01
Sep
09

a paper i had to write for a stupid company

and i didn’t get paid.
but i need to publish it here so i can prove it’s plagiarism on their part if they try to use any part of it somewhere else.
btw, they’re luckedraft.com, and if you ever hear of anyone wanting to work for them or use them, discourage it. they run a highly immoral, probably illegal operation, and i feel ashamed that i got burnt. they also accused me of plagiarism, which is their racket, not mine.

unfortunately the citation marks don’t work, but they’re listed at the bottom, and i definitely cited everything i used.

A Comparison of Cultural Understanding of the Separation of Church and State in France and the U.S., and How it Influences International Law and Policy in Both Nations

It is obvious from political debate that Americans have a very involved interest in how religion is portrayed in the law. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses freedom of religion thusly:
Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (The United States Constitution, 1776)

While most scholars agree that the “Establishment Clause”, that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, mandates a Federal separation of church and State, many in the U.S. debate where the line should be drawn. Questions regarding the legality of religious displays in public places or the teaching of religion in schools often lead to intense debate. In 2003, for example, the Supreme Court of Alabama was required to examine this question when a statue depicting the Ten Commandments was forcibly removed from the Supreme Court building.
On the other hand, citizens of the Republic of France, which has a democracy very similar to that of the U.S., including a similar constitution, have a very different understanding of the separation of Church and State as promised in their laws. The French Constitution’s first article outlines the separation of church and state:
La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. (France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic.)

For a French citizen, there is no question that religious texts or displays have no place in public schools or other public institutions. For instance, the French government enacted a law in 2004 which outlawed Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to school , a decision which outraged some Americans who believe that the separation of Church and State mandates a freedom of religion, rather than a freedom from religion.
In this paper, I hope to examine the historical differences between religion in the U.S. and France, and explore the reasons why the seemingly similar call for a separation of Church and State could have such different results both socially and politically. I will also explore how the French Constitution and the U.S. Constitution handle religion within the State; the former by providing freedom from religion, the latter by providing freedom of religion. Finally, I will show how these historical and cultural differences affect the laws of both nations in regards to international law and foreign policy, particularly with regard to Muslim immigrants and their religious freedoms.
The Fourth French Republic and Laïcité

Laïcité is a French term which is used to describe a secular society, that is to say, one where there is no government-backed religion, and where religion plays no part in the laws of the state . This term has been especially important for nations where the Catholic Church has had a historical influence over the government, such as much of Western Europe and Latin America. For centuries, the French monarchy was influenced by the Vatican in Rome, and all laws, particularly those regarding marriage, theft, murder, etc., were based on church law. This also meant that the Catholic Church was recognized as the church of France, and that technically, the Pope had the final say in the laws of the nation. Today, the term laïcité refers to secularization of any kind, and is used to describe a state or government that is supposedly free from the influence of any religious institution, whether it is Catholic or otherwise.
Laïcité is notable for several reasons. It is supposed to connote freedom of thought and of religion within a state, and allow citizens to practice their own religions unhindered by state interference. In France, it also means that citizens are not allowed to impose their religion on anything related to or run by the state, such as public schools or public institutions.
However, some critics of laïcité argue that instead of allowing freedom of individual thought and religion, the system actually prevents religious practitioners from expressing their religion in the first place, as in the case of Muslim women and girls being barred from wearing headscarves at school. Other critics also point out that laïcité is not necessarily in action in France, where religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are still observed by the state. Proponents of laïcité respond to this latter criticism by pointing out that those who observe other religions are free to celebrate their own religious holidays, and are allowed to leave work or school as necessary to do so.
In France, laïcité is enacted through several policies, and rather than recognizing a single religion, the state recognizes religious organizations according to two specific criteria: firstly, that the sole purpose of the organization is to organize religious activities (and not, for instance, used for tax evasion or another purpose), and secondly, that its activities do not disrupt social order. Apart from official recognition of religious institutions (as opposed to religions), the French State does not interfere with religion. However, due to the second criterion of a religious organization, that it not disrupt the social order, France has come under criticism from some religious human rights groups regarding the status of smaller cults or religious sects, including the Church of Scientology. (See “The About-Picard Law” below.) There are several aspects of Muslim law that may be inferred to disrupt the social order, which are discussed further below.
Laïcité was first introduced in France in the 1880s, through laws regarding public education. France did not have laws that officially separated religion and government until a Separation of Church and State Law was enacted in 1905. Religious displays are not allowed in schools, including books about religion, adn religious meetings, such as Bible studies or other groups, are not permitted on public grounds. Currently, most religious institutions in France approve of laïcité, and politicians in general refrain from discussing religious issues when discussing politics. Many French citizens believe that discretion about personal religious beliefs is central to being French, which is problematic for immigrants to France from religious groups that believe more outward displays of religion are appropriate, particularly those who follow Islam, but also Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Scientology.
Current French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been both praised and criticized by different parties for being interested in changing French laïcité into a more “positive” form, one that recognizes how faith and religion have contributed to French culture, society, and history. Sarkozy’s platform for election did, in fact, include promises to update the 100-year-old French laïcité, including removing the French taboo of discussing religion in public discourse by promoting the positives of religion and faith. While Sarkozy has been criticized mostly by the French people and his peers, the Pope and other religious leaders have greatly enjoyed his willingness to bring religion back into the spotlight in France.
The U.S. and Religious Freedom

