Tuesday, June 28, 2005

inter/intra faith relations

A post on Barbara's blog about seperation of Church (or synagogue) and State got me thinking about the relationship between State and its relationship with its citizens.

The United States is a pluralistic society. Anyone can live there and enjoy equal rights irrespective of Race, Religion, Gender... On the other hand, Spain of the late 1400s required all citizens to be Christians and more recently Saudi Arabia and Iran require that citizens be Muslims if they want to be considered first class citizens. One of the stated goals of the RockofGalilee is to help bring about a theocracy in the State of Israel, does that mean that other religions will not be able to freely practice their religions? That sounds awfully immoral and unpluralistic, forcing your belief system on someone else.

From a moral standpoint, which is more correct, the pluralistic United States or a non-pluralistic theocracy?
From an atheistic, God is not involved, and paganistic point of view, pluralism is perfect. I do what I want and you do what you want and don't bother me and I won't bother you.

But if you believe that God is very involved in our lives and any violation of his commandment is a corruption of the world which directly impacts you, then how can you stand there and not say anything? If a Christian believes that the world cannot reach perfection until everyone professes belief in their saviour, then if he accepts a Jewish person's behavior without acting in any way to influence it, then he is accepting a world that can never be fixed.

At my job in Detroit before I made aliyah, I worked with a guy from India. I asked him once how his vacation was and he told me it was great he went to the biggest temple in North America and prayed to the idols there and showed his son some of their culture and religion. (He used the word idol. I thought that was our derogatory term for them.) I smiled and continued the conversation in our regular pleasant manner. If I believed that he was destroying the world, how could I have a friendly relationship with him? If I believe that God wants me to kill him and that I have an obligation to do so, do I have the right to not take the first opportunity and end his life. Should I ambush him at first opportunity? Or should I smile and think well we have different lifestyles, but to each their own?

It is generally accepted that religious Jews do not go out and kill people who it seems the Torah requires us to. Maybe these rules only apply when the Jews are in charge or receive a direct commandment to start fulfilling those sections of the law. I don't know.

Sitting on an interfaith committee is a very interesting concept. It is meant to be pluralistic so that each religion learns about the other one and accepts it. Now for a Jew, in order to accept a non-Jew as a valid contributing member of society the non-Jew must follow the 7 Noahide laws. But for a Christian, anyone who doesn't accept their Saviour is an impediment to the world. The Crusades weren't started by idiots. These were firm believers of a religious doctrine. So for the Christian to sit with the Jew, his goal must be to convert the Jew. Why would a Jew want to sit with someone who either must disavow his religious beliefs or try to convert him in a forum that is specifically geared towards accepting each others beliefs as valid? The Muslim believes that anyone who does not accept Mohammad as the prophet is an infidel and should be killed. His goal is the same as the Christian's goal. If they are truly trying to accept the other religion as valid, that means that they are disavowing their own religion which does not have a place for another religion.

On the other hand, if you take into account the current reality - Jews, Christians and Muslims live in seeming peace together. Therefore, understanding the other religion can be very beneficial, but only in the context of know thine enemy.

The concept of intrafaith councils are very similar. A Reform Jew would conceptually have no problem sitting with an Orthodox Jew. He believes that there are a number of ways to be a religious Jew, orthodox is one and reform is another. However, an Orthodox Jew considers the Reform movement to be invalid. Therefore sitting in a council with a Reform Jew would be very hard for him, unless his goal is to convince the other that his way of life is wrong. For an Orthodox Jew to accept that Reform Judaism is a valid stream is to say that, "I do all these extra things because I want to. Not because there is a divine commandment to do them."

If the goal of an intra/inter faith committee is to convince the other guys that you are right and they are wrong, then that violates the very essence of the council. If the goal is to accept the other group, then that may just violate the essence of your religion.


BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Now this is an interesting question!

Strangely, my knee jerk reaction when I read about anything becoming a theoratic state, (I assume you mean like that which exists in Iran), I become appauled, and think racism, lack of freedom of expression, exclusive, etc. But when I think about it could exist in Israel, a whole new set of possibilities emerge, linking it to the notion of safety and peace and lack of terrorism.

