to have better moral system.

            “And the punitive actions allowed within the church go no further than excommunication”
            Sure, so many families have been broken because of this thought crime system. We can do better than that and must.

  • len

    How can any two walk together if they are not in step?.
    More so when we have millions of people in a multicultural, multiracial, multi religious, society?.
    There are no’ ground rules’ that will work for everyone……
    This is the problem with a democracy everything is compromise and there can be no definitive solutions apart from the use of force….
    Mankind is having his last’ throw of the dice ‘at setting up some sort of just society before God steps in and establishes His Rule and Reign before we totally destroy ourselves and His Planet.

  • Don Benson

    Gillan, beware of ‘fine minds’, ‘towering intellects’, ‘two brains’ and every other hyperbole which is used by certain groups of people to raise their particular idols into gods. By definition it could only be lesser minds which promote such sweeping judgements. True, some people are more intellectually gifted than others, but you have to stand very far back from the present time (probably several centuries distant) to arrive at anything like an objective view of what they have contributed.

    On the other hand some people are so clearly muddled that at no distance in time will anyone discern any clear sense from what they say; but that in itself can be enough to convince some people of greatness. I once heard a curate declare: ‘Rowan Williams is
    so clever that it takes him six sentences to say what the rest of us would say in one!’

  • Albert

    The problem though is that human rights aren’t to be kept in the heads of philosophers.

    The deeper problem is that philosophers may believe in human rights and may discuss them, but they mainly don’t have any basis for them. Thus, human rights become divorced from any serious intellectual root in reality and human rights claims therefore just become the power bids of the chic of anyone one moment. But in that world, human rights quickly become used by the majority to oppress the minority…which is the opposite of what human rights are supposed to be about.

    • Anton

      The deeper problem still is that there ISN’T any basis for the notion of human rights.

      The assertion by supporters of the notion is that you have human rights simply by being human. Such people would generally accept that liberty is a human right. Consider someone who commits a serious crime. He deserves jail. But he does not cease being human; therefore he retains his human rights; therefore he should not be deprived of liberty. Supposing that liberty is a human right, there is no error in this logic. Therefore liberty is not a human right. Et cetera.

      With civil rights, in contrast, there is no problem. The State grants them; the State may take them away from persons who break its laws.

      This argument against the notion of human rights has nothing to do with Christianity or any other religion. But Christians and Jews might note that the written Law of Moses is not phrased in the language of rights. We have none before God, and for sinners to insist on them to his face is impertinence. The only right I can find in scripture that God has granted to the whole human race is the right not to undergo a repeat of the Flood.

      Can human rights be derived from the “golden rule”? Perhaps, but not all religions accept that rule. The Quran says that unbelievers should be treated worse than believers. The human rights zealots I know say “it’s self-evident that human rights exist” and I reply “How would you convince a Muslim then”? Answer comes there none. Nor rebuttal of the logical argument I have presented above.

      • Albert

        We have no rights before God, but we have rights before each other. The question for me is whether we can have rights without God (or at least some other metaphysical goodness). It does not seem to me that we can. And that’s why we have human rights conflicts, because such claims don’t proceed from any truth claim.

        I’m not sure that your argument about liberty quite works. No human right is as absolute as that as if it were, it would end up contradicting itself. If we all have the right to be free, then we cannot have the freedom to remove other people’s freedom. Consequently, the right has to be framed in a limited sense.

        • Anton

          Go ahead then – frame it in a limited sense! I welcome the attempt but I believe you will find it runs into the sand.

          As you and I are both Christians, can you derive the notion from the Bible?

          The notion seems to me historically to be a secular analogue of the image of God.

          • Albert

            The notion seems to me historically to be a secular analogue of the image of God.

            There’s some truth in that – in fact, I don’t think the idea makes sense without believing we are made in God’s image. However, as I understand it, rights language developed particularly in the Medieval period. I can’t remember the details, though! In biblical terms, we can see that it if forbidden to murder or steal. The other side of that would be that we have the right not to be murdered and we have the right to private property.

            As for framing rights, this is how the UN declaration puts it:

            Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

            There’s no claim to absolute liberty there – in fact it isn’t defined at all. But as everyone has the right to life and security, it follows that liberty is limited not to include liberty to kill or assault.

          • Anton

            You can find the mediaeval version studied in Brian Tierney’s 1997 book The idea of natural rights. More recently the book Justice: Rights and Wrongs by Nicholas Woltersdorff, a professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale (and unlike me a believer in human rights on theistic grounds), has argued the impossibility of deriving human rights from secular axioms. Neither author convinces me that you can extract the notion from the Bible though.

          • Albert

            I’m sure you’re right that you can’t extract it from the Bible. It just isn’t there. The question for me would be is it a legitimate development (e.g. as the doctrine of the Trinity is a legitimate development)? Much depends of course on one’s attitude to our old friend Mr. Sola Scriptura…!

          • Anton

            I welcome all logical argument but reserve the right to disagree with axioms that don’t follow strictly from scripture. Let differing people have differing axioms; the only thing I deplore is the smuggling-in of axioms. I think philosophers do a lot of that.

          • Albert

            Philosophers do do a lot of that. One of my philosophy teachers, when asked a question like “How did X justify his own position by his own standard?” or “How did he justify his moral stance given his metaphysics” used simply to reply “We’re not allowed to ask him that.”

            Having said that, unless the philosopher already has sola scriptura commitments, he is entitled to bring in other axioms.

          • Anton

            Yes of course.

          • chiefofsinners

            Anton and Albert.
            Thank you for one of the most edifying exchanges I’ve read in a long while.

          • Anton

            Thank you! Let me try another logical argument against the notion. Which human rights trump which when they clash cannot be resolved by logic, because human rights are by definition absolute: as their name implies, they (supposedly) come with being human, like parts of your body. Such clashes show again the incoherence of the concept. In practice, human rights get ranked by the power politics of competing interest groups.

          • Anton

            It is continuing – see above.

        • Anton

          PS Albert – I don’t understand your comment “We have no rights before God, but we have rights before each other.” If we have rights, they are attached to us, and it makes no sense to say that my rights come with me when I am interacting with men but not when I am interacting with God – who was, at one time, a man.

          • Albert

            I wasn’t thinking of God incarnate, I was thinking of God as he is in himself. I think that moral claims, like all claims about goodness, are dependent on the nature of the thing to which the claim is made. Now we are protected from each other by our right to life. But if a lion eats me, he has harmed me, but he has not done anything morally wrong. Of course, we might say that my right to life means someone (e.g. a zoo keeper) has a duty to me to prevent the lion from eating me, but that is a different matter, the simple fact is that the lion has done nothing morally wrong. We cannot say he has been a bad lion, he’s just done what lions do.

            Thus, my right to life really means I have a right not to be killed by human beings. It probably means that they have certain duties to protect my life from other things that may harm me. But it cannot mean that anything that kills me has violated my rights. Consequently, I can have rights against other human beings, but it does not follow that I have rights against God.