American citizens have a very different view of public displays of personal religious beliefs when compared to the view of French citizens. In fact, where French people distrust those who thrust their religious beliefs into public life, Americans distrust those who do not. Tellingly, according to several surveys, American people find atheists, those without any religious beliefs or affiliations, to be the least trustworthy minority in the U.S., followed by Muslims. There has never been a U.S. President who was specifically and officially affiliated with a non-Christian religious entity , contrary to popular belief that the current president, Barack Obama, is a Muslim. While there have been some Presidents, however, whose religious affiliation has been unknown or not readily evident, the great majority of Presidents and Presidential candidates have been overtly Christian, and only one President-Elect, President John F. Kennedy, has been Catholic.
Most Americans allow their personal religious beliefs to effect how they vote and for whom they are willing to vote. Issues such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and others are rarely debated in the public sphere without a mention of religion, specifically Christian moral values. Many Christian scholars and historians hold that, because the Founding Fathers of the United States were Christian, the Constitution is a Christian document, and laws that follow Christian doctrine are not only completely acceptable, but also to be expected in the U.S. Today, the Republican Party of the U.S. is the most highly affiliated with conservative Christian values, and members of the party are known for defending Christian values in the law, including policies against same-sex marriage and abortion and for keeping religious statements in official government documents, such as “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “endowed by their Creator” in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Because America is a melting pot of different religions, with no single historical religious church affiliation, it has been more important to protect religious institutions in the U.S. from the government than to protect the government from any one imposing religion. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This Amendment is seen as an extension of the religious rights granted in the First Amendment, although whereas the First Amendment grants every person the freedom to exercise his or her own religion, the 14th Amendment grants equal protection to everyone under the law, regardless of religious affiliation.
For several decades, this was not the case, and some groups, most notably Mormons, were even persecuted by the U.S. government, rather than protected. Some religious practices, including ceremonial drug use, refraining from participation in the military, polygamy, and certain types of proselytizing, have been the subjects of different law suits over time. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, brought 23 separate First Amendment suits to the U.S. Supreme Court between 1938-1946, and the outcomes of these actions are considered foundational to the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.
Interestingly, churches and other religious institutions, including thusly affiliated universities or hospitals, in the U.S. can claim autonomy arguments or religious beliefs exempt them from generally applicable federal anti-discrimination laws, and can therefore be seen to be allowed to engage in gender- or race-based discrimination. For instance, a Christian university could refuse to hire women into leadership positions based on a belief that women are not meant to be leaders, and not necessarily be prosecuted due to religious beliefs. However, no public institution or non-religious institution would be able to refuse to hire a person based on his or her religious beliefs.
Notable U.S. Policies Influenced By Religion
Abortion
Abortion is a particularly rocky terrain in U.S. law due to its religious connotations and questions regarding whether abortion is a woman’s civil right. Most Christian institutions, especially the Pope and the Catholic Church, are adamantly opposed to abortion, and regularly criticize any institution, governmental or otherwise, that supports its legality. U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry (Democrat, 2004) was purportedly excommunicated from the Catholic Church for his support of the legalization of abortion. Pro-life groups in the U.S. are generally led and supported by conservative Christian groups, such as Focus on the Family, the National Right to Life Committee, Inc., and others.
Several policies regarding abortion in the United States are often attacked by members of political parties that do not have religious affiliation or believe that there should be a complete separation of church and State. For instance, a policy that was originally signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 called the Mexico City Policy is often referred to by feminist and other progressive groups as “The Global Gag Rule”, because the policy forbids any overseas non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to receive funds if they perform or promote abortion. The policy was repealed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and re-instated by President George W. Bush in 2001, to be repealed again by President Barack Obama in 2009. Proponents of the rule are usually conservative Christian Republicans in affiliation, including all three Presidents who signed the policy into effect. Although there are some who argue that the policy disallows NGOs from interfering with any nation’s local laws about abortion (for instance, in the Philippines, where abortion is illegal), most proponents of the bill argue for it based solely on Christian moral grounds. Opponents of the policy tend to be affiliated with the Democratic or liberal parties, and accuse proponents of the policy of ignoring scientific and statistical facts in favor of religious belief or tradition.
Although abortion is completely legal in the United States, there are places within the country where access to facilities that provide it are often limited, and this is often due to interference by conservative Christian groups in these areas. Generally, when these problems arise, the party that refuses to perform the procedure can claim Freedom of Conscience under their religion and avoid prosecution for refusing to participate. For instance, a doctor or technician who refuses to participate in an abortion at a public medical facility based on his or her religious beliefs may call it discrimination if they are fired for refusing to do their job. The second Bush Administration had set laws in motion to attempt to widen the Freedom of Conscience Acts to prevent doctors and other medical personnel from losing their jobs or being harassed for refusing to perform work that went against their conscience. According to the Website “A Doctor’s Right”:
Last August, the Bush Administration proposed federal regulations that would strengthen existing “conscience” laws after it became clear that medical centers and personnel were still being discriminated against. The regulations implemented longstanding, bi-partisan federal laws—many of which have been on the books for over 35 years—stipulating that organizations receiving government funds from federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and public health service grants could lose federal funds if they discriminate against health care providers (including doctors, nurses, and other providers) acting on their conscience.

