The Secular Islam Summit has released a powerful declaration for Islamic reform. Of course, CAIR has objected (though I think part of their objection is legit), but this is a great move in the right direction. Hot Air has an good short video commentary on this by Robert Spencer.
We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights. We
find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich
histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not
belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of
humankind. We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called
“Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or
condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.
I have some beef with the use of the ambiguous "separation" phrase, since this will hinder the progress of this otherwise great statement.
The ambiguity in term "separation of religion
from state" can and does lead to various interpretations. There is an extreme anti-religious approach, where
religious values, expression, and history is cleansed from public
spaces and education, and there is the more balanced interpretation where we don’t mix power and authority structures, and set guides and limits to how government moneys are spent.
However, because most Christians also believe that Biblical principles are objectively sound and consistent with human rights (cf. the Ten Commandments), we have no problem with referring to biblical principle when forming legislation. We do not see Islamic principle as true or consistent with freedom.
I understand why secularists would want to deny both – I mean, what makes one religion any better than another? It would seem better to rely solely on reason and leave the religionists to argue among themselves.
I actually sympathize with this view, which is why I consistently argue that, no matter what ideology informs or motivates your opinions on public policy, in that arena, we must rely on appeals to reason and common ethic, not religious authority. HOWEVER, because human reason and authority on its own is capricious and not entirely trustworthy, we should also be sure to bring in nature and nature’s God, i.e. the type of Providential view of the Creator as the source of rights and truth, not just our own limited points.
I know, again, that secularists just don’t buy this, but I am searching to develop a more convincing argument because I an convinced that this perspective is the most beneficial for all.