          • Anton

            Thanks, but the human rights zealots insist that we have human rights simply by being human. If you consider that you are correct, tell that to them! In that case the lion, by killing you, HAS violated such rights – but as it is an animal no penalty is to be applied to it.

          • Albert

            We do have rights just by being human, but the question is against whom do we have rights? I say it is only other human beings, and that anything beyond that is pretty meaningless. Do human rights zealots disagree? I expect they think we have rights against the God in whom they (may not) believe. But do they really think we have rights against animals? I think that what all this shows is what happens when rights language as with all moral discourse becomes uprooted from metaphysical belief.

          • Anton

            I think it is another example of why the notion is intellectually incoherent. The underlying question is how do we get these rights? If they are attached to us, in what space do they reside?

          • Albert

            I think the notion probably is incoherent on a secular model (but then, I suspect all moral claims are incoherent on a secular model). But I don’t think it is incoherent on a Christian model. Abstract thoughts do not reside in a space, but they are still real. So also the soul. The key move I think is in believing we are made in God’s image. The image does not reside in a space (even a reflection in a mirror may be said to reside in some kind of space), but it is still real.

          • Anton

            By space I didn’t mean physical space; I was using mathematician’s terminology. The scale from deep happiness to deep unhappiness is a one-dimensional space, for instance.

          • Albert

            Ah! I am no mathematician! Bur yes, I think we are probably agreed, that human rights discourse is probably meaningless in a secular context.

          • Anton

            Actually there is a Christian argument against the idea of human rights. Bad things happen to people even though God is all-powerful and good because God gives people choices between good and evil, and they habitually choose evil. God is not the one responsible for the hurt caused to people; other people (or Satan) are. But if God has given us human rights then, because he is all-seeing and all-powerful, he is able to safeguard those rights moment-by-moment, unlike the State which can only punish violators retrospectively. Since God evidently does not safeguard them, he shares responsibility for their violation. The Bible roundly condemns those who do nothing in the face of injustices they could prevent. So any Christian who believes in human rights should condemn God as a gross human rights violator. This blasphemy follows unavoidably from Christian belief in human rights. Ergo, they don’t exist.

          • Albert

            This argument only works if one assumes, as I don’t, that our having human rights obliges God.

          • Anton

            Who else gave them to us?

          • Albert

            They stem from the nature of what it is to be human. But that does not mean they oblige God.

          • Anton

            He gives them to us and then violates them? Why then give them to us?

          • Albert

            You can only violate a law if it applies to you. The law of human rights does not apply to God, therefore God does not, indeed cannot, violate it.

          • Anton

            Wait till Jesus returns!

          • Albert

            You’ve misunderstood me, I think. I mean if God does not care for his creatures, he is not violating the law of human rights, as that law does not apply to him in the first place. In other words, I am defending God’s total sovereign freedom. At the same time, I am saying that that freedom is entirely consistent with our human absolute human rights, because I take the latter to apply only against each other.

          • Anton

            I reject the concept of having human rights “against” other beings, whether other humans, lions, god the Father or God the Son. The very etymology says we have them (if we do!) simply because we are human.

          • Albert

            I don’t think that’s true. I right implies a responsibility to someone else, thus they cannot exist in the abstract, as it were. Thus animals do not have responsibilities for us, and we do not have rights against them. They stem from our equality, and since we are not equal to God, they do not apply against him (together with about another 100 reasons!)

          • Anton

            “[A] right implies a responsibility to someone else, thus they cannot exist in the abstract, as it were.”

            That’s my line!

          • Albert

            What I mean is that they are fundamentally relational. A human right isn’t a kind of thing that exists somewhere about the person, like a kidney. It stems from the dignity of the human person, which prevents someone else, with the same dignity, treating the person as if they had less dignity.

          • Anton

            The Law of Moses is phrased in relational terms and I emphatically support that way of looking at things. But I find it logically incoherent to say that “human rights” are fundamentally relational. The concept is such that you supposedly have them for no other reason than being human. The fact that you can’t draw on them when you are alone is irrelevant. This is why they don’t exist, and God seems to agree as he is a bottom-line author and Mosaic Law is not phrased in terms of rights at all. Not even in terms of rights-and-responsibilities, but in terms of relations.

          • Albert

            But I find it logically incoherent to say that “human rights” are fundamentally relational. The concept is such that you supposedly have them for no other reason than being human.

            But human beings are fundamentally relational, so I don’t see the problem here.

            The fact that you can’t draw on them when you are alone is irrelevant. This is why they don’t exist

            No, it just means that there is no one there to supply or violate them (although a person who commits suicide violates his own right to life).

            and God seems to agree as he is a bottom-line author and Mosaic Law is not phrased in terms of rights at all. Not even in terms of rights-and-responsibilities, but in terms of relations.

            I’m not sure how much you can infer from the Mosaic law, after all scripture says So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. I think there is a theological and a historical point here, in other words, God’s choosing of revealing his will by law was to do with the immaturity of humanity at the time. As scripture says again For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities. So we may say that OT law defends human rights, and provides the foundation for them (imago Dei), but is not the language by which God expresses these things. By the same token, I would not say that human rights language is the last word. We may well come up with something new to defend what was once defended by law.

          • Anton

            I still think you are making my point for me in your first comment immediately above, but not making the logical next step of saying that HRs can’t therefore exist. We’ve made our positions clear to readers so perhaps that will do.

          • Albert

            I’m not making that logical step because I don’t think that logically follows. But perhaps you’re right that we have exhausted this discussion for now.

  • Martin

    To start with, it is my impression that Theos isn’t a Christian organisation as such, They may think but their thought does not seem to be governed by the Bible as a Christian organisation should be.

    The problem with rights is that one man’s rights impinges on another’s so perhaps we should not look at rights so much as duty. But it is, of course, so much harder to legislate that way. It seems that Baroness O’Neill is so afraid of sticking her neck out that she chose the option of being vague and leaving it all up to the judges, who have taken upon themselves the position of legislators. I’d agree with IG, the sooner we leave the ECHR the better. We have the benefit of common law which those Europeans do not have.

  • jsampson45

    If the EHRC has *policy* then who elected it?

  • ‘She hasn’t come to a firm conclusion on some’ that’s because they – modern human rights laws are the product of the minds of left wing fantasists who desired to cause
    societal chaos, by going against nature and destroying what is good
    and normal in society. Just proves the Equalities and Human Rights
    Commission needs to be scrapped along with the Human Rights Act 1998
    and the European Convention of Human Rights. We need to revert back
    to the standing of 1997 pre Labour government and uphold freedom of
    speech and Christian values as our guide.

    And isn’t fox hunting an act not a belief or a religion?

    • IanCad

      It seems that some participants act as if it is their religion. Three days a week. Good for rural economies.
      It’s more vocal opponents most certainly are religious. They are generally of a caste that believes in their own perfect righteousness. Foxes First!

