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Police Report in Case of 17-Year-Old Girl Who Converted to Christianity and Doesn't Want to Return to Her Muslim Family:

From the AP:

The police report, which was ordered sealed for 10 days by a Florida judge, contains the results of a two-week investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into Rifqa Bary's family and her home life....

The FDLE report is "favorable" to Bary's parents and "indicates there is no evidence out there whatsoever to corroborate these accusations," said Roger Weeden, an attorney for Rifqa Bary's mother, Aysha.

Weeden was cut off from saying any more about the report because it has been sealed....

The case is headed for a trial in which the judge will hear testimony and decide whether Rifqa Bary should be returned to [her parents]....

More on the case in this earlier post. Naturally, if the court concludes that the girl's claim that she is in jeopardy — a claim contested by her parents — is not supported for the evidence, she needs to be returned to her parents. To be sure, her own statement may be sufficient evidence, if she testifies credibly enough, and explains why she should be believed. But if indeed a police report uncovers no corroborating evidence, and the parents testify credibly, a judge would be unlikely to believe the girl unless her testimony appeared extremely persuasive notwithstanding the parents' contrary statements and the absence of supporting evidence from the police report (if the police report indeed reveals such an absence of evidence). Parents' rights can't be permanently abrogated simply based on allegations -- as opposed to proof by clear and convincing evidence -- even if those allegations echo what some of those parents' coreligionists may have done in other cases.

UPDATE: I initially wrote that, "Naturally, if there's no evidence other than the girl's claim — contested by her parents — that the girl will be in jeopardy, she has to be returned to her parents' custody. Parents' rights can't be permanently abrogated simply based on unsubstantiated allegations, even if those allegations echo what some of those parents' coreligionists may have done in other cases." But on reflection I realized that this was an overstatement, and corrected the post accordingly.

rick22 (mail):
Can a person be convicted of rape based on just the victim's unsubstantiated testimony? Isn't the standard for a criminal conviction higher than the standard to abrogate parental rights? The standard to terminate parental rights is "clear and convincing" evidence.
9.4.2009 1:46pm
GainesvilleGuest (mail):
Naturally, if there's no evidence other than the girl's claim -- contested by her parents -- that the girl will be in jeopardy, she has to be returned to her parents' custody.

If I had my druthers, we'd give substantial weight to the views of the child...not because her allegations have any basis, but because a 17 year old ought to have a lot to say about whether she wants to continue living with her parents. But, that's not the law right now.
9.4.2009 1:49pm
Tim McDonald (mail):
If the girl was 15, I would agree. But a 17 year old girl living in the situation is more likely to be aware of possible danger than any investigator after two weeks.

SEVENTEEN. Sometime in the next few months, she can quite legally walk away. Why not let her go now and avoid the possibility that she will be hurt/maimed/killed, as the Koran clearly authorizes in her case?
9.4.2009 1:49pm
The River Temoc (mail):
The person whose actions should be in question in this case is not the father, but the pastor of the Christian church who enticed her to run away.

Imagine the outcry if a Muslim cleric lured a typical white high school student into running away. We'd be hearing about "dhimmitude" from the anti-Muslim brigade in a second.
9.4.2009 1:52pm
Off Kilter (mail):
"Parents' rights can't be permanently abrogated..."

The legal system can easily drag this case out until the girl is 18, so in this case it seems these rights CAN be permanently abrogated.
9.4.2009 2:05pm
yankev (mail):

the pastor of the Christian church who enticed her to run away.
The reports I read suggest that she contacted him after she had already run away or at least had decided to do so.
9.4.2009 2:07pm
guy in a veal calf office (mail) (www):
"Parents' rights...."

Are those enumerated or codified somewhere? That's an area where individuals, other individuals, &society at large intersect in an almost impossible to regulate way and i'd love to see what's been decided.
9.4.2009 2:14pm
guy in a veal calf office (mail) (www):
Incidentally, BlogAds interpreted my visit to this page to mean that I might be interested in marrying a muslim.
9.4.2009 2:17pm
JSS (mail):
The Ohio authorities are in a much better position to assess her family situation. She is a cheerleader at her high school. Apparently her muslim parents let her wear a short dress and jump up and down in front of a buch of strangers at school events. Does that appear radical to you????
9.4.2009 2:18pm
LessinSF (mail):
Just get emancipated. This isn't rocket science.
9.4.2009 2:21pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
@Tim McDonald

For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

Lev. 20:9

We should be taking almost all teenagers away from Christian and Jewish homes to avoid the possibility that they be killed, as the Bible clearly authorizes in their cases.
9.4.2009 2:23pm
PersonFromPorlock:
The River Temoc:

Imagine the outcry if a Muslim cleric lured a typical white high school student into running away. We'd be hearing about "dhimmitude" from the anti-Muslim brigade in a second.

True enough, but I doubt we'd be hearing of the white high school student's fear of death at the hands of his family. Moral equivalence goes a little way in your hypothetical, but only a little way.
9.4.2009 2:27pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Emancipation certainly seems like a solution to this, if there's actually a problem and not just teen angst acting itself out on a large stage.

The tapes of the girl's examination by police is due to be released next week; the statement by her guardian ad litem shortly after. Perhaps we can wait until we have some actual information before we leap to conclusions?
9.4.2009 2:27pm
Aultimer:

Tim McDonald

Why not let her go now and avoid the possibility that she will be hurt/maimed/killed, as the Koran clearly authorizes in her case?

You're kidding, right? Or would you advocate that we start locking up Jews who've had an eye put out on the grounds that they'll possibly take the Torah literally?
9.4.2009 2:28pm
David Friedman (mail) (www):
I agree with GainesvilleGuest. Discussions of these issues routinely assume that the only alternatives are parental authority or state authority--that either parents have custody over minors or the state takes the minors away and assumes the parental role. It's worth considering the third option, especially for minors close to legal adulthood--giving kids authority over themselves if they want it.
9.4.2009 2:29pm
Ken Arromdee:
We should be taking almost all teenagers away from Christian and Jewish homes to avoid the possibility that they be killed, as the Bible clearly authorizes in their cases.

If there was a rash of actual cases where teenagers were killed by parents who pointed to this Bible passage, and a teenager claimed she feared being killed for this reason, wh should consider the possibility.
9.4.2009 2:31pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
The FDLE has an agenda--they want the girl back with her parents, and have decided to whitewash the mosque in order to make that happen.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the mosque they attend has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood--one of the most violent and extreme Islamic groups in the world.

Her parents chose that extremist mosque--that says nothing good about them.
9.4.2009 2:49pm
Borris (mail):

Parents' rights can't be permanently abrogated simply based on unsubstantiated allegation

Never dealt with Child Protective Services have you?
9.4.2009 2:50pm
Steve:
In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the mosque they attend has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood--one of the most violent and extreme Islamic groups in the world.

I don't even have to click the link. I know what "has ties to" means in the context of an Internet argument. Six degrees of separation, this girl's parents and Osama bin Laden.
9.4.2009 2:54pm
NotMyRealName:
"Parent's rights", to the extent they exist, should normally protect against government action -- not protect against the child. The purpose of providing parents with "rights" should be that they benefit the child. Usually the best way to protect the child's interests is to protect the parents from government interference. That consideration is not operative here, so the very concept of "parent's rights" should not apply.

When you have a 17-year-old child who expresses the view that her own interests are not best served by delivering her back to her family, then it seems unreasonable for the government to insist it knows better and force her somewhere she doesn't want to go and somewhere that isn't in her interests.

That may not be what the law says today (I don't know), but it still sounds like an unfortunate outcome.
9.4.2009 2:59pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Rick22: Thanks very much for your comment; I now realize that my original post overstated matters, and I've revised it accordingly.

LessinSF, John Burgess: I'm not an expert on emancipation law, but I'm pretty sure that parental rights principles apply there, too -- a minor can't be emancipated unless the parents consent, or unless there's clear and convincing evidence justifying the abrogation of parental rights.
9.4.2009 3:03pm
rc:
EV earns an internet point for not only noting the update, but noting what he corrected.

And if you collect fifty internet points, you can redeem them for a plastic jumping frog, or bubble gum!
9.4.2009 3:15pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
I'm with Rothbard: by leaving she has "homesteaded" herself and is no longer the property of her parents. We don't need to evaluate whether she's honest and her parents are bad, she can decide herself.

"Muslim Brotherhood" covers lots of groups. They were a major threat in Syria before the siege/destruction of Hama and have spawned a number of terrorist groups. However, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood seems to have avoided violence and are merely political islamists pushing for free elections through which they can enter parliament. The result might be "one man, one vote, one time", but for now they're the sort of group George Soros &Gene Sharp use to turn ex-communist countries into fiefdoms of the State Department :)
9.4.2009 3:15pm
rc:
'course, Rick22 also gets an internet point for convincingly correcting a blog post.

Whew! The points are flying like crazy today!
9.4.2009 3:17pm
Mark N. (www):

LessinSF, John Burgess: I'm not an expert on emancipation law, but I'm pretty sure that parental rights principles apply there, too -- a minor can't be emancipated unless the parents consent, or unless there's clear and convincing evidence justifying the abrogation of parental rights.

I think some states give considerably more leeway, but probably not in ways that apply in this case. Some states will heavily weigh de-facto living-as-if-emancipated for older teenagers, so children 16+ who are already living apart from the parents and financially self-sufficient will be more likely to be allowed to continue doing so if they wish, even over the parents' objections, and without evidence of parental malfeasance. Not sure how many states have such an approach; part of the difficulty in researching it is that statute isn't that helpful of a guide to what actually goes on in typical cases (e.g. whether something that a court "may" permit is usually permitted or usually denied).
9.4.2009 3:20pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc: Where do I redeem my internet points?
9.4.2009 3:25pm
Colin Macdonald (mail):
Curious that someone on the brink of her 18th birthday can be returned against her will to her parents. Certainly here in bonny Scotland you're a legal adult at age 16, free to marry without parental permission.
9.4.2009 3:27pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Most of the comments on this case cast more light on the bias of the commenter than on the facts of this case.

On another subject, I don't know enough about jurisdiction in child custody cases to comment on whether Florida courts even have jurisdiction to hear the case. I'd be interested in seeing a thoughtful comment on that.
9.4.2009 3:30pm
Grumpy Old Man (mail) (www):
Bizzare and probably futile to return a 17-yr. old who really doesn't want to be returned.

Let her get a job and be emancipated.
9.4.2009 3:30pm
guy in a veal calf office (mail) (www):
If we're handing out points, how about love for OG Greedy Associate LessinSF? OG means from the Yahoo board days, when we were all pining for salary bumps to 125k. Good times, good times.
9.4.2009 3:33pm
Monty:
If this case does reach a conclusion before she turns 18, and if it does result in the court returning her to her parents, what would happen if she had a violent 'outburst' after hearing, and 'randomly' committed a misdemeanor assault on someone eager to press charges. How long would that take to work its way through the court system?

Alternatively, what if she made it to the Canadian border somehow, how long would a frivilous (or not depending on your veiw) asylum claim take to sort itself out in a canadian court?

Hopefully the judge will just drag thier feet a bit, its another month till a pre-trial hearing, how long till she ages out?
9.4.2009 3:35pm
mischief:
In Florida, IRRC, you need your parents' permission to be emancipated. She should have picked a different state.
9.4.2009 3:38pm
Dudeman (mail):
I am opposed to government interference in the parent/child relationship. However, the statement "my parents are going to kill me," does give cause for such intervention.

I suggest actually following the link, wherein is located the affidavit by the young lady in question along with a brief by her attorney. Notable is the assertion that her father asked if she was baptized (an affirmative act making one an apostate of Islam from which there is no turning back.)

If she is returned to her family, I'm sure nothing will happen to her in the U.S., but when she is sent home to "visit family"……….

Florida should have jurisdiction because the child is present there (even if temporarily.) Also, she has requested to stay and usually a child over 12(ish) can petition a court for protection.

Because of her age, this action may be "permanent," but this issue here is properly construed as temporary custody. This is not a termination of the parents' rights case, which has a heightened level of due process (above the normal civil case) and in some instances may have a "reasonable doubt" burden (as in ICWA).

Finally, parental rights are not terminated (abrogated) based on the allegations of the child. Parental rights are terminated due to the failure of parents to comply with a dispositional order after a finding that (1) the child is in need of protection and services, and (2) the child has been placed out of the home for a period of time (at least six months.)
9.4.2009 3:39pm
Kenny Powers:
Given what the Hadith says should be done with apostates ("Whoever changes his religion, kill him") I'd say she is in fact in jeopardy if she stays with her parents.
9.4.2009 3:46pm
rc:
einhverfr: rc: Where do I redeem my internet points?

You mail them. To the internet. Just be sure to incluse a self-addressed, stamped envelope and allow six to eight weeks delivery.
9.4.2009 3:49pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Borris: 1!
9.4.2009 3:58pm
ArthurKirkland:
Another example of how religion causes at least as much bad as good in our world (or any other).

I could understand a decision that places the child in the custody of the state. I could understand a decision that returns the child to her parents. I do not understand how the child is permitted to spend another minute with Pastor Blake Lorenz. If police using forensic techniques were needed to trace the child to the pastor, it appears the pastor was unlawfully harboring the child. That type of violation of the law -- secretly harboring a minor without notifying the authorities or parents -- seems adequate to disqualify the pastor from being in the vicinity of that child, without the parents' permission, until the child is no longer a child.

I suspect the parents are focused on custody of the daughter at this moment. When the dust settles, however, they might be entitled to focus on having the pastor taken into custody.
9.4.2009 4:13pm
Tim McDonald (mail):
Oh yeah. If a 17 year old Muslim girl from a Christian family ran away and said she feared her family would kill her if she was returned, then I absolutely support helping her stay away.

SEVENTEEN. Err on the side on caution. In a few months, she could leave anyway.

And by the way, you should use the Old Testament to argue about Jewish parents, Jesus and the apostles were much more tolerant. Paul, not so much, but certainly moreso than Moslems and Jews.
9.4.2009 4:18pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This is one reason I and many of my fellow liberals are more skeptical than a lot of conservatives are about "rights" of parents to raise their kids in particular religions, or to send them to religious schools or homeschool them.

The problem with such rights is that they can crash headlong into the religious freedoms of children, including the religious freedom to reject their parents' views as a bunch of BS.

Obviously, as a matter of reality, parents have plenty of leeway to teach religion to their kids. But that doesn't mean that it is something that should be protected or favored by public policy. The state interest is in exposing kids to lots of points of view so they are in a position to reject their parents' viewpoints.
9.4.2009 4:22pm
rc:
Concerning the proper assignment of internet points:

Since the points are flying like crazy, now's a good time for me to consult the Internet Stylebook (hardcover edition, of course).

"Shorthand for the assignment of internet points includes an identifiaction of the assignee, a colon or single space, and an incremental indicator. Example: "John Smtih +1". Variations exist among lawblogs ("Smith, John: +1") and tech sites ("John Smith++"), although the general rules still apply."

It should also be noted that I've never, never encountered someone earning more than one point at a time. Even Al Gore, the inventer of the internet, earned a singular point for his accomplishment. Later, he earned two points for sending Bill friggin Clinton to save his internet journalists from North Korea... but that's still just one point per high-profile rescue.

So let's not get cocky out there.
9.4.2009 4:29pm
rc:
"ArthurKirkland: Another example of how religion causes at least as much bad as good in our world (or any other)."

I get your point. Not only has this newspiece disproven the value of religion in this world, but also invalidates religion in every parallel universe! And on mars.

On the other hand, lots of commies (for example) are atheists, and they still have rebellious children. The kids are all stealing the family pushcart for a night on the town. The next morning, "Oh my math! My parents are going to kill me!"

Personally, I find this topic interesting. How should the law handle 'my parents are totally going to kill me,' when the kid claims that her parents actually are going to totally kill her?
9.4.2009 4:41pm
LessinSF (mail):
guy in a veal calf office:

Aw, thanks. You can find a few of us still at http://www.lawtalkers.com .
9.4.2009 4:57pm
yankev (mail):

We should be taking almost all teenagers away from Christian and Jewish homes to avoid the possibility that they be killed, as the Bible clearly authorizes in their cases.
Regardless of your cute tries at a facile moral equivalence, Muslim girls in the US have been killed by their families for behavior that the family views as un-Islamic. This tells us nothing about Ms. Bary's family, but it does mean that your comparison is not apt.

It is even less apt because the Jewish religion does not say what you think it says on this point. Jewish law is never taken directly from the Bible without first viewing it through the Talmud. You will never understand the Jewish religion if you refer solely to the Bible. You need to look at the Talmud to know what the Bible is talking about. (Even if you don't think so, the Jewish religion thinks so.)

So, when you look at the textual analysis, here's what the Talmud tells you. First, the Jewish law applies only to sons, not to daughters. Second, the child is subject to this law for a very short time -- between the onset of puberty and its completion. So the average 14 to 17 year old is well past the risk of this law. Third, there is no execution unless, during this window, the boy robs a traveler of money sufficient to buy a given quantity of meat and wine, buys them with the money and immediately consumes them. Fourth, both parents must be living, neither of them may be deaf and neither of them may be lame. If I recall, there are more requirements as well.
The sages concluded that because of these many technical requirements, the case of the rebellious son never occurred and never would. Why then, they ask, was the law given? So that you can study it and earn reward.

If you analyze the verses, you will see the basis for all of these requirements. Whether you believe the sages were correct or not, the fact is that Judaism does. And by the way, other sections of the Talmud point out that Jewish courts cannot impose capital punishment unless the majority of Jews are then living in a sovereign Jewish nation in the Land of Israel, and that the court must be composed of specially qualified judges, of which I believe there are none today.

Therefore the risk of capital punishment is nil.

Someone more familiar with Christian law will have to speak to your statement about Christianity. Your statement about Judaism is based on surmise, not on fact.
9.4.2009 4:58pm
yankev (mail):

For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
Sorry, did not read your post closely enough. But still true that Jewish courts cannot impose capital punishment today, nor can they impose it outside of the Land of Israel. Also, the verse refers to cursing with one particular name of G-d, which no one today knows how to pronounce, so neither the substantive nor the procedural prerequisites are capable of occurring.
9.4.2009 5:02pm
EMG:
I find it interesting that the state can tell anyone capable of having a persistent opinion on the matter whom they have to make their home with. What's the logic there? I can distinguish a negative right not to have the state break up your family from a positive right to commandeer the resources of the state to force your family members to stay with you against your will. You may think the latter right is valid, but it's not just the same as, or a trivial consequence of, the former. And if it's possible for there to be such a right as the latter, I wonder if there are any principled reasons - as opposed to a mere shift in social mores - why we no longer think that men have it over their wives.
9.4.2009 5:05pm
yankev (mail):

Or would you advocate that we start locking up Jews who've had an eye put out on the grounds that they'll possibly take the Torah literally?
Yeah, that's happened a lot. A no Muslim girl has been killed by her parents in the US for becoming too Western.

Again, that does not furnish reliable guidance to what any given Muslim family is likely to do, but can we drop the silly attempts at moral equivalence?

