Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Boycott Sweden!

Despite the general hotness of their women, Sweden is now on my shitlist! Apparently, "freedom of religion" as a basic human right doesn't translate into Swedish these days. According to LifeSite:

The government of Sweden has announced it will be banning any religious activities in schools except for those directly related to religion classes. It is also directing that in religious education, religious ideas must not be taught as though they are objectively true. A columnist in the UK’s far-left Guardian newspaper has urged Britain to follow suit, implying that Britain’s Catholic and Jewish schools are a terror threat...

The rules will make it illegal even for faith-based schools to teach that religious doctrines are objectively true on the grounds that this would be “prosetylising”. Prayer, including religious services or assemblies, will remain legal, as long as no teacher in a classroom teaches that there is any reality behind it...

Included in the proposals was a pledge that the Swedish National Agency for Education will double the number of inspections for both private independent and state-run schools. Schools will also be required to report their funding sources. Schools that fail to adhere to the new standards could face fines or even government-enforced closures. 67 elementary schools and six high schools have a religious confessional orientation in Sweden. The new rules will require Parliamentary approval and are set to come into effect in 2009.

To make matters worse, this idea has picked up support in both Britain and the United States. (Be sure to read the comments. There are some voices of reason but they are few and far between.) This is just one source, a quick Google of the issue leads to far too many sites supporting the decision and "wishing" or suggesting that the policy should be taken up in the UK, US, worldwide etc.

As I've stated ad nauseum, I'm a firm believer in the separation of church and state, both to protect the state from the church and to protect the church from the state. I'm also a firm believer in the first amendment (which admittedly doesn't apply in Sweden) for the very reason that it prohibits the government from both establishing religion and interfering with its practice. These principles are, in my humble opinion, central to the preservation of pluralistic free societies and vital to the protection of human rights.

To say that I'm sickened by this development would be an understatement.


Blogger Canardius said...

From what I remember, Jefferson and the other deists were key on separation of church and state to protect the state from the church; having overthrown one overly possessive ruler, they didn't want anything else like it in is place. So out went anything enabling the monarchic monolithic Church to rule the people.
Even the compromise of intelligent design [which I like] falls to this liberal interpretation of the First Amendment, since Congress shall not establish anything remotely resembling a state religion. If one is going to tell the state it has no business saying anything about God, Allah, Jehovah, Zeus, or whatever Deity you want, then the state can't take any sides at all. Or even say there is a side. Even discussing if there is a god [much less which one is best] is unlawful.

There was a Supreme Court case not long ago by an atheist arguing about that. The merits of the case were not considered; it got put off by the presenter not being custodial parent of his child on whose behalf he was suing about a religion-in-school issue.

If Sweden were to remember Gustavus II and be staunch Lutherans, well that violates rights of Catholics.

Religion is based on faith, not objective truth. [Yes, thank Paul's letter to Hebrews for that].

5:50 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Well, Duck, it's a bit more complicated. If you handpick a few founding fathers, you'll find they did want to protect the state from the church. But if you look at all the groups and people influential in lobbying and getting support for the 1st amendment, including religious dissenters like the Baptists, you'll see how and why it was intended to be a two way protection.

You see, when government funds religion, it often goes about manipulating and controlling it. Doctrine becomes set not just by the heavenly power (and our best guesses at what that is) but by earhtly powers with ulterior and not necessarily sanctified motives. And, of course, religious dissenters' rights are curbed.

As for the atheist case, that was specifically to get the "under G-d" part taken out of the pledge. Mr. Newdow did not have standing for 2 reasons: 1. non-custodial parents don't have the right to sue on a child's behalf and 2. his child was being raised as a Christian by her mother.

The problem I have with Sweden, in addition to the fact that it partially funds faith-based schools to begin with, is that it is using this funding to undermine religious freedom. If you're going to partially fund faith-based schools which are OPTIONAL alternatives to secular municipal schools, it's a bit much then to decide that the school can't teach that there is a G-d even in religion class. Also, schools are allowed to teach any other pseudoscientific or ahistorical claptrap they want as long as it isn't "religion." Framing it in terms of ensuring "objective truth" is just political nonsense.

"Objective truth" of course, is bullshit. Although there may be objective truths, our ability to weed out what those are is so limited as to be laughable. Even through science, the overwhelming majority of information produced is false.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

OOps. I should point out for those who don't know me as well as you do that I don't support govt. funding of faith-based education or teaching religious doctrines in school, except perhaps as part of a survey of other cultures. (It should be about "defining" what particular religions are not assessing their validity.)

2:32 PM  
Blogger Canardius said...

Part of my arguement went without saying that there is, as Aristotle would probably agree and Plato would underline, there is an Objective Truth out there, a Capital-T Truth. And if it is there, there should be a way to find it, even a the chances of finding it are on the order of my dating Jessica Biel.

My history leanings tend on the church's "two swords doctrine" Pope Gelasius I sent to Emperor Zeno: there are two swords, one spiritual one civil. With how French Revolutionaries and American REvolutionaries wanting Republics after reading Cicero in universities, I figured we were founded to not be a Papist state. And we'd reject Rome's pagan auguries and other divinations of Divine will since Christ said not to do that [as did Samuel when Saul tried it].

I mention the atheist's case simply because its merits were not decided, only standing. So he COULD have had a point as a matter of law.

as for teaching pseudoscientific claptrap, some do still mention poor old Lamarck and others who we know are now incorrect. AS Turtullian said on the idea of reason in religion and the mixing of the two, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"

And we still haven't figured out who finds the Objective Truth better --- Plato or Aristotle.

9:52 PM  

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