Laying axes to roots

I think Williams has stumbled upon a problem developing in the secular West.

On the one hand (some of) the West wants to be tolerant of all religions. On the other, (some of) the West wants to maintain its secular political order.

Dan’s previous post raises this issue (though I’m sure his views are more complicated than one sentence can convey):

Personally, I’d prefer that everyone was afforded the same legal protections regardless of their background, but I wonder what others think.

The thing is, religions are not just backgrounds, in the sense that my background included, say, Saturday morning cartoons and 90’s pop music. They are living traditions which shape real people’s lives in the present, in deeply powerful ways. And in the West, despite the great deal of tolerance we try to extend to everyone, not every way of life is acceptable. In fact, there is no organization of human life in which just any and every way of life is acceptable.

So when one minority lives within a larger majority, and that minority has a code of life that contradicts the majority, either tolerance or the majority’s ordering (in our case, Western secularism of one brand or another) will have to give way.

All this is of course just an observation; I’m not sure exactly what the moral answer to this question is. I am fairly sure, however, that not every branch is compatible with every other branch; eventually some moral evaluation has to be made of various religious traditions by a society as to what is acceptable and what isn’t, and at that point some axing will be done. (I think anecdotally Dalton McGuinty’s recent policies with regard to Shariah law demonstrate my point: there is a limit beyond which Western tolerance will not go.)