In a piece entitled “Nation Bans Minors From Entering Mosques,” the Huffington Post has reported that the authoritarian secular government of Tajikstan has outlawed minors from entering Islamic mosques, and requires everyone under 18 to attend secular school. The crackdown on Islam is a not-subtle attempt to destroy his chief rivals, the Islamic Revival Party.
Having only seen the headline, I wasn’t initially sure which country had clamped down so fiercely on freedom of religion. Given this, I had certain expectations about how the article – and the comments – would read. Certainly, if it were some Western European country which had effectively outlawed the Muslim religion, the Huffington Post reaction would have been that this demonstrates how dangerous the religious right and the Tea Party are. That if it could happen there, it could happen here — you can imagine how they would’ve gone. But instead of some historically-Christian county, it was an authoritarian central Asian country with a majority-Muslim population.
When I first read the article, here were the top five comments:
- Freedom from religion is a good thing.
- God will take this country down.The reason America is going down is because God was kicked out of the classroom,so the children have gone wild and so have the adults.
- Lets just get rid of religion
- It seems to me, that this President is attempting to do a GOOD thing !!
- An excellent idea. Religion should be taught when the children are over 16. Only then they can judge if what they are taught makes any sense. You can brainwash small children. That can result in producing extremists. You can believe in anything, but respect for those who think differently must be part of any teachings.
That’s right. Out of the five most recent comments, four of them (from four different users) were praising a totalitarian government for outlawing religion.
Significantly, none of them said, “Outlawing Islam is good.” That’s the sort of comment the fringe-right would make, and be rightly denounced for by both the Huffington Post crowd, and sane conservatives — it’s base bigotry, it’s un-American, it violates the First Amendment, etc. Instead, each of the four (as well as a shocking number of other commenters) said things to the effect that “Outlawing religion is good.” Wanting to outlaw every religion? No problem, at least based on the reactions I’ve seen so far.
If you pretend that all religions are equally bad / stupid / violent (whether it’s the Catholics, the Quakers, or the Muslims), you’re apparently not a bigot at all. As I’ve mentioned before, Frank Beckwith was ahead of the curve in observing this growing atheistic authoritarianism, noting that from the way the mainstream media treats New Atheists (compared to anti-Muslim conservatives), “one can only conclude that the difference between a bigot and a respected intellectual is that the former rejects one less belief than the latter.”
Now, certainly, I’m not claiming that the random sampling of Huffington Post commenters are representative of every liberal. Far from it. But what I am saying is that the surprising number of “pro-trampling religion” comments shows a rising and troubling tide amongst atheists on the Left.