And by the way, you should use the Old Testament to argue about Jewish parents,
No, you should use the so-called "Old Testament" to argue about what people who know nothing about Jewish law THINK that Jewish parents may do. Use the Talmud, the Rambam, the Shulhan Aruch and the Poskim to discuss what Jewish parents may do.
9.4.2009 5:09pm
DennisN (mail):
Grumpy Old Man:

Bizzare and probably futile to return a 17-yr. old who really doesn't want to be returned.


That's my take on it. I'd make a different argument here, if she was 15, but there has to be some practicality to the process. There's not much more stubborn than a willful child. I'd be out the window and over the fence so quick, there would be a sonic boom.

Assuming there is no true threat, I think a fair argument can be made that, at this point in the girl's life, forcibly returning her to her parents would be more injurious to the child, and to the long-term family relationship, than letting her stay free. Broken families do reunite, and the fewer burned bridges to repair, the easier that happens.
9.4.2009 5:40pm
DennisN (mail):


So, when you look at the textual analysis, here's what the Talmud tells you. First, the Jewish law applies only to sons, not to daughters. Second, the child is subject to this law for a very short time -- between the onset of puberty and its completion. So the average 14 to 17 year old is well past the risk of this law. Third, there is no execution unless, during this window, the boy robs a traveler of money sufficient to buy a given quantity of meat and wine, buys them with the money and immediately consumes them. Fourth, both parents must be living, neither of them may be deaf and neither of them may be lame. If I recall, there are more requirements as well.


Doesn't he have to be whistling "Dixie" at the time, also?
9.4.2009 5:43pm
Suzy (mail):
Not sure what the fuss is about. Sounds like the authorities are doing roughly what you'd expect and prefer: investigating to see whether the girl's claims should be believed, or whether there's not enough evidence for that and she should be returned to her parents. However, is the mere fact that the Koran is their religious text enough evidence to conclude she's in danger? Of course not, how silly!
9.4.2009 5:46pm
EMG:

Doesn't he have to be whistling "Dixie" at the time, also?


While hopping on one foot.
9.4.2009 5:47pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

I would agree with you that the pastor ought to be investigated in this case. However, prosecuting has its own problems. It would, for example, provide an incredible soapbox for sounding the sorts of paranoia that some on this forum endorse, for example. Given the relative harms involved, I would probably hope prosecution is ruled out as an option.

All of our First Amendment freedoms work together to ensure an exchange of ideas. Arresting a pastor for what he would claim to be a crime of conscience, where he might be able to raise such a defence (depending on State Constitutional considerations) strikes me as a greater public nuisance than the behavior itself.


rc:


You mail them. To the internet. Just be sure to incluse a self-addressed, stamped envelope and allow six to eight weeks delivery.


Ok. Handed a self-addressed, stamped, email envelope to my Internet Daemon (who lives in my computer and occasionally sends me email messages). I expect in 4-6 weeks I will get the prize you mentioned. Thanks.
9.4.2009 6:02pm
ASlyJD (mail):
einhverfr,

Considering the daemon looks something like this: Mailer Daemon I wish you luck in receiving your prize.
9.4.2009 6:08pm
yankev (mail):

Doesn't he have to be whistling "Dixie" at the time, also?
Actually, that would be a lot easier than meeting the actual requirements. Anyone who knows the least bit about Jewish law will tell you that this particular law was given for study and not to be carried out. Don't take my word for it. See Sanhedrin 70a.

By the way, my memory slipped up again -- according to the footnotes to Living Torah (one of the few references I have at the office), he has to steal the money from his father, not from a passerby.

According to Rabbi Y. Frand:

The rules and circumstances for a Ben Sorer U'Moreh are so complex, specific and narrow that the Talmud in the eighth chapter of Sanhedrin says that there has never been and will never be a Ben Sorer U'Moreh. So then why, in fact, was the entire section written? The Talmud answers that the section was written in order that we might "expound it and receive reward". In other words, this section was written for the sake of the lessons inherent in it.


The lessons that the Torah wants us to derive from this section are lessons about raising children. The Torah wants to teach us how we should and should not raise a child. It is likely that some grievous mistakes were made in the raising of the Wayward and Rebellious son. The Torah is providing us with clues of what to do and what not to do when raising our sons and daughters.
****

The pedagogic lesson here is that we as parents have an obligation to try to make our children understand what we are telling them. But we also have an obligation to let them know that if they do not understand what we are saying - they should still do as they are told anyway, because the parents are wiser, have lived longer, and know better.
***

A second lesson can be learned from another derivation in Sanhedrin. The Talmud derives, based on the same [verse] quoted earlier, that the voices of the husband and wife must be identical. *** Rabbi Zev Leff says, by way of homiletics, that the Talmud is not talking about the pitch or tenor of their vocal chords. The Gemara is teaching that parents must send a single, unified message to their offspring. Children do not deal well with 'mixed messages'. The 'voice' of the parents must be identical because if the child hears one message from his father and a different message from his mother, he will exploit that. ***
is no one way to raise children.

Raising children is the most specialized field in the world. That which is good for the first child is not necessarily good for the second child. If, unfortunately, the parents can not see the child, then, unfortunately, the education that they provide will not be based on first hand observations.

Such a child cannot be found guilty as a Wayward Son, since he is not fully responsible for his situation - there were extenuating circumstances in his upbringing.
Einvehfer, if you really want to know what Jewish parents do, don't rely on your Gideon Bible.
9.4.2009 6:13pm
Ken Arromdee:
The problem with such rights is that they can crash headlong into the religious freedoms of children, including the religious freedom to reject their parents' views as a bunch of BS.

I don't think this is a religious freedom argument at all in that sense. If the kid had said she thought her parents were going to kill her for getting her ears pierced, and that she had ran away for that reason, and there was some reason to believe that that was true, it would be pretty much the same case. She wasn't complaining about being forced to participate in religious ceremonies, she was complaining about something (threat to her life) that would be wrong even if done for non-religious reasons.
9.4.2009 6:13pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
I'm sorry, Yankev. I didn't realize that Tim was a Koranic scholar and his assertions aren't speculative.

You reinforce my point. Merely because one reading of one source document seems to indicate one course of action does not mean that all adherents to that tradition interpret it that way, and it is inherently prejudicial to assume that they will, as Tim seems to be doing.

It's called satire. I'm told that the occasional Talmudic scholar has heard of it.
9.4.2009 6:14pm
Ken Arromdee:
Einvehfer, if you really want to know what Jewish parents do, don't rely on your Gideon Bible.

I think that was his point: saying that a religions scriptures demand death isn't really correct if you just look at the passage and ignore the context of the religion. He was trying to imply that Islam might work similarly; the passage says the girl may be killed, but the religion interprets it away.

Of course the comparison only works if the religion interprets it away, and there are actual Muslims for whom it does not.
9.4.2009 6:16pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):


Einvehfer, if you really want to know what Jewish parents do, don't rely on your Gideon Bible.


You aren't responding to me, are you? I haven't talked about what Jewish parents would do because I have Jewish relatives I could ask that question to. At least from the sample I know, Jewish parents are a lot like any other parents.

I think you are replying to someone else :-)

BTW, I know there are a lot of folk who confuse NeoNazis and Norse Pagans. However, most all of the Norse Pagans I know are definitely not NeoNazis.
9.4.2009 6:35pm
ChrisTS (mail):
What about the Norse Pagans you do not know? Huh?
9.4.2009 7:00pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ChrisTS:

What about the Norse Pagans you do not know? Huh?


Let's put it this way.

Some of them I don't know because I haven't gotten the opportunity to know them and would prefer to know them.

Some of them I don't know because I have steered clear of their organizations.

Yes, there are crazies in my religion too.
9.4.2009 7:06pm
ArthurKirkland:

I get your point. Not only has this newspiece disproven the value of religion in this world, but also invalidates religion in every parallel universe! And on mars.

I neither said nor believed that religion has no value. It has some positive values, some negative. If you resolve many doubts in religion's favor, it approximates a wash.


I would agree with you that the pastor ought to be investigated in this case . . . Given the relative harms involved, I would probably hope prosecution is ruled out as an option . . . Arresting a pastor for what he would claim to be a crime of conscience, where he might be able to raise such a defence (depending on State Constitutional considerations) strikes me as a greater public nuisance than the behavior itself.

This fellow apparently kept a minor female in his home for a couple of weeks without telling the police or the parents, both of which were searching for her (probably frantically, in the case of the parents). Sounds like a prosecution to me, regardless of any 'mission from God' claim (which would be an affront to Jake and Elwood).
9.4.2009 7:13pm
ArthurKirkland:
The pastor claims he acted on legal advice in secretly harboring the girl in his home while police and parents were searching for her. I doubt any lawyer would advise an adult male to keep a minor female in his home in secrecy for more than a few hours -- certainly not for more than a day.

But if the pastor were advised in that manner, his lawyers -- no doubt selected for their devotion to the pastor's cause -- may have advised him directly into a criminal conviction.
9.4.2009 7:21pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't think this is a religious freedom argument at all in that sense. If the kid had said she thought her parents were going to kill her for getting her ears pierced, and that she had ran away for that reason, and there was some reason to believe that that was true, it would be pretty much the same case.

The difference is, this sort of conflict is much more likely to happen over religion, because the stakes are seen as so much larger than they are with respect to ear piercing. Similarly, the importance of freedom of religion is a lot greater than the importance of freedom to pierce one's ears.

The fundamental question is, if freedom of religion is so important to us, how come our laws are set up to encourage parents to force their religious beliefs on their children?
9.4.2009 7:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:


This fellow apparently kept a minor female in his home for a couple of weeks without telling the police or the parents, both of which were searching for her (probably frantically, in the case of the parents). Sounds like a prosecution to me, regardless of any 'mission from God' claim (which would be an affront to Jake and Elwood).


No "mission from god" talks necessary. Unless there are arguments of sex crimes, I also think the genders don't really matter as bringing that in would be a problem re: equal protection under the law.

More likely though you would see him and his lawyer telling everyone from the media to the jury that he had every reason to believe that his actions were not contrary to public safety (which would place them outside of Florida's freedom of religion clause) but rather in furtherance of it.

How much press coverage do you want to give his point of view?
9.4.2009 7:43pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


The fundamental question is, if freedom of religion is so important to us, how come our laws are set up to encourage parents to force their religious beliefs on their children?


On the other hand, if children are fully capable independent thinkers, why not let them get married over parental objections, make enforcible contracts, etc. Why have ages of majority or consent at all?

More likely we expect parents to indoctrinate children in at least some ways ("honesty is good, lying is bad" etc). Many people see religion as a part of the moral indoctrination process. And many more including myself think it is a matter for the family and not the state.

Heck, I even support religious objection exceptions to duty to provide medical care to minor children though that isn't always a very popular cause.
9.4.2009 7:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
More likely we expect parents to indoctrinate children in at least some ways ("honesty is good, lying is bad" etc). Many people see religion as a part of the moral indoctrination process. And many more including myself think it is a matter for the family and not the state.

No doubt they see it that way. But again, the freedom to believe or not to believe that honesty is good is not as foundational to our society as freedom of religion.

At bottom, I suspect the real motivation nothing more than the fact that many religious believers, deep down, know that their beliefs are built on sand and don't have the confidence that their ideas can win out in a fair competition with other ideas.

Really, if this stuff was so convincing and obviously true, you'd never need to shove it down children's throats before they develop critical thinking skills, right?
9.4.2009 8:12pm
EMG:

At bottom, I suspect the real motivation nothing more than the fact that many religious believers, deep down, know that their beliefs are built on sand and don't have the confidence that their ideas can win out in a fair competition with other ideas.

Really, if this stuff was so convincing and obviously true, you'd never need to shove it down children's throats before they develop critical thinking skills, right?


Hmm, I dunno. My own religion (Reform Judaism) doesn't involve assigning truth values to a lot of metaphysical propositions the way Christianity or Orthodox Judaism does. But I still think I have some kind of right not to have the cultural tradition, including certain practices such as kashrut, forcibly replaced with some generic humanism. And I have to extend the same consideration to people whose traditions do involve a lot of silly truth claims.

The more interesting question, to me, is why they say certain things are the domain of "the family" when they really mean "the parents." It's obviously not independent of the fact that the religion itself sees the parents' rights that way. I suspect a lot of religious people mistakenly suppose that the reason we have religious freedom is because of a strong presumption that religion must be true. So, if someone think G-d wants his child to go without medicine, or for him to beat his daughter for dressing immodestly, "religious freedom" somehow requires the rest of us to pretend that he's right.
9.4.2009 8:29pm
Randy R. (mail):
Yankev:"Muslim girls in the US have been killed by their families for behavior that the family views as un-Islamic."

This is true. In fact, there was a case of a young woman who was a lesbian, ran away from her islamic home because she feared for her life, was kidnapped by her brothers, and brought back, and of course killed. Being lesbian is considered a grave dishonor to the family.

I would hope that anyone would view this as a terrible situation, and that no one should have to be forced to live with a family that might plausibly kill you, regardless of the reason.
9.4.2009 9:13pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


At bottom, I suspect the real motivation nothing more than the fact that many religious believers, deep down, know that their beliefs are built on sand and don't have the confidence that their ideas can win out in a fair competition with other ideas.

Really, if this stuff was so convincing and obviously true, you'd never need to shove it down children's throats before they develop critical thinking skills, right?


I don't believe there is a rational basis behind any system of morals. Systems of morals may have rational elements but the basis is on non-rational value judgements. I think that morals are fundamentally extrarational consequently there is room for all sorts of disagreement.

For example, I was raised as a Quaker.

What I learned as a Quaker was to value the great individuals who sacrificed their freedom and their lives struggling in nonviolent ways for what they believed in.

As a child I attended protests where folks did engage in civil disobedience and I was taught to admire them.

I was not discouraged from planning a flag-burning protest on school grounds after hours by my parents, and I was encouraged to wear protest clothing to school in protest of the first Gulf War.

I was taught to value my father's choice to go to jail for a year long before I was born. He was a first lieutenant in the Army Reserves and converted to Quakerism. He then refused to transition into active duty.

I was taught to admire those who broke immigration laws because they believed they were doing good deeds by participating the Sanctuary Movement (which I was taught was a modern-day Underground Railroad).

I was taught to admire those who staged protest crimes, like walking through checkpoints onto military bases.

In short I was taught that moral strength against the world and against society (and hence often against the law) was THE most important and valuable trait I could have.

I still believe most of that.

"Indoctrination" includes who you teach your kids to admire and why. "Indoctrination" also includes how you live your life by example. This is a good thing. Replacing it with worship of the law or of reason is not.
9.4.2009 9:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
EMG:

My own religion (Reform Judaism) doesn't involve assigning truth values to a lot of metaphysical propositions the way Christianity or Orthodox Judaism does. But I still think I have some kind of right not to have the cultural tradition, including certain practices such as kashrut, forcibly replaced with some generic humanism. And I have to extend the same consideration to people whose traditions do involve a lot of silly truth claims.


Agree. Interestingly Quakerism doesn't assign truth values to silly metaphysical propositions either.

Despite the fact that I think Quaker indoctrination is good, it is interesting to see what is lacking.

I can remember several cases where other Quakers asked adult Quakers the following question: "Do you believe in the Bible?"

The answer was always the same, but rather odd to my mind then. Now I understand it, but have moved somewhere from the tradition. The answer was, "I believe there is wisdom in it."


The more interesting question, to me, is why they say certain things are the domain of "the family" when they really mean "the parents." It's obviously not independent of the fact that the religion itself sees the parents' rights that way.


Maybe. Or maybe it has a lot to do with origins of English law. Certainly it seems almost certain that strong parental rights existed prior to the conversion to Christianity, and comparative law studies (of ancient systems) would suggest that parents in early English society were probably not merely guardians of assets for minor children but probably guardians of assets for major children as well. I.e. while the power was probably not as strong as in Rome, there was probably some sort of pater familias lite which provided substantial say by the father of the family in the business transactions of his children.

I think the parens patriae, particularly as invasively applied in some cases like forced caesarians, is a substitute of this familial power into the hands of the state.


I suspect a lot of religious people mistakenly suppose that the reason we have religious freedom is because of a strong presumption that religion must be true. So, if someone think G-d wants his child to go without medicine, or for him to beat his daughter for dressing immodestly, "religious freedom" somehow requires the rest of us to pretend that he's right.


You won't find me making those arguments. Rather I will suggest that the state is a remarkably poor judge of right and wrong, and of virtue, so I would rather leave any doubt as to how the parents want to live by example and live according to their religion in their hands as opposed to the state. Also I think that strong parental autonomy is an important check against overreaching by the state. Thus I think there ought to be (and generally is in many states) a general freedom of conscience that must be respected.

Consider for example, all the past injustices from Jim Crow laws to slavery, and the fact that we are still not as just a country as we would like to believe. The Sanctuary Movement for example involved helping asylum seekers who were enemies of US-sponsored governments sneak across the US into Canada. I knew individuals involved in smuggling humans in this movement. It was a close equivalent to the Underground Railroad and existed during the Cold War.

But this protects children too in unexpected ways. There are similar networks of individuals who help minor girls who want abortions against parental wishes. In doing so they break the same laws the pastor broke in this case.

I think freedom of religion and conscience defences should be available for most crimes. And I don't even care if you think my religion should be banned from this country in order to exercise it.
9.4.2009 9:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But I still think I have some kind of right not to have the cultural tradition, including certain practices such as kashrut, forcibly replaced with some generic humanism.

But the secular types aren't doing the forcing. You see, we could all stop forcing children to adhere to our religious beliefs, and it wouldn't affect Reform Judaism or any other faith system one bit, because right thinking adults will learn about these traditions in the marketplace of ideas and the beliefs and traditions will be so compelling and obviously meritorious that they will surely take hold, right?
9.4.2009 9:46pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"Indoctrination" includes who you teach your kids to admire and why. "Indoctrination" also includes how you live your life by example. This is a good thing. Replacing it with worship of the law or of reason is not.

Well, there's a difference. It is actually possible to establish the existence of reason and the law without wishful thinking and blatant dishonesty.
9.4.2009 9:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Then do you think what I was taught to be "indoctrination?"

Especially the part of distrusting the law?

There isn't a rational basis for that (or for the following of law outside of mere selfish motives) any more than religion.

(One of the best books on religious thought as extra-rational I have read is "The Idea of the Holy" by Rudolf Otto, btw. Great read.)
9.4.2009 9:56pm
rc:
ArthurKirkland:"If you resolve many doubts in religion's favor, it approximates a wash. "

"A wash" in my mind, and most people's minds, equals no value. Yet you claimed to prove that religion is net negative for Earth, Mars, and any possible parallel universe. Exagerate much?

ArthurKirkland: "This fellow apparently kept a minor female in his home for a couple of weeks without telling the police or the parents..."

Our metphysical, parallel-universe atheist has a point here. I'd be interested to learn more circumstances, but the case doesn't look good for the pastor...

Dilan Esper: "many religious believers, deep down, know that their beliefs are built on sand and don't have the confidence that their ideas can win out in a fair competition with other ideas."

