innerbrat: (religion)
Debi Linton ([personal profile] innerbrat) wrote in [community profile] om_nom2009-04-24 11:48 am

Religious Power and Freedom

This video, produced by the intelligence behind the Waking Up blog, is a great factual rebuttal of the kinds of stories beig put about by NOM and the tactics being used there. It was linked to by Slacktivist (and for brining that to my attention, H/T to Andrew Hickey) in his fantastic post The Burkha-logic of NOM.

This points to the key confusion of the persecuted hegemons. They are unable to distinguish between challenges to their hegemony -- to their privilege -- and threats to their faith itself. This is a spiritually perilous confusion, particularly so for Christians who claim to follow a crucified outcast.

The word I'm stretching for here, Stanley Hauerwas would say, is "constantinianism" -- the inversion and perversion of Christianity that occurred when a religion of slaves and women and the poor became a religion of emperors and empires. Constantinian faith requires and assumes the establishment of an official, privileged religion. It comes to believe, in the language of the First Amendment, that its own free exercise depends on such an establishment -- that its free exercise is incompatible with the free exercise of any other religion (or of no religion at all).

We've illustrated this before with the religious practice of wearing burkhas -- or, more accurately, the religious practice of requiring the women one controls to wear burkhas. That practice is intrinsically hegemonic, intrinsically constantinian. It cannot be left as a matter of individual freedom or conscience. It's not sufficient for those who believe in that practice for only the women of their household or congregation or sect to be clad in burkhas. That still leaves open the possibility that one might be exposed to the immodest displays of the wrists and ankles of other women in the market or the public square. The logic of the burkha requires that all women -- every woman that every man might see -- is fully sheathed so as not to assault the eyes of the faithful.

I'm going to expand a little more on how I see this happen a lot in all discussions that involve challenging someone's privilege, but I think this is one of the best takes I've seen on what's actually happening; there's a mindset here that's confusing power with rights, that leads to the idea that limiting the power of a religious group to dictate laws for the rest of us somehow violates their religious freedoms.

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