Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Christians Should be Concerned about the Burka Ban

On Monday the burka ban was put into place in France. It is the first European country to do so and is a very controversial subject. This NY Times article shows the dislike of the Burka.

I haven't paid very much attention to the Burka ban until I read this article because it helped me realize why Christians should be concerned about this ban. The title of the article says the ban is a victory for "tolerance." I found that to be very odd since the ban is being intolerant to a way of dress. My question, what's next? Will minarets be banned? (Switzerland.) Why not ban the whole religion? What are the boundary lines for religious practices?

Christians may applaud the burka ban since we perceive Islam to be in opposition to Christianity. I find it to be disconcerting for two reasons. First, we have democracies that claim to give people the freedom to be who they want to be yet this ban is obviously saying you can be anything you want to be, just not wearing a burka. Second, there is a disgust not of just Islam that I sense behind this ban, but a distaste for religion in general. Read the end of the NY Times article:
Secularism is taken seriously in French society... Schools are strictly non-faith, and all public bodies must be free of religious influence. As recently as 2007, a public outcry resulted from the disclosure that a senior government minister had sought informal advice from a Catholic priest on matters of policy."
The force behind this law is not an attempt to promote women's rights but a protection of Secularism. I am not going to go into the very complex reasons for the burka and whether it is the suppression of women's rights. This is a complex discussion because Islamic women are being forced to wear burkas and in western society this is unjust, but some women choose to wear the burka for religious reasons.

I think that part of the reason for the burka ban, though some of it may be for the promotion of women's rights, is to suppress religious practice. We ought to be concerned as Christians about such governmental action because there could be laws like that against Christians. This doesn't mean that I support forcing women to wear burkas or be against the burka ban. Rather, Christians ought to be concerned about the underlying reason for the ban and question whether such action could be taken against Christians.

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