No parent, and rightly so, is going to allow their beliefs to be openly challenged in 'fair competition' in the mind of their growing young child. To allow such a thing is negligence. Young children are vulnerable, trainee people... not a kumite battleground. Granted, the child in question is 17, but what the hell did you know at 17? Any parent would be a fool to allow 'fair competition' for the minds of their children.

Dilan Esper:"It is actually possible to establish the existence of reason and the law without wishful thinking and blatant dishonesty."

But does the world actually work according to reason and law? Now teaching that would be blatant dishonesty.

There's a difference between governing the country, and teaching 'how the world works.' The government has no place establishing 'how the world works.'

.............................................
So let's get back to the interesting question. Every teenager believes that their parents are totally going to kill them. But what happens when they claim that their parents are going to totally kill them?
9.4.2009 10:29pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Then do you think what I was taught to be "indoctrination?" Especially the part of distrusting the law?

Depends on whether you were being taught demonstrable principles or whether you were being taught that an invisible man in the sky would punish you if you didn't act a certain way.

There's a big difference between taking you to a demonstration and enrolling you in Sunday school, you know.
9.4.2009 10:45pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No parent, and rightly so, is going to allow their beliefs to be openly challenged in 'fair competition' in the mind of their growing young child. To allow such a thing is negligence.

This would be fine if parents stuck to actual demonstrable, supportable beliefs. But it's not fine if they are teaching their kids supernatural garbage.

It is an abuse of authority to lie to someone who has not choice but to trust you.
9.4.2009 10:47pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
There's a difference between governing the country, and teaching 'how the world works.' The government has no place establishing 'how the world works.'

Actually, B.S. religious texts written by ignorant people with agendas 2000 years ago are what have no place in establishing "how the world works".

On the other hand, there are sources out there that can help a child establish how the world really works. Unfortunately, they extensively contradict the lies that many parents tell their children.
9.4.2009 10:49pm
ArthurKirkland:
A wash does not indicate "no value," at least not in my mind. There are some good aspects to religion; there are some bad aspects. It helps some people; it hurts others. It inclines some people to better conduct, sometimes in the extreme; it inclines others to worse, sometimes in the extreme. Overall, I have not observed the religious to exhibit conduct one-thousandth of one degree superior to that of the general population. Which is strange, because that would be the best form of evangelism.

I am not an atheist. I'm not that smart, and I know it. I am an agnostic.
9.4.2009 11:05pm
EMG:

But the secular types aren't doing the forcing. You see, we could all stop forcing children to adhere to our religious beliefs, and it wouldn't affect Reform Judaism or any other faith system one bit, because right thinking adults will learn about these traditions in the marketplace of ideas and the beliefs and traditions will be so compelling and obviously meritorious that they will surely take hold, right?


No, it would affect Judaism, even the Reform kind, a lot, because (although we're open to converts), we don't want just any old right-thinking adults to adhere to Judaism; we want the right-thinking adults our own children will become (and nobody can credibly argue that non-fundamentalist Judaism isn't eminently successful at creating such adults) to adhere to it. And the reasons for that are peculiar to a tradition a lot older than the United States. Though not having much to justify it on purely rational grounds, that peculiarity is just what we treasure and defend. I think people have a right to their peculiarities. Especially since you'll never manage to actually take them away without doing a lot of ugly violence.

Do you really think the "force" a parent exercises by not serving pork is anything like the force that would be involved in the state compelling him to serve it? Do you have any sense of the trade-offs involved with forbidding whatever you don't like?

I said "religious freedom" isn't based on a presumption that religion is actually true. But still less is it based on a presumption that it must be false. We all know that religion isn't the same as reason. Demanding that it reduce itself according to reason, or comport itself according to reason's standards, is really asking it to destroy itself. If that's what you want, you should come out and say so, and not pretend it's really about saving the children, or about freedom in any form. We have other mechanisms for that - mechanisms which, unlike einhverfr, I support wholeheartedly. But if you pretend that keeping children from eating kosher, or from believing that Noah built an ark, is the same as beating a child to death, you reveal yourself as a ridiculous bigot. We don't forbid killing children because it doesn't comport with your view of reason; we forbid it because a child ends up dead. If you're not content with criteria like that, you have nothing to say on the subject of religious freedom, at least not in America.
9.4.2009 11:31pm
ohwilleke:
The case is not as open and shut as the original post suggests. It is true that:

Parents' rights can't be permanently abrogated simply based on allegations -- as opposed to proof by clear and convincing evidence -- even if those allegations echo what some of those parents' coreligionists may have done in other cases.


It is also true that courts not infrequently are inclined to allow a child less than a year from the age of majority, who is old enough to legally drive and work and has a means of third party support, who shows evidence of having irreconcilable differences with the child's parents, to be emancipated.

First Amendment free exercise considerations strengthen the desirability of emancipation as an option even if opinions related to the religious views seem unreasonable or odd. Under the doctrine of constitutional avoidance, courts are supposed to avoid addressing constitutional issues if there is an interpretation of non-constitutional laws, even not the most natural interpretation, that can prevent the court from having to squarely address a constitutional issue.
9.4.2009 11:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Depends on whether you were being taught demonstrable principles or whether you were being taught that an invisible man in the sky would punish you if you didn't act a certain way.

There's a big difference between taking you to a demonstration and enrolling you in Sunday school, you know.


How is "It is good to be willing to go to jail for your beliefs" demonstrable? It is no more demonstrable than "the law is the law, and it is good to follow it."

Quakers are also probably best classed as pantheists. To a Quaker, God is found in everything including in oneself.

So an invisible man in the sky? No.

An invisible presence that commands us through spiritual experience and resides in our hearts? Yep.
9.5.2009 12:14am
rc:
Dilan Esper: "It is an abuse of authority to lie to [your child] who has not choice but to trust you."

But it's not yours or the gubment's place to say what are 'lies', unless certain legal lines are crossed. Besides, what child have you ever known, who has 'no choice' but to trust their folks? I'm just saying that the gubment has no right to stick their nose in. Most parents are more invested in their kids' well-being than is Washington DC.

ArthurKirkland: "Overall, I have not observed the religious to exhibit conduct one-thousandth of one degree superior to that of the general population."

God Damn! (heh) That is an incredibly precise observation! I trust in the soundness of your science!

ohwilleke: "It is also true that courts not infrequently are inclined to allow a child... to be emancipated."

That's because they're leaning on the judgment of the (nearly) adult child... not on the wisdom of the gubment.

Yet the interesting issue remains. Every teen believes that their parents are totally going to kill them, but what does the gubment do if the teen claims that their parents are totally going to kill them?
9.5.2009 12:15am
Ken Arromdee:

Besides, what child have you ever known, who has 'no choice' but to trust their folks?


Children often mistrust their parents in the sense of not believing them or acting against their wishes, but neither of these is really relevant when "trust their parents" means to be vulnerable to being killed by them. When someone kills you, it doesn't matter if you don't believe what they say, and once you are dead it's hard to act against their wishes.
9.5.2009 12:25am
ArthurKirkland:

God Damn! (heh) That is an incredibly precise observation! I trust in the soundness of your science!


Would not placing trust in science doom your religious arguments?
9.5.2009 12:26am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

This would be fine if parents stuck to actual demonstrable, supportable beliefs.


Part of the problem is that at some point, every ideology is based on assumptions which are not demonstrable or supportable outside of some sort of a self-evidence test. Truths we hold to be self-evident are self-evident because they cannot be demonstrated but they seem true to us.

This is true religious belief. It is equally true of every other ideology. Even the idea that empiricism is good in this case cannot be reduced to anything other than a value judgement regarding empiricism. That value judgement cannot be demonstrated to be true by an outside standard---rather it is an assumption you make about it being a good measure of truth.

Even if we accept empiricism though, it only takes us so far. It provides a measuring stick but not a direction. The important things in life must then be supplied from a nondemonstrable source. While the result will have rational components, it cannot be stripped of non-rational components and assumptions because it is fundamentally BASED on these.

So your argument fails even on its own premises.
9.5.2009 12:27am
Ken Arromdee:
The fundamental question is, if freedom of religion is so important to us, how come our laws are set up to encourage parents to force their religious beliefs on their children?

That's why I said this isn't really a religious freedom case. We do not have our laws set up so that parents may kill their children, and the parents are not saying it's okay to kill their child. A religious freedom case would be "is it okay to force the kid to follow a religion". This case is purely about whether that forcing is happening; we've already decided that this kind of forcing is wrong.
9.5.2009 12:36am
rc:
ArthurKirkland: "Would not placing trust in science doom your religious arguments?"

I haven't made any religious arguments. I've made parents-come-before-the-fuzz arguments. Also, your quote: "I have not observed the religious to exhibit conduct one-thousandth of one degree superior to that of the general population." That's an incredible scientific statement- it's way over-extended. If anyone here is kicking science in the nuts, it's you!

Ken Arromdee re: wrong to trust parents: So when do we cross that line? When do the police step in... when parents are 'totally' going to kill their kids?
9.5.2009 12:40am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ken Arromdee:

We do not have our laws set up so that parents may kill their children, and the parents are not saying it's okay to kill their child.


That is correct. Some states have religious defences to homicide-by-neglect laws though so there are peripheral issues regarding whether religious doctrine may preempt in some cases what might otherwise be murder charges, but that is not the case in this one (more of cases regarding obligations to seek medical care and the like).
9.5.2009 12:42am
rc:
Ken Arromdee: "This case is purely about whether that forcing is happening; we've already decided that this kind of forcing is wrong."

Amen, brother. Erm, I mean, I agree with you and your intellectually parallel perspective.
9.5.2009 12:44am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc:

The fundamental question is whether it is better for the parens patriae power of the state to pre-empt parenting or whether the parents should be the parents.

BTW there IS a case in Washington State where a 17-year-old died of appendicitis in May and the DA hasn't decided whether he can convince a judge and jury that the freedom of religion clause in the state Constitution pre-empts a homicide or manslaughter trial. At this point, nearly 4 months later, no decision has been made as to whether to file charges.
9.5.2009 12:46am
rc:
einhverfr: "BTW there IS a case in Washington State where a 17-year-old died of appendicitis..."

At any point, did the teen believe that his parents were totally going to kill him? If not, the cases are different in a significant respect.
9.5.2009 12:50am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc:

At any point, did the teen believe that his parents were totally going to kill him? If not, the cases are different in a significant respect.


No. But it is a question of negligent homicide in the sense of the family calling in faith healers instead of taking him to the doctor. It is more to the question of how intersections of homicide law and state Constitutional provisions for freedom of religion can become tricky sometimes.
9.5.2009 12:52am
rc:
einhverfr,
But I agree with your summary of the fundamental question. Though I can't read latin...
9.5.2009 12:55am
rc:
einhverfr: "It is more to the question of how intersections of homicide law and state Constitutional provisions for freedom of religion can become tricky sometimes."

Yeah, I'd hate to be on THAT jury... if it every comes to trial. By the way, did you type your internet handle by smashing your head on the keyboard? Just wondering...
9.5.2009 12:58am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc:

It is a nickname a friend gave me. It is from Old Norse.
Ein- prefix meaning "the one (who)"
hverf- is a verb stem meaning "to turn around" and is usually transitive. As intransitive it means somethng like "to change form" but is more common in th transitive form.
-r is the nominative ending.

I woud translate it as "The one who turns (things/people) around"
9.5.2009 1:34am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Do you really think the "force" a parent exercises by not serving pork is anything like the force that would be involved in the state compelling him to serve it?

Nobody's saying that the state should force a parent to serve pork. Indeed, I don't think the state should intervene much at all in parental decisions.

But we should understand that isn't a great thing to tell lies to a kid, we should endeavor to put kids in situations where they will be exposed to competing ideas that contradict their parents' religious teachings, and we should take seriously any effort of a kid to escape parental religious coercion.

But with those sorts of rules in place, parents would still be perfectly free to indoctrinate their children. It's still a crappy thing to do to lie to kids and say that an invisible man in the sky cares whether they eat pork, but nobody's going to stop parents from saying it.
9.5.2009 2:54am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I said "religious freedom" isn't based on a presumption that religion is actually true. But still less is it based on a presumption that it must be false. We all know that religion isn't the same as reason. Demanding that it reduce itself according to reason, or comport itself according to reason's standards, is really asking it to destroy itself.

It's fine to say this, but you should understand that by making this move, YOU, not I, am basically giving the game away on religion.

After all, we expect all other factual claims (other than those made by religions) to comport with reason and be supported by evidence. But then there's this one area where we throw the book out. That strongly-- I'd say convincingly-- suggests that if we didn't throw the book out, there's not a snowball's chance in hell that the claims would survive rational scrutiny.

Again, if that's the epistemological zone you think religion lies in, you've basically conceded it's a bunch of crap. Which is, of course, reason enough not to teach it to children.
9.5.2009 2:57am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Part of the problem is that at some point, every ideology is based on assumptions which are not demonstrable or supportable outside of some sort of a self-evidence test. Truths we hold to be self-evident are self-evident because they cannot be demonstrated but they seem true to us. This is true religious belief. It is equally true of every other ideology.

This is a cheap rhetorical stunt. Just because you can question reason and empiricism at the very outer edges (by making, say Hume's causation arguments) doesn't mean that all factual claims are equally untrustworthy.

Indeed, I am sure you do NOT apply this to any OTHER claim other than your religion. You don't apply this to astronomy, to claims of ESP, to claims of reincarnation, to claims of seances, etc. Just your religion. Everything else is clearly bunk because it doesn't comport with human reason and emperical observation.
9.5.2009 3:00am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No, it would affect Judaism, even the Reform kind, a lot, because (although we're open to converts), we don't want just any old right-thinking adults to adhere to Judaism; we want the right-thinking adults our own children will become (and nobody can credibly argue that non-fundamentalist Judaism isn't eminently successful at creating such adults) to adhere to it.

It's worth noting that parents have NO RIGHT AT ALL to expect this. You do not have any right to expect that your children will agree with you. Democrats have no right to expect their children will be democrats. Lawyers have no right to expect their children will be lawyers. Laker fans have no right to expect their children will be Laker fans.

And Jews have no right-- none whatsoever-- to expect that their children will follow Jewish cultural traditions, observe the tenets of the Jewish religion, marry Jews, or anything else. If the next generation decides en masse that they all want to kill off Jewish culture entirely, that is completely within their rights and there is not a damned thing that their parents have the right to do to stop them.

And just to preempt the obvious-- no, this isn't anti-semitism. It is perfectly rational and understandable that Jewish parents would inform their children of Jewish cultural traditions, urge that they keep them, and hope that they will. And the world might lose something very valuable if a great culture such as Jewish culture were really killed off in this manner. But in the end, it's totally the next generation's right to separate themselves from a culture and by doing so to let it die off. And if their parents don't like that-- too bad. I care more about personal autonomy and less about parents' desires to make the next generation conform.
9.5.2009 3:09am
Justin Bowen (mail):
An issue that I've not seen brought up is this: what if this girl fabricated this story in its entirety with the intent of harming her parents? Would it be appropriate to send her back to her parents? This could be a sign of a much larger problem. If her story has been fabricated, is it appropriate to send her back to her parents for a short time only to have her, at some later point in her life, do something like this, or this, or this? If this girl has some mental problem that might place other innocent people in danger, would it be appropriate for the government to return her to her parents who've already proven incapable of controlling her behavior, only to have her set loose on society?
9.5.2009 3:58am
Public_Defender (mail):


It's worth noting that parents have NO RIGHT AT ALL to expect this. You do not have any right to expect that your children will agree with you. Democrats have no right to expect their children will be democrats. Lawyers have no right to expect their children will be lawyers. Laker fans have no right to expect their children will be Laker fans.



Not true, at least legally. Parents have enormous power over their children. Obviously, it's impossible to force a kid to believe something she does not, but parents have the right to compel outward conformance. They also have the right to prevent kids from practicing a religion they don't want to kid to practice.
9.5.2009 6:11am
mattski:

I don't believe there is a rational basis behind any system of morals. Systems of morals may have rational elements but the basis is on non-rational value judgements.

I would say that morality has a rational basis, but that basis is often not obvious. Typical religious doctrine serves as an imperfect stop-gap to the inherent subtlety of morality. In other words, morality is simply clear seeing (aka reason) into cause &effect. We behave ourselves, ultimately, because we would prefer to live without the remorse which comes with harming others.

At the gross end of the spectrum of human experience we rely on authoritarian doctrine and force to police behavior. At the subtle end we rely on our own perceptions of the consequences of our behavior.
9.5.2009 9:23am
Omar (mail) (www):
" DR Morsi : MB has a Peaceful agenda "
Dr. Mohamed Morsy, MB Executive Bureau Member, asserted that Muslim Brotherhood does not practice violence for achieving political ends and condemns it whether it comes from individuals ‚ groups or states and governments .
This statement comes after slanders by some Egyptian media against Muslim Brotherhood, defaming the group with political violence.
In his statement to Ikhwanweb, Dr. Morsy has ascertained that the agenda Muslim Brotherhood adopts is a peaceful and reformist one, based on respecting democracy as a cornerstone and honoring mechanisms of civil society. "Muslim Brotherhood rejects all forms of violence" Dr. Morsy collaborates "and unceasingly believes in non-violent constitutional strife and peaceful rotation of power".


"Habib: Muslim Brotherhood is Not Anti-American"


The MB's latest statement on Bush's visit has been misinterpreted by some western media as a declaration of enmity toward the American nation as a whole, which stimulated instant response by the MB to elaborate the nature of the movement's vision, which makes clear-cut distinction between the current U.S. administration and the American people.

In this regard, the Muslim Brotherhood's first deputy chairman, Dr. Muhammad Habib, insisted that the statement should be understood solely as an attack on the U.S. foreign policy under the current administration, not the USA in general.

Dr. Habib on his part strenuously condemned the U.S. post 9-11th policy which violated almost all international conventions and agreements, invading Afganistan, occupying Iraq, and backing Israel's barbaric actions such as expansion of settlements and ethnic cleansing—all at the expense of the Palestinian population.

"The Democrats themselves explicitly acknowledged the fact that the foreign as well as domestic policies adopted by the Bush administration have led to the loss of international respect to America, which necessitates a lot of subsequent efforts to retain it," Habib added. "But I repeat, there is a huge difference between our vision of the U.S. administration, and the American people. A significant number of Americans oppose George Bush's policies, and Millions of them took part in anti Iraq war demonstrations."

