Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Does God do politics?

Does God do Politics? This is, of course, a rhetorical question forming the subject of a debate I will be having with Prof. John White of the Institute of Education, a secularist for whom God does not exist, and Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail, who believes in God but accepts the fallacy that secularism can provide a neutral playing field for both believers and non-believers. The debate has been organised by the dialoguewithislam.org for Thursday 21st May at Ebrahim Community College, 80 Greenfield Road (rear of East London Mosque), London E1 1EJ, and is chaired by al-Jazeera news presenter Hamish MacDonald. Kick-off is at 6.30 pm.

Purpose of the debate, followed by questions from the floor, is to explore both the way politicians use religion as well as the way adherents of religion use politics. The key question is not merely whether God exists or interferes in human affairs, but rather to what extent the believes of those who either affirm or deny his existence should have the right for the public engagement to be governed by those believes. When it comes to peaceful coexistence, will a secular framework provide a more tolerant environment or a religious one. Does the degree of tolerance differ between religions? Should there be limits to what can be tolerated? Is the separation of religious practice and public life workable or even desirable? If man becomes the sovereign instead of God, will inevitably abuse his power?

The two ex-leaders, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, both headed secular states yet repeatedly made references to God whom they claimed to have on their side. At the same time Bishops are criticised when they comment on social and political issues, and Islam is seen as a radical threat to Western liberal values. How can it be explained that exponents of the secular establishment appeal to religious sentiments whilst adherents of religions are told not to allow their faith to colour or govern their politics? Is the rift between the church and science a purely Western phenomenon that blinds Europe and America when dealing with the contribution religion has to make towards the progress of society? Or is the animosity against Islam a natural response from a secular elite seeing its power base threatened after having wrestled it at high cost from the Christian churches? Has liberalism become illiberal the moment it took the reigns of power?

Expect a lively debate. Advance tickets are available for £2 at dialoguewithislam.org; tickets at the door are £3.


At 12 May 2009 at 18:48, Anonymous White Musa said...

Both Christopher and Peter Hitchens are Jewish so it looks like a good across the board panel.

If the audience pays attention Brother Mustaqim will surely endeavor to enlighten.

At 17 May 2009 at 07:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings Mushtaquim and all sane users of this blog,

Any man who lies down, naked in a coffin, in the Yale Mauseleum and recants one's sexual experiences, becomes a male cheer leader for a macho American football team, runs away from "fighting for one's country", then absconds from National Guard service, to become a drunk, cocaine abuser, rapist and murderer of a black woman, namely Marge Sheodlinger, fails at every business venture he ever engaged in, who's daughters ape his own inept behaviour, breaks international law, whilst putting on a show on the White House front lawn in prayer, which defies Jesus's/Yesua's advice, has nothing to do with Chritianity!

As for the hypocritical Tony "War Crimes" Blair, well it was his Communist Neo Labour government spin chief and mouthpiece Alistair Camp-bell who said "We don't do God"!

Also, one can recall the Michael Parkinson interview, prior to the stepping down of the International war criminal, when Parkinson asked him if he answers to a higher power, Bliar had to be nudged into a faith declaration, when he uttered yes and God too!

Cannot recall verbatum, i'm sure the internet will have a transcript, but what struck me at the time, was who Bliar was referring to first, before he thought and God too....Rothschild? Satan?

Tony Blair: "That decision has to be taken and has to be lived with, and in the end there is a judgement that, well, I think if you have faith about these things then you realise that judgement is made by other people, and also by..."

Michael Parkinson: "Sorry, what do you mean by that?"

Blair: "I mean by other people, by, if you believe in God, it's made by God as well and that judgement in the end has to be, you know, you do your...


Hope you trounce the Zionist "Hitchings a parasitic ride Christopher"

At 27 June 2009 at 02:17, Blogger Unknown said...

That sounds like a really interesting debate. Do you know if it got posted on the net anywhere? I'd like to see or hear it. I'm religious in a sense and secular in a sense, I'm a Universalist Quaker in the USA who has been against Bush since 1980 and against Israel's government as soon as I was able to read (which was actually about the same time). I see the secular vs religeous debate from a slightly unique perspective, as I can see parts of both sides. I see that what some call God and some call Allah and some call just Spirit is largely the same thing with of course differences in the paths of individuals and cultures that are obviously worthy of mention. In my culture, when secular people who don't go to church ( or any other temple ) they hear about religion in terms of believing in God is a very strict sense that goes against a lot of the (perhaps overly) laid back American culture. From the beganing the experience of these people takes on this very forgein supernatural, cult kind of feeling. But if they were to learn about what God or whatever certain people call it leads them to, things might be a little different. If people talked to them about love, love of their family, goodwill, then a lot of people might get a different picture. I love when I see people that don't prescribe to any religion but none the less abide by many of the same leadings that religious people do. People that try to do good, love their neighbors, understand people who seem to be very different. I guess I see religion as an organized tapping into a universal element of the human soul . . . something that in general helps people encourage the good with in themselves. And some find it hard to rationally believe in a power that controls everything, even if they aren't exposed to some of the disturbing chaos in this world. And of course everyone is different and there are many subtleties that I'm grazing over. But I wonder if some of the differences between secular and religious peoples are in a sense, just academic. Of course one can find plently of extreme counter examples like Mr Bush. At the same time I'm involved in academia myself and the debate sounds like it does address some very interesting and real subjects that come up in this sociological phenomenon.


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