      • Albert

        Foxes second, actually. For many in the opposition, the right to abortion comes first. Such a strange, confused world.

        Before anyone misinterprets – I wouldn’t be seen dead near fox hunt.

        • And yet if left unchecked foxes will kill little children too.

          • Albert

            As I said, I wouldn’t be seen dead near a fox hunt, but I don’t know enough about the topic to support a ban.

      • That’s pushing it a bit really! To some fox hunting is an act of kindness and to others an act of cruelty, and never the twain shall meet. There are natural cycles where one group is stronger than the other and influences legislation.

        Religion is worshiping almighty God not a fox or anything else earthly for that matter. It’s a spiritual thing. People have become confused and strange.

        • James Bolivar DiGriz

          “Religion is worshiping almighty God not a fox or …”
          Not in employment law, see
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8368934/Foxhunting-views-placed-on-par-with-religion-after-landmark-legal-ruling.html

          That is about him winning teh right to sue on this basis, the only piece about the result that I could find is this
          http://www.bindmans.com/about-us/case-study/joe-hashman-v-orchard-park-garden-centre-others

          • I remember reading about the Clarisa Dixon-Wright verdict on anti-hare coursing belief, bonkers if you ask me, and about Mr Hashman an active hunt saboteur from the age of 14 and a life long member of The Hunt Saboteurs Association. Although he
            said not, what was to say he didn’t deliberately get himself employed by the farmers who were active fox hunters in order that he could trap them as he carried on working for them after he recognised the farm’s manager as a hunt terrier?

            Some of these animal rights activists are extremists and adrenaline junkies too, and as we know extremists are to be found in all sorts of groups, they need to be recognised as such and quietly ignored. Mr Hashman said himself that he was “thrilled” and “amazed” his case was heard and that the judge listened to him. Yeah I bet he was too. I question the Judge Lawrence Guyer’s sanity and the Employment Equality Regulation 2003
            (Religion or belief) – another of Labours disruptive nonsense that
            he was following.

            And as for all these weird and wonderful beliefs it seems anyone can say they have a belief in anything and make a claim against someone else who doesn’t hold to the same beliefs and receive a large amount of compensation.

            If you can afford it you can subscribe to Equality Law Reports Michael Rubenstein Publishing for more info.

    • Jon Sorensen

      “We need to revert back to the standing of 1997 pre Labour government and uphold freedom of speech and Christian values as our guide.”
      You mean the time there were blasphemy laws?

      • Royinsouthwest

        We have de facto blasphemy laws today.

        • Jon Sorensen

          We do. It is a Christian tradition.

      • IanCad

        It is blasphemous to aver that the promotion of homosexuality is not in the public interest. Also to suggest that Islam is the spawn of Satan.
        Absolutely verboten is it to suggest that girls get upset and cry. As Sir Tim Hunt has discovered.

        • Jon Sorensen

          “Also to suggest that Islam is the spawn of Satan”
          We should stick with evidence not assertions.

          Truly sad story about poor Sir Tim Hunt. Some vocal atheist social justice warriors are also to blame 🙁

      • I felt so sorry for Sir Tim Hunt. That shouldn’t have happened in a supposedly civilised society.
        What we have now is worse. We are not allowed to blaspheme against homosexuals and their behaviour, women and the feminist movement, voice our support of traditional marriage and anti-abortion without the possible threat of being taken to court and punished, and or loosing one’s job. The old blasphemy laws against the God, The Bible, Jesus, Christianity and the Church were tame in comparison.

        One could still speak out and publish stuff that was anti God, Jesus, Christianity etc.. as long as it was done in an intelligent, academic way using temperate language. This to me was ideal as it allowed for constructive criticism.

        • Jon Sorensen

          “What we have now is worse.”
          No. Just no. Remember for centuries gays were killed and ostracised. And remember Churches in most countries can still discriminate when hiring people.

          “We are not allowed to blaspheme against homosexuals and their behaviour”
          Why would you criticize the homosexuals? They are humans too.

          “voice our support of traditional marriage”
          You mean original polygamy, non-interracial marriage, non-age limited where parents decided who to marry. Or the modern redefined monogamy?

          “The old blasphemy laws against the God, The Bible, Jesus, Christianity and the Church were tame in comparison.”
          Nonsense. Christians used to kill people for blasphemy or heresy.

          “One could still speak out and publish stuff that was anti God, Jesus, Christianity etc.. as long as it was done in an intelligent, academic way using temperate language”

          So now you want censor criticism while your book advocates killing gays and some non-Christians. This is the nonsense double standard Christian want to protected their religion. If your book advocates killing gays, you should tolerate gay books advocating killing Christians.

          • No I do not want to censor criticism at all. Christians have a love the sinner loath the sin philosophy. I criticise homosexuals because they want to indoctrinate innocent children and lower the age of consent to 14 and they don’t allow anyone to criticise them in any way for this which is wrong.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “No I do not want to censor criticism at all”
            Great. because “as long as it was done in an intelligent, academic way using temperate language” didn’t sound like it.

            “Christians have a love the sinner loath the sin philosophy.”
            It probably feels like it in a Christian bubble. But if you ask these gays who are target of Christian “love” you’ll get the truth which is not pretty.

            “I criticise homosexuals because they want to indoctrinate innocent children and lower the age of consent to 14”
            Gays don’t “indoctrinate innocent children”. That’s what religion do.
            Gays don’t want to lower the age of consent to 14. Some gays do some gay don’t. Just like some Christians do and some don’t.
            Remember there is no age of consent in the Bible. And the consent was from your father…

            “they don’t allow anyone to criticise them in any way for this which is wrong”
            Nonsense. You just made this up and try to make a group of people look bad based on couple of individuals actions.

          • You twist or misunderstand what I’m saying Jon. Christian religion gives people a choice, they are free to believe what they have learnt or not to believe it and to question it.
            The Biblical scripts used in conjunction with scientific discoveries are valuable in providing us with history.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Christian religion gives people a choice, they are free to believe what
            they have learnt or not to believe it and to question it”
            I think you have never left a religions. If you leave you will be treated differently. It has been a Christian tradition to shun, excommunicate and kill heretics. Only modern times have reduced this.

            “The Biblical scripts used in conjunction with scientific discoveries are valuable in providing us with history.”
            This is a Christian myth. No scientific discovery support Jesus’ story.

          • Of course Jesus existed. Science is discovering and revealing with each tiny step a bigger picture of how life was in ancient Biblical times and it ties in with what is written in scriptures.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Just because we have life stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Hercules and Mithras it does’t mean they existed. Just because we have life story of Jesus it does’t mean he existed. People personified their heavenly heroes all the time. You have been taught and are now convinced that Jesus existed just like Hercules followers were taught and were convinced that Hercules existed.

            What archeology has shown that there was nobody living in Nazareth before 70AD it only had some old Jewish tombs. Of course archeology reveals a bigger picture of how life was in ancient Biblical times (well after David’s time), but there is no archeological or scientifical evidence of Jesus and his team.