Opponents of broader Freedom of Conscience laws argue that these sorts of rules discriminate against non-religious patients, particularly in rural areas where there may not be another doctor or pharmacist who can perform the medical procedure or fill the medical prescription in the protesting doctor’s stead.
Marriage and Civil Unions
Marriage is another sticky legal area in the United States, and again the debate balances between civil rights or discrimination issues and religious freedom. Most conservative Christian institutions oppose marriage that is not between one man and one woman, as is the Christian tradition. Several laws and policies have been enacted by the U.S. Government to establish this Christian tradition as law. In 1890, a law called the Manifesto outlawed polygamy in the United States, in spite of the fact, or, more accurately, due to the fact that it was, at the time, a practice of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In more recent times, the most outstanding debate regarding marriage has been whether or not homosexual people should be allowed to be legally married. Many states in the U.S. allow for civil unions between homosexual partners, but only six states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) currently allow homosexual couples to marry legally. Once again, equality and civil rights are generally touted as reasons why same-sex marriage should be supported, while religious tradition and moral values are generally used to supply reasons against homosexual marriage.
Public Education
For the past several decades, there has been debate about whether or not prayer should be allowed in public schools. While freedom of religion dictates that people must be allowed to practice their religion in school, the U.S. belief in separation of church and State dictates that no religious system can be imposed on anyone in a public place, including public schools. For the most part, the Supreme Court has ruled that students can pray in school and hold religious meetings in public school buildings, as long as other groups are welcome to do the same, and as long as other students are not required to participate against their will. At the same time, the Court has also ruled that school-sponsored or -led prayer is unconstitutional; for instance, if a teacher or principal holds a prayer before a student sports game, or over the intercom or public address system at the school. For the most part, the Supreme Court in the U.S. has been involved in defending the individual right to prayer and religious practice, rather than in defending the individual’s right to avoid it or be exempt from it.
Another major issue in public schools has been the teaching of the evolutionary theory and other scientific theories on the beginnings of life on Earth. While few religious experts have been able to successfully convince any Court to approve the removal of evolution from the schoolbooks altogether, many have been successful at introducing cases that would force school districts to teach a theory of creationism or intelligent design alongside that of evolution. Again, the question arises as to whether teaching intelligent design or a single theory of creationism as a required class for students would be infringing on the separation of church and state.
Foreign Policy and International Law
In 1998, the U.S. passed the International Religious Freedom Act, which makes religious freedom a major tenet of foreign policy in the U.S. The act also calls on the United States to advocate for the rights of individuals in foreign countries who are persecuted due to their religious affiliations or beliefs. The Presisdent and Congress must consider religious freedom of a nation’s citizens when developing the policy with a foreign government, and for the most part, are required to act against nations that impede the religious freedom and rights of their citizens.
Persecution for religious reasons by a government can include detention, torture, beatings, forced marriage, rape, imprisonment, enslavement, mass resettlement, and/or death. Although originally the Act required the President to enforce sanctions on governments that participated in this sort of persecution, the Act has been revised due to worries about national security, and the President’s response is allowed to be more lax. The Act outlines 15 possible responses the President can enact against a nation that refuses to enter into a pact to fix the religious freedom problems in their country:
• a private or a public demarche;
• a private or public condemnation;
• the delay or cancellation of scientific or cultural exchanges;
• the denial, delay, or cancellation of working, official or state visits;
• the withdrawing, limitation, or suspension of some forms of U.S. aid;
• direction to public and private international institutions to deny assistance;
• and sanctions prohibiting the US government from entering into import or export agreements with the designated governments.