At the end of his statement, Habib said he dreams of the day when sincere efforts of people and NGOs from both sides, the USA and the Arab world, can get together and cooperate for the sake of everybody's stability and justice.




so I'd like to invite you to visit : http://www.ikhwanweb.com/

IKhwanweb is the Muslim Brotherhood"s only official English web site. The Main office is located in London, although Ikhwanweb has correspondents in most countries. Our staff is exclusively made of volunteers and stretched over the five continents.
The Muslim Brotherhood opinions and views can be found under the sections of MB statements and MB opinions, in addition to the Editorial Message.
Items posted under "other views" are usually different from these of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ikhwanweb does not censor any articles or comments but has the right only to remove any inappropriate words that defy public taste
Ikhwanweb is not a news website, although we report news that matter to the Muslim Brotherhood"s cause. Our main misson is to present the Muslim Brotherhood vision right from the source and rebut misonceptions about the movement in western societies. We value debate on the issues and we welcome constructive criticism.

to help inform you about your subject matter,questions

If you have any addition questions you can email us at :
omarmorsy51@yahoo.com
Info@ikhwanweb.net
9.5.2009 9:35am
ChrisTS (mail):
einhverfr:
Even the idea that empiricism is good in this case cannot be reduced to anything other than a value judgement regarding empiricism. That value judgement cannot be demonstrated to be true by an outside standard---rather it is an assumption you make about it being a good measure of truth.

Hmm. Too glib, I think. You seem to be using 'value judgment' rather broadly, if not equivocally. Further, while some judgments may not be 'demonstrated true' by objective standards, there are logical constraints and standards of evidence to which we can all appeal.

The important things in life must then be supplied from a nondemonstrable source. While the result will have rational components, it cannot be stripped of non-rational components and assumptions because it is fundamentally BASED on these.

Ouch. Again, we seem to be assuming there are only two possibilities: empirical proofs or non-rational assumptions. But, these are not our sole resources for reasoning or for assessing claims and beliefs.

Don't forget, even Hume admitted he could not live in accordance with his philosophical claims. (Besides which, Humean epistemology has been pretty well dissected and rejected at this point in history.)
9.5.2009 11:39am
rc:
einhverfr: "I would translate it as "The one who turns (things/people) around""
But couldn't 'the one who changes form' also be interpreted 'werewolf'? Is there something you're not telling us? Holy crap! And the moon's full tonight!

..................
Dilan Esper: "It's worth noting that parents have NO RIGHT AT ALL to expect .... that your children will agree with you."
But the State expects that your children will behave as you say, or else. This is evident, because parents are legally responsible for the actions of their children. (edit- public_defender says more about this, above)

Dilan Esper: "we should take seriously any effort of a kid to escape parental religious coercion."
'We' being the United States? Or private citizens? In this whole story, I think the person who behaved the worst, and the only one who may be facing charges, is the pastor who 'kidnapped' this young convert. Strangely, I find myself in agreement with ArthurKirkland on this issue.

This case could be handled in a way that is illegal or unconstitutional. But there are still both favorable and unfavorable outcomes, even after we've discarded the improper ones. The particulars are so... particular that any applicable laws would at best empower the cops/protective services to make a determination. How that power wouldn't be overbroad, and how the gubment would act appropriately within their limits, I don't know.

Parents should have most of the power, but when necessary, the state must act carefully.

Proper political pundits praise parents. But presently, this piece prescribes police policing properly.
9.5.2009 11:50am
ChrisTS (mail):
Arthur Kirkland:
But if the pastor were advised in that manner, his lawyers -- no doubt selected for their devotion to the pastor's cause -- may have advised him directly into a criminal conviction.

Perhaps he had a cover memo from the OLC?
9.5.2009 12:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


This is a cheap rhetorical stunt. Just because you can question reason and empiricism at the very outer edges (by making, say Hume's causation arguments) doesn't mean that all factual claims are equally untrustworthy.

Indeed, I am sure you do NOT apply this to any OTHER claim other than your religion. You don't apply this to astronomy, to claims of ESP, to claims of reincarnation, to claims of seances, etc. Just your religion. Everything else is clearly bunk because it doesn't comport with human reason and emperical observation.


I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that the line of sticking to demonstrable claims is built on a problematic foundation because it prevents inquiry into its own assumptions, which of course are fundamentally nondemonstrable.

You can't for example, give me an objectively demonstrable (since that is I think your measurement) of why objective demonstration should be the yardstick. If a child questions that, you have to fall back on what is essentially a matter of faith.

Furthermore a lot of very important questions, like what defines a good life, don't rest on demonstrable elements either. But these are the MOST IMPORTANT things a child can learn from his/her parents. You cannot demonstrate that your idea of a good life is "better" than mine.

My idea of the good life is a life lived through moral and spiritual strength, willing to fight against society and the laws for what is right if need be. (BTW, I have met some atheists who I think qualify so this is belief-neutral.)


It's worth noting that parents have NO RIGHT AT ALL to expect this. You do not have any right to expect that your children will agree with you. Democrats have no right to expect their children will be democrats. Lawyers have no right to expect their children will be lawyers. Laker fans have no right to expect their children will be Laker fans.


There are two areas where your analysis here fails. The first is that parents DO have a right to indoctrinate minor children into their customs and the sense of place that those customs provide. Legally this is true. I would argue you are asking for parents to indoctrinate minor children into your cosmology and the sense of place that provides, which strikes me as problematic.

The second thing is that just because a Jew decides not to be a Jew anymore (as my grandmother did) doesn't mean that sense of place goes away (late in life, she admitted to regretting her decision-- she told my father, "If I had everything to do over again, I would have lived my life as a Jew"). These things are thus carried with a child EVEN IF the child parts ways from his/her parents' path. For example, I carry with me strong elements of Quaker thought even though I am now a Norse Pagan.

One can't control whether adult children leave the community or ideology they were brought up with, but the adult child can't put that entirely aside either. Remember that this is how culture propagates.
9.5.2009 12:24pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc:

But couldn't 'the one who changes form' also be interpreted 'werewolf'? Is there something you're not telling us? Holy crap! And the moon's full tonight!


hverf- is also found in words for shape-changers. So there is something to that theory. It could also mean "The shifty one" too.

Not like I was named after the 9th century priest "Werwulf" or anything..... (Werwulf was an advisor to King Alfred the Great and very much involved in Alfred's sponsored attempts to strengthen the Church in England.) "Werwulf" is in fact the Old English form of the same roots that create "werewolf" in Modern English so it ranks up there with Jaime Cardinal Sin as one of the most amusing names of priests in history.



This case could be handled in a way that is illegal or unconstitutional. But there are still both favorable and unfavorable outcomes, even after we've discarded the improper ones. The particulars are so... particular that any applicable laws would at best empower the cops/protective services to make a determination. How that power wouldn't be overbroad, and how the gubment would act appropriately within their limits, I don't know.


I think the other issue is that when folk start deciding that some speech is OK for parents and others is not, then this is often a baldfaced attempt to shape dialog among future generations. Hostility towards religion even in divorce cases (something Eugene has written substantially on) has this same effect.
9.5.2009 12:32pm
Pauldom:

Heck, I even support religious objection exceptions to duty to provide medical care to minor children though that isn't always a very popular cause.

Who cares about popularity? I'm sure that these children, looking down from heaven after painful, drawn-out deaths, thank you for supporting the religious rights of their parents.
9.5.2009 4:16pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I don't care about popularity. I think that religious and conscience exceptions are more helpful than hurtful.
9.5.2009 4:52pm
ArthurKirkland:
Unless one is prepared to argue for a 'religious exception' to a kidnapping (or similar) charge, I don't believe it helps the Florida pastor who harbored this child.

If the district attorney and sheriff/police chief in the relevant jurisdiction are not already investigating and/or preparing charges, they aren't fit to serve.
9.5.2009 7:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

Unless one is prepared to argue for a 'religious exception' to a kidnapping (or similar) charge, I don't believe it helps the Florida pastor who harbored this child.


I would argue for it just as I would argue that those who harbour underage girls and help them move across state lines to obtain abortions against parental wishes should have access to such a defence too.
9.5.2009 7:54pm
Pauldom:

I don't care about popularity. I think that religious and conscience exceptions are more helpful than hurtful.

From whose perspective? It's hard to imagine an exception more hurtful to the child who suffers and dies from an untreated bowel obstruction, or untreated diabetes, to name only a couple of real-life examples.
9.5.2009 8:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I would argue you are asking for parents to indoctrinate minor children into your cosmology and the sense of place that provides, which strikes me as problematic.

This is the old "atheism is a religion" argument, and it is complete bunk. The belief system of NOT lying to children is not in the same category as the various belief systems of lying to children.
9.5.2009 8:29pm
rc:
ArthurKirkland posts, then einhverfr counters with: "those who harbour underage girls and help them move across state lines to obtain abortions against parental wishes"

Oh snap! ...sigh... Still, ArthurKirkland wins.

This case may be unclear, whether the child or the parents are right... but the minor-harboring pastor is very, very suspect. Roll him under the bus before anyone else. Just because there's a shady area between child, parent, and police, doesn't mean that a pastor can come in and 'kidnap' a girl.

Religious parents are a mild threat, and kids claiming death threats are a moderate issue... but strangers keeping kids from their parents? Red flag. You don't take a child and then go secret. No parental threat or governmental overreach can be worse than allowing an influential stranger to harbor a minor. (Well, I say 'no' or 'never'... but you know what I mean.)

Dilan Esper: "The belief system of NOT lying to children is not in the same category as the various belief systems of lying to children."

Just because atheists don't believe in 'sky daddy' doesn't make them honest. This ventures into einhverfr's earlier concerns: "Hostility towards religion even in divorce cases (something Eugene has written substantially on) has this same effect." 'Atheist' is not necessarily synonymous with 'truth teller' or 'good parent'.

And to counter Pualdom when he says: "It's hard to imagine an exception more hurtful to the child who suffers and dies from an untreated bowel obstruction." That's an extreme case. Government overreactions aren't nearly so hard to come by. The question is, what damages a child the fastest? The answer, at least in the US, is not 'radical religion'.
9.5.2009 11:04pm
ArthurKirkland:
A sensible, decent person might try to help a child -- but that help would not include hiding the child from the parents for more time than it takes to call the police or child welfare authorities. If the "savior" hides the child from parents and police, the person's motives become suspicious -- that tag fits here -- and/or the person's judgment become objectionable, and criminally so. The misery this goober caused the parents -- who must have wondered for a couple of weeks whether their child had died or been kidnapped -- is more than ample reason to convict him.

Excusing someone from a kidnapping charge because they really really really extra really thought it was a good idea, or because they believed it would please a supernatural being, would be ridiculous. It doesn't rise above the "just because" level of argument.
9.5.2009 11:16pm
Pauldom:

And to counter Pualdom when he says: "It's hard to imagine an exception more hurtful to the child who suffers and dies from an untreated bowel obstruction." That's an extreme case. Government overreactions aren't nearly so hard to come by. The question is, what damages a child the fastest? The answer, at least in the US, is not 'radical religion'.

Extreme? Yes. Hard to come by? Not nearly as hard as it should be. I'm not sure what you consider to be "damage," but to my mind, permanent disability and death are pretty damaging.

Children of religious parents deserve protection just as much as children of atheists. I find it hard to understand why our society cannot tolerate same-sex marriage but deliberate child neglect is A-OK.

(And yes, I realize that some believe, on the basis of faith and anecdote, that their religions cure more reliably than doctors, &so don't see themselves as neglectful; but others simply consider it God's will for them to neglect their children. Their children bear the burden either way.)

This discussion is tangential to the main post so I'm going to refrain from commenting further. Or at least try to.
9.5.2009 11:40pm
rc:
Pauldom, from your source: "In the past 15 years, more than 200 children have died in the United States because their parents relied exclusively on faith to heal them."

That is small, small beans. 200 deaths in 15 years over a population of 300 million?!? My FARTS have killed more!

Seriously? A 0.00007% mortality rate? OMG! Stop the presses, run for the hills, kill the Christians!

Stop! Instead, what we need is a bit of perspective. And what perspective tells us, is that government-overreaching is far more dangerous than 0.00007%.

It also teaches us that adult men hiding underage girls is even more dangerous.

Pauldom: "This discussion is tangential to the main post so I'm going to refrain from commenting further. Or at least try to."

Yes, please. Please try to. Any of this religious vs atheist crazy-talk gets away from the main issue. Or more rightly, it gets away from the shell-issue, which in turn covers the main issue.

Shell-issue: A stranger who harbors a minor from her parents should be at least suspect, and most likely prosecuted.

Main Issue: There's a fight between parents and the government. Based on the kid's claims: are my parents totally going to kill me, or are they totally going to kill me?
9.6.2009 12:23am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Just because atheists don't believe in 'sky daddy' doesn't make them honest. This ventures into einhverfr's earlier concerns: "Hostility towards religion even in divorce cases (something Eugene has written substantially on) has this same effect." 'Atheist' is not necessarily synonymous with 'truth teller' or 'good parent'.

I never claimed otherwise.

Atheists and agnostics, as well as religious people who do not prosletyze to their children, however, are being more honest with their children than the prosletyzers, because they aren't teaching something as truth to their children that they know there is no supporting evidence for.
9.6.2009 2:13am
rc:
Dilan Esper: "Atheists and agnostics, as well as religious people who do not prosletyze to their children, however, are being more honest with their children than the proselytizers..."

Do you think that this should be taken into account during custody proceedings?
9.6.2009 11:51am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
rc:

This case may be unclear, whether the child or the parents are right... but the minor-harboring pastor is very, very suspect. Roll him under the bus before anyone else. Just because there's a shady area between child, parent, and police, doesn't mean that a pastor can come in and 'kidnap' a girl.


I don't disagree here. I am however saying that most states allow freedom of religion/conscience defences to most crimes and that this should be available to the pastor as well, just as it should be in the areas I was talking about.

As long as it IS available, the decision to prosecute becomes harder. This is because the pastor's defence becomes "I could not conscionably do otherwise and this is why." This becomes the message the pastor's attorney tells the media and the jury, and the trial becomes a soapbox about all of the concerns about honor killings, etc.

I don't know the scope of Florida's defences on this area, but many states I have lived in from Utah to Washington have had this defence available through Constitutional provisions.

So the question in that case becomes whether the public interest is actually served by such a trial, where the facts of the crime are not in doubt but the question of the freedom of conscience defence is what the jury and the public get to consider.
9.6.2009 12:34pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Do you think that this should be taken into account during custody proceedings?

If there is a conflict between two parents, I think a good default rule would be that neither parent gets to take the kid to church unless the kid decides he or she wants to go.
9.6.2009 12:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


If there is a conflict between two parents, I think a good default rule would be that neither parent gets to take the kid to church unless the kid decides he or she wants to go.


Great idea! Move the religious education into the home and to times when the pastor is invited over to dinner!
9.6.2009 1:16pm
Pauldom:

Main Issue: There's a fight between parents and the government. Based on the kid's claims: are my parents totally going to kill me, or are they totally going to kill me?

Yes, of course, and I'm hoping you will enlighten us: how many cases can you cite in which parents have murdered their children for changing religions? And how many cases must be documented before you would consider the practice damaging?

I agree that Rifqa's Florida pastor acted badly, as did the politicians who used the situation to pander (e.g., Crist stating, "The first and only priority of my administration is the safety and well-being of this child.") Oh well. Even though we specifically waive protection for other, more vulnerable kids, at least we're all about saving this one.
9.6.2009 1:20pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Great idea! Move the religious education into the home and to times when the pastor is invited over to dinner!

Or even better-- don't talk to religion with your kids. If you want to believe BS, that's fine. But let your kids make up their own minds without having their parents poison them.
9.6.2009 1:26pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
that should be "talk about religion", not "talk to religion"
9.6.2009 1:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


Or even better-- don't talk to religion with your kids. If you want to believe BS, that's fine. But let your kids make up their own minds without having their parents poison them.


See my points above about baldfaced attempts to affect the dialog of future generations.
9.6.2009 2:25pm
rc:
Dilan Esper: "I think a good default rule would be that neither parent gets to take the kid to church unless the kid decides he or she wants to go."

I strongly disagree.

Most parents don't give children a choice with broccoli, or with church... and properly so. Adults in the US have a 'right to be wrong,' so to speak, and children are not just short adults. That's because to the degree that adults can be 'wrong' in society, they can also raise their children in that tradition of wrongness.

Pauldom: "how many cases can you cite..." Zero. And zero.

The 'if it saves the life of a single child' meme is not sufficient reason to expand state power. On a parallel issue, you seem willing for the state to immediately overrule faith-healing parents. This is a radical position, against a practice that has a 0.00007% mortality rate per year. And we already have provisions against child endangerment. Your support for that sort of wide-ranging expansion of state power is unjustified.
9.6.2009 3:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Also something occurs to me regarding this:

Or even better-- don't talk to religion with your kids. If you want to believe BS, that's fine. But let your kids make up their own minds without having their parents poison them.


And its comparison to this

At bottom, I suspect the real motivation nothing more than the fact that many religious believers, deep down, know that their beliefs are built on sand and don't have the confidence that their ideas can win out in a fair competition with other ideas.


I don't think those statements can be squared. You are not advocating even a fair competition of ideas (which I would have disagreed with anyway) but that certain ideas should be barred from the parenting process.

I think one can have faith in the idea that adult children can and will make up their own mind in the marketplace of ideas. You seem to see religion as a dangerous cancer, and the first amendment as a mistake.
9.6.2009 4:27pm
ArthurKirkland:
The availability of a "religious freedom" defense not only doesn't make a charging decision more difficult, but indeed seems irrelevant to a charging decision. What's the worst that could happen if the defendant finds a jury dumb enough to buy a 'my belief in fairy tales excuses my criminal conduct' defense?

If an investigation generates evidence that the child was in that home for more than 24 hours, the pastor and his wife should be charged. That the charges have not been filed already speaks poorly of the responsible law enforcement personnel.

The next sensible step would be a civil action against the pastor and his wife.
9.6.2009 4:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

What's the worst that could happen if the defendant finds a jury dumb enough to buy a 'my belief in fairy tales excuses my criminal conduct' defense?


Based on close-up experience with Quaker uses of the defence, it would center around his belief that he had an obligation to convert the girl to Christianity, and that he believed that he had reason to think her life was in danger if he turned her over to the authorities.

We would then expect to see a lot of media attention to allegations of honor killings in America, and the fundamental question before the jury would be whether the pastor had an obligation to turn the girl over to an environment where he believed she might be unduly at risk.

So by all means charge him. Just let him use his trial as a soapbox on how horrible Muslims are to kids who convert and expect the media to cover that angle.
9.6.2009 5:23pm
ArthurKirkland:
Delivering her to police officers would have placed her in jeopardy?

Was Satan the dispatcher in that gated community?
9.6.2009 6:10pm
Pauldom:
OK, I confess, I'm finding this hard to resist. rc, I get what you're saying about expanding state power, but there's a difference between "a wide-ranging expansion of state power" and granting special privilege to some religions:

The 'if it saves the life of a single child' meme is not sufficient reason to expand state power. On a parallel issue, you seem willing for the state to immediately overrule faith-healing parents. This is a radical position, against a practice that has a 0.00007% mortality rate per year. And we already have provisions against child endangerment. Your support for that sort of wide-ranging expansion of state power is unjustified.

You're right--we've already concluded that it is proper for the state to require parents to provide basic life necessities (water, food, basic medical care) to children. However, "provisions against child endangerment" are explicitly waived for a subset of children based on their parents' religion, rendering them effectively useless for some children. That's what's radical: designing religious loopholes that undermine the basic purpose of the laws.