          • Anton

            The documentary evidence is better that Jesus existed than that Julius Caesar existed.

          • Jon Sorensen

            LOL. Nonsense. That is a lie and a Christian Myth. Even the documentary evidence is better for Caesar. Not even mentioning archeological evidence.
            http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/7862

            The documentary evidence might be better that Osiris existed than that Jesus.

          • Anton

            Even regarding the New Testament as just another ancient document the evidence is stronger. The earliest copy we have of Caesar’s Gallic Wars is from around AD900, a thousand years after the man, and we have about a dozen copies. Of the New Testament we have hundreds of copies of parts from the first three centuries after him. And he is mentioned in Josephus.

            The documentary evidence might be better that Osiris existed than that Jesus.

            Then again it might not be. Would you care to firm that up? It would be good if you would either verify the statement or retract it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “The earliest copy we have of Caesar’s Gallic Wars is from around AD900, a thousand years after the man”
            Yes. Christians had little interest preserving non-Christian history. This should hardly used against that document.

            “we have about a dozen copies [of Caesar’s Gallic Wars]. Of the New Testament we have hundreds of copies of parts from the first three centuries after him.”
            We have millions of copies of Harry Potter. It does not make it any more credible. We also know writing fictional stories of Jesus was a cottage industry with tens of fake letters and Gospels.

            “he is mentioned in Josephus.”
            Jesus was not mentioned by Josephus. We have early Church father testimony of that. Our current version is from a 11th century manuscript. Even Catholic encyclopedia agrees that Christians chance the text. In fact Christians were so upset that Jesus was not mention anywhere during his time they had to forge him in to history. Shows how they tried to historizise Jesus myth.

            Plutarch’s “On Isis and Osiris” gives a neutral point of view of Osiris belief of his time and a bit of history of that religion. He is not advocating that religion, and is clearly more credible writing than Gospels. Of course that does not make Osiris real.

          • Anton

            How you shift ground! Christians were deeply concerned to preserve the history of ancient Rome, first because it persecuted them and then because a politicised version of Christianity took it over. Rome was also the vector of transmission of ancient Greek thought to Europe, and mediaeval European theologians were (regrettably IMHO) as concerned with philosophy as theology. In particular, Thomas Aquinas is in many writings a Christian commentary on Aristotle. To say that Christians had no interest in the classical world is utterly false.

            You are deliberately ignoring the temporal gap of nearly 1000 years between Caesar and the earliest surviving copy of his Gallic Wars, and the gap of less than 1/4 the duration between Jesus and the earliest surviving documents referring to him. How inconsistent, then, that you deploy that this sort of argument regarding Josephus! (And the copies we have of him, albeit long after the events, do mention Jesus and don’t take the Christian view of him.)

            You are choosing criteria that suit you for what is “neutral”. That is improper literary-historical methodology.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “How you shift ground!”
            How?

            “Christians were deeply concerned to preserve the history of ancient Rome”
            By burning libraries, banning non-Christian books and making Roman religions illegal?

            “first because [Rome] persecuted them”
            Another Christian myth. Read Rodney Stark or
            The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom by Candida Moss
            And early Christians and Roman never heard about Nero’s “persecution”.

            “To say that Christians had no interest in the classical world is utterly false.”
            I didn’t say “no interest”, but little. That’s why we very few manuscripts of Caesar, but thousands of NT.

            “the temporal gap of nearly 1000 years between Caesar”
            So? It’s not like Caesar religion wanted to continuously change their documents. Nobody had incentive to change the content of Gallic Wars like we see the continuous theological changes in NT.

            You don’t seem to have a problem with 1000 gap in Josephus. You nicely ignore that.

            “And the copies we have of [Josephus], albeit long after the events, do mention Jesus and don’t take the Christian view of him.”
            True. But we know that original copies did not mention Jesus. And we know Christian added that to Josephus to try to historizise Jesus. And of course forgers knew Josephus was a Jew and wrote accordingly.

            “You are choosing criteria that suit you for what is “neutral”. That is improper literary-historical methodology.”
            Not so. If there are changes in a document over time, we need think who had the incentive, means and motivation to change the document and why. If you study the book of Mormon which has a lot of changes over the years (perhaps relative more than NT), have a think about why those changes happen in that religious text. You can compare this to old Mormon non-religious documents and you’ll see the big difference. Why do you think religious documents always have relative more changes than non-religious?

          • Anton

            I’m happy for readers to judge for themselves whether you shift ground. Again you make assertions but don’t back them up with decent evidence.

            Yes, gentile Christians wished to preserve the culture they had come out of; they simply wished to Christianise it and show it was better than before. That they used political means is not something I support, by the way.

            Scholarship has now shown that the conventional account of ten periods of persecution before Constantine’s ‘conversion’ experience is over-simplistic. Some of these were local to certain areas. But to say persecution is a myth is to show yourself up. Here is a decently sourced article (Christian and non-Christian writers) showing that there was certainly persecution from Nero’s time to Diocletian’s:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Christian_policies_in_the_Roman_Empire

            Regarding the rest of your comments, I am willing to dispute with you on the basis that Christian documents may not be more reliable than non-Christian ones, but I am not interested in dealing with arguments that simply mistrust Christian ones because they are Christian.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “I’m happy for readers to judge for themselves whether you shift ground.”
            Great. The judges here love me 😉

            “Again you make assertions but don’t back them up with decent evidence.”
            I guess that is better [if I did it] that when I tell you your Church father told us that Josephus did no have Jesus passage in his time – you keep on repeating Josephus claim.
            If I missed some evidence let me know.

            “Here is a decently sourced article (Christian and non-Christian writers) showing that there was certainly persecution from Nero’s time..”
            Nero’s persecution is a myth. Nobody even knew about Christianity in Rome at the time. Remember even early 2nd century educated Roman rules had never heard of them.

            Note the wikipedia Christian bias:
            “Tacitus records (Annals 15.44) that Nero was rumored to have ordered the fire himself, and in order to dispel the accusations, accused and savagely punished the already-detested Christians.”
            Remember Roman didn’t know Christians in 60s *and* Tacitus does not mention “Christians”. Yet another Christians forgery that Christians are now repeating…

            “I am willing to dispute with you on the basis that Christian documents may not be more reliable than non-Christian ones, but I am not interested in dealing with arguments that simply mistrust Christian ones because they are Christian.”
            Nonsense. I don’t “simply mistrust Christian ones because they are Christian”. Read my comments. I mistrust them because we see all the changes and Church father quotes.

          • Anton

            I’ve better things to do than debate with people who are not in good faith. If you are as happy as me that readers may judge for themselves from our dialogue to this point then we agree about something.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Whenever I provide evidence Christians tend to get upset and accuse me of “not being in good faith” and not even fact check or comment. No wonder myths continue to exist and grow when Christians believe in good faith…

          • Anton

            I am happy for readers to look at that Wikipedia page on persecution and decide for themselves whether it was, as you said, a “myth”.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I have no problem with that either. Just remember it is written by Christians, and I pointed out an error there that you didn’t bother to look or check. I sure Christians will keep on believing the are/were persecuted. It’s part of their story.

