Anyone concerned about the coercive use of religion should find these two stories interesting – upsetting but interesting. And anyone not concerned about the coercive use of religion in the world today, should read a paper.
Both the United States Supreme Court and that of Israel have ruled in two cases one in each country, involving the religious rights of minority citizens. In each case it seems that they have relied on technicalities to reach pretty crazy and perhaps deeply damaging results.
American Reform rabbis issued a statement yesterday decrying the Israeli court decision, which involves building a Museum of Tolerance on an old Muslim cemetery.
According to the Resolution, “Cemeteries are sacred ground in our Jewish tradition…We would protest, in the strongest terms, not only the desecration, but any removal of a Jewish cemetery, no matter what the purpose. Therefore, it is self-evident that we must oppose the removal of another people’s sacred burial ground, no matter how worthy the purpose. While the Israeli Supreme Court has permitted the Wiesenthal Center to move ahead, an organization with high-minded goals like those of the Museum of Tolerance cannot be satisfied with mere adherence to the law.”
Yes, I know the proposition itself seems like a ridiculous contradiction in terms, but sadly it’s not to those who want to build the museum, or to the court which is allowing it.
And the case in Utah is just as wacky. It seems that because the plaintiffs’ suit was based on free speech and not the establishment clause, the state is really getting away with something it should not — something to which anyone concerned about religious freedom should obect.