Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of comment out there in dead-tree media and the electronic versions about religion and its relation vis a vis the state at the moment. (Full disclosure: I am a lapsed Anglican Christian who read a lot of David Hume, much to the annoyance of my old vicar, no doubt). There is a bracing essay in the Spectator this week about the nonsense spouted in the usual places about “moderate” Islam.
The blog Positive Liberty, which has become a group blog like this one – has an excellent piece looking at the religious, or in some cases, decidely lukewarm religious, views of the U.S. Founding Fathers. These men, to varying degrees, were acutely conscious of the dangers of religious fundamentalism, having seen within their lifetimes the human price of it. As we think about the dangers posed by Islam in our own time, the insights of Madison, Adams, Jefferson et al are needed more than ever. The linked-to article is fairly long but worth sitting back and sipping on a coffee for a good read, I think.
It is in my view essential for the west’s future that the benefits of separating what is God’s from what is Cesear’s is made as loudly and as often as possible. Muslims must be made abundantly aware of this point for if they do not, the consequences could be dire. Maybe because of the role played by the Church of England in our post-Reformation history, we don’t have the tradition, as in the States, of keeping a beady eye on the blurring of the edges of temporal and spiritual. Cynics have of course argued that nationalising Christianity via the CoE has helped the cause of fuzzy agnosticism and atheism more than the complete works of the Englightenment. Well, maybe. It may have as much to do with the relative openness of British society, our ironical sense of humour (religious enthusiasm has often struck the Brits as slightly silly or unhinged, ripe for Monty Python treatment) and desire not to give offence.
I fear that sense of humour is going to be tested for the remainder of my lifetime.