          • Anton

            You haven’t the faintest idea who that page is written by and there will be plenty of people like you keeping it up to scratch. That’s the great thing about Wikipedia.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So why do think wikipedia links Tacitus and Christians when the original text does not have “Christians”?

          • Anton

            Your question is too compressed for me to understand.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sorry. Wikipedia article connects Tacitus and Christians. Originally Tacitus did not have a word “Christians” in his writing. Why do you think Wikipedia omits it?

          • Anton

            Tacitus was contemporary with the Great Fire of Rome and here is an English translation of the relevant part of his Annals:

            http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.11.xv.html

            Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome…

            If you are suggesting that this is a later insertion into what Tacitus actually wrote, please provide some evidence.

          • Pubcrawler

            There’s a lengthy and useful discussion of that passage and its authenticity in Robert Van Voorst’s Jesus Outside the New Testament, pp. 41–53.

          • Anton

            Thank you; Voorst is mentioned in this Wikipedia article on the relevant paragraph in Tacitus:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

          • Pubcrawler

            You’re welcome. It’s a decent book, though not without its flaws. But his discussions on this, and on the Jospus passage are particularly detailed and informative.

          • Jon Sorensen
          • Anton

            Discussed here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ#Christians_and_Chrestians

            Hardly a big deal given that Jesus’ real name was Joshua! Consonants matter far more than vowels.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Who do you think Chrestus followers were 1st century BC?
            http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26972493/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/earliest-reference-describes-christ-magician/

            They were more famous than Jesus followers at the time.

          • Anton

            The dating is not inconsistent with Jesus Christ at one end of the error bars. Also I’d like to know the technique by which it was dated; can you provide that info, please? Finally, “Christ” (and obviously also the variant “Chrest”) means “anointed” in Greek. (“Jesus Christ” simply means “Jesus the anointed one”.) So it could refer to any “anointed magician”.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “”Christ” (and obviously also the variant “Chrest”) means “anointed” in Greek.”
            This is not the case. Those are different words not variations;
            http://biblehub.com/greek/5543.htm
            http://biblehub.com/greek/5547.htm

            So even if the dating would make it to the middle of the first century, it would not make it refer to Jesus for two reasons. Christians would have known how to spell their God’s name and we don’t tend to find any archaeological finds of religions during their early days because of the small number of followers. You can check this by trying to find a the first know Christian archaeological find.

            So we can be fairly sure that there were Chrestou follower long time before Jesus followers

            Note how the article I linked nicely omits the crucial “E” when mentioning “DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS” when the writing on the bowl is actually “DIA CHRESTOU O GOISTAIS”.

          • Anton

            I meant that “Chrest” obviously means “Christ” in Tacitus’ writing. If you read the Tacitus passage then it makes no sense if the word is translated as “useful”. For why he might have got the vowel wrong, remember that he wasn’t a Christian, and see Pubcrawler’s explanation above that begins “A thought on pronunciation.”

          • Jon Sorensen

            “I meant that “Chrest” obviously means “Christ””
            I don’t think so. Remember we don’t have his original copies and early church fathers did not know Nero’s persecution. Strange isn’t it?

            “Pubcrawler’s explanation above that begins “A thought on pronunciation.””
            Sorry. I don’t see it. But Strong disagrees with him.

          • Anton

            If you came here by clicking on “Reply” then you won’t see it – some software foible. Come to this EHRC article of Cranmer’s afresh and scroll down to it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Thanks. I see it now. pubcrawler answered to you.

            He presented a scenario that is possible but I don’t think it is likely. He tries to find an explanation why Tacitus would use a wrong word. Why would he call followers of Messiah useful-followers not Messiah-followers? I think something else is going on here.

            And we have evidence or pre-Jesus Chrestus religion,

            One more consideration is that when ever we have multiple copies of any early Christian text we’ll always find forgeries in them (more or less). So if I was a betting man I would bet that text following Chrestianos is later addition just like we see in Josephus, Gospels, Ignatius’ letters, some Paul’s letters. All of them show similar additional texts.

          • Anton

            There is the issue of pronunciation, as has been pointed out. I’d also like to know the method of dating on that Alexandrian artifact.

            The striking thing about the early New Testament fragments we have is how well they agree. The discords are minor in comparison.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I don’t get the “pronunciation” issue as it was a letter.

            I don’t know how Alexandrian artifact was dated. Bowl usually have organic material so carbon dating would be interesting. It hard to find additional info for that item 🙁

            “The striking thing about the early New Testament fragments we have is how well they agree. The discords are minor in comparison”
            Except the many theological changes later Christians added. I agree 99% changes are minor, but 1% is still a lot and completely changes Christology and some main event in the Bible. And we see the development of Christology; James -> Paul -> Didache -> Luke -> John -> forgeries – all have a different progressive take

          • Anton

            Re pronunciation, any letter might have been written by its author on the basis of oral reports.

            If carbon dating, it is less accurate than it thinks. Have a look at the discrepancy between the three laboratories that dated the Turin Shroud. They all put it late mediaeval (so it’s a fraud, as I have to tell some Catholics and fundamentalists) but the random error that each laboratory puts on its estimates is smaller than the difference between their estimates. For another thousand years back, I wouldn’t trust it to within a couple of hundred years.

            Please tell me how the changes you believe have been made completely alter Christology. If you have the Comma Johanneum in mind then the Trinity is explicit at the end of Matthew’s gospel, while Jesus’ acceptance of Thomas’ comment “My Lord and God” would have been met with stern rebuke if Jesus did not regard himself as divine, and this passage is not contended to my knowledge. What else, please?

            The Didache is straight Law rather than Grace and clearly should not be n the NT. John certainly has a different perspective from the synoptic gospels but where is he inconsistent with them?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “random error that each laboratory puts on its estimates is smaller than the difference between their estimates.”
            These were usually 1-sigma errors which is 68% confidence interval. They could have used 95% or 99.7 confidence confidence intervals / standard deviations and results would overlap.

            Have you noticed how trinity in the end of Matthew’s gospel is never quoted like that by early Church fathers and we have manuscript evidence of that alteration. Funny how in so many places last couple of sentences have so much late theology! That is also contradicted by Acts formula. There are so many other that I can’t make a full case but here are some without all the evidence; James attended the temple and he did not consider Jesus as God. Paul’s Jesus become God on resurrection. Luke was adoptionist Luke3:22 but this was changed. Check the original Eucharist formula from Didache – nothing like modern meaning. Then check Luke’s Eucharist – its a patch work. GoJ has too many seams… So many theological changes in the second century…

          • Anton

            They probably are 1-sigma errors (I’m a physicist) but that doesn’t affect my point that the radiocarbon dating of something from about 2kyr is not to be trusted on whether something is BC or AD.

