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Muslim, Christian or Citizen of Your Country First?

Take a look at the interesting graph on the right that appears in Chan Akya’s article on why European countries want to ban the burqa and the US is in no hurry to do so.

I have a few observations about this:

  • It’s ironic that France, where a larger proportion of Muslims consider themselves a citizen of France (or Europe?) first than in the neighbouring countries, was the first to ban the burqa.  That’s due to France’s long tradition of dirigisme (a hangover of the ancien régime) and some of the factors Akya mentioned in this piece: stronger position of women in European politics, stronger secularistic idea, etc.
  • There’s no surprise in the attitudes of Muslims in Middle Eastern countries, or Nigeria.  The graph is striking in the exception that Indonesia is.
  • It’s interesting how Christians in the US are far stronger in identifying themselves as Christians over Americans, even with the high level of patriotism we have in the US.  That’s helped by the fact that, leftist sneers about the religious right notwithstanding, Christians in the US viscerally understand that their faith is not fundamentally a political philosophy, and that there’s more to life than politics.
  • It will be especially interesting for my Anglican readers to note Nigeria’s “Christian first” majority.
  • I think that European Christians fervour for state vs. faith is due mostly to the notional nature of much of European Christianity, even in the face of the ease one has in being a secularist.
  • One missing graph is the attitude of American Muslims, which I think would have tracked their Christian counterparts.

I don’t think that France’s ban on the burqa is a human rights move.  If that were the case, the ban wouldn’t be under consideration.  I think it’s the beginning of a major pushback of European (and Australian, under the new PM) secularism against a real religious threat to their idea.  It’s what I would call a “Ministry of Culture” kind of solution: use the government to impose what the leaders think is the nation’s culture by the coercive powers of the state (I had some fun with this idea here.)   How well it will work will depend on the vigour they pursue it with and what kind of reaction they get out of the Islamic world (both within and without their countries.)

One thing Americans have had the luxury of is the whole “God and Country” concept.  It’s even embodied in the Army chaplains’ motto.  As secuarlists advance here and “God or Country” becomes a more common choice, it will be interesting to see how that plays out.  On a practical level, the success in weaning Americans off of their reliance on God will depend, as it has in Europe, on the state’s ability to provide a secular source of temporal sustenance.  Given the wobbly state of our national finances, that’s not a given; the godless aren’t as brilliant as they think they are.


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