challenging religious privilege in public life

For fear of a “Clash of Civilizations”, the Western world increasingly backs down on human rights, and freedom of speech in particular.

The question is an old one, of course. Basically, it is the question of whether democratic values are ripe for export.

Many people are under the spell of historicism when they tell us that for the Arabic world is it “too early” to expect liberal democracy.

What should the reaction of open or liberal societies be to the assault we experience on the principles on which they are based?

Some people think religion has no real influence on what happens in the world. This group is composed of believers and unbelievers alike.

The attempt to argue that the evil sides of religion are simply “not religious” is not convincing. Religion has to be subjected to criticism.

Is it likely that Deuteronomy 13 still has a degree of influence on our penal law, for instance in clauses about blasphemy?

We learn from the story of Phinehas that not only organized but also unorganized religion poses challenges we have to meet.

A good place to start on the scriptural foundations of violence in the Bible is with Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (punishment of apostates).

The outright rejection of the idea of scriptural authority seems to be more straightforward and intellectually promising than any alternative.