            Explain any of those things in more detail with evidence and I’ll gladly respond. Remember that people change their mind about Jesus upon converting.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Like I said, even if they are dated 1st century AD it does not chance anything for reasons I wrote above (which you did not respond). It’s would still not make it a Jesus cup, Jesus was not from “GOISTAIS” anyway.

            “Remember that people change their mind about Jesus upon converting.”
            I only referred to Christian writings, not pre-conversion writings.

          • Pubcrawler

            My observation concerns pronunciation, the date of a particular sound-shift, transliteration and false/popular etymology. Basic philology, with a little palaeography to garnish.

            Had you read your first link to Strong to the end, then you would have found this:

            “[“Xrestus (“useful, kindly”) was a common slave-name in the Graeco-Roman world. It “appears as a spelling variant for the unfamiliar Christus (Xristos). (In Greek the two words were pronounced alike.)” (F. F. Bruce, The Books of Acts, 368).]”

            Strong and I are in harmony.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Yep. It does not get much more conservative than F. F. Bruce. During his time there were no archaeological evidence for Chrestou religion and they needed to explain where Chrestus references came from. Merging two words doesn’t seem to be the best explanation.

            Why would Tacitus call followers of Messiah useful-followers not Messiah-followers?

          • Pubcrawler
          • Pubcrawler

            A thought on pronunciation. It is entirely possible that the eta of ‘chrestos’ was already being pronounced [i] in the first century in Rome, as it is in Modern Greek; it certainly was in Athens not long afterwards (W. Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca: The pronunciation of Classical Greek, p. 71). So the ‘vulgus’ of Rome may have called them ‘chrestiani’ (as reported by Tacitus), perhaps hypercorrecting or reinterpreting in the context of the familiar word ‘chrestos’ (‘useful’); but Tacitus, not wishing to be so euphemistic about this dangerous cult (and perhaps with access to official information that no longer survives), corrects them by calling the founder ‘christus’. (This accords in part with Voort’s interpretation.)

            (I’m sure I could have expressed that more simply and elegantly were it not Friday night and if I were a little more sober, so I beg your indulgence.)

  • IanCad

    No such problems over the pond. O Sure! The forces of political correctiveness are out there, but religion remains pretty much unhampered. Say what you want, exclude who you want. Threaten no man; Obey the law. So far, so good.

  • chiefofsinners

    Humans do not need rights. They need mercy and grace. The only God-given right is given to those who believe: “the right to be called sons of God”.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Perhaps you would care to explain how any democratic society can function without some generally accepted rights.

      • chiefofsinners

        Democratic, no. That is begging the question. But for a society that functions without rights, the church would be a good example.

      • Watchman

        You seem to be holding up democracy as the ideal in the governance of a population when some of us believe it one one of mankind’s worst ideas. Where is your biblical mandate for democracy and is it not possible to have human rights outside a democracy? King David was described as a man after God’s own heart and ruled his people justly (apart from one well documented incident). Can we not have a man after God’s own heart today who would rule justly without all the messy corruption of democracy?

        • Royinsouthwest

          Very few people would want to live in a theocracy. England was never a theocracy but even so intolerance of dissenting views on Christianity was one of the reasons why people sailed to start a new life in the American colonies.

          • chiefofsinners

            I know what you mean, Roy and I do agree with you. Democracy is probably the least bad way of governing our present society and democracy requires rights. My point is that Christians should be more concerned with the growth of the kingdom of God, in which there is no charter of rights. The people around us need mercy and grace more than the need human rights.
            The secondary point is that human rights are not derived from God, or from any authority. They are therefore never going to be logically consistent with the world as we find it, nor even with themselves. We should not be surprised to find the muddle which Gillan describes in this article. It’s just another example of the failure which always results when mankind tries to put himself in the place of God.

  • wayne

    Pass this on to the right people. check it for yourselves. Recently (admittedly I haven’t nailed the date) the Muslims secretly changed Sharia law. Source ‘Reliance of the traveler’ revised edition. They have abrogated irreversibly Christianity & Judaism to Infidel status. Furthermore any cleric/believer that disagrees is apostasised & killed. Discussion and consideration on the matter are equally forbidden with the same punishment. Making it irreversible. It goes on to OBLIGATE the killing of all non Muslims. Quote “obligatory to obey. Not lawful to disobey.”
    It explains that this was written in English “so there can be no misunderstanding”. And the whole thing is underscored with this to show its importance. “On this matter there is no disagreement amongst Islamic scholars”. Meaning that 56 Islamic countries & Palestine signed up to it. I have questioned many Muslims on this subject and they have all refused discussion and employed subject.change strategy.
    With millions of young military aged Muslims pouring into the EU from countries we have recently destroyed I would suggest this is taken extremely seriously & with urgency.
    Reliance of the traveler~ revised edition page 23 & page 846

    • sarky

      I notice you’re all over the Internet with your crank theory.
      Fortunately visitors to this site have half a brain cell and will treat this with the contempt it deserves.
      Don’t you have a rock you need to crawl back under?

      • The Explorer

        If it isn’t true yet, according to Islamic prophecy it will be at the time of the Mahdi. The Islamic Christ who accompanies the Mahdi will abolish the jizya. Why? Because there will be no need for it. Only Islam will be allowed.

        Whether you or I believes Islamic prophecy is not the issue. The Issue is whether or not the Muslims do.

        • sarky

          And when christ returns only christianity will be allowed. Same meat different gravy. You all have your plansfor world domination.

          • The Explorer

            Absolutely right: guess where Islam got the idea from? But quite irrelevant to the point that Judaism and Christianity have infidel status in Islamic prophecy. The issue is whether that infidel status is in the future or has already happened.

          • sarky

            And for how many centuries have christians given islam infidel status?

          • The Explorer

            You are answering a question that has not been asked. Wayne did not compare Christian and Muslim attitudes to other religions. He confined himself to Islam and said, rightly or wrongly, that Judaism and Christianity now have infidel status. I find this plausible, given IS’s proclamation of the Caliphate; but if it isn’t true yet, one day, in Islamic thinking, it will be.

            To say that Christianity is equally to blame for thinking itself true, and other religions untrue when they differ from it, is a perfectly reasonable point to make. (Although if Christianity should happen to be true, what else would it be supposed to say?) The question then is how you treat the adherents of other belief systems, and whether you are entitled to kill them for believing the wrong thing. There is no sanction for this in the New Testament (although historically it has been done in the name of Christ) whereas in the Qur’an there is.

          • CliveM

            I find it implausible. Not because IS might not do it, but as Islam doesn’t have a central authority, or even a single authority, the idea that one person or body of persons can universally change sharia law seems improbable.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, it’s a good point. There are serious divisions in Islam, as far as I can see. The Muslim Brotherhood, as I understand it, won’t accept IS’s universal Caliph because they want the universal Caliph to be one of them.

          • wayne

            That’s ignorance, Islam has protected Christians in its warped way only slaying those who insulted the prophet or other such transgressions. Infidels do not require a break of sharia law to be killed they are killed legally by whim.

