Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists

From the Brussels Journal:
Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for “Volksverhetzung” (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe’s official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are “undemocratic” and “a threat to human rights.”

Without legalized abortion the number of German children would increase annually by at least 150,000 – which is the number of legal abortions in birth dearth Germany. Pastor Johannes Lerle compared the killing of the unborn to the killing of the Jews in Auschwitz during the Second World War. On 14 June, a court in Erlangen ruled that, in doing so, the pastor had “incited the people” because his statement was a denial of the holocaust of the Jews in Nazi-Germany. Hence, Herr Lerle was sentenced to one year in jail. Earlier, he had already spent eight months in jail for calling abortionists “professional killers” – an allegation which the court ruled to be slanderous because, according to the court, the unborn are not humans.

Other German courts convicted pro-lifers for saying that “in abortion clinics, life unworthy of living is being killed,” because this terminology evoked Hitler’s euthanasia program, which used the same language. In 2005, a German pro-lifer, Günter Annen, was sentenced to 50 days in jail for saying “Stop unjust [rechtswidrige] abortions in [medical] practice,” because, according to the court, the expression “unjust” is understood by laymen as meaning illegal, which abortions are not.

Volksverhetzung is a crime which the Nazis often invoked against their enemies and which contemporary Germany also uses to intimidate homeschoolers. Soon, the German authorities will be able to use the same charge against people who question Darwin’s evolution theory.

Indeed, next Tuesday, the Council of Europe (CoE), Europe’s main human-rights body, will vote on a proposal which advocates the fight against creationism, “young earth” and “intelligent design” in its 47 member states.

According to a report of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly, creationists are dangerous “religious fundamentalists” who propagate “forms of religious extremism” and “could become a threat to human rights.” The report adds that the acceptance of the science of evolutionism “is crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies.”

“Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon,” the report says.
“Today creationist theories are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states. […] [T]his is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism, synonymous with attacks of utmost virulence on human rights. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights. […] The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy. [...] If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists.”
George Orwell, please call the Council of Europe.

Letting people advocate creationism or intelligent design is a serious threat to “human rights and civic rights.” But having the government impose an orthodoxy on the subject is perfectly fine.
According to the CoE report, America and Australia are already on their way towards becoming such undemocratic theocracies where human and civic rights are endangered. Creationism is “well-developed in the English-speaking countries, especially the United States and Australia,” the report states.
“While most curricula in Europe today unashamedly teach evolution as a recognised scientific theory, the same does not apply to the United States. In July 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll that showed that 64% of Americans favoured the teaching of intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution and that 38% would support the total abandonment of the teaching of evolution in publicly owned schools. The American President George W. Bush supports the principle of teaching both intelligent design and the theory of evolution. At the moment, 20 of the 50 American states are facing potential adjustments of their school curricula in favour of intelligent design. Many people think that this phenomenon only affects the United States and that, even if it is not possible to be indifferent to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic, it is not the Council of Europe’s role to deal with this issue. That, however, is not the case. On the contrary, it would seem crucial for us to take the appropriate precautions in our 47 member states.”
Though one may disagree with people who take the Book of Genesis literally (believing that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh), surely secularist political organizations telling people what they may or may not believe, constitute a far greater threat to human rights than religious institutions telling their faithful how to vote. In the voting booth people are free to do what they like, whilst in contemporary Europe people are no longer free to publicly voice their own, deeply felt opinions in public.

In Germany, believing abortion to be as murderous as the holocaust is a crime, and educating your own children is a crime too. In France, saying that “homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity” is a crime, and so is the distribution of pork soup to the poor. In Belgium, speaking out against immigration is a crime.
Europe is the continent that, for centuries, imposed a religious orthodoxy on its population. In some places the established church was Catholic, and in others Protestant. But the intolerance of dissenters was close to a constant.

It seems the culture of Europe hasn’t changed much.

Now the orthodoxy is secular. But the willingness to punish people who won’t hue to it remains very much in place.

Is America better? Yes, the civil culture here is a lot more tolerant.

But not perfectly tolerant. And the people here who look to Europe as a model -- for the abolition of the death penalty, for socialized medicine, for preferring John Kerry to George Bush in 2004 -- are perfectly willing to shut up opinions they don’t like.

Indeed, there are a fair number of people like that on the Marquette campus.

Just last year, Jess Cushion, President of the Gay/Straight Alliance claimed that any speaker opposed to gay marriage should be banned from the Marquette campus. She explained:
. . . the problem is that gay marriage is an issue of human rights, and having a speaker on campus that will stand up against human rights would basically be promoting hate speech on campus . . .
It’s no wonder that liberals now don’t call themselves “liberals.” They call themselves “progressives.”

Perhaps that’s appropriate, notwithstanding that their vision hardly constitutes progress.

For generations, liberals in American had some tenuous relationship with classical liberalism and its defense of individual liberty and free speech.

But that is fast disappearing.

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