The target of the new law is the burqa and niqab but, already the Danish People’s Party have turned their attention to the head scarf, launching a new poster campaign that tells women to “throw of the headscarf and become part of Denmark.” Given the rise in religious apathy and intolerance towards religion generally, who knows what will come next; tomorrow the cross or the yarmulke could be the next target. This is why it is important now, more than ever, for all freedom-loving people to come together, to stand together and oppose this unnecessary, counterproductive and hypocritical law.
Securitization is not simply state prevention of foreign political violence. It is also increasingly aimed at Islamic religious practices like the burqa which are interpreted as signs of political radicalism. One of the unexpected consequences of such a situation has been to grant governments greater means to control religions in general. As such, it is a very serious threat to religious freedom and democracy across Europe.
Theatrics aside, Ahmari missed a critical opportunity to engage in a constructive debate about the niqab and the limits of religious liberty and pluralism in the public square. Instead he turned to seemingly more pressing issues: the bullying and silencing of free and honest debate in Europe by progressive liberals. “Does liberal opinion permit Europeans to discuss the burka openly, honestly, and fearlessly?” he asks. “The answer is almost certainly ‘no,’ judging by the furious reaction that greeted Boris Johnson’s recent remarks,” he answers. The Johnson controversy, Ahmari would have us believe, has little if anything to do with “Islamophobia,” anti-Muslim bigotry, or the right to manifest one’s religious beliefs. It has everything to do with “a prohibition against expressing any discomfort, enforced on pain of social ostracism and joblessness” by “illiberal liberalism.” A prohibition that is “a recipe for populist backlash.”
It should be abundantly clear that the Constitution’s “no religious test for public office” clause is a crucial piece of the separation of church and state. Contrary to Ben Carson, who would oppose a Muslim from holding office; contrary to Bernie Sanders, who discounted a Christian appointee who, privately, affirmed that Islam possess a deficient theology; contrary to Diane Feinstein, who fears Christian dogma, the state possesses no authority or competence to render judgment on the confessions or confessors of any house of worship.
Has our nation been benefitted or harmed by the No Religious Test clause of the Constitution? That depends on who you ask and to what extent. An open society that accommodates multiple faith traditions ideally works better at promoting genuine faith than one that indoctrinates its citizens and threatens dissenters with violence. The latter creates hypocrites, while the former facilitates the unhampered pursuit of truth.