      • Dreadnaught

        Serious question. Why is it a ‘crank theory’?

      • wayne

        Well let’s hope you take ten minutes to look at the ‘reliance of the traveler’ revised edition where it is written in black and white legal doctrine . I wouldn’t be all over the internet trying to wake people up if it wasn’t true. You would have also seen. Google a free copy from any Islamic website.
        So please keep your ock and I question your motive are you a muslim? Or do you have political motives?

    • CliveM

      Who is this Central Islamic body with the authority to do this?

      • wayne

        The OIC- ‘Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’ lead by the heads of 56 states including palestine and their representatives. They have a shadow seat at the UN and have UN conventions that are sharia law. “Cairo declaration for human rights in Islam” uses Sharia as its source and nothing else. It is used for UN Anti terrorism laws. And explains why the MSM and our heads of states won’t use the word terrorist as in Sharia law a Muslim cannot be called a terrorist for killing infidel. & protects Islam from being smeared (exposed).

      • Manfarang

        There isn’t and has never been a unified Sharia law. The sharia is “long, diverse, and complicated”.No single body can abrogate part of it.

    • Anton

      Muslims regard themselves as not free to rewrite the Quran – which is the origin of the distinction in Islam between Jews and Christians (known together as “people of the book”), and non-monotheists (“infidels” – pagans and, today, secular people).

      The problem for Christians is that the Quran faces two ways. In some verses Christians have the special status of “people of the book” and are simply to be treated as untermensch, i.e., forced to pay a tribute tax and forbidden to proselytise; whereas infidels who do not convert to Islam freely must undergo enforced conversion or be put to death. But other verses deny that Jesus was divine, meaning that Christians are regarded as worshipping a mere man, ie paganism. There is simply no consistency and a Muslim ruler can choose whichever face he likes at any time. Perhaps you have been told a garbled version of a shift from the former to the latter face. It is hardly surprising that a Muslim, asked directly, would not explain these things in accurate detail.

      • wayne

        This isn’t second hand, this is research I have done. “It’s called reading”

        Secondly this is not in the Koran it is in the “Reliance of the traveler revised edition” the de facto Manual for Sharia LAW. As for interpretations it makes it completely understandable and goes on to explain that it was written in english “so there can be no misunderstanding”. It states any cleric who disagrees is apostasised and will be killed.

        Quote:- Page 846 “reliance of the traveler” revised edition

        “Previously revealed religions were valid in their own eras as is attested to many verses of the Holy Koran, but were abrogated by the universal message of Islam, as is equally attested to by many verses of the Koran. Both points are worthy of attention by English-speaking Muslims, who are occasionally exposed to erroneous theories advanced by some teachers and Koran translators affirming their religion’s validity but denying or not mentioning their abrogation, or it is unbelief (kufr) to hold the remnant cults now bearing the names of formerly valid religions, such as “Christianity” and “Judaism,” are acceptable to Allah Most High after He was sent the final Messenger. This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars.”

        Regarding the last line “This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars.to explain it’s importance”

        Quote:- Page 23 “reliance of the traveler” revised edition

        When the four integrals of consensus exist the ruling agreed upon is an authoritative part of Sacred Law that is obligatory to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can Mujtahids of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new ijtihad, because the ruling on it, verified by Scholarly consensus, is an absolute ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.”

        Notes
        Page 846 is has a blue underscore at the bottom which cannot be found on any other pages??? Can be found in every revised edition from multiple sources

        Ijtihad (Arabic: اجتهاد ijtihād, “diligence”) is an Islamic legal term that means “independent reasoning” or “the utmost effort an individual can put forth in an activity.”

        A mujtahid (Arabic: مجتهد‎, “diligent”) is an individual who is qualified to exercise ijtihad in the evaluation of Islamic law.

        Crystal clear!!! In fact if you don’t understand it you are apostasised & killed.

        I hope this puts your GARBLED smoke blowing theory back in the bin where it belongs

        • Anton

          You need to read the Quran, not a summary of just one of the four schools of Sharia Law – all of which must be consistent with the Quran. Here is where to read five English translations, some by Muslims, some by Western scholars:

          http://prophetofdoom.net/Qurans.Islam

          Q4:157 denies the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, so that Christians are liable to be accused of worshipping the creation and accused of being tritheists in view of the doctrine of the Trinity and categorised with pagan polytheists. For forced conversion of pagans, see Q9:5. Other verses back these two up; I have simply given the most telling.

          That Christians and Jews are “people of the book” (ahl al-kitab) is at Q3:110,113 (this sura or chapter is largely about Christians), and that they must pay the jizya tribute tax (protection racket) is at Q9:29.

          There is no consistency in Islam, because the Quran wavers as to whether Christians are monotheists or polytheists, and because Muhammad changed from a man of peace in Mecca to a man of war in Medina. Muslims go by the later-revealed verse, unfortunately; but they have never been able to deal with the fact that contradictions exist in a book purporting to be the word of an omniscient god. This lack of consistency is doubtless why there are multiple schools of Sharia Law.

          I salute your whistleblowing. There is an existential threat to Europe here. But it is necessary to be accurate about the opponent. That includes understanding his scriptures and traditions, so that any single book (such as Reliance of the Traveler) can be set in its context. Otherwise, Muslims are able to accuse whistleblowers of getting their facts wrong and discredit them.

          • wayne

            what part of “on this matter there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars”

            Not to mention:

            When the four integrals of consensus exist the ruling agreed upon is an authoritative part of Sacred Law that is obligatory to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can Mujtahids of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new ijtihad, because the ruling on it, verified by Scholarly consensus, is an absolute ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.”

            is hard for you to understand? Please explain. Perhaps I need to type slower for you?

          • Anton

            You are simply ignoring my points where they contradict you, and responding with insults instead of arguments. I’ve nothing to add.

          • wayne

            Glad you replied Anton. 2 points
            Let’s assume your warped taqqiya view that only 1 Islamic school of the 4 are obeying the new dictat despite the legal black and white evidence espousing unity on this matter. That would be by some measures 500 million people obligated to kill all non muslims.. Then there is the fact that the other 3 schools have not warned western society as they attempt to fill up the west with Muslims where 1 in four have this religious obligation.
            But it isn’t 1 in 4 it is a decision made by 56 Islamic countries including Turkey and Palestine

          • Anton

            Your viewpoint and mine could be reconciled under the following scenario. Suppose that scholars in one school of sharia (shafii’i) have decided that the Quranic verses calling Christians polytheists who worship something they believe is part of the creation (Jesus of Nazareth) as well as the divine creator, take precedence over the verses calling Christians “people of the book”. That would mean Christians are categorised along with pagans as people to be converted at swordpoint if necessary, rather than people entitled to pay the jizya tribute tax (protection racket).

