Mass murder, Islamophobia, assault, abuse, sexual assault, racism

Religion, specifically Islam, and law have a tumultuous recent history in Canada. It’s a complicated issue. Sharia law in Ontario is a controversial topic for many Canadians, both Muslim and non.

I disagree with Sharia law as much as I disagree with Christian laws. We don’t call them Christian laws, we just call them laws, but they are in fact Christian based.

Religion should not have any place within the laws that a country adheres to. Yet many of us in the West are oblivious to the examples of Christian influence within ours.

National Christian laws

For example, child marriages are legal in 48 of 50 American states. In fact, more than 200,000 minors were married in American between 2000 and 2015. This is a Christian law. Where’s the outrage about this?

The legal minimum age of marriage in Canada was raised to 16 only 5 years ago. However, this does mean that minors between the ages of 16 and 18 can be married with parental consent. There’s hypocrisy involved in this when you look at Canada’s efforts to irradicate child marriage abroad.

But I digress, the point is that this is Christian law. In fact, the entire Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is based on Christian law. Despite claims that America is not governed by Christian law, anti-abortion legislation would prove otherwise.

There’s no secular reason I’ve heard from anti-choicers that supports banning abortion. Additionally, self-identified Christians are championing the campaign.

Arguably, it (abortion bans) too is a Christian law. We’re so quick to point fingers at mistakes other countries make that we forget to reflect on our own contradictions. 

By no means am I going to compare Sharia law and Christian law. The point is not to determine which one is fairer. Truthfully that doesn’t get us to the ultimate goal of equity. 

It simply serves to compare pain to pain. Laws should be based on tangibles and should possess an inherently unbiased logic. Introducing religious laws cannot do this because by its very foundation religion is about an intangible; faith. 

Bias obscures reality

Frequently I’ve heard Canadians and Americans claim Muslims should stay in the Middle East if they want to practice Sharia Law. This is a particularly common sentiment in Canada as some Muslim groups have fought for years to practice Sharia Law. 

Is it a coincidence that the majority of people who feel this way are white? Maybe, but given the history of Canada and America, probably not.

This is a deeply uneducated opinion regardless. The majority of Canadian Muslims actually want to adopt Canadian laws, not Sharia laws. Interestingly, Muslims are more proud to be Canadians than non-Muslims.

If we let bias shape our opinion we’re being ignorant at best. At worst, hateful, discriminatory, and arguably, racist. After all, child marriage is legal in Canada. Abortion is not completely legal in America. And yet no one is opposing Christian law. 

Religion is mysogynistic

Realistically, every religion is fundamentally misogynistic. Women are expected to obey their fathers and then their husbands. Without exceptions. We simply make exceptions, but that’s not an indication of what religious rules dictate. 

Sadly, internalized misogyny is apparent among the vast majority of women, regardless of their religious affiliation (or lack there of). How many times have you heard a woman say “I’m not like other women,” or “if your wife doesn’t do _____ for you, she’s worthless,” or “real women have curves,” the list goes on but you see where I’m going with it. 

Internalized misogyny is an epidemic because we live in a patriarchal society that was birthed from religion which is inherently misogynistic. Islam is not unique in creating this specific distorted world view. 

Something we should consider is the intersection of patriarchal and religious control on society. By no means am I suggesting we abolish religion, but I do wonder what it would be like to have a separation of church and state.

Patriarchal societies have an oppressive and harmful (often deadly) impact on women’s lives, but so too do religious societies. 

Time and time again, where we find a patriarchy, we find implementation of religious law. Westerners are quick to point to The Middle East as an example, but there are plenty to consider within our own countries too. Just look at marriage for one, paid holidays for another.

Secular societies are best

There is a proven correlation between secular societies and societal prosperity. For example, wealth, higher education, health, etc. So this would call into question why we would ever permit religious law to govern any country? It defies logic.

The Save the Children Foundation publishes an annual “Mother’s Index.” Its purpose is to rank the best and worst places on earth in which to be a mother. And the top of the list places are almost always among the most secular nations on earth. While the worst are among the most devout.

The non-profit organization called Vision of Humanity publishes an annual Global Peace Index. According to their rankings, the most peaceful nations on earth are almost all among the most secular. While the least peaceful are almost all among the most religious.

This is not to say that religion in society doesn’t have benefits. Just as we can’t say atheism in society doesn’t have drawbacks. Yet, there is an overpowering correlation that outweighs the antithesis in each instance. 

Successful societies

Societies that have higher rates of education also have lower rates of crime, higher rates of employment. They also have higher rates of reported happiness and higher rates of volunteering.

With progressive tax structures, they have higher rates of tax contributions. Which helps social programs such as emergency services, schools, social security, etc. This, in turn, creates stronger economies, and lower rates of poverty.

It is hard to pinpoint metrics for what deems a society a success. However, there are metrics we can all agree on. Such as education, health, wealth, happiness, and how the disadvantaged are treated.

Based on these metrics, the correlation is clear and strong. The more secular societies typically fare better than the more religious ones across a wide range of measures. These include homicide and violent crime rates, poverty rates, obesity, and diabetes rates. Along with rates of child abuse and educational attainment levels. Not to mention income levels, unemployment rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.

On nearly every sociological measure of well-being, it’s more common to see secular states faring the best. Secularity being measured as the lowest levels of faith in God and the lowest rates of church attendance.

Likewise, religiosity is gauged by possessing the highest levels of faith in God and rates of church attendance. The inverse is also true more often than not, with most religious states faring the worst. 

This correlation is true internationally, as well.

The Next Step

It’s never my intention to offer opinions on the validity of someone’s beliefs. There is no way to prove or disprove the existence of an omnipotent being, or beings. However, I would be amiss to claim that these findings are not worth reflecting on and considering. 

In the West, it’s easy to target Islam and point to all the ways in which it may be flawed. Yet, it would be a mistake to use that as justification for barring Sharia law in the West. Sharia law should be barred in the West because all religious laws should be barred.

This is why I find it hypocritical to point fingers at one faith and not all of them. None of them should have a place in government for all of the reasons and flaws discussed. I don’t disagree with the notion that Sharia law doesn’t belong in Western laws. I simply think that’s only one component of a much larger problem.

We need to work to rewrite laws to be fair and just for everyone. Regardless of their religion. And justifying the implementation or amendment of laws based on religious beliefs is detrimental to society at large. We’ve already uncovered countless reasons why religion should have no place in laws.

Sharia law should not be the exception, but neither should Christianity. We will not have equity for everyone until we rectify this societal blindspot.

I’d love to know…

What are thoughts on the marriage between patriarchy and religion?

Is there a way to obtain a separation of church and state? 

What would a harmonious society look like?

“The point of keeping church and state separated is so that we don’t end up like the religious persecution the pilgrims fled from or from becoming the corrupted theocracy of the dark ages. Church and politics should NEVER intermingle. If they do they are no longer a church”