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Chris, you may want to examine your assertion that "it is the vast minority of Muslims who are terrorists"?

Can you give an example of a reasonable way in which the protections offered to religious ethnic groups could be expanded to similar non-religious groups? I can't come up with one from my thinking so far - though I suspect it may hinge on differing definitions of "similar".

Peter: I have re-examined my assertion that "the vast minority of Muslims who are terrorists" and remain convinced of its veracity.

Al-Qaeda kills 8 times as many Muslims as it does non-Muslims, although of course Al-Qaeda is not the totality of Islamic terrorists, and you could argue some that they kill are also terrorists. However, there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world; while producing actual figures for the number that are terrorists is difficult, I think it unlikely we're looking at anything like 1% (i.e. 15 million) Islamic terrorists.

To quote Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle East specialist at Boston University: "As the events in London show, it does not take too many people to cause big problems. If only 1/10,000 of 1 percent [of the Muslim world] is inclined to terrorism, that is still 1,200 potential mass killers."

Peter, again: To think of examples, one has to first find cases of non-religious cultures that *require* these protections. This, I suggest, is one of the problems in making this claim track... but I can find at least two obvious examples.

Firstly, atheists in the United States who would struggle to get employed by certain companies whose executives were devoutly Christian. Those in at-will employment States would be screwed (as indeed would religious individuals seeking employment with a creedist employer under these circumstances), but those working in States without this kind of law could file for discrimination under a case that their (non)-religious beliefs were being used prejudicially against them.

Secondly, I've mentioned before the case of members of "club culture" who use certain chemicals (e.g. ecstasy) recreationally in contexts which could be argued were ritualistic. I believe a case could be made that their drug use was protected by freedom of belief. This one is more controversial - I don't believe most anti-religious campaigners want to take this sub-culture under their wing. But a case for their protection could be advanced, albeit hinging on their ability to demonstrate their capability to use these chemicals both safely and reasonably.

I suspect that there are others if one digs into the issue.

Thanks for sharing your views!

Ah, I'd read "vast minority" as being more people than "minority", not fewer. Your point now makes sense - thanks for the clarification.

More on the other part of the response when I'm not under deadline pressure.

Chris,

One should not discriminate against anything which is beyond the control of the individual and I would posit that a religious perspective is within one's control and certainly not something one is born with.

It can be argued that being born in certain countries pre-determines one's religious perspective and hence it is a fait accompli, but witness the hundreds of thousands who switch religions or abandon them completely.

One's religion is essentially an intellectual choice and not a given.

Kind regards/Chairman Bill

Chairman: It sounds as if you want to say it's okay to discriminate against religion because it's a choice. This is a very disturbing claim!

Following this logic, is it okay to discriminate against someone for their job and their sexual identity, because these are chosen and not given? Is it okay to discriminate against someone for the language they speak, because they could have learned a different language? Is it okay to discriminate against a researcher for the field they have chosen to study because they choose to do so? Is it okay to discriminate against someone on the basis of their nationality because they could have chosen to move elsewhere?

I find this approach highly disturbing, and I hope that you do not actually believe in what you are claiming to support here!

Chris,

What I was referring to was the illegality of discrimination. It should be illegal to discriminate against anything over which one has no control and cannot change - like race, sexuality, gender, etc.

It can be argued that one has no control over one's religious beliefs, as they are formed by all that went before and hence to a certain extent they are deterministic, but I don't hold to the view that one's religion is something that can't be changed.

Whether it is right to discriminate on the basis of religion is another matter - after all, we discriminate all the time in our daily lives.

It would seem you are arguing that all forms of discrimination are intrinsically bad - correct me if I am mistaken.

Kind regards/CB

Chairman: thanks for continuing this discussion. "Discrimination" is a loaded term, of course... it can mean "to make distinctions" - in which form it is unproblematic, but it can also be used as a milder synonym for persecution. It is in this latter sense that I voice my opposition.

"It should be illegal to discriminate against anything over which one has no control and cannot change - like race, sexuality, gender, etc."

My problem with your angle here is that you imply (and previously state) that it's okay to discriminate against things that can be changed. But this is an extremely dangerous position to take!

Consider the example of language. One can change one's language. But if people are allowed to discriminate (in pejorative sense) against people on the basis of language, then you have a giant loophole for racism. The example of religion is a direct parallel to language in my opinion, since both are cultural artefact that *could* change but which there should be no express obligation to do so.

Furthermore, you say that sexuality and gender are things over which we have no control and cannot change... How would you square this against gender reassignment surgery? What of the hermaphrodite who later chooses which gender to adopt?

And since we have no way of testing for sexuality we in practice rely on people to *choose* their sexual identities - and these can and do change. A certain person, in an endeavour to find the identity that works for them, may begin by considering themselves as heterosexual, later as bisexual, later as gay, then perhaps float into one of the many grey areas, claiming (as many do) is more about the specific people than about their gender.

Is a person who has had one relationship with a man and one with a woman bisexual, homosexual or heterosexual? How do we know? Only by what they choose to identify as. There is no other criteria we accept in this regard. (There are also the examples of people whose sexuality altered during an LSD experience). Whether or not sexuality is chosen, sexual identity *is* chosen - and this is all we have public access to anyway.

As a matter of law, all of the cases I have given above - language, religion, sexual identity, gender identity - are protected from prejudicial discrimination in Western jurisprudence. I happen to believe this is the only wise approach to the matter.

You seem to contend that some of these protections should be withdrawn because they are a matter of choice - you state in the case of religion, but if this goes, so too does language, sexual identity and so forth.

Do you not see the inherent problem with making choice the condition of justification here? Consider, as one final example, that we choose what political party we support. Shall we say that it is okay for an employer to fire you for supporting such-and-such a party, because that is a choice and it is okay to discriminate against choices?

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