Ever since 9/11 there has been a so called war against terrorism. But one has to take note of the asides in that war, especially those that equate terrorism with Islam, and implicitly with religion or faith.
On one hand there are Muslim fundamentalists calling for the imposition of Sharia law, against the democratic ideal, and right-wing Christians on the hand whose ripostes don't do Christianity any justice. Not to mention Hinduism and other smaller religions whose followers engage in cruel acts in the name of faith.
What one may not notice in the subtext of the so called war against terrorism, is the way in which criticisms of Islam are used to attack religion and faith in general, with Islam in the forefront as the religion that embodies all that is wrong with the idea of religion.
People get caught up in debates in the belief that they are discussing freedoms and all that is wrong with religion, not knowing that some of the people leading these debates have the hidden agenda of diverting the inexperienced or those with no knowledge of the practical dimension of spirituality and faith from social, cultural and behavioural practices which may benefit them, with the intention (maliciously of course) of keeping some of the harmful deficiencies which exist in the society's psychic status quo (usually through ignorance) in place.
The moods of these debates are often led from the very start, with the religious disappointed or disenchanted having a lead in making comments. This is not to say that crimes are not committed in the name of religion every day, but to deal with religion only in terms of the problems in scriptural doctrine and tradition is wrong, and malicious. Some of the arguments against religion actually demand the throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
A lot of society's useful institutions are embodied in religion and are thus perceived as religious or even a sign of religiousity or piety, although their value is self-evident in a non-religious setting. Things which are considered to be religious law in the religions of the book are tradition and custom in other societies and are just as binding. The situation arises where calling for respect for such institutions is viewed as promoting religious ideas. If religious practice occupied some institutional ground first, does calling for those institutions imply that one is promoting religion? Does the notion that promoting institutions identified with religion equates with promoting religion = wrong because promoting religion = wrong?
The argument seems to go this way.
(promoting religion) = (wrong)
(promoting institution identified with religion) = (promoting religion) = (wrong) from above
(institution) = (promoting religion) = (wrong)
Calling for them even seems to imply impinging on freedoms. As an aside freedom isn't very useful if ignorance abounds and there are no requirements to promote knowledge.
To be continued.