Some nations that have been under scrutiny due to this Act include China, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, and others. In fact, France’s law regarding Secularity and Conspicuous Religious Symbols in Schools (see below) has been mentioned in the U.S. State Department’s annual report in 2008 for being a problem area regarding the freedom of religion in France.

Notable French Policies Affected by Religion
In France, there are fewer laws that are as adamantly opposed or supported by religious people as there are in the U.S. Again, this can be attributed to the fact that French laïcité has a cultural implication of keeping religion out of the public sphere. However, there are some policies that are affected by religion, but for seemingly opposite reasons of those in the U.S. While the laws in the U.S. that are affected by religion involve keeping religious values, particularly Christian values, active in the law, those in France are enacted to keep religion out of the public sphere.
Secularity and Conspicuous Religious Symbols in Schools
A law signed into effect by then President Jacques Chirac in 2004 outlawed the display of any conspicuous religious symbol on any student’s or teacher’s person while in any government-funded primary or secondary school in France. This means that any student who chooses to wear a cross or Star of David on a necklace must keep in hidden under their clothing, which is not cause for any uproar to most French people. However, this law also prohibits Jewish students or teachers from wearing yarmulkes, or, most notably, Muslim women and girls from wearing traditional headscarves.
Because France has been a country of mostly homogenized religion in the past – i.e. Catholicism – laws prescribed to protect against religious discrimination have not necessarily had impact on disallowing individuals from practicing their religion. That is to say, Catholicism in Western Europe does not dictate that its followers practice certain rites throughout the day whether they are in public or private; therefore, outlawing religious displays in public areas does not generally impede on the rights of the general population to practice their private religion. This law is supposed to protect against discrimination, in fact; by keeping religious displays out of schools, no one can discriminate between Catholics and members of other faiths, such as Judaism. Disallowing religious displays can be seen as a reversal of the laws during the occupation by Germany in World War II, when Jews were required to wear the yellow star to show that they were Jewish.
However, many conservative Muslims believe that women should keep their heads covered out of modesty, and by prohibiting women from doing so, France has come under scrutiny from religious freedom advocates, in Europe and abroad. In France, as well as in other Western nations, the headscarf can be viewed as less of a symbol of religion, and more a symbol of female repression. In fact, the enactment of this law can be seen as a direct response to the growth of recent Muslim immigrant populations in France.
Muslim girls are not the only group of students that have perhaps been marginalized by the law. In 2008, United Sikhs lawyers filed suit in the European Court of Human Rights against France regarding the prohibition of Sikh boys wearing turbans to school. Six sikh boys had been expelled for wearing their turbans, and the French court had upheld the expulsion, because the turbans were deemed to be conspicuous displays of religious belief.
The Gayssot Act
In 1990, the French parliament instituted the Gayssot Act (le Loi Gayssot in French), which criminalizes the denunciation or repudiation of the historical accuracy of the crimes against humanity set forth in the London Charter in 1945. The London Charter was the basis of the conviction of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945-46. Technically, the Gayssot Act has made it illegal to deny the Holocaust in France since its enactment in 1990.
Many other countries in Europe have similar laws, and Holocaust or genocide denial is one of the primary reasons a country may be denied entrance into the European Union . The Gayssot Act was originally enacted to counteract anti-Semitism in France, and is part of other laws created to discourage racism in the country. Since 1947, the French Human Rights Consultative National Commission (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme in French) has been required to make a yearly report on the state of racism in France.
Opponents of the law, particularly in the United States, argue that it interferes with international rights guarantees of freedom of speech. In the European Union, in fact, the United Kingdom and several Nordic countries were exempt from enacting similar laws due to already existing laws concerning free speech and freedom of expression. However, in France, several people have been jailed for publicly denying the Holocaust.
The About-Picard Law
Introduced in 2001, the About-Picard law was introduced to, as it says specifically in the law:
reinforce the prevention and repression of sectarian (cultic) movements that infringe on human rights and on fundamental freedoms (à renforcer la prévention et la répression des mouvements sectaires portant atteinte aux Droits de l’Homme et aux libertés fondamentales).
Although the law says nothing specific about religion or religious entities, the only time it has been used was in the prosecution of a doomsday cult leader who had convinced his followers to commit suicide. Proponents of the law argue that it protects weak people, especially children, from being coerced by criminal entities into participating in so-called religious activities. However, opponents of the law, and in particular the Church of Scientology, have argued that it increases prosecution against members of minority religious groups that the State has deemed to be “cults”.
The State of Muslims in Both the U.S. and France