            The question then is who made this decision (ie did they have authority), and when. To make this scenario plausible you would have to answer those questions, provide verbatim quotes from the Reliance of the Traveller and state the publisher and year of publication. Preferably you would provide a comparison with earlier editions A tentative explanation of why some of the ex-terrorists who have become committed Christians have not mentioned this would also be welcome.

            You think I’m a Muslim in disguise because I’m contending with you. That is not so. I simply want adequate standards of evidence. I regret that you respond with insults. You are, obviously, not obliged to do what I ask, but it is the way you will convince others.

          • wayne

            Of course if it was innocent it would not be made secret with apostasy and death. If you seek proof I agree with what you say but you can just ask a Muslim and enjoy the dodging and Taqiyya, you might also care to check out what is happening in Sweden and the immigrants marching through Germany telling them their time is nearly up as they get stronger everyday. Or see the evidence with your own eyes as 90 % so called refugees are young men of military age.

          • Anton

            You’re preaching to the converted about the existential risk to Europe. It is because of taqiyya that there is no point in asking Muslims about Islam; it is necessary to read what they read. To make your original claim stick, we need verbatim quotes from different editions of Reliance of the Traveller giving page nos, publishers, and year of publication.

          • wayne

            I have a problem sourcing the different editions as I entirely agree to these arguments weakness Anton, I did source an older version RelianceOfTheTraveller-TheClassicManualOfIslamicSacredLawumdatAl-salikByAhmadIbnNaqibAl-misri which does not hold the change of abrogation, but I couldn’t find a date of printing.

            The difference when asking Muslims about Islam is… on this issue they aren’t allowed to use taqiyya because that would take 1. discussion & 2. consideration I have questioned many Muslims on this, they deny its validity so I invite them to discuss as to why Christianity has been abrogated in Sharia law.. Never had an answer. I had enticed a certain Mr Anwar from Quillion organisation into a cordial discussion and brought this up, he disappeared very swiftly (twice) in other words he is obeying Sharia law. Right now I’m fighting the good fight another way and it is taking up all my time. I am more than willing to except any help shoud you like to help.

          • Anton

            One would have to look at whether Quilliam’s actions match its words of moderation. A militant organisation that is lying and using taqiyya would speak exactly the same words as a genuinely moderate organisation. I know little about Quilliam other than that they are named after the first English convert to Islam in the 19th century and were founded by a Muslim called Ed Husain who entered and then rejected Islamic militancy and wrote an autobiography about it.

            There are no limits on taqiyya – Muslims are permitted even to deny Allah under duress (Quran 16:106)

          • Anton

            There are no limits on taqiyya – Muslims are permitted even to deny Allah under duress (Quran 16:106).

            Could you post the relevant passages from the edition of Reliance of the Traveler that you have read, please?

          • wayne

            Wrong Anton, Ive tested this many times, They can’t taqiyya this subject because they are forbidden to consider it on pain of apostasy, Taqiyya takes consideration, It’s a chink in their armour and one that can be used against them

          • Anton

            Please post the relevant passages from the changed edition of Reliance of the Traveler that you summarised.

          • wayne

            Will do. When I get home today

          • wayne

            http://www.islamicbulletin.org/free_downloads/resources/reliance2_complete.pdf
            Page 846 (use a page search which gets you to the ball park area then just page manually to P846 same with P23
            I have checked other sources of the revised edition and they are the same.

            Good luck, let me know, and if you need me to answer anything.

          • Anton

            Thank you for the reference. What I read on p846, though, and on p848-9, is the usual Islamic view that Judaism and Christianity are distorted versions of the truth about the one Creator God. It is on that basis that Jews and Christians are categorised as people of the book, a category (theoretically!) permitted to live and practice their religions in Islamic lands provided that they keep a low profile and pay a tribute tax, the jizya. It is non-monotheists who are to be converted to Islam, on pain of death if necessary. We can settle this easily enough, as your original post stated that They have abrogated irreversibly Christianity & Judaism to Infidel status. Furthermore any cleric/believer that disagrees is apostasised & killed… It goes on to OBLIGATE the killing of all non Muslims. Quote “obligatory to obey. Not lawful to disobey.” What page is that on, please?

          • wayne

            apostasised & killed it is unbelief (kufr) to hold the remnant cults now bearing the names of
            formerly valid religions, such as “Christianity” and
            “Judaism,” are acceptable to Allah Most High after He was sent the
            final Messenger. This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars.” P846.. Basically if anyone rejects or refuses to point out that Christians and Jews are now infidels they are non belivers kufr, infidels and we know what happens to them.

            “This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars” means that it is a consensus”

            Quote:- Page 23 “reliance of the traveler” revised edition

            When the four integrals of consensus exist the ruling agreed upon is an
            authoritative part of Sacred Law that is OBLIGATORY to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can Mujtahids of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new
            ijtihad, because the ruling on it, verified by Scholarly consensus, is an
            absolute ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.”

            You should watch this video he explains it better than I can

          • Anton

            It is indeed unbelief (kufr) in Islam to insist on Christianity or Judaism, but that does not alter the fact that Islam regards there as being two categories of people who are non-Muslims, namely “people of the book” and outright pagans, and they are to be treated differently – as the passage on p607 makes explicit. This page says in so many words that Christians and Jews are to be allowed to live in Islamic lands on payment of the jizya tribute tax and if they keep a low profile. I accept that – unfortunately – no such distinction is made in many cases; or often that jizya is extorted until the Christian is impoverished at which point he is executed, but I don’t agree that this edition of Reliance of the Traveller recategorises Jews and Christians. What is your understanding of the passage on p607?

            Can you give me the start time of the relevant part of that YouTube video, please?

          • wayne

            Are you a Muslim Anton?

          • Anton

            If you’ve read any of my posts here about Islam or those stating my own faith explicitly then you’d know the answer to that: No. I am an evangelical (and not a liberal) Christian. I believe, however, in doing my homework.

            Have you read the Quran (in any language)?

  • Jon Sorensen

    I have to agree with Gillian Scott. We should talk more about Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion. In many countries The Satanic Temple of New York has had problems setting their church up, even in some western countries. They face discrimination and demonstrations. They should be treated as every other religion. thesatanictemple.com

    • The Explorer

      It may be like France’s long resistance to McDonald’s: people don’t like the New York bit. It smacks of American cultural imperialism.

      PS: His name’s Gillan.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Good point. We should still them a fair go…

  • IanCad

    From Freedom of Religion must follow Freedom of Speech.

    The excellent Roger Scruton presented his views on the subject this AM on the BBC.

    Here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06j6byb

  • David

    The inability to address specific cases, as described here, is either due to a reticence to speak for legal reasons, or because high sounding ethics and philosophy based ideas of “rights” are very difficult to apply to real world cases, achieving at least reasonably satisfactory levels of justice for all concerned. More factual, pragmatic rules, laws or at least guidelines, as we see in English Common Law, are far easier to apply. Interestingly The Bible, in both testaments, tends not to give high principles but teaches by specific examples, from which approximate principles can be, with great caution, distilled. I greatly prefer the more factual and pragmatic approach.