A Journal for Western Man
On Fundamentalism and the Need for
Separation of Church and State
G. Stolyarov II
Issue VIII- November 27, 2002
Roughly during the same time, Thomas Jefferson in the United States condemned “that loathsome combination of Church and State” and designed a secular system of government which had provided for the most elevated prosperity and liberty ever to characterize the history of men, acting as a key gateway into American culture for Scott Joplin and Ayn Rand, whose bright, intricate, and invigorating styles in music and philosophy respectively, would have been censored at first opportunity by a government of hard-liner Puritans. In the meantime, not despite but because of their secular and universal legal structures, nineteenth-century Germany and the United States in the past two hundred years had been reputed as havens for men of all religions, for persecuted Jews and minority Christians, and, of course, Muslims from around the globe.
It is abhorrent that during the twenty-first century, when the results of religious freedom are self-evident throughout the planet, there still exist fanatics centuries behind their time who seek to coercively bludgeon their dogma into others, at the expense of individual freedom and cultural progress. Yet this was precisely the case in Nigeria on Monday, November 25, 2002.
The new target of the ever more brazen worldwide axis of Islamic Fundamentalism is not a military base or even a skyscraper. It is a fashion writer with a sense of humor. Isioma Daniel, reporter for the magazine ThisDay at the Miss World beauty pageant, had dared to write the intolerably blasphemous comment, contradictory to the omniscient knowledge of her state’s clerics on theological history, that the prophet Muhammad would have approved of the contest and even sought to marry one of the participants. For that irreparable sin the woman is currently in hiding. For that defamatory infraction the blunt tip of a hurled stone, or the rusty edge of an executioner’s blade, await her.
The State of Zamfara Information Commissioner Tukur Umar Dangaladima responds to this with the statement: “The Koran states that whoever accuses or insults any prophet of Allah ... should be killed.” He called for Muslim vigilantes to inflict the death penalty upon Daniel, despite the fact that Nigeria’s federal law and its secular administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo prohibit any religiously motivated “justice”. And with good reason, too. If the Christian clerics of nineteenth-century Europe and North America were granted governmental sanction to outlaw anesthesia on the grounds that God intended men to languish in pain, then the state of medicine today would be destitute. If the Biblical demand against charging interest to someone who, by the altruist hierarchy of incompetence, is in need of the lender’s money, were enforced, the credit industry would have been suppressed and consumer spending, hence the prosperity of the economy, would have remained at best half the present amount. The mentality of coercive imposition wantonly ignores the most basic tenet of any material progress, that of a free market of ideas, wherein every individual is able to exercise his own independent rational faculties to furnish an accurate judgment as best he can. Because every tool and service hatches from a plan or a concept, by stifling free speech in the intellectual realm, governments stifle it in the industrial realm as well. Alas, the Taliban in Afghanistan had understood this inevitability all too well and endorsed it. It was for that reason that television, music, and electronic communication were prohibited by its Dark-age relic mullahs. Technology and aesthetics require the creativity and maneuverability of the individual mind, not rote recitation, subordination, and chanting of whatever credos of the day totalitarian “authorities” would choose to plant into the barren vacuum of a deferential consciousness.
This is why, on a both philosophical and materialistic plane (which are, in any consistent system, mutually inclusive and reinforcing), it is a crime against the dignity of man and objective moral law for any government, state or federal, with the sanction of the statutes or otherwise, to impose Sharia or Scripture or Mosaic Law upon its citizens. Perhaps the clerics should catch up on their Locke; government exists to prevent the unique interests of its constituent individuals from being violated. Individuals do not exist to pander to the agenda of the government. The purpose of a government is not to furnish “moral reform” or to “spread the message of the Lord”. It is, instead, solely the enforcement of every man’s opportunity to reach prosperity, in Heaven or on Earth, in his own way.