It is not possible to discuss religion and law, and particularly religious freedoms, in current world forums without bringing forth the question of the state of Muslims in Western nations. Although the U.S. is in general more concerned with questions of religion than France, both nations are dealing with a similar issue when it comes to the issue of religious freedom and the religion of Islam. Islam is in particular a religion that holds that God’s law is above the law of any State, and because of this, religious freedom when it concerns Islam is a very tentative ordeal. Sharia law, the most conservative and fundamentalist rules of Islam, often directly oppose Western laws concerning civil rights, at least as interpreted by extremely conservative Islamic leaders.
For instance, in extreme Islamic law, women who are raped can be viewed as bringing dishonor to their house, and in some cases her father, brothers, and uncles are called upon to kill her to restore honor to the family. According to Human Rights Watch, a leading independent organization that is devoted to defending human rights around the globe, honor killings are defined thusly:
Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce – even from an abusive husband -or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
Honor killings are more frequent in very conservative Muslim areas, most notably Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in some cases the national governments of those areas have in fact supported the decisions of the families to kill their daughters, or at least not refused to prosecute the killers. In the U.S., on the other hand, where honor killings have been rare if they have happened at all, the murderers have always been brought before the law and prosecuted, at least when they are reported.
Many conservative Christians in the U.S. argue that Muslims can never be “truly American”. As one conservative Christian blogger recently wrote:
Values such as liberty, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, a shared faith in the Creator, persuasion, and female worth and dignity are absolutely essential, non-negotiable parts of what it means to be an American. These values reflect the essence of the American spirit and the American experiment. Without these values, America is not America, and is not the country bequeathed us by the Founding Fathers.
The religion of Mohammed shares none of these values, and as long as a Muslim clings to the values of his religion, he cannot embrace the values of America. In fact, the only way a Muslim can become a good American is by forsaking Islam altogether.
The situation of Muslim immigrants in the U.S. could be compared to that of Mormon people in the U.S. in the 1800s; that is to say, rather than being greeted with promises of religious freedom and the right to practice religion as they see fit, laws are enacted to limit certain practices, and people in the U.S. are hostile toward the religion and culture itself. Of course, due to America’s current stance on freedom of religion, it is highly unlikely that Muslims will be officially persecuted within U.S. borders for their religion, and it is ludicrous to believe that the U.S. under the current Constitution could ever enact laws to kill Muslims. Nevertheless, it is likely that the U.S. will call for stricter laws limiting the immigration of Muslims into the country,
In France, retaining French identity and French culture is extremely important to both the public and the government. L’Academie Francaise (or French Academy), which was founded in 1635, is one institution charged with keeping the language of France “pure”. In 1996, the French Carignan law (Loi Carignan) was passed, stipulating that 40% of all music played over the radio in France must be French. It is not surprising, then, that one of the biggest national concerns regarding Muslims in France is their unwillingness to assimilate to French cultural customs. Thus the French see no problem with enforcing a law that prohibits Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to school.
While French officials have tried to suppress discrimination against people by outlawing religious demonstrations in public, they may have exacerbated the situation instead. Although France is very concerned by anti-Semitism and racism within its borders, it is very possible that discrimination against Muslim girls and women is reinforced by the banning of headscarves in public schools. As the U.S. State Department’s 2008 International Religious Freedom Report on France noted:
The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, … indicated that the Government generally respected the right to freedom of religion or belief, she noted several areas of concern; particularly the 2004 law banning the wearing of religious symbols in schools, which may “protect the autonomy of minors who may be pressured or forced to wear a headscarf or other religious symbols” but also may serve to deny the rights of “minors who have freely chosen to wear a religious symbol to school as a part of their religious belief.” She continued, “the stigmatization of the headscarf has provoked acts of religious intolerance when women wear it outside school.”
Of course, beyond the day-to-day discrimination faced by Muslims in France, this law has raised the hackles of religious rights activists outside of the country, and particularly in conservative Muslim nations.
It is noteworthy that the treatment of Muslims in both the U.S. and France can be seen as hypocritical when it comes to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. It should perhaps be said that U.S. policies are geared to ensure expression of Christian religion, and that French policies are geared towards ensuring French cultural homogeneity.
The Future of Religion and International Law
Because France and the U.S. are part of the Group of Eight most powerful nations in the world, it can be assumed that their influence on international law will be particularly important in the future. While France is moving towards further secularity, much to the chagrin of the Pope in Rome, President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to include religion more in public life than it has been in the past. In the U.S., religion is as important to citizens as it ever was, and perhaps more so, especially given current attitudes towards immigration and domestic laws.
Current international law regarding religion is perhaps somewhat biased, because it has been written and enacted mostly by Western (and thus, Christian) nations. While the international regulations that have been enacted by the United Nations are perhaps more suggestions than laws per se, they are guidelines by which nations across the world are judged. Human rights laws in particular derive from Western normative values, and thus from Judeo-Christian ethics. As mentioned before, U.S. citizens are more wary of atheists than they are of any other religious minority, and while the general public at large is not in charge of drafting, voting on, or enforcing international law, leaders from the U.S. are certainly acting as members of their society.
Perhaps it is not anything new that Western and Eastern forces clash over religious understandings, and that Muslims and Christians are at war; however, it is with renewed vigor that citizens in both parts of the world are looking with scrutiny at the other. It is useful, therefore, to examine international law from a non-Western point of view, and most notably, from the point of view of the Islamic world, especially as international law now deals with the interaction between the Christian world and the Muslim one.
For the most part, Islamic scholars have tried to point out the similarities between the international and human rights ideals of the Western world and Christianity and those of the Muslim tradition. They have also tried to highlight how Islam promotes individual thought and freedom. For instance, the Islamic scholar Sheikh Wahbeh al-Zuhili recently wrote:
The State of Islam (the Caliphate) was the only system based on the emancipation of the individual and society from the phenomenon of “domination and subordination” that prevailed in human society. For “domination and subordination”, Islam substituted justice, consultation (shura), equality, mercy, freedom and brotherhood, which are the most noble Islamic foundations in the politics of government.

