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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

First Things defends the burqa and burkini

If one needed any further evidence that it is the *conservative* view that supports burqa and burkini wearing, and not the liberal view, there's a post at First Things that criticizes the burqa and burkini bans in France: Burkinis, Anabaptists, and Living One’s Faith. It doesn't have an auspicious beginning ...

The image has been making its rounds on news sites and social media: a French Muslim woman sitting on the beach, being forced, in the name of “good morals and secularism,” to remove her clothes. Last week, Nice was the last city to lift the Burkini Ban, in accordance with an order from France’s Council of State, which ruled that the ban “illegally breached fundamental freedoms.” But the veiling debate—which has been going on for years in France—is clearly not over.

As a woman who dresses modestly and wears a head covering on the basis of my Christian faith, I have been thinking about the issues involved here for a while. In a class last year, we were informally discussing the brutal attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices. I come from a tradition of Christian pacifism. I find all acts of violence to be indefensible and unjustifiable. But I found myself saying: “But if I saw blasphemous cartoons of Jesus . . . if I wasn’t allowed to dress according to my convictions publicly . . .” I got a table-full of blank stares. I sounded like an apologist. My argument trailed off into a lame “I don’t know—.” ...


One can't help but wonder how she would have finished her statement, “But if I saw blasphemous cartoons of Jesus . . ." What, she would have gunned down the artist?

The post goes on to assert things that are not true ... France is forcing its Muslim citizens to make this choice: To be French, or to be Muslim. Wrong - wearing those garments is not required by Islam and in fact most Muslim women choose not to wear them.

The way I dress seems to invite people to think in these terms, and to assert the principle that the spiritual life should not be lived in public ... if faith has any strength it must move beyond this misguided Manichean distinction between spirit and matter, to shape my actual life.

Conservatives often worry about liberals and secularists forcing religion into a private practice and out of the public square, but there's no sign that's happening ... we live in a country where most of the Supreme Court is made up of conservative Catholics, where the president is a Protestant and the VP a Catholic, where the Little Sisters of the Poor can sue the government over birth control. Come on.

I know that ultimately my faith takes precedence over my citizenship. I pray that the day will never come when I will be forced to choose between them. If I were to be faced with this choice—if the expression of my faith were not allowed in public—my response would be to continue to live according to my convictions, taking a cue from Martin Luther King Jr., “openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.”

Yes, protesting the right to wear a scarf, a right that will never be questioned in the US, ranks right up there with civil rights protests .... not. But anyway, in a pluralistic society in which citizens believe in many different religions and some in none, it's necessary to preserve freedom of belief and worship while also regulating how people act .... complete religious freedom of action can only exist in a vacuum or in a ghetto.

But anyway, I'm just saying, again, that the support of garments like the burqa and burkini is a conservative position, despite the recent liberal embrace of such. Thank you, First Things, for making my point. Here are a few of my past posts touching on this ...

The SSPX, Kirill's Orthodoxy, and the burqa/burkini

Germany considers banning the burqa

Burkinis, again

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