These exemptions don't have a particularly long history, either. Most of these exemptions are ca 1970s or more recent. So we're not talking about an unprecedented "wide-ranging expansion of state power." We're talking about recently granted special permission for selected parents to martyr their children.

I wouldn't want the state to "immediately overrule faith healing parents." I do think that every child deserves equal protection. If I'm expected to provide insulin to my diabetic children, that expectation should be the same no matter what church I attend, because no matter what church I attend, my child will die without insulin.

btw, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I linked to just one 1995 study that is quite enough to demonstrate the reality of the problem, but my argument, like yours, is chiefly based on principle, not numbers.
9.6.2009 6:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Pauldom:

I would like to extend your line of thinking a bit. What do you think of Wisconsin v. Yoder which held that Amish had a right to withdraw their children from public school at the age of 14 and teach them Amish ways instead of what they would learn in public school?

Certainly you might apply the same logic here and suggest that this is Constitutionally sanctioned religious neglect (and I have known people who made that argument). However, I don't think so. I think a pluralistic society must by definition accept that some sub-groups will live by rules we find problematic but that in the name of liberty for all, and in the name of pluralism we must accept their right to act according to their sincerely held beliefs.
9.6.2009 7:24pm
ArthurKirkland:
It is a shame that some children, who do not get to choose their parents, are saddled with religious nuts for parents (in a society in which religious kooks get special treatment, at the children's expense). Even if one believes a parent is entitled to such special treatment, because the parent's freedom outweighs the child's interest, it is still a damnable shame.

I would say that any parent who would let a child die for a fairy tale is pond scum, but that would be unfair to congealed algae.
9.6.2009 7:52pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:
I would still be interested in if you think Wisconsin v. Yoder was just court-sanctioning of child neglect or if you agree with the court.

Or for that matter whether you think Justice O'Douglass's dissent went far enough.

The fact is we do have Constitutional protections for some religious groups in this country to be able to pull kids out of school and provide fundamentally different education provided that it doesn't create a public burden. If the Amish want to teach their 14-year-olds how to be craftsmen and farmers instead of learning chemistry and algebra, our Constitution requires that we respect that, or at least so said the US Supreme Court.

Presumably you disagree. Good luck getting the First Amendment repealed though.
9.6.2009 8:06pm
ArthurKirkland:
Even if one believes a societal interest warrants enabling religious parents to inflict harm on their children, sensible people will regret the harm inflicted on the children, and will regret that there are parents addled enough by fairy tales to subject their children to that harm.

I hope you share each of those those regrets, because failure to do so is immoral in my eyes.

I can't remember whether Yoder is the decision I said seemed like a poor decision (perhaps in another thread), but I will look at it.
9.6.2009 8:26pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland

I can't remember whether Yoder is the decision I said seemed like a poor decision (perhaps in another thread), but I will look at it.


Yes, but your answer before suggested you hadn't read it. So I provided a link for you to review the court's logic.
Even if one believes a societal interest warrants enabling religious parents to inflict harm on their children, sensible people will regret the harm inflicted on the children, and will regret that there are parents addled enough by fairy tales to subject their children to that harm.


For a suitably narrow definition of harm I would agree. But I also regret harm caused by overprotective parents as well.

In questions like Yoder however, I am not sure that a narrow definition of harm catches the concern. People speak of a "loss of potential" as a harm, but I don't think that qualifies since Amish are very self-reliant, self-supporting people. In short I am not sure there is a regrettable harm caused when Amish refuse to let their children attend high school and instead insist on them learning trades.
9.6.2009 8:35pm
ArthurKirkland:
The Yoder case is a tough one, not easily decided by reason because the parents are unreasonable. Anyone who celebrates that decision is a fool, because harm to a child is the result.
9.6.2009 8:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

The Yoder case is a tough one, not easily decided by reason because the parents are unreasonable. Anyone who celebrates that decision is a fool, because harm to a child is the result.


I disagree. The Yoder case was correct IMO and furthermore got right to the heart of the point. There is no evidence that adults are less happy in Amish communities than in the rest of society. They are not public burdens. They are able to support their families.

In short, unless you define harm very broadly I can't see any harm done by the decision.

As I say, living in a pluralistic society means adopting tolerant attitude towards groups one might otherwise disagree with. Your hostility towards religion is incompatible with that pluralism. While it is your Constitutional right to believe and speak as you wish on this matter I would hope you would at least admit it would be improper to co-opt the government of a pluralist country in trying to win your fight.
9.6.2009 8:44pm
ArthurKirkland:
I hope anyone unable to recognize the harm in purposefully denying a child a ninth-grade education has no control over any child. To celebrate such harm because it is seen as vindicating a right to believe in fairy tales is a grotesque abuse of freedom.
9.6.2009 8:54pm
ArthurKirkland:
I hope anyone unable to recognize the harm in purposefully denying a child a ninth-grade education has no control over any child. To celebrate such harm because it is seen as vindicating a right to believe in fairy tales is a grotesque abuse of freedom.
9.6.2009 8:54pm
ArthurKirkland:
I hope anyone unable to recognize the harm in purposefully denying a child a ninth-grade education has no control over any child. To celebrate such harm because it is seen as vindicating a right to believe in fairy tales is a grotesque abuse of freedom.
9.6.2009 8:54pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

I hope anyone unable to recognize the harm in purposefully denying a child a ninth-grade education has no control over any child. To celebrate such harm because it is seen as vindicating a right to believe in fairy tales is a grotesque abuse of freedom.


You don't even get that wish. I have two children. I read fairy tales to them, like those gathered by the Grimm brothers, or by Peter Asbjornson.

But the point is that the Amish in that case lead full and productive lives. You might disagree that disavowing worldly accomplishment is good. But they have a right to raise their children according to that ethic. Interesting the Yoder case didn't suggest that children couldn't sue for a right to go to school (it expressly left that undecided) but that parents couldn't be penalized in that case for following their religion.

I do celebrate that decision. Amish heritage is a part of our national living heritage. It is something which helps remind us who are not Amish of things we have lost in our rush to modernization. The decision helps ensure that the Amish continue to be a part of our nation's living heritage for generations to come. That is positive and benefits us all.

But bringing this back to the topic at hand, the issue of being able to supply a reasoned, contextual "freedom of religion" defence to virtually any crime and allow that to be heard before the court is a good thing. It is something many Quakers I knew presented as defences against everything from federal trespassing charges (walking through a checkpoint at a military base in order to protest nuclear weapons) to immigration law violations (moving asylum seekers from countries like El Salvador through the US to Canada). Consequently I think that the preacher should have a right, if prosecuted, to provide his side from a freedom of religion/conscience side. I may not agree with him but I think this is important.

Secondly, I think the parents have a fundamental right to raise children according to their own beliefs. In the case where a teenager converts, I think it is reasonable for parents to question the sincerity of that conversion. I would hope no harm would come to the child but I don't believe fair competition of ideas is anything anyone really wants (not even Dilan).

I don't think that extends under any circumstance to honor killings. Nothing in the religion requires this, so it would be more comparable to polygamy for the Mormons than to required education for the Amish.
9.6.2009 9:09pm
ArthurKirkland:
I see no reason to entitle a preacher, or anyone else, to claim a 'mission from God' defense to kidnapping. Even if it were appropriate, any adult juror who would buy it is a dope.

If an adult wishes to pursue the Amish faith and lifestyle, the right to do so deserves strong protection. But any adult who would pull a child from school at 14, to indoctrinate that child at the expense of giving the child a reasonable chance to succeed in a world outside the Amish community if the child so chooses, is a poor excuse for a parent. Perhaps society believes, perhaps properly so, that the parent's interest trumps the child's interest but, as I said, both the child's injury and the parent's foolishness are severely regrettable.
9.6.2009 9:26pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

I hope your children don't show your rigidity in religious thinking :-)


But any adult who would pull a child from school at 14, to indoctrinate that child at the expense of giving the child a reasonable chance to succeed in a world outside the Amish community if the child so chooses, is a poor excuse for a parent.


You can believe that. And I will continue to be glad the Amish are still around.
9.6.2009 9:41pm
ArthurKirkland:
If the Amish are worth preserving, it shouldn't require indoctrination of and damage to minors to accomplish it.

My rigidity regards defense of children, particularly with respect to protection from adults who seem uninterested in their well-being, regardless of the reason. Adults should be free to believe as they wish; children deserve protection from unreasonable adults -- again, regardless of the nature of the unreasonableness.
9.6.2009 10:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

If the Amish are worth preserving, it shouldn't require indoctrination of and damage to minors to accomplish it.


The issue of the Amish and public school isn't a matter of indoctrination about religion per se. It is a matter of continuing education through apprenticeships and ensuring the community directs in the formation of attitudes relating to romantic interests, etc. It is also a time when public education moves decidedly towards applied fields.

So it is a matter of instilling Amish culture in the next generation, ensuring that the applied phase of education is steered as much as possible towards that culture.

You speak about loss of potential as some sort of harm but I don't think that survives any ideologically neutral bar. If the children grow up to be self-sufficient and capable of happy adulthoods, I am hard-pressed to call that harm. You are horrified that I don't agree with you. That is your right, I suppose.

Instead of talking about unreasonableness, I would rather see you talking about objective harm. I can't identify any OBJECTIVE harm which is ideologically neutral in the Amish lifestyle. Is it more important that a child grows up to be a nuclear physicist or that he or she grows up to be happy? I think your priorities are misplaced on that one and your hatred of all things religious blinds you.
9.6.2009 11:31pm
ReaderY:
in Florida, until she's 18, she's legally an infant with no ability to make any decisions for herself. People outside Florida may think otherwise, but Florida is entitled to follow a bright line on the matter if it wants.

It's been a long practice of children who are having issues with their parents to jump on whatever stereotype society dislikes. Not so long ago all a child who wanted to get away from his or her parents would have to do would be to accuse them of being gay.

The police here should follow Florida law in an even-handed way. If there's no substance to the accusation, she should be treated like any other teenager. Relations between religious minority teens and their parents shouldn't be given special consideration based on whether or not we like the parents' religion. And we shouldn't prejudge this case.

The stereotypes being voiced here are sad. Apparently we've forgotten that the word "prejudice" isn't just a meaningless epithet to be hurled at people we don't like. It's a real word with real meaning. It describes us -- we ourselves -- when we make decisions based on group stereotypes rather than individualized facts. All members of this family are entitled to have their case judged on individualized facts, not stereotypes. And we don't know the facts yet. Lawyers, in particular, shouldn't forget this. This is far more important than whether or not one agrees or disagrees with Florida's substantive law on this matter.
9.6.2009 11:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't think those statements can be squared. You are not advocating even a fair competition of ideas (which I would have disagreed with anyway) but that certain ideas should be barred from the parenting process.

Not true.

I think that it is unethical to lie to your kids, including telling them things are true that are in fact completely unsupported by evidence. On that ground, the correct thing to do as a parent is not to lie to the kids and tell them about Gods and divine law and heaven and hell and the like. (Note: I do not think that the law should force parents to comply with this (except where there is a conflict between parents or between parents and the kid). You are allowed to do terrible and unethical things and lie to your children if you want to.)

But FOLLOWING this ethical rule will create a fair competition of ideas. Because these children will still be exposed to religious ideas from their peers and society, and they will of course choose to believe those ideas freely because they are so compelling, and thus Jewish, Quaker, Catholic, and other religious parents have nothing to worry about, right?
9.7.2009 12:01am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Secondly, I think the parents have a fundamental right to raise children according to their own beliefs. In the case where a teenager converts, I think it is reasonable for parents to question the sincerity of that conversion. I would hope no harm would come to the child but I don't believe fair competition of ideas is anything anyone really wants (not even Dilan).

Yes, I want fair competition. The moment a child rejects his or her parents' religion, state protection should be available to protect that child's freedom of religion. And that state protection will in no way interfere with that child's right to convert back, if he or she evaluates the competing ideas and finds that his or her parent's views are true.

I want fair competition, because I completely defend the right of people to choose to have religious beliefs and to freely exercise them. You don't support fair competition, because you know that religious beliefs are complete bunk and couldn't survive if they couldn't be forced on children without their consent.
9.7.2009 12:05am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The stereotypes being voiced here are sad. Apparently we've forgotten that the word "prejudice" isn't just a meaningless epithet to be hurled at people we don't like. It's a real word with real meaning.

Let's be very clear here.

Refusing to hire a religious person = prejudice.

Refusing to dine with a religious person = prejudice.

Refusing to rent a room to a religious person = prejudice.

Believing that religion is superstitious crap that shouldn't be forced on children without their consent is NOT prejudice.

Too many religious folks want to define any statement pointing out how unsupported their religious beliefs are as prejudice. It has nothing to do with prejudice.
9.7.2009 12:08am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


I think that it is unethical to lie to your kids, including telling them things are true that are in fact completely unsupported by evidence. On that ground, the correct thing to do as a parent is not to lie to the kids and tell them about Gods and divine law and heaven and hell and the like.


So you don't think anyone sincerely believes in his or her religion?


I want fair competition, because I completely defend the right of people to choose to have religious beliefs and to freely exercise them. You don't support fair competition, because you know that religious beliefs are complete bunk and couldn't survive if they couldn't be forced on children without their consent.


No. I see religious views very differently than most religious folks do and very different than you.

I think that it is preposterous to accept holy books or myths literally.

At the same time, there is great wisdom to be found in them. You might find my book rather challenging in this area. I take a view of religious belief which is more or less borrowed from Mircea Eliade's works on comparative religion. In essence I see religion as possessing a social function which is deeply rooted in how our brains are wired. Whether or not it is literally true, it encompasses teachings which are beyond simple reasoned discourse.

Focusing on things like heaven and hell is IMO misguided but people have a right to be misguided in our country. What is important is what sort of exemplary models a religion puts forth for emulation in our daily lives. Eliade calls these exemplary models or patterns "archetypes" but they aren't what Jung is talking about (the confusion between Jungian and Eliadian uses of "archetype" is not worth going into here-- just understand they are not the same).

One important element of the first amendment is that it ensures pluralism in these exemplars we choose to emulate in our lives. Passing these on, however, requires encouraging children to explore the mythological literature. This provides plurality of lifestyle, etc. as well. (Including allowing the Amish to pass their culture and ways on to their children instead of sending them to high school.)

As for fair competition, if that was what you wanted, if there was a dispute between parents, you would want both parents openly sharing their views with the child instead of trying to remove the topic from parenting. Seeking to remove it from parenting even if limited to disputes, is simply to favor a certain narrow form of atheism over every other form of religious thought. I don't believe the Constitution allows this nor should it.

So because I see religion in socio-functional terms without assigning a statement to silly statements like "Christ turned water into wine" or "Thorr rides around in the sky causing lightening," I find that it is important and closely tied to discussion of ideas, views on the world, and lifestyle. If you deny that this should be an element of parenting, then you are ultimately just arrogant and IMO wrong for the reasons mentioned above.

Ultimately, I think we should give as much freedom of speech and religion as functionally POSSIBLE for the peace and security of the state.
9.7.2009 12:44am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So you don't think anyone sincerely believes in his or her religion?

I don't know what this really means.

Do I think some people, through a combination of hope and faith, want to believe in their religions and by force of that wish, believe? Sure.

Do I think anyone actually thinks that there is evidentiary support for their religious belief comparable to what might convince them to accept a non-religious claim? Not unless they are dumb or deluded.

At the same time, there is great wisdom to be found in them.

There really isn't much great religious wisdom that cannot also be found in secular literature, secular philosophy, etc. And those secular works don't package it with a bunch of BS the way religions do.

As for fair competition, if that was what you wanted, if there was a dispute between parents, you would want both parents openly sharing their views with the child instead of trying to remove the topic from parenting.

That assumes there are only 2 religions that get to compete. In fact, ALL religions should get a shot, including ones the parents reject. As should atheism and agnosticism.
9.7.2009 1:44am
ArthurKirkland:
Here's my stereotype: An adult who hides a minor from police and parents for weeks is a particularly low-quality human, a criminal and almost surely a nut.

Anyone who would excuse that conduct exhibits shades of low-quality personhood and nuttiness.
9.7.2009 10:17am
Pauldom:
einhverfr:

I would like to extend your line of thinking a bit. What do you think of Wisconsin v. Yoder which held that Amish had a right to withdraw their children from public school at the age of 14 and teach them Amish ways instead of what they would learn in public school?

Once we agree that it's proper for the state to require a certain level of education for children, then that level of education should be required for all children.

The same goes for exemptions to safety standards for childcare facilities. If we believe that daycare of a certain size must follow certain guidelines in order to be safe, then every facility of that size should be required to follow those guidelines, religious or not.

Or religious exemptions to bike helmets. If helmets are important enough for us to mandate that kids wear them, then all kids should have to wear them.

I'm personally more concerned about medical exemptions than educational exemptions, though, because

* There's no evidence that any faith-healing method is equivalent to standard medicine. It's possible for religious people to provide alternative schooling that educates to an equivalent level. But diabetic kids will die without insulin, period.

* The youngest children are the most vulnerable. An older teen could potentially tell us whether he wanted to quit school and work on his dad's farm. But a newborn can't say, "I want that metabolic screening test so that my parents don't feed me food that kills me."

* The stakes are higher. Educational gaps can potentially be remedied later in life; permanent disability and death, not so much.

We can debate what protections are necessary, and we can debate at what age a child can reasonably decide for himself to decline them. But once we decide to require certain protections, we should let all children benefit.
9.7.2009 10:56am
Soronel Haetir (mail):

I see no reason to entitle a preacher, or anyone else, to claim a 'mission from God' defense to kidnapping. Even if it were appropriate, any adult juror
who would buy it is a dope.


I would in fact go further and allow a defendant to put on any material whatsoever as their defense, including straight out bribery of the jury. The only constraint I would place on the amount of defense would be in the area of repitition, so long as something new or different is being presented the defendant should be allowed to continue.
9.7.2009 11:56am
rc:
I read some more about the case, and I threw up in my mouth a little bit. This girl ran from Ohio to Florida, taking shelter in the home of a radical evangelical pastor whom she found on the internet.

Anyone who defends actions that are meant to protect against religious crazies must recognize that leaving the state and hiding in a crazy internet pastor's house for two weeks is a far greater threat than a teenager's allegations that her dad is totally going to kill her.

Some other interesting aspects of the case:
"The pastors' first move was to call an attorney, several of them, actually."
That's the move of a civil person... but also the refuge of scumbags.
"The next morning, the couple called police for advice, but did not tell them Rifqa's name."
By this point, they're swinging between believing the words of a runaway seventeen year old, and heeding the advice of the cops. This is where they go wrong.
"They did report Rifqa's presence two weeks later, he said, when the couple realized the teen's parents had reported her missing." This conflicts with the reports that the girl was tracked down using phone and computer records. But still. Two weeks? What was their plan? Forged papers? Enroll her in school? Seriously, two weeks?

This situation comes just at the time that some religious wacko was found with prisoners in his backyard, whom he'd kidnapped for like fifteen years. Now that's not a phantom threat.