This is in direct opposition to how the Western world generally views Islam, and particularly how conservative Christians in America view the religion and its followers (see the quotation from Bryan Fischer’s blog, above). The definition of “domination and subordination” must, of course, be sought out, but in general, “justice, equality, mercy, freedom and brotherhood” are all qualities that are upheld by all nations as the basis of international law.
The Islamic scholar Syed Maududi put it this way:
“…when we speak of human rights in Islam we really mean that these rights have been granted by God; they have not been granted by any king or by any legislative assembly. The rights granted by the kings or the legislative assemblies, can also be withdrawn in the same manner in which they are conferred. The same is the case with the rights accepted and recognized by the dictators. They can confer them
when they please and withdraw them when they wish; and they can openly violate them when they like. But since in Islam human rights have been conferred by God, no legislative assembly in the world, or any government on earth has the right or authority to make any amendment or change in the rights conferred by God. No one has the
right to abrogate them or withdraw them. Nor are they the basic human rights which are conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and denied in actual life when the show is over. Nor are they like philosophical concepts which have no sanctions behind them.”
This statement certainly points out the Islamic view that God’s laws are above man’s, and that no man can take away the basic fundamental rights given by God to man. Western Christian beliefs match these statements quite well, for instance in the American Declaration of Independence, where God has endowed his creations with inalienable rights.
Of course, in French law, ideally the rights that are “God-given” would be just as important if they were reinstated by mankind, so that God, or Allah, could be left out when mentioning them.
Curiously, very few if any international laws regarding human rights can reach a consensus regarding the right to religion, as the American Society of International Law notes:
…it is generally agreed that no area of human rights is so distant from a meaningful international consensus as the right to religious diversity.
Nowhere in any of the Islamic texts on international law is there a provision for a person who decides to change religion, for instance. While American international law lists this as a fundamental religious right, very few other nations do. This may be attributed to the fact that many American Christians are evangelical, and believe in the spreading of Christianity throughout the globe; these missionaries are charged with bringing other peoples to religious conversion, and if religious conversion is illegal, the duties of the missionaries are impeded.
Conclusion
While there is no official definition of “religion” in any international law, in the West, and particular in the U.S. and France, Christianity is held to be the standard religion which is protected by the law, and on which most laws are based. This has caused difficulty in constructing human rights laws that include non-Western, and non-Christian, nations. If international laws regarding religion are to be enacted in the future, they must include and address the traditions of non-Christian, non-European nations, in particular Islamic nations.
The United States of America is politically involved in furthering religious freedom around the world, although it is debatable what that religious freedom entails. Many politicians in the United States advocate Christianity as the standard against which other religions should be judged, and while there are many proponents of secularism in the United States, the separation of church and State has in general been interpreted to mean the freedom of the individual to practice their religion in public places.
On the other hand, the interpretation of the separation of church and State in France has been a much more social one, where public displays of religious fervor or regarded as improper outside of the private sphere. This has resulted in the smothering of some religious expression in France, particularly that of Muslims and other non-Christian religions.
While both nations advocate freedom of religion and a separation of church and State, their interpretations of these are very different, especially in terms of international relations and law.