By no means must those clerics cease their religious activities. Let them reside in mosques, not legislatures, and preach to the willing. Religions, like philosophies, must remain (or, in the case of Third World countries, become) free market commodities. Islam, in its modern and moderate form, does not advocate death for “the infidel”, nor any duty to “convert the heathen.” My Muslim friends in Chicago define jihad as a struggle to ameliorate oneself and resolve internal conflicts, not the plight of the Middle Eastern Proletariat against “American imperialism”. And if “true Muslims” a la Wahhab are supposed to loathe this-worldly materialism and the profit motive, why do increasing numbers flock to the United States, the epitome of aspiring selfishness, as a place of religious freedom, where, unlike Zamfara, where Muslims uttering “blasphemy” or committing adultery are stoned to death, there came about (commendably) zero religious censorship and profiling, even after the September 11th atrocity?
The greatest enemies of and smear-campaigners against Islam are not American servicemen, who had secured a secular government in Afghanistan with opportunities for diverse individual interpretation of Islam itself, but theocrats like Khomeini and Dangaladima, who, in issuing death warrants for Salman Rushdie and Isioma Daniel, are in effect proclaiming: “Look at me, me, the all-mighty Ayatollah/ Information Commissioner, so potent, as a matter of fact, that it will take a joke about my prophet or a mocking passage about The Faith to discredit the entire host of cosmic insights I have preached from the pulpit!” If this maniacal pathology does not pervade their governance, if their revelations are not a set of poorly crafted charlatanisms, to be blown over by the first hint of doubt or ridicule, then what do they have to fear? Why not peacefully compete with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism… or even Objectivism for the minds and money of disciples? If Wahhabist Islam were such an absolute and exhilarating interpretation of the universe, it would have immediately appealed to the overwhelming majority of individuals. The fact is, it does not. It is outcompeted by more moderate variants or entirely atheistic views altogether. Most people are capable of recognizing the benevolence of capitalism in thought and production alike, and are able to look past the Dar-el-Salaam fallacies of orthodox Islam. Its preachings are lies, and the clerics know it. That is why their sole means of maintaining unwarranted power is through coercion. Only false ideas require the backing of a thrown stone. Or, as Mr. Jefferson would put it, “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
The United States forces, throughout their War on Terror, must therefore eradicate Sharia wherever it may be found. The tenets of Islam must not expand beyond those individuals who choose to adopt them. This intervention in the name of justice, much like that witnessed in Afghanistan, will reinforce the confidence of even innocuous jokers like Ms. Daniel which will, as soon as the stream of them (and few men would adopt a Puritanical approach toward their religion on their own accord) is released, sweep all ayatollahs, mullahs, clerics, and charlatans out of government and back into their community mosques.
But this, in order to assume an aura of philosophical
consistency, must also be applied to the domestic
policies of the United States. Usury laws, the mild
version of the Biblical precept against interest,
possess no objective validation and are an immense
impediment to creditors and their debtors, barring the
former from obtaining money to afford homes, medical
bills, and a myriad of other commodities at a price that
does not discourage the lender via the fear of incurring
a loss. It would be prudent for states possessing them
to undertake a prompt repeal, also for the sake of
remaining competitive with states that set no ceiling on
interest rates. Opposition to stem cell research, in a
country where no one is forced to receive an
organ transplant, but which can result in a life saved,
a disease averted, or, in the remote future, a
healthier, more intelligent child, perhaps a future Rand
or Jefferson, born, must not assume the form of a
coercive legislative prohibition. The sole justification
employed by genetic research opponents from the right is
the alleged prohibition by God of human beings
manipulating “His creations”. But what of those who
reject the existence of a God or worship one more lax in
regard to the behaviors of his progeny? Moreover,
because schemes of philosophy and production derive from
a common and mutually reinforcing root, both must
be permitted to exist and compete, or else neither
will remain a possibility and stagnation will ensue.
Prayer in public schools must also be permitted at
students’ leisure, for who is the government to dictate
how an individual should pursue the free market
commodity of Heaven? It is necessary to grant parents
who are displeased with the quality of public education
vouchers and tax credits to provide religious
instruction of their choice to their children,
for none should be forced to endorse ideas with which
one disagrees, or barred from endorsing ideas which one
supports. Additionally, states such as California must
abolish mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance
while still permitting religious students, believers
that this one Nation is under God, to possess the
opportunity to proclaim its message, much like the
current law in Illinois, which appeals to theists and
atheists alike, fellow citizens of no irreconcilable
animosity in a land of freedom. Only through these
reforms will the United States become a fully stainless
enforcer of religious liberties worldwide.
This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.
Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.