Best thing to do in this case is reunite the family and get the hell out of their life. The story has enough publicity now that the girl is safe, if indeed she was every in danger, and this isn't time for the gubment and CPS to prove how suspicious or thorough they can be.

And toss the florida pastor some jail time. He may have intended well, but somewhere along the line he made the wrong choice. So let him be a martyr, let him write his book... and make it clear that if you harbor a child, you get a free vacation to the local PMITA prison.
9.7.2009 12:15pm
ReaderY:

I think that it is unethical to lie to your kids, including telling them things are true that are in fact completely unsupported by evidence.



One can claim to know the ultimate facts -- every religion does this, including yours, whatever it may be -- and one can claim everyone else is lying -- people do it regularly -- but we don't let this state of affairs justify taking other people's children away from them. doing so has long been regarded as a hallmark of tyrrany.

A certain amount of skepticism -- a certain hesitation from wiping all the non-believers out on grounds that perhaps we don't actually know the ultimate truth and perhaps we don't know for certain that there's really no value at all in the other side's perspective -- has been a hallmark of our society's intellectual process. This includes hesitation from taking the non-believers' children away from them because they're non-believers, however patently absurd we may find their beliefs to be and however obvious it is to us that people who tell their children stuff that nonsensical just have to be lying. And this is so whether the people certain of their possession of the truth happen to be religious zealots or anti-religious zealots.

First Amendment and all that.
9.7.2009 12:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Do I think anyone actually thinks that there is evidentiary support for their religious belief comparable to what might convince them to accept a non-religious claim? Not unless they are dumb or deluded.


Evidentiary support for what? And what counts as evidence?

Remember I was raised in a religious group that says that faith should be based on personal experience rather than the creed of the group. Certainly Quakers have done quite well without creeds and focus children's Firstday School education on spiritual methodology and moral teachings. Every Quaker I have known sincerely believes that their system works. (Quakers largely see the Bible as metaphorical, but see Christ or God as having a commanding power over the human condition through the spiritual experience-- this element is called the "inner light." Quakers also see the story of Christ as purely exemplary-- that we should try to emulate Chirst in our lives.)

I would argue that part of the problem is that I would count spiritual experiences in that evidence, while you would not.

Also I think folks hold onto nonreligious claims based on personal experience just as often and with less interpersonal justification than they do religious claims.


That assumes there are only 2 religions that get to compete. In fact, ALL religions should get a shot, including ones the parents reject. As should atheism and agnosticism.


Still cutting the parents out of the debate in those cases strikes me as problematic. I think instead you are hostile to religious thought and would like to see the state take a stand against it in some small way.
9.7.2009 12:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Pauldom:

Once we agree that it's proper for the state to require a certain level of education for children, then that level of education should be required for all children.


I think there are two problems with this assessment:

1) It suggests pure majoritarian rule without minority rights. One could as easily say that once we agree that it is proper for the state to prescribe proper treatment of the flag, we shouldn't let free speech concerns get in the way of such laws.

2) It fails to address reasons that it might be proper for the state to make such a requirement and whether those are met by the Amish practices instead.


The stakes are higher. Educational gaps can potentially be remedied later in life; permanent disability and death, not so much.


Are the stakes REALLY higher on a group level? After all a tiny percentage of children die in these families due to withheld medical care. On the other hand, ALL Amish children are asked to drop out of school and learn the Amish lifestyle. I actually think the stakes are higher on both sides in the education question because it is one which is both core to the survival of the cultural group and affects everyone in it.

Going backward to a different point though

The youngest children are the most vulnerable. An older teen could potentially tell us whether he wanted to quit school and work on his dad's farm. But a newborn can't say, "I want that metabolic screening test so that my parents don't feed me food that kills me."


In Washington State, a couple years ago, we had a case where a 17-year-old kid was allowed by a court to refuse a life-saving (but non-emergency) blood transfusion over the objections of his parents (he had converted to the Jehovah's Witness faith while in the custody of his aunt). The court ruled he was competent and allowed him to refuse the treatment.

Presumably in that case based on your argument, you don't have a problem with the court's ruling there? After all the child sued for the right to stop treatment. Certainly HE said what he wanted.
9.7.2009 12:55pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan: If you think children should have full freedom of religion, presumably you see nothing wrong with a court allowing a 17-year-old to refuse life-saving medical treatment on religious grounds?
9.7.2009 12:56pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ReaderY:

So let him be a martyr, let him write his book... and make it clear that if you harbor a child, you get a free vacation to the local PMITA prison.


I don't fundamentally object to that, but give him the opportunity to present himself as a martyr and let others be the judge. But let him present this defence to the jury and the media.

BTW the pastor in this case doesn't get a lot of sympathy from me, but neutral principles which apply to those who do mandate that I argue he should have the right to this defence.
9.7.2009 1:01pm
Pauldom:
einhverfr:

1) It suggests pure majoritarian rule without minority rights. One could as easily say that once we agree that it is proper for the state to prescribe proper treatment of the flag, we shouldn't let free speech concerns get in the way of such laws.

In some areas, we don't distinguish minoritarian rights within majoritarian rule, e.g., traffic laws, murder. We shouldn't do so for child protection laws either.

2) It fails to address reasons that it might be proper for the state to make such a requirement and whether those are met by the Amish practices instead.

Agreed. I'm starting past this question--with the assumption that we agree state requirements are proper. Once we agree they are proper, they should apply to all children.

Are the stakes REALLY higher on a group level? After all a tiny percentage of children die in these families due to withheld medical care. On the other hand, ALL Amish children are asked to drop out of school and learn the Amish lifestyle. I actually think the stakes are higher on both sides in the education question because it is one which is both core to the survival of the cultural group and affects everyone in it.

No one lives or dies "on a group level." I don't believe we should allow any child to be martyred for the sake of the group.

Presumably in that case based on your argument, you don't have a problem with the court's ruling there? After all the child sued for the right to stop treatment. Certainly HE said what he wanted.

Correct. I think it's sad, but it certainly is within the rights of a competent individual to decline treatment. (With Jehovah's Witnesses, it's especially sad, because individual JW's often don't consider themselves to have sinned when they obey a court order. But if this 17yo is old enough to understand the consequences of his decision, he should be permitted to decide for himself.)

I agree with you, rc, and others on the issue of the Florida pastor.
9.7.2009 2:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Pauldom:

In some areas, we don't distinguish minoritarian rights within majoritarian rule, e.g., traffic laws, murder. We shouldn't do so for child protection laws either.


How do you determine which laws should protect minoritarian rights? Would trespassing on a military base (by walking through a checkpoint in open protest) qualify? I used to know someone who was acquitted of such charges based on a freedom of religion/conscience defence.

Also one of the issues with traffic laws is that I think they WOULD be Unconstitutional if they failed to respect the legitimate requirements of minorities. For example, suppose we banned horse-drawn carriages from major cities around Amish country, and from public roads, that would be Unconstitutional too. In fact, it already is an issue over whether the state can force Amish to put flashing lights and slow-moving vehicle signs on their carriages.....

So I don't think it is clearly the case that traffic laws don't have to protect minority rights.

Here are a few articles about some of the issues (and they include both zoning and traffic law conflicts):
Kentucky's Amish Population Tripled in 15 years: Discussion of traffic law conflicts and outhouse construction permits



No one lives or dies "on a group level." I don't believe we should allow any child to be martyred for the sake of the group.


No, but typically great mathematicians do their best work prior to the age of twenty. Closing off many of the opportunities that comes with dropping out of high school is something that cannot be entirely undone either.

It comes down to how you weigh harm-- is a large amount of harm to a very small number of people much worse than what you seem to think is a moderate harm done to a much larger number of people? Which should be a greater focus?

Personally I admire the Amish a great deal.

I also admire the Jehovah's Witnesses for a different reason: The Jehovah's Witnesses were the one group which fought for and got flag saluting requirements struck down on Constitutional grounds.

Interestingly, the article
9.7.2009 3:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
hmmm... I dont knw where that last sentence came from, but here is one more interesting case:
Regarding applicability of traffic laws to the Amish. After the MN Supreme Court accepted the as-applied challenge based on the First Amendment, it was vacated and remanded in light of Smith. The MN Supreme Court then held it violated the State Constitution anyway and so upheld their earlier decision on different grounds.
9.7.2009 3:49pm
Pauldom:
Actually, I agree with much of what you say, einhverfr, and I appreciate the interesting links.

By traffic laws, I was thinking of laws that require us to stop at red lights--we don't allow religious exemptions there. The slow-moving vehicle signs are an interesting case, though, and for me, the proper solution would depend upon whether there were alternatives that would accomplish the state's purpose while still being acceptable to the Amish. e.g., would a black/white reflective sign accomplish the same purpose as the flashing lights? I don't know. I assume, though, that the Amish don't get to drive their slow-moving vehicles on the expressways in violation of minimum speed requirements.

I don't have an opinion on early math education, but if we were to agree that it's important enough for the state to require, we shouldn't waive that requirement based on what church the parents attend.
It comes down to how you weigh harm-- is a large amount of harm to a very small number of people much worse than what you seem to think is a moderate harm done to a much larger number of people? Which should be a greater focus?

"Minority rights vs majority rule" isn't the right frame for considering child protection laws--it's the child's rights that are paramount. All children have the right to equal protection. There's no way in which allowing a child to die or be permanently disabled = protecting that child's rights, however much we might admire their community.

The Rifqa Bary case is less clear (assuming her parents aren't totally going to kill her), because of her age and because there's no evidence that a Muslim upbringing will prevent her from freely choosing her own religion as an adult.
9.7.2009 4:33pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Pauldom:

I think the issue of child endangerment laws needs to be seen as resting on a number of factors incuding:

1) Acceptable risk ("one child is too many" doesn't cut it in my book since every activity in life carries risks of injury or death).

2) Intrusiveness of controls and their effect on minority rights.

3) Hazards to unaffiliated others, and in particular the peace and security of the state.

Obviously, giving someone a religious exemption on killing his neighbor in a robbery attempt would run afoul with the third prong of the test sufficiently to override the other two as would killing unbelievers, believing it to be a good deed.

However, the third prong doesn't seem applicable to child welfare laws, so I think the question needs to be balancing the first two.
9.7.2009 5:11pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
The issue with Rifqa Bary is that she is still economically dependant on others, and so she might as well be with her parents, assuming there is no evidence her safety is at risk.
9.7.2009 5:13pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I would argue that part of the problem is that I would count spiritual experiences in that evidence, while you would not.

I am sure you also treat LSD trips and the delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic as evidence as well, right?

Of course not. It's all special pleading for things you want to believe absent real evidence.
9.7.2009 8:33pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Still cutting the parents out of the debate in those cases strikes me as problematic. I think instead you are hostile to religious thought and would like to see the state take a stand against it in some small way.

Not at all. Religions should have a full and fair opportunity to persuade consenting adults, just as all other purveyors of ideas get. No hostility at all.

But since religions often override consent, there needs to be strong mechanisms available to protect those who don't want to be indoctrinated.
9.7.2009 8:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan: If you think children should have full freedom of religion, presumably you see nothing wrong with a court allowing a 17-year-old to refuse life-saving medical treatment on religious grounds?

I don't really have a problem with that, no. But even if I were to adopt a prophylactic rule to keep the kid alive, I certainly wouldn't count the PARENTS' views for any weight. If the parents want to kill their kids, that's basically conclusive evidence of unfit parenting.
9.7.2009 8:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

I am sure you also treat LSD trips and the delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic as evidence as well, right?

Of course not. It's all special pleading for things you want to believe absent real evidence.


I suspect at this point the problem is improper generalization. My thesis on religious thought is different from yours and I approach it fundamentally differently. Since we probably can't agree on an interpretation of religious thought we can agree with, we can't apply a test to it.

Just on the off chance we can, I will give you a closer look at my thought and how mythological traditions (generally) provide something which cannot be found in secular philosophy. This is a socio-functional approach to religion and avoids questions of the literal (as opposed to situational) truth found in these traditions.

I would argue that your secularism has its own mythological tradition which you seek to make universally accepted, but I accept the Norse myths instead of yours, so....

Interestingly these patterns show up when one does serious comparative religion studies not limited to a few closely related religions (like the triad of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity).

But what do I know? After all, I advocate a return to horse sacrifice.

I: Function of Mythology

First mythological traditions, properly studied, provide patterns of meaning in life (this is Eliade's viewpoint). In essence we grow up with stories of heroes and gods in various situations and we see ourselves in them. We thus find our lives mirror our myths.

This pattern approach can result in viewpoints which are challenging to religious folks, of course, such as the idea that the Garden of Eden and the Fall myths are stories of childhood and adolescence.

At the same time mythological traditions tend to be comprehensive. There tend to be stories relating to large sections of the human condition. These teach ideals, lifestyle, and attitudes towards virtue.

II: Differences between Mythologies and Secular Equivalents

Certainly one could argue that all of the above functions can be found in modern literature and secular philosophy. However, there are differences which render mythological approaches particularly valuable in my opinion.

The first is that mythological traditions are conservative in methodology. Large portions of them were built up and maintained initially in periods prior to the development of writing. This means also that the social value has withstood the test of time. Mythology strongly contrasts with modern literature in the sense that literature tends to be innovative instead of conservative. This means that while mythology provides collective views on elements of the human condition, literature provides individual authors' views. This is an important difference which must be recognized.

The second is that most mythological traditions are more comprehensive than most literary traditions and are more compact, thus more memorable and more useful.

III: Basic conclusions

Mythological and ritual systems are semantic systems meant to communicate matters of cultural importance. One can admit they aren't literally true and still accept their value in these areas. However, such a view has to make space not only for the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptures, but also the mythological traditions of India, Greece, Ireland, Scandinavia, and so forth, and the accompanying social rituals (sacrificial feasts and what not). Learning and understand a mythological tradition is valuable to the full appreciation of life as a human being.

BTW, I don't believe that bilingualism as an idea is incompatible with the above ideas. I see no reason why one can't be a Norse Pagan and a Greek Pagan at the same time, nor would there be an inherent conflict between following Norse myth and being a Quaker (though issues of nonviolence could get interesting).

Arguing over what is the true religion is like arguing over whether English is the One True Language. It is a stupid argument and one we should get over. But religion, because it forms a semantic system relating to meaning in life, is as closely tied to culture as language is. Therefore if we are to be a pluralistic society, we need to appreciate differences in religion.

(Literal belief in religion, while missing the point, does not interfere with its legitimate functions.)
9.7.2009 10:24pm
Pauldom:
3) Hazards to unaffiliated others, and in particular the peace and security of the state.

Why must the others be "unaffiliated"? Should I assume it's ok with you if the person murdered in a robbery attempt for religious reasons is a friend? a spouse? a sibling?

It seems you are reluctant to grant children their own individual rights.

re: "acceptable risk" Mental retardation from untreated congenital hypothyroidism (for example) is a certainty, not a risk.
9.7.2009 10:58pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I would argue that your secularism has its own mythological tradition which you seek to make universally accepted, but I accept the Norse myths instead of yours, so....

With all respect, it doesn't matter how many times you make the "atheism is a religion" argument, it is still idiotic. Atheism, agnosticism, and secularism are religions in the same sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Obviously religious people would LIKE to tell themselves that everyone believes in myths and fantasies. But that's silly. Obviously nonbelief isn't a form of belief, and it's deliberately dishonest and obtuse to claim otherwise. But it's mighty convenient as an excuse for believers who know that their beliefs are BS.

First mythological traditions, properly studied, provide patterns of meaning in life (this is Eliade's viewpoint). In essence we grow up with stories of heroes and gods in various situations and we see ourselves in them. We thus find our lives mirror our myths.

This is a terrible argument. You could argue that hallucinogenic drugs provide patterns for meaning in life. Or following a cult leader. Just because something gives a person a subjective experience of meaning doesn't make it good, useful, or productive. And most of all-- IT DOESN'T MAKE IT TRUE!

Now it is true that an idea can be useful even if false. Portraying love as cupid with an arrow is a useful literary metaphor. But the difference is, nobody actually believes that love IS Cupid with an arrow. If people convince themselves of that delusion, it would be a much different situation.

One very well might argue the anthropological usefulness of religious scriptures if nobody was walking around claiming to have spiritual visions, getting directions from an alleged God, or thinking they were going to live forever. But given that false ideas are spread all over the place, pointing to comparatively minor benefits to society really doesn't outweigh that. Religion is too big a lie to be a noble lie.

The first is that mythological traditions are conservative in methodology. Large portions of them were built up and maintained initially in periods prior to the development of writing. This means also that the social value has withstood the test of time.

This claim is simply unsupportable. I am not one of those people who say that religion poisons everything-- I know too many Catholics who man the soup kitchens to claim that. But religion's track record is not one of providing social value. Rather, its track record is one of causing wars, human conflict, massively inhumane conduct, division and separatism, and messianic behavior.

Mythological and ritual systems are semantic systems meant to communicate matters of cultural importance. One can admit they aren't literally true and still accept their value in these areas.

There is no real importance to culture. It's fine to say that culture is interesting, and I certainly understand a symbolic loss that the world suffers when cultures die off, but there's no good reason why later generations have to do what their ancestors did. Many cultural practices, such as female genital mutilation in Africa or sex segregation in Orthodox Judaism, are abominable and should be forcefully opposed. Other cultural practices, such as white dresses at weddings, are simply stupid and have no social value. And those cultural practices that have value have nothing to fear, because rational people will adopt them whether or not they are tied to a culture. (Witness the number of secular people who have become vegetarians and vegans.)

The less that people feel ruled by the dead hand of the past, the better. And if religion really perpetuates culture, you've identified one more thing that's bad about it.
9.7.2009 11:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


With all respect, it doesn't matter how many times you make the "atheism is a religion" argument, it is still idiotic. Atheism, agnosticism, and secularism are religions in the same sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby.


Atheism is no more "a religion" than monotheism or polytheism is is. Some Hindus and Buddhists might be functionally "atheistic" but that doesn't mean that they share anything religiously with western secular humanists, for example. I am saying that secular humanism has its own mythology. This includes a look towards notions of social progress which are nondemonstrable. You find them useful. That's fine. I don't. You have your own heroes and your own myths. Otherwise your life would be meaningless.

It isn't a matter of believing in FANTASIES. It is a matter of having certain functional elements in one's worldview. Mythology here then is a functional category, and I choose it because it gets away from the "religion as literal truth" bit.

It is better to look at atheism as a category of religious thought rather than a religion per se. We can then categorize religious thought as being pantheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic, or somewhere in between. (Taoism for example, might fall somewhere between atheistic and pantheistic modes of thought for example.)

Here is a good way to put it: Myths are metaphors from which situational truth can be found in the moment. If you don't have a set of these metaphors, and did not get them from literature, Disney movies of Cinderella, or whatever, your life must be necessarily dull.


And most of all-- IT DOESN'T MAKE IT TRUE!


I am the one who says I don't believe in literal truth in religion. So that is a straw man as you are arguing against a position other than what I am articulating. I am saying that mythological and ritual traditions, properly studied, place life in context of greater meaning provided through a culturoreligious framework.

