Freedom from Religion—Rights and National Security
In response to the previous comments, I very much appreciate the justified concern raised regarding my identification of the danger posed by religious extremists. Prof Movsesian is, of course, correct that non-religious terrorism (the groups he identifies) is also a contemporary reality. However, where we disagree is that I believe the greatest (not only) danger is posed by religious extremists and my proposal addresses that threat. That said, Prof Movsesian is also correct that solely identifying religious extremist speech raises (obviously) important constitutional issues; in that vein, including non-religious extremist speech in the ‘posing a danger’ category is certainly viable.
However, as i previously commented, the present danger is largely posed by religious extremist speech in Houses of Worship. In that vein (in response to Rev Lentz’s comment) I propose law enforcement engage in monitoring and surveilling of a Houses of Worship if information is received that the faith leader is inciting his/her particular congregation to violence; if justified the faith leader can be prosecuted based on the available evidence.
The deep reluctance of law enforcement/prosecutors in the US, Israel, UK and Netherlands (with whom I met while researching the book) is the clearest manifestation of what I previously referred to as the granting of immunity to religious extremists actors. In that vein, I suggest that religious extremist speech that has the ability—in the name of the divine as interpreted by the faith leader—must be defined as ‘unprotected speech’ based on the possibility that an individual in that specific audience might act.
Because many religious extermists speak in ‘code’ –what I believe Prof Borgen refers to as ‘metamorphical speech’—it is incumbent upon law enforcement to develop a sophisticated understanding both of religion and religous speech. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to truly understand the message intended by the speaker. What is essential to my proposal is recognizing the extraordinary power of extermist faith leaders in all three monotheistic faiths and the willingness of indiviudals to act on their words.
In the Israeli context, the impact of the ‘pulsa danura’ (see previous comment) issued against Rabin could have been minimized had concrete measures been taken against the Rabbi’s who were openly inciting against Rabin. It is important to note that the speakers were religious extremist faith leaders (not far right secular Israelis as Prof Movsesian suggests in his hypothetical) who clearly had the ability to incite (as they did) members of their community. Similarily, when a fatwa was issued by an imam in the Netherlands against an Islamic politician (for suggesting Islam must come to grips with homosexuality) the threat to that individual was direct and real; the literally unlimited freedom of speech extended to the imam directly threatened the politician (with whom I met the day the fatwa was issued) because of the very real possibility that someone in the imam’s congregation will act in accordance with the ‘religious dictate’. That same principle holds true for child brides in the Fundamental Latter Day Saints Church; underage girls are directly endangered by faith leaders who literally order their marriage to adult males predicated on religious belief (in that vein, a faith leader was convicted of being an accomplice to a rape though the conviction was recently overturned).
It is in response to these examples that I propose acting proactively to minimize the harm caused both to larger society (external) and members of a particular community (internal) by religious extremist actors. As Prof Cliteur correctly suggests religious extremists are intimately connected to divine commands; it is, as Prof Cliteur comments (in his response to Prof Movsesian) that distinction with respect to motivation and the power of the divine as interpreted by extremist faith leaders that distinguishes religious extremist terrorism.