Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fault-line widens

Is there no end to this “sensitive” issue? We had Shamala, Moorthi, Rayappan, Lina Joy, Subashini, and now to that disreputable list of highhandedness add Madam Tang Siew Yin, and Siti Fatimah/ Revathi. This last one is beyond mind-boggling. Revathi’s situation is a new low in the religious wrangle, where Islamic officials seized her 15-month baby, placed her in a religious rehab center separated from her Hindu husband.

I read the news and feel a pain that verges on anger. I think of the God debate between Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and Rick Warren (The Purpose-driven Life), which appeared in a recent issue of Newsweek. At one point very angry atheist (“I’m not angry, just impatient”) Harris declared that empathy and compassion are undeniable moral impulses that need no theistic justification, and that altruism is just as reasonable sans religious baggage. If an avowed atheist can appeal to our shared humanity as justification for compassion, what does it say about a religion that claims compassion as its ethic but shows little of it?

In the meantime, as the Federal Constitution and Syariah fault-line widens, a lot of goodwill falls between the cracks.

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