Religion is, like language, A SEMANTIC SYSTEM. Arguing about whether it is literally true misses the point, just as would complaining that a novelist who writes "The setting sun set ablaze the heavens" is telling a lie. We might as well be arguing over whether Modern English is a more true language than, say, Payute (where one word might mean "I like to have eggs for breakfast").


There is no real importance to culture. It's fine to say that culture is interesting, and I certainly understand a symbolic loss that the world suffers when cultures die off, but there's no good reason why later generations have to do what their ancestors did.


I am sorry you don't value cultural pluralism. Some of us, like myself, though are happy that such pluralism is enshrined in our Constitution, and the Constitutions of many of our states to an even greater degree.

I am sure you disagree with stare decisis, res judicata, and other principles which make the court culturally conservative?

Stability in culture is a general good, because change in culture is disruptive. Stable cultures also show that the ideas at least are functionally workable. Ungrounded cultures tend to forget the lessons of the past and end up ruled by Caligulas, Stalins, and the like. This shouldn't be a matter of left vs right either. It should be a matter of providing serious deference to historical studies because these show what our ancestors did that worked.

The idea that we SHOULDN'T look at these sources and give reasonable deference to them has no empirical or demonstrable benefit and our most important elements of our society (our courts) are methodologically conservative in these ways. Often the problem is that of mixed metaphors-- while it is true that technology often forces social change, this does not mean we can equate social progress with technological progress.
9.8.2009 12:32am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:
BTW, one element of literary mythologies to consider:

I find your argument remind me of Ursula LeGuin's work "The Lathe of Heaven." You might find it an interesting work.
9.8.2009 12:43am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am saying that secular humanism has its own mythology. This includes a look towards notions of social progress which are nondemonstrable. You find them useful. That's fine. I don't.

"Secular humanism" is the absence of belief. It doesn't have a mythology because it isn't a belief system.

And axioms that are confirmed through constant scientific observation-- even if we considered that to be a part of "secular humanism" (funny, I thought religious people accepted science too)-- are not "myths".

It isn't a matter of believing in FANTASIES. It is a matter of having certain functional elements in one's worldview.

Your approach seems to be that if you change the label of something, you change its essence. In other words, if we label delusional thinking and fantastic beliefs "religions" or "mythologies", they become something other than silly and untrue beliefs.

Well, they don't. Dumb, improbable, unproven, unsupportable, unevidenced beliefs do not suddenly become otherwise because they are functional elements in your worldview. They just infect your worldview with untrue beliefs.

Religion is, like language, A SEMANTIC SYSTEM.

This, again, is silly. Language doesn't make factual claims. Religion does. I agree that-- TO A NONBELIEVING SCIENTIST STUDYING IT FROM THE OUTSIDE-- religion has semantic elements. But that doesn't make its factual claims valid.

Astrology is a semantic system too, to an outside observer. But it's also a set of false and unevidenced beliefs. Just like religion.

And it doesn't excuse believers for their refusing to think critically about their professed beliefs that someone outside the system might see it worthy of study.

I am sorry you don't value cultural pluralism.

I value it in a marketplace of ideas sense. I think having competing cultures out there might do some social good. But what I don't value is the preservation of cultures just because they are cultures.

What's important is getting questions right, not having preexisting, bequeathed belief systems, especially since those systems are full of false and harmful beliefs.

The idea that we SHOULDN'T look at these sources and give reasonable deference to them has no empirical or demonstrable benefit and our most important elements of our society (our courts) are methodologically conservative in these ways.

Now these are really fighting words. Courts offer REASONS for their decisions. Without those reasons, precedents wouldn't be worth following, and poorly reasoned precedents are frequently overturned.

In other words, the past gets no deference simply because the past. It gets deference to the extent that very smart people used their REASONING SKILLS to reach decisions.

In the religious context, a bunch of ignorant people 2000 years ago wrote a bunch of fairy tales that made completely ignorant factual claims about the world. And they often did it for the purpose of controlling the masses.

That sort of crap is owed no deference.
9.8.2009 1:04am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

"Secular humanism" is the absence of belief. It doesn't have a mythology because it isn't a belief system.


No it can't be reduced to that. It does include an absence of belief IN GOD or equivalent concepts, but that doesn't mean an absence of belief generally. Secular humanists, for example believe in a number of things, including the ability of humans to re-engineer societies.


This, again, is silly. Language doesn't make factual claims. Religion does. I agree that-- TO A NONBELIEVING SCIENTIST STUDYING IT FROM THE OUTSIDE-- religion has semantic elements. But that doesn't make its factual claims valid.


Define factual claims. And tell me what factual claims Quakerism, for example, makes. My perspective is somewhat different because I was raised in a religion which doesn't make the sort of claims you are eager to refute.

Quakerism has a religious worldview, and a reigious view of the human condition, but that view is ENTIRELY non-overlapping with scientific thought because it comes at things from a very different angle. Interestingly everyone I know in the Norse Pagan religion tends to approach Norse myth in that same way.

So.... You are equating religion with belief, which only makes sense in a VERY SMALL subset of religions, namely mainstream Christianity and Islam and their derivatives. In most of the religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc) including nearly all of the traditional ones, assigning truth values to myths is irrelevant to whether you are in the religion or not.

Your perspective might benefit from actually doing some comparative religious studies sometime.
9.8.2009 1:17am
ReaderY:
Not collecting stamps may not be a hobby.

But we're talking about much more than that. Constantly preaching that it's wrong to collect stamps is at least a hobby, if not an out-and-out obsession (and a rather annoying one to boot). And threatening to take stamp-collectors' children away from and characterizing teaching ones children about stamp collecting as a form of child abuse makes anti-stamp-collecting obsessing much, much more than just a mere "hobby", and more than just merely annoying. It makes it something deadly serious.
9.8.2009 1:24am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
readery:

Part of the problem though is that many religions accept functional atheists without any apparent contradiction. You could for example, be a rather religious Hindu or Buddhist and an atheist without a great deal of contradiction.

This is why I see atheism, along with pantheism, monotheism, polytheism, etc. as a category of religious thought rather than a religion itself. Certainly a secular humanist and an atheist Hindu are not remotely of the same religion any more than a Sikh and a Lutheran is.

The idea that religion equates to a set of beliefs-- a creed if you will, is remarkably peculiar among a few of the world's major religions, most notably Christianity, Islam and their splinters. However this is not how the rest of the world sees religion. Most of the major religions treat belief as irrelevant.
9.8.2009 1:54am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No it can't be reduced to that. It does include an absence of belief IN GOD or equivalent concepts, but that doesn't mean an absence of belief generally. Secular humanists, for example believe in a number of things, including the ability of humans to re-engineer societies.

This is conservative religious claptrap. Lots of secular humanists are libertarians and believe no such things. Lots more are conventional liberals who also don't have much truck with these sorts of ideas.

Look, if you want to repeat talking points from Pat Robertson about the evils of secular humanism, you are not a serious thinker. Sorry, but you can't put atheists, agnostics, and secularists in a box. They have no consistent, shared belief system, and if you want to count things like a belief in scientific progress, most religious people believe in that too.

Define factual claims.

Religions are replete with factual claims:

Historical claims-- the Biblical flood.
Cosmological claims-- God created the world.
Supernatural claims-- Jesus was resurrected.
Epistemological claims-- scripture is the word of an omniscient God.
Geological claims-- the age of the earth.
Biological claims-- the order of population of the earth.
Escatological claims-- how the end of the world will take place.

And tons more.

And every single one of them, except for perhaps the basic historical claims (there was a preacher who is the Jesus of the Bible, the Roman census happened when the new testament said it did), is false or completely lacking in evidence.

That's the fundamental problem with religion. It makes a bunch of factual claims without factual support or which have been disproven.

So.... You are equating religion with belief, which only makes sense in a VERY SMALL subset of religions, namely mainstream Christianity and Islam and their derivatives. In most of the religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc) including nearly all of the traditional ones, assigning truth values to myths is irrelevant to whether you are in the religion or not.

I don't think this is really true, in that people certainly PROFESS belief. But if it is, it undermines the importance of religion. There's no reason for a separate constitutional protection for an Elks Lodge, after all. The point of free exercise of religion has to be that these beliefs are so personal and so important to people that they require constitutional protection beyond the mere free association right.

So if religious believers don't really believe in anything, there's no real reason to be so solicitous of religion.

Of course, I don't really think most believers believe. I think they hope. But to me, that makes religion an even bigger lie.
9.8.2009 3:25am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But we're talking about much more than that. Constantly preaching that it's wrong to collect stamps is at least a hobby, if not an out-and-out obsession (and a rather annoying one to boot). And threatening to take stamp-collectors' children away from and characterizing teaching ones children about stamp collecting as a form of child abuse makes anti-stamp-collecting obsessing much, much more than just a mere "hobby", and more than just merely annoying. It makes it something deadly serious.

But the difference is that the stamp collecting parent isn't lying to his or her kids. The religious parent is.

That said, since it apparently didn't get through, I will repeat-- I DON'T FAVOR LAWS TO PRVENT PARENTS FROM TEACHING THEIR RELIGION TO THEIR KIDS. I do, however, favor laws to protect the children if they decide they don't want to hear it.

Finally, a bit about "obsession". I don't obsess about religion. Frankly, I don't even think about it very much. I don't care about it. It's silly and stupid, just like astrology. But people have the right to be silly and stupid.

I do, however, make it a point to point this out in discussions where it is relevant to the issue.
9.8.2009 3:28am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Also, why is it "deadly serious" to argue that it is child abuse to impose one's religion on one's kids? What exactly is the harm of making that argument. It can't be that religion is true-- you know that it's all BS. So it must be, what, exactly?

Or do you actually believe this crap?
9.8.2009 3:30am
epeeist:
I haven't followed the story that closely, but if a 17-year-old alleges she is in danger from her parents, shouldn't that get a great deal of credence? Especially when the stated reason for concern, unfortunately, is credible?
9.8.2009 6:36am
yankev (mail):

You reinforce my point. Merely because one reading of one source document seems to indicate one course of action does not mean that all adherents to that tradition interpret it that way, and it is inherently prejudicial to assume that they will, as Tim seems to be doing.
There are several important differences.
1. EVERY Jewish authority interprets the death sentence from Lev. not to apply today.
2. Both the facial reading and the universally accepted reading of the LEV. death sentence limits imposition to a Jewish court; believers are not to take matters into their own hands.
3. THERE ARE NO RECORDED INSTANCE OF ANY JEWISH BELIEVER APPLYING THE DEATH SENTENCE FOR CURSING TODAY.

By contrast - there are at least some Muslim authorities who are on record as interpreting the Koranic death sentence to apply today, and to be the obligation of the apsotate's family or of all believers.

And there are at least some families today who have killed daughters or sisters claiming the authority of these laws.

And again, I hasten to add that these facts tell you nothing about what any given family will do. But it does mean it is silly, inaccurate and dangerous to play "See, other religions have severe beliefs as well so here too we can discount the risk completely."
9.8.2009 10:55am
yankev (mail):

It is actually possible to establish the existence of reason and the law without wishful thinking and blatant dishonesty.
Where? When?
9.8.2009 11:03am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

First, as to factual claims, Quakerism (the sect I was raised in), didn't make any of those claims. We saw the Bible purely as a set of exemplary stories.

Quaker belief is predicated on a belief in "God" but Quakers don't define that very much, which makes factual claims about "God" difficult. ("God" in quotes because the idea differs substantially from other Christian sects.) Quakers believe that "there is that of God in everybody."

("God" for Quakers is defined by experience and not defined by the group.)

That of God in everyone is identified with the Inner Light, which is identified with the light of God which shines in the heart of man mentioned in John and Luke. Early Quakers understood this to be the Light and Voice of Christ while many, though not all, Modern Quakers invert this (arriving at an almost Arian view of Christ).

So once again you are looking specifically at refuting mainstream Christianity, and not looking beyond this.


I don't think this is really true, in that people certainly PROFESS belief. But if it is, it undermines the importance of religion. There's no reason for a separate constitutional protection for an Elks Lodge, after all. The point of free exercise of religion has to be that these beliefs are so personal and so important to people that they require constitutional protection beyond the mere free association right.


Well..... Talk religion with a Hindu sometime and ask how Hindus treat their holy books (the Vedas and Upanishads). There is tremendous debate within Hinduism whether the Hindu gods exist as independent entities ("hard polytheism"), are masks of all-pervading, universal truth ("soft polytheism"), or metaphors we create to reach that truth ("pantheism").

What binds Hindus together isn't belief in the Vedas and Upanishads as historical records, or even belief in the gods, but rather a certain mode of thought relating to the interaction of the self and the world. As long as one holds these ideas (that universal truth exists within the self, and that the deepest part of the self is at one with everything else through this process-- laid out in the Upanishads), and holds with Hindu PRACTICE, one is a Hindu. Belief is irrelevant.

Most traditional religions are orthopraxies-- the religion consists of a set of mythologies and practices that adherents are expected to accept as the tradition, but little defining emphasis is placed on HOW these are accepted or interpreted. Hence, for example one is free to interpret the gods metaphorically or literally as one sees fit.

You only find emphasis on what folks believe on a factual level to be guiding and important factors in Islam, Christianity, and a few related groups (Sikhs place some emphasis on belief as part of their Muslim heritage, but are still more like Hindus than Muslims for example).
9.8.2009 11:06am
yankev (mail):

You seem to see religion as a dangerous cancer,
You mean Robespierre and his atheist rule-of-reason colleagues were mistaken, and it isn't?
9.8.2009 11:15am
yankev (mail):

My rigidity regards defense of children, particularly with respect to protection from adults who seem uninterested in their well-being, regardless of the reason. Adults should be free to believe as they wish; children deserve protection from unreasonable adults -- again, regardless of the nature of the unreasonableness.
Do you truly think the Amish parents are uninterested in their children's well-being? This charge seems to me absurd on its face. I thnik they simply differ widely from you as to what well-being means. Their children are more likely than yours to enjoy a stable marriage, a warm and loving family life, children and grandchildren who love and respect them, and the care and society of a large and loving family. Some rational people might think that a fair trade off for a third-rate pseudeo education (especially one that dumbs down math and science and chooses authors by popularity, skin color, gender or sexual orientation) or even a first-rate education that comes with MTV, bar-hopping, hook-ups, serial marriage and divorce, and children and grand-children who think their parenst and grandparents are idiots and want nothing to do with them.


Defining well-being IN THIS WORLD is one facet of religion. Anyone who thinks that 100 people left to reason alone will agree on what the good life is and what value or priority to assign to competing values is demonstrating more irrational faith than any stereotypical believer.
9.8.2009 11:32am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
There are several important differences. 1. EVERY Jewish authority interprets the death sentence from Lev. not to apply today. 2. Both the facial reading and the universally accepted reading of the LEV. death sentence limits imposition to a Jewish court; believers are not to take matters into their own hands. 3. THERE ARE NO RECORDED INSTANCE OF ANY JEWISH BELIEVER APPLYING THE DEATH SENTENCE FOR CURSING TODAY.

It's worth noting that although I agree with Yankev that this defense holds for cursing, there's another passage in Leviticus that causes all sorts of violence and social harm-- the one that supposedly prohibits homosexual conduct. And that one's quite comparable to allegedly "bad" verses in the Koran.
9.8.2009 11:35am
yankev (mail):

Is it more important that a child grows up to be a nuclear physicist or that he or she grows up to be happy?
Or that the child grow up with societally-approved irrational biases and intolerant attitudes, which I have concluded are based on pure reason, rather the biases of his parents? Is it the supposed loss of opportuntiy, or the fact that the child will grow up without what **I** think OUGHT to make him or her happy?
9.8.2009 11:38am
yankev (mail):

By traffic laws, I was thinking of laws that require us to stop at red lights--we don't allow religious exemptions there.
I don't normally cross against a red light. Some years ago the city reprogrammed all the lights in my neighborhood along Broad Street/U.S. 40 so that they will not turn green for cross traffic unless there a vehicle on the cross street trips a buried cable or someone presses a button on the light. And unless the button is pressed, the light never says "Walk." At hearings on this matter, the city chose to disregard the wishes of the (relatively, compared to the rest of the city) large number of sabbath observers in the neighborhood.

So now on my sabbath and holy days, I cross even if the light is red. It's a neutral law and society may have an interest in enforcing it, but I have an interest in observing my religion without being confined to my home.
9.8.2009 11:51am
yankev (mail):

the one that supposedly prohibits homosexual conduct.
We are stretching a bit, aren't we? The discussion began with the concern that some believer would take the law into his own hands. You cannot show me that any Jewish believer has done so.

So we are left with something that you believe inclulcates wrong attitudes. (If you tell me that the harm is due to what non-Jews have done with those verses, I will tell you that I take no responsibility for what they do or do not do with Scripture; Jewish Scripture certainly is not telling them to behave violently against gay people.) Purely secular societies have also prohibited homosexual conduct as being inimical to the social order, and a purely secular construct can be used to support such a prohibition. So how is verse any worse than the ones that supposedly prohibit adultery? Or the ones in Genesis that supposedly prohibit abortion? Or the ones that supposedly prohibit killing or maiming slaves or prohibit returning them to their masters?

.
9.8.2009 12:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

Or that the child grow up with societally-approved irrational biases and intolerant attitudes, which I have concluded are based on pure reason, rather the biases of his parents? Is it the supposed loss of opportuntiy, or the fact that the child will grow up without what **I** think OUGHT to make him or her happy?


You haven't accepted Reason as your Lord and Savior yet?
9.8.2009 12:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

We are stretching a bit, aren't we? The discussion began with the concern that some believer would take the law into his own hands. You cannot show me that any Jewish believer has done so.


These points are quite valid. Jewish law as a whole could not condone killing of children because they curse the parents, and I think anyone with any basic knowledge of Jewish law would have to come to that conclusion as well.

However, I think the original point also has some validity too, which is that if we start presuming guilt before any crime has been committed on the sole basis of what some religious authority says, we run into courts having to make decisions about what Leviticus requires in this case-- questions which are entirely beyond their competence and so one should be afraid of what they would do.

Collective suspicion is not enough and should not be. One needs individualized reason to believe the child is in danger of this sort.
9.8.2009 12:48pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

One question I have wanted to ask but havent got a chance to ask my Jewish relatives yet:

How does one define a "religious" as opposed to "secular" Jew? Is it based on belief? Or lifestyle? Or partipation in practices?

I.e. if one kept kosher, attended Sabbaths, etc but wasn't sure about the existence of G_d (i.e. was intellectually agnostic), would such an individual be considered a religious Jew or not?
9.8.2009 1:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So we are left with something that you believe inclulcates wrong attitudes. (If you tell me that the harm is due to what non-Jews have done with those verses, I will tell you that I take no responsibility for what they do or do not do with Scripture; Jewish Scripture certainly is not telling them to behave violently against gay people.) Purely secular societies have also prohibited homosexual conduct as being inimical to the social order, and a purely secular construct can be used to support such a prohibition. So how is verse any worse than the ones that supposedly prohibit adultery? Or the ones in Genesis that supposedly prohibit abortion? Or the ones that supposedly prohibit killing or maiming slaves or prohibit returning them to their masters?

