Objectives of Religious Liberty Watch

Objectives of Religious Liberty Watch

Concerns
Malaysian citizens – Malaysian Christians in particular – should be greatly disturbed by recent events that give alarming evidence of the erosion of religious liberty in the country. These events include civil court judgments that advise non-Muslims to go the shariah courts to settle matters of divorce and child custody, body snatching from funeral parlors, the demolition of temples and churches, and the seizures of Sunday School materials and Christian story books for children from bookshops. Of great concern is the Cabinet announcement that non-Muslims may not use the word ‘Allah’. This prohibition would ban Holy Scriptures (Alkitab) and forbid Christians from using well established liturgy, hymns and prayers in their worship services.


Are these events merely ad-hoc actions by the authorities or do they reflect the implementation of a more fundamental Islamic policy that informs and guides the authorities in their treatment of peoples of other faiths? How should Christians view these developments? This blog monitors what seems to be increasingly violation of religious liberty by the Malaysian authorities. It also provides analyses of current trends in Malaysia and explore how Christians may firmly and constructively respond to these challenges that threaten religious liberty in general and the Christian faith in particular.
More fundamentally, this blog analyses the present confusion that calls into question the foundational nature of the national polity of Malaysia that is one of pluralist democracy and the fundamental structure of the Federal Constitution that is explicitly secular in its original conception during Independence in 1957 and during the formation of Malaysia in 1963. It is this unfortunate confusion that has emboldened Muslim officials in the government to act with disregard for the religious liberty of Malaysian citizens who are non-Muslims.

This blog addresses the increasing dominance of Islam in the body politic of Malaysian society and highlights the alarming trend that seems to lead Malaysia towards a theocratic State. In particular, this blog expresses the sense of foreboding that non-Muslim Malaysians might eventually be reduced to dhimmis.

Context
The dominant framework for public discourse in Malaysia which is framed in religious terms will not be able to change the mindset of Muslims who have so far failed to demonstrated an ability to mount an internal self-critique of their own beliefs. As such, public debates cannot stop the inexorable slide of the country to an Islamic state. This calls for a new paradigm of public discourse based on human rights and equal citizenship that can provide a robust social and moral critique Islamic hegemony in a pluralistic society.

This blog is premised on three theses about the logical outcome of conventional Malaysian politics.

Thesis 1 – So long as Malaysian politics is negotiated on racial/religious terms, political discourse and public policies will increasingly become more Islamic. Only an Islam that undertakes a process of Ijtihad which reforms the Shariah Law can prevent the eventual emergence of an Islamic state. Itjihad is unacceptable to Malaysia Sunni Islam.

Thesis2 – Non-Muslims must reject the myth of monolithic identity of race and religion based politics and shift the terms of politics to one based on the human rights and equal citizenship in a modern pluralistic democracy.

Thesis 3 – Democratic rights are not just ideals but the outcome of political power, law and public policies enforced through social institutions. Furthermore, democracy practices can flourish only if it is supported by a strong civil society that nurtures democratic culture and democratic discipline.

Objectives of Religious Liberty Watch
• Assess prospects for religious liberty and explore new social/legal initiatives to strengthen religious liberty

• Inform the public on trends and current controversies of religious rights and multicultural politics

• Explore Christian public theology for social engagement and develop resources that help in strengthening Religious Liberty and Pluralistic Democracy

• Facilitate networking among lawyers and Christian leaders who are addressing current issues and development pertaining to religious liberty and Islamization and dhimminization of non-Muslims.

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One Response to “Objectives of Religious Liberty Watch”

  1. euandus Says:

    I have been surprised by the lack of civil political discourse in some of the threaded discussions in the blogs. I suspect it might reflect the sort of people we are (i.e., in American society). Here is the post if you are interested: http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/are-the-american-people-really-like-mr-smith/

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