It’s events like these two that show why the separation of church and state is important.
A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down.
The case of the unlikely apostate, a shy barber from this backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the limits of tolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.
Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin — the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar — was leading a double life.
Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father’s barbershop, Husayin was secretly posting anti-religion rants on the Internet during his free time.
Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for “insulting the divine essence.” Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.
The rest is after the jump.
Second, (I would not be surprised if fundies and wingnuts only pay attention to this incident) a Christian in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blasphemy (via):
A mother of two has become the first Christian woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Asia Bibi, a field labourer in her thirties, was handed the sentence by a court of sessions in Punjab province on Sunday evening.
She was found guilty of committing blasphemy against her fellow farm workers in the village of Ittanwali during a heated discussion about religion in June last year.
Some of the women workers had reportedly been pressuring Bibi to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. During the discussion, Bibi responded by speaking of how Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of mankind and asking the Muslim women what Muhammad had done for them.
Incidents like these show why the separation of church and state is necessary for freedom. If they are intertwined, one will simply use the other for nefarious purposes. Religious persecution is one of the reasons there should be a separation of church and state.
Wingnut or fundie types often complain that the separation of church and state is somehow “persecuting” them. Such claims need to be accompanied with a truckload of salt. Unlike what passes for persecution in wingnutland, the above examples are real persecution. The separation of church and state did not arise through the actions of some secretive clique of atheists and “Darwinists”, but rather due to some combination of the following:
- Religious wars. The peoples of Europe spent centuries opening each others veins, often motivated to do so by religion.
- The Enlightenment. The promotion of rationality helped to move religion from the state.
- The plurality of religions. If there are multiple religions claiming the position of Grand Poobah, the only way to avoid favouring one religion over another is to reject all of them.
The western world learnt its lessons with regards to this matter centuries ago. That’s why there is a strong separation of church and state there, or perhaps a state church that is ineffectual, nominally official, and basically a glorified branch of government. Anyone who wants a state religion has a dangerous belief and ought to be rebuked.
Eventually, the Muslim world will learn the same lessons too.