Providing for the death penalty for gays is stupid and barbaric. And the authors of those passages, as well as ANY religious folks, whether Jewish or Christian, who uphold those passages as holy or the word of God, are very much responsible for any violence against gays and lesbians that result from them.

So yeah, I think it would be much better to say "God didn't write this, and gays are not deserving of the death penalty". The fact that secular authorities made the same mistake doesn't make it any less of a mistake; especially as it is the religious authorities, and not any acts of secularists, that are being used to justify violence and discrimination against gays now.
9.8.2009 1:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Providing for the death penalty for gays is stupid and barbaric. And the authors of those passages, as well as ANY religious folks, whether Jewish or Christian, who uphold those passages as holy or the word of God, are very much responsible for any violence against gays and lesbians that result from them.


I can't agree with this. Hindsight my seem 20/20 but reality becomes distorted the further back you look.

I maintain that in the past there were VERY GOOD reasons for legal prohibitions against homosexual conduct. I am not sure they apply today and am in favor of SSM. But a lot of this is an artifact of our current prosperity. If we needed our children to care for us in old age, the equation would be very different.
9.8.2009 1:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(Ancient family law is quite a fascinating field, actually. It is worth studying before concluding our ancestors were misguided ignoramuses.)
9.8.2009 1:32pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I maintain that in the past there were VERY GOOD reasons for legal prohibitions against homosexual conduct.

1. Even if I accepted this, it doesn't justify the death penalty.

and

2. I don't, in fact, accept this. And, indeed, I think that the existence of condemnations of homosexuality is an EXCELLENT example of something that basically disproves that religious texts are actually the word of God. The BEST defense you can mount of them is the one you made-- that in agrarian societies, encouraging people to procreate is useful in a way it isn't now.

BUT... (a) an omniscient God would of course know that humans were destined to move away from agrarian societies; (b) She would also know that it is hopeless and heartless to try to force gays and lesbians to live straight lives and procreate with a female partner; and (c) She would further know that discrimination against gays and lesbians is wrong.

In other words, what you obviously have is some really ignorant and bigoted people writing words down and putting them in the mouth of God. It's horrid, it has been used as the justification for untold amounts of violence against gays and lesbians, and it continues to do harm now. It is one of the best arguments AGAINST organized religion.

What ever God may or may not be, She certainly doesn't believe that gays should be put to death. This garbage indicts organized religions much more effectively than any atheist, agnostic, or secularist ever could.
9.8.2009 1:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

1. Even if I accepted this, it doesn't justify the death penalty.


Even if adultery was also punished by death?

And, indeed, I think that the existence of condemnations of homosexuality is an EXCELLENT example of something that basically disproves that religious texts are actually the word of God. The BEST defense you can mount of them is the one you made-- that in agrarian societies, encouraging people to procreate is useful in a way it isn't now.


As I say, I see religion as a socio-functional phenomenon. The religious tradition is not the "word of God" so much as it is the product of conservative (Burkean) cultural developments.


BUT... (a) an omniscient God would of course know that humans were destined to move away from agrarian societies; (b) She would also know that it is hopeless and heartless to try to force gays and lesbians to live straight lives and procreate with a female partner; and (c) She would further know that discrimination against gays and lesbians is wrong.


You know you are projecting when your God hates all the same people you do ;-). Obviously you don't reserve the right to be wrong regarding moral judgements and act with the certainty becoming of a missionary enticing us to accept Reason as our Lord and Savior.

Anyway, is your problem with ancient law because "we know better?" Or because the legal tradition is tied to religion (i.e. no similar objection to the Twelve Tables which REQUIRED a father to put to death any deformed infant)?

I would note that in most of the world TODAY, people have to have their parents move in with them after they retire. This is the retirement support structure, assisted living, etc. No kids? Tough luck. That means that even without legal prohibitions if you are gay and don't marry someone of the opposite sex, you end up begging on the street.

I am sure many parents would in those cases feel that deterrence against that sort of lifestyle (meaning not married to one of the opposite sex) is worth a death penalty.

Also, I am not a monotheist. So I am arguing here solely about Jewish scripture and history. My point here is that religion and culture are closely tied in Jewish history, not assigning truth values to mythological ideas (which IME most Jews don't do anyway).
9.8.2009 2:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You know you are projecting when your God hates all the same people you do ;-). Obviously you don't reserve the right to be wrong regarding moral judgements and act with the certainty becoming of a missionary enticing us to accept Reason as our Lord and Savior.

Again, you mock this, but human reason has brought us life-extending scientific advancements, air, space, and sea travel, democratic institutions and the rule of law, and all sorts of other tangible accomplishments that religion could never deliver.

Indeed, the very medium that you use to mock reason could not have been created without it.

Anyway, is your problem with ancient law because "we know better?" Or because the legal tradition is tied to religion (i.e. no similar objection to the Twelve Tables which REQUIRED a father to put to death any deformed infant)?

1. We do know better.
2. These things not only spawned unjust laws, but a lot of vigilante conduct as well.

I would note that in most of the world TODAY, people have to have their parents move in with them after they retire. This is the retirement support structure, assisted living, etc. No kids? Tough luck. That means that even without legal prohibitions if you are gay and don't marry someone of the opposite sex, you end up begging on the street. I am sure many parents would in those cases feel that deterrence against that sort of lifestyle (meaning not married to one of the opposite sex) is worth a death penalty.

So you are a homophobic bigot as well? Should have figured.

For your information, being gay is WHO SOME PEOPLE ARE. It is no more reasonable to force them into opposite sex relationships than it is to force you into a same sex one. And it is cruel and barbaric to use the threat of death or government power to do it.

Levitical laws against homosexuality are indefensible, because they take a disfavored group of people who are doing nothing wrong and state that they should be subject to the most dastardly and evil punishment imaginable. It is shocking that anyone would defend such a thing.
9.8.2009 2:39pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

Again, you mock this, but human reason has brought us life-extending scientific advancements, air, space, and sea travel, democratic institutions and the rule of law, and all sorts of other tangible accomplishments that religion could never deliver.


Rule of law existed in some societies much further back than you suppose (republican Rome, classical Athens, republican Iceland, ancient Ireland, etc). I don't think SOCIAL evolution can be equated with TECHNOLOGICAL progress as I think the former is specifically adaptive rather than progressive. The idea that Reason brought us the rule of law is laughable on its face.


So you are a homophobic bigot as well? Should have figured.

For your information, being gay is WHO SOME PEOPLE ARE. It is no more reasonable to force them into opposite sex relationships than it is to force you into a same sex one. And it is cruel and barbaric to use the threat of death or government power to do it.

Levitical laws against homosexuality are indefensible, because they take a disfavored group of people who are doing nothing wrong and state that they should be subject to the most dastardly and evil punishment imaginable. It is shocking that anyone would defend such a thing.


Honestly, I don't get accused of bigotry against gays very often. This is especially laughable because I believe that DOMA is Unconstitutional and that allowing SSM is good policy in the US. While I oppose hate crime legislation I do propose instead more general laws that would provide functionally similar protections (and would do a better job of meeting legitimate interests of hate crime legislation).

But I suppose Dangermouse called me a liberal so anything is possible.....

Accusing someone of bigotry because they disagree and point to what they feel is past legitimate interests of such laws strikes me as an attempt to cut conversation off instead of delve into the questions at issue.

The fundamental issue is this. I see social justice as structural issues. You seek to condemn all past cultures because they didn't live up to our standards of today. I won't condemn another culture unless I have done a proper structural analysis as I believe that the only way to properly APPLY reason is to look carefully at these issues first BEFORE coming to a conclusion as to whether IN CONTEXT such prohibitions are right or wrong. You can say "I disagree with them so therefore they were wrong. End of story," but unless you are prepared to understand how such prohibitions fit into the rest of society, this is just a cheap shot.

It also IGNORES all of the work that is done in fields like anthropology, looking at issues with empirical standards you can't match.

Reason follows the "garbage in, garbage out" principle. You apply it to the wrong facts, and you will get invalid conclusions.
9.8.2009 3:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Rule of law existed in some societies much further back than you suppose (republican Rome, classical Athens, republican Iceland, ancient Ireland, etc). I don't think SOCIAL evolution can be equated with TECHNOLOGICAL progress as I think the former is specifically adaptive rather than progressive. The idea that Reason brought us the rule of law is laughable on its face.

It didn't come from anywhere else.

(Bear in mind, the rule of law does not mean compulsion by force. It means consistent application of a set of rules. And this certainly was a product of human reason.)

The fundamental issue is this. I see social justice as structural issues. You seek to condemn all past cultures because they didn't live up to our standards of today.

You are seeing what you want to see in my argument. I am not "condemning" past cultures. I am saying that past cultures got things wrong and we know better and shouldn't make their mistakes.

That doesn't, however, retroactively say that THEY should have known better. Look, Jefferson owned slaves. He also laid the rhetorical and philosophical groundwork for abolitionism. I am not condemning Jefferson-- but I am saying that the fact that he owned slaves doesn't mean we should.
9.8.2009 3:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

You are seeing what you want to see in my argument. I am not "condemning" past cultures. I am saying that past cultures got things wrong and we know better and shouldn't make their mistakes.


I am saying you can't make that determination unless you look closely at context.


It didn't come from anywhere else.

(Bear in mind, the rule of law does not mean compulsion by force. It means consistent application of a set of rules. And this certainly was a product of human reason.)


Um.... When we look at the Brehon Code for example and its application (including application against those in power), you don't think that qualifies as rule of law?
9.8.2009 3:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am saying you can't make that determination unless you look closely at context.

If you argue:

1. That past customs is owed deference.

and

2. You can't argue that past customs should not be followed without looking at their historical context.

Then what you get is that we have to follow past customs SO LONG AS THEY WERE DEFENSIBLE BASED ON A MORE LIMITED STATE OF KNOWLEDGE, without regard to what we subsequently discovered.

That's batty, it's wrong, and it's insane. We have better policies on gay rights, for instance, because we have a lot better understanding of homosexuality and equality than prior generations did. But we have supposedly holy texts, supposedly authored by God Herself, which say that we should put gays to death.

No, it's fine to look at things in historical context if one's purpose is purely to UNDERSTAND the past, but when it comes to deriving moral content from rules, a text that says that gays should be put to death is inherently uncredible and unworthy of being followed.

If you come to any other conclusion, what you are basically doing is deciding to ignore human progress and fix our moral principles in the dark ages.

Um.... When we look at the Brehon Code for example and its application (including application against those in power), you don't think that qualifies as rule of law?

It was a product of human reason.
9.8.2009 3:20pm
ArthurKirkland:
In my general experience, gays are much better prepared for retirement, from a financial perspective, than heterosexuals.

(The far larger drains on societal resources are the parents who have seven or eight children, expect others to fund the undergraduate educations of those children, spend every cent on keeping up with a house full of children, and hit retirement age without adequate funds.)

I have seen a number of attempts to justify disliking or discriminating against homosexuals, but none as difficult to accept as this one.
9.8.2009 3:27pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I am saying you can't argue that past cultures got something specific wrong without looking at the context of that specific element. For example heavy penalties for homosexual contact. Unless one looks at the social function of those elements you see as erroneous, you can't say for sure that the ancients got them wrong.

But context changes things. I outlined one important difference, namely how elderly are cared for. While I support SSM today, I would NOT support it in an environment where one did depend on children for assisted living in one's older years, particularly if there was also a shortage of kids needing adopted homes. You say this makes me a bigot, but I am not at all sure why you say that.

As to the Brehon Code, one important element here was that many elements of it were closely tied to religious ideas. They weren't seen as the word of a god, for example, but they were seen as mirrors of myth.

For example, deposing kings due to the king being inhospitable or losing a hand in battle, or developing a bad rash, or because the harvest failed, are ideas which are closely tied to the mythology. It is still a rule of law in that it is neutral and evenly applied. However, given that the harvest failure was believed to be a response to injustice on the king's part, it is hard to see that as simply a rule of reason.
9.8.2009 3:32pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But context changes things. I outlined one important difference, namely how elderly are cared for. While I support SSM today, I would NOT support it in an environment where one did depend on children for assisted living in one's older years, particularly if there was also a shortage of kids needing adopted homes.

That's bigoted though. It implies that gays can or should be anything other than who they are, and that society can have a legitimate interest in forcing people to be straight.

Imagine if the incentives went the other way. There was a huge overpopulation problem, and the authorities responded by saying you MUST take up with a same-sex partner. Would you say that is equally justified?

As to the Brehon Code, one important element here was that many elements of it were closely tied to religious ideas.

Not really. It was passed down by oral tradition and contained elements of paganism as well as Christianity.

There actually are examples of religiously-tied rule-of-law systems (e.g., Judaic law). But Brehon isn't one of them. (That said, the principle of equal justice under law is not a religious precept-- it is a product of human reason.)
9.8.2009 3:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

That's bigoted though. It implies that gays can or should be anything other than who they are, and that society can have a legitimate interest in forcing people to be straight.

Imagine if the incentives went the other way. There was a huge overpopulation problem, and the authorities responded by saying you MUST take up with a same-sex partner. Would you say that is equally justified?


That too would require a contextual analysis before I would condemn it. How workable is the system? How does it tie into other elements of the culture?

I guess that makes me bigoted against straight folks too ;-)
9.8.2009 3:47pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
At least you are consistent.
9.8.2009 4:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
To be fair a homosexual-union-only state would probably have a higher bar to meet than a no-homosexual-union state just because if nobody had kids then I would think you would run into severe problems rather quickly. Practical requirements would then pose problems which could undermine the result in the same way that shifting the focus of marriage to a focus of individual happiness, and shifting our retirement system to an individual one undermines previous prohibitions in this society.

So the questions would have to focus around who got to have kids and under what circumstances, the views of marriage in the society, functional aspects, and so forth.

But still, without going through such an analysis on a real case study, I don't think a categorical statement would be appropriate.
9.8.2009 4:26pm
ArthurKirkland:

I am saying you can't argue that past cultures got something specific wrong without looking at the context of that specific element. For example heavy penalties for homosexual contact. Unless one looks at the social function of those elements you see as erroneous, you can't say for sure that the ancients got them wrong.


Tune in next week for "Slavery and Human Sacrifice: Before You Leap To Any Conclusions . . ."
9.8.2009 7:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Arthur:
In Republican Iceland, thralldom (a form of slavery) had some definite social functions. In particular, it provided a sort of prisoner of war protection to captured enemies.

So no I wouldn't categorically condemn slavery. American slavery is a special problem and when you look at it even in context, it is hard to defend (I would in fact condemn it), but one can't just generalize to every other case without undergoing serious contextual analysis. I would similarly condemn Spartan slavery, but probably not Athenian slavery.

As for human sacrifice, that too needs context. If the act is ritualized capital punishment, that is different from sacrificing the best and brightest in hopes of reward, is it not?

Yes, even in these cases, context matters.
9.8.2009 8:51pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(Pardon me or being a vigorously independent thinker in all of this....)
9.8.2009 9:51pm
ArthurKirkland:
We hope you have enjoyed "Ignore The Demonizers And Keep An Open Mind: Slavery And Human Sacrifice In Proper Context."

Please remember to tune in tomorrow for "The Holocaust, Violent Pedophilia And The Mating Practices of Saddam Hussein's Sons: Before You Leap to Conclusions . . . "
9.9.2009 12:35am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ArthurKirkland:

So now you find reasoned arguments and a DEMAND for clear reasoning and careful analysis to be distasteful? I guess you can't count on reason alone to guide society, can you?

As for the holocaust, looking at it in close context reveals a number of very interesting surprises, but far from excusing that event, in many ways such analysis shows that it is WORSE than most suspect and yet the event helped to shock the world out of very destructive patterns (thus giving it a bit of a positive legacy as well). Once again, context matters and the specific conclusions drawn are helped by this sort of analysis.

See, but here, instead of a blanket statement "Slavery is wrong" you have focused on a specific historical event rather than a categorical statement. At least there we can discuss specifics and conduct such an analysis.

If you react in abject horror to the idea I would entertain such thoughts and ask proof for categorical statements, I would suggest your horror is entirely irrational and unreasoned.
9.9.2009 12:48am
ArthurKirkland:
Thank you for enjoying today's presentation of "Why Do So Many Ignore The Silver Lining: The Holocaust Viewed Properly."

We hope you will tune in for next week's special presentation of "The Role Of The Acetylene Torch In Disciplining Children: Before You Leap To A Conclusion . . . "

Seriously, demands for "clear reasoning and careful analysis" are less persuasive when they come from someone who champions deference to fairy tales as a compelling reason to tolerate serious harm inflicted on children.
9.9.2009 10:00am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Arthur:

You didn't read my post.

The Holocaust wasn't entirely unique in history, unfortunately, and it was also what ultimately stopped support or eugenics and genocide programs in many other places.

It also didn't happen just because Hitler hated Jews, but was the result of a long development of hatred of Jews spread by Christian churches. Interestingly enough, the Volkisch and Pan-Germanicist literature between the wars, while not very friendly towards Jews was less hostile than the Christian literature ("they got their language and religion from us" as kooky as the claim is, is notably less hostile than the notion that the Jews are shifty-eyed Christ-killers).

The Holocaust was an outgrown of Christian thought in that time and place, It was a wide-spread social phenominon exploited both by the Socialist wing of the NSDAP (Hitler and other former DAP members), and secondarily by the Nationalist wing (Himmler). The nationalist wing though was more interested in exploiting the death camp system to get rid of other nationalists and independent thinkers. In particular, Himmler used the death camp system as a system of impressment of possible SS members.

My own view is that the death camp system was a fundamental part of the NSDAP's mechanism for maintaining power and can be reasonably compared to the gulags of the USSR. While the gulags didn't have a genocidal function in the USSR, however, this was simply moved to the Red Army (Stalin used the Red Army to wipe out the Kossacks among other things). This was why, despite apparent failure of the Madagascar Plan, the NSDAP rejected a similar proposal from Avraham Stern (who proposed deporting the Jews to British Palestine where they could fight the British) and instead opted to continue the death camp program.

Look: our view of the holocaust is distorted for two basic reasons: First, Jewish scholars are legitimately interested primarily in the Jewish experience and impact on Jewish society. By itself, that wouldn't be distorting. However, in addition, everyone wants to think they are incapable of involvement in something like that and so there are attempts to pin it on any non-mainstream element they can. The simple fact is that Hitler's ideas at the time differed in vehemence but not in kind from the mainstream ideas here in the US and elsewhere.

The best book on the subject IMO is "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" by Wilhelm Reich. I invite you to read it.
9.9.2009 11:05am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(There was also some very interesting correspondence between Hitler and Himmler over whether to systematically round up Protestant and Catholic clergy and put them into the death camps-- Himmler was the one who proposed this, but Hitler's response was that Christianity was dying in the face of science anyway and there was no reason to hasten that death.)
9.9.2009 11:36am

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