Gary: Religion in the News. This week’s item is from USA Today, dateline Paris, France. “A French court convicted actress and animal activist Brigitte Bardot of inciting discrimination, hatred, or racial violence, after she criticized a Muslim practice. Bardot was fined $3,000 for a chapter in a book published in 1999 in which she wrote, ‘My country, France, my homeland, my land, is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially the Muslims.’
“In the book Pluto Square she criticized the practice of killing sheep during the celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.”
Tom: Although this wasn’t even a slap on the wrist for Brigitte Bardot, a French national heroine of sorts, she was convicted of inciting discrimination, hatred, or racial violence. Dave…well, let me add a couple things to that.
Dave: I would kind of agree with that, Tom. In other words, she’s not talking about theology. She’s not talking about…she’s not giving a valid objection. People kill sheep all the time. And I love leg of lamb! So why shouldn’t Muslims be allowed to kill sheep if they want to? So, I couldn’t agree with Brigitte Bardot, and I think she is kind of inciting people, because she says, “Our county is being overrun by foreigners!” I’ve experienced a little bit of that myself, living in foreign countries.
So, we’re not talking about facts there. This is prejudice that she’s stirring up!
Tom: Okay, but now we have a law in which they’re deciding what is racial discrimination, what is hatred, and what is racial violence?
Dave: Oh, she should be entitled to her opinion…
Tom: That’s absolutely true. Now, Dave, this is something that’s… we start with Brigitte Bardot, but now, let’s go to Great Britain…
Dave: Can I…let me just finish a little further here, Tom. See, part of it—another part of the problem…again, I’m saying…I don’t like what she said. I think it wasn’t wise.
Dave: But I think it is prejudicial against people, saying “We’re being overrun by foreigners.” On the other hand, she should be allowed to express her opinion. She shouldn’t be fined for that.
Furthermore, why doesn’t the West, if we’re so concerned about protecting the rights of these people (in France), why doesn’t France speak out about the lack of rights for their citizens who happen to be in Saudi Arabia? You must be a Muslim to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia. It is the death penalty for a Muslim to convert in Saudi Arabia. Why don’t we talk a little bit about that too, you see? So there ought to be two sides to this coin.
Tom: Yeah, but my concern here, Dave, is when the courts begin to take over and begin to say what is discrimination, hatred or racial…citing these things, what is inciting these things? Well, as I said, let’s go to Great Britain. Recently, an evangelist in Great Britain who condemned homosexuality as an abomination before God was fined £20,000 by the British Independent Television Commission for “prejudiced respect for human dignity,” which “violated the code against denigrating religious beliefs.” Now, you see, this isn’t $3000 and a slap on the wrist. We’ve moved up and we have—although this isn’t a court system, this is a code that people have to abide by, and who is saying what’s prejudicial and what isn’t?
Now, let’s bring that to this country. Just recently, the Senate passed—well, actually, they approved expansions of a Federal Hate Crimes Law to “increase penalties for those who commit crimes because of a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.” The big concern here is that we’re beginning to legislate with regard to what is inciting racial prejudice? What’s inciting hatred? These all have to do with a kind of intolerance with regard to, as you said earlier, a view that this woman takes with regard to her opinion about…
Dave: …in the name…
Tom: …certain people.
Dave: In the name of tolerance, they are intolerant to the max! In other words, I’m not allowed to say the Bible condemns homosexuality?
Tom: No, you’re not, according to this commission.
Dave: So, I’m not entitled to my opinion. And they can push themselves on society, but I can’t stand of and say, “Wait a minute! This isn’t right!” They can have their “Gay Pride” parades. I don’t know how you can be proud of something that is not natural, something which, if everybody engaged in it, it would end the human race, because they don’t procreate! Something that causes disease—I mean, if you know something about the practices of some of these people… And this is human dignity…
Tom: But, Dave…
Dave: …that we’re upholding? And now, if I object, I’m denigrating human dignity? No! I want some dignity that abstains from this sort of thing. That would be dignity! Furthermore, it is a slap in the face to God! It’s the very first commandment God gave: “Be fruitful and multiply.” And these people are saying to God, “No! We’re not going to do that. We’re going to have sex with our own sex.” So we won’t multiply on this earth, and that would be the end of the human race.
I think I ought to be entitled to say that. The Bible has said it. Now, let them disagree. That’s fine. But don’t fine me or them for disagreeing with one another.
Tom: Right. But that’s where we’re going, Dave! These are court cases: fines… How far can they go with this? Jail terms?
Dave: So in the name of freedom to these people, they’re denying me my freedom.
Tom: Right. Dave, I’ve got an idea where this is going, and it doesn’t really look good. If an evangelist can be fined 70-some thousand dollars for just saying what the Bible says, how long will it be before the Bible itself is banned as “hate material”?