Friday, November 20, 2009

Religious leaders in Belfast object to "Don't label me" billboard

I guess this is no surprise. There is no atheist/humanist billboard innocuous enough that it won't draw protests. If an atheist organization put up a billboard that merely said, "Have a nice day!", I'm sure there would be all sorts of objections. "We don't need that in our community -- God decides what kind of day it is!"

Anyway, the final phase of the BHA's bus campaign, in which a billboard with a picture of a child simply reads, "Please Don't Label Me. Let Me Grow Up And Choose For Myself," surrounded by a bunch of possible "labels" that people might wrongly apply to a child ("Christian child", "Muslim child", "Mormon child", "Atheist child", etc.), is drawing fiery objections from religious leaders in Belfast. You'd think that asking people not to label their children would be uncontroversial, but I guess not.

Most of the objections miss the point -- "How dare you tell us how to raise our children!" -- but one which does take the point head-on also happens to be the most disturbing. From Sheikh Anwar Mady of the Belfast Islamic Centre:

We believe that every child is born as a Muslim. Religion is not given by the family, but it is a natural religion given by our God at birth. The role of the family is to teach the traditions of the faith. But that faith is implanted at birth.

So yeah, his contention is that every child ought to be labelled a "Muslim child". Egads.

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