Law - Religious Vilification Laws
Bill Muehlenberg gives a great round up of the reasons why religious vilification laws are bad. The most appropriate I think is
The seventh problem with religious vilification is that the whole idea of bringing up concepts like offence and vilification is quite bizarre. Religious truth claims by definition imply that some religions are true, while some are false. They imply that some actions are good, some are bad. And they imply that some religious activities are appropriate, while some are not. Of course a Muslim will be offended if a Christian says that Jesus is God. Of course a Hindu will be offended if a Muslim claims that only Islam is the final and true religion. Of course an atheist will be offended if a Jew insists that God exists. Of course a Christian will be offended if a Muslim says Jesus did not die on the cross and rise again. How could a devout believer not feel offended in such ways?This I think also links in very well to Bill's comments on choice versus something the person cannot help, although not quite in the sense that Bill has made the distinction.
Religions ALL make truth claims (I include atheism/secular humanism in this), and as such there is a grounds to discuss those claims. Some of the claims could be considered irrational or stupid. When you look at race or gender however, there is no truth claims to discuss. Because it is just a simple fact that the person is a woman, or left handed or african american, there are no ideas behind these facts. They just are. Notice the difference... with religions, there are ideas behind the religions, with gender or race, there is no ideas behind them. There is nothing to discuss.
It is important to remember however that there may be ideas 'in front' of both religions and innate things like gender and race. What I mean by that is that there might be a case to state that, on average Christian's are more likely to start charities (because of the ideas inherent in christianity) and on average, women have less muscle strength than men (because of their genetics).
What is really interesting to note is that, in Australia it is actually legal to discriminate on these 'in front' ideas when they are based on gender, but not on religion. A clear example is in car insurance. Research has indicated that women are less likely to have major accidents than men, and so car insurance for women is generally cheaper. What a strange twist. Consider the public outcry that would happen if Christian's were given a discount on car insurance.
So this raises a question. Why do we allow people to be discriminated against with car insurance on the basis of gender, but not on the basis of religion?