I want to think more about this question, but let me ask you this: If it is a theoracry, who would be the head? Like the Ayotolah in Iran, would you have some Satmar Rabbi, someone Orthodox, Conservative, or maybe even 'secular?' How would this allow for co-existance of other groups, or would it automatically exclude them?

As I have expressed to you, my politics about Israel and her right to exist peacefully are quite different from how how feel about anything else. My liberal friends would be surprised. This is because Isreal is faced with daily threats and security issues that may take dramatic remedies to resolve. Couple that with thousands of years of anti-semetism, and you have a whole different ball of wax.

stillruleall said...

Youve got to shorten your posts, some of us have very short attention spans...

Rolling hills of green said...

You can be part of a committee like this in a teachers role, more than any other. Is it justified then? I don't know, but I do feel it is better to be part of this multi racial gathering as apposed to it being used against our religion.

rockofgalilee said...

Barbara, if you are interested in the concept of a Jewish theocracy read the paper I wrote A Democratic Theocracy. It is impossible and impractical right now because the Jewish people are not ready to have Jewish law imposed on them. It has to be accepted with love by the people as a whole in order for it to work.

The ideal head of the country is a King, such as King David was. The "Supreme Court" is the Sanhedrin made up of the council of 70 sages.

rockofgalilee said...

rolling hills, it depends on what you mean by justified. If you are joining a group to accept another religion whose principles go against your own, that is kind of hypocrisy. If it is ok for them to do, in your mind, then why isn't it ok for you to do?

There was a Seinfeld episode where Elaine was sleeping with a Jesus freak. She said to him, don't you care that you think I'm going to hell and he answered, nope. but you are.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I'll read your paper. I must admit that it is a novel idea. I do have visions of religious fundamentalism swirling around in my head, but I am open to hear what you have to say about it.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I read your paper. Although there are some very interesting ideas, I of course, have some questions.

First of all, the words democratic and theocracy seem to be mutually exclusive terms, at least from the point of view of how they have been used through-out history. Most theocracies are not democratic, and are run more like a religious monarchy, like in Iran. To call it a democracy is like calling Moses Charles it seems to me.

The other issue I have, is do you think that the majority of Jews in Israel would want this form of government? Considering that the majority of the Jews there are secular, a theoracy might force more Jews to leave than to stay, which would be the worst of all possible solutions. Someone like King David to be the head? To me, that is like a Satmar type or Orthodox rabbi, in the 21st century, is it not? Just a question.

As far as the Torah being like a constitution, I cannot see this at all. The Torah is completely religious in nature, not subject to change, but interpretation. As for the U.S. COnstitution, that should not be subject to amendment, in my opinion either, as it was written to withstand the test of time, and as such, it is vague by definition.

As you know, I am of the opinion that Israel must do whatever it must to defend itself, and keep the Jewish safe and its people as safe as possible. I have my ideas, but my husband says I live in fantasy land, and that no one would even consider listening to them, so for once, this tireless talker will remain silent.

rockofgalilee said...

Today's blog will answer all your questions, though I can't imagine that you would agree with it. It is still a concept that is far from being actualized. Obviously if someone did not accept the Law of God then they would be very uncomfortable living in a society based on his law.

rockofgalilee said...

I don't know what you mean by the Torah is completely religious in nature.
It is a guidebook to how to live your life and what is considered moral and what is not considered moral.

Similar to the system of laws in place in the United States right now.

rockofgalilee said...

Do Not Steal seems to me to be a basic law that shouldn't be allowed to change.
The sticky points are the ones where people think they know better then God, such as Eat only Kosher Food.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Actually, your response made me think about another question in reference to the Torah. You say that it is a code for moral conduct. I do not disagree, in that it sets forth guidelines for behavior in the form of prohibitions and commandments. But is it not relgious by its very nature? The source, how it and the Commandments were received from God? Would that not define it as a religious text by definition?

rockofgalilee said...

I draw a very fine line between things religious and not religious. I try to live by entire life by religious guidelines and therefore life to me is religious.