Cited Works
United States Constitution, Amendment I
Encyclopedia of Alabama, “Ten Commandments Controversy” – http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1525
The Constitution of the Fifth French Republic, Article 1, Translation by Katherine Cox
BBC News, “French scarf ban comes into force”, September 2, 2004 – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3619988.stm
Wikipedia.org, “Laïcité” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laicite
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
Wikipedia.org, “Freedom of Religion in the United States” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_the_United_States
Wikipedia.org, “Religious Affiliation of United States Presidents” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_affiliations_of_United_States_Presidents
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
Wikipedia.org, “Freedom of Religion in the United States” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_the_United_States
Catholic World News Feature Stories, “Kerry Said to be Excommunicated”, October 18, 2004 – http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=32830
A Doctor’s Right – http://www.adoctorsright.com/
Wikipedia.org, “Freedom of Religion in the United States” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_the_United_States
Wikipedia.org, ibid
Wikipedia.org, “School Prayer” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_in_school
Wikipedia.org, “Creation-evolution controversy” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation-evolution_controversy
Wikipedia.org, “International Religious Freedom Act of 1998” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Religious_Freedom_Act_of_1998
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
“2008 Report on International Religious Freedom – France”, U.S. Department of State, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108446.htm
Wikipedia.org, “French Law on Secularity and Conspicuous Religious Symbols in Schools” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_law_on_secularity_and_conspicuous_religious_symbols_in_schools
“2008 Report on International Religious Freedom – France”, U.S. Department of State, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108446.htm
Wikipedia.org, “Loi Gayssot”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_Gayssot
Wikipedia.org, “Laws Against Holocaust Denial” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
“2008 Report on International Religious Freedom – France”, U.S. Department of State, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108446.htm
Wikipedia.org, “Honor Killing” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing
Wikipedia.org, ibid.
Rightly Concerned, “Can a Devout Muslim Become a Good American?” Bryan Fischer, August 27, 2009. http://action.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147486476
“Musique as Opposed to Music: Background and Impact of Quotas for French Songs on French Radio”, Marcel Machill, Journal of Media Economics, Vol. 9, 1996
“2008 Report on International Religious Freedom – France”, U.S. Department of State, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108446.htm
Islam and international law by Sheikh Wahbeh al-Zuhili, International Review of the Red Cross, June 2005
Human Rights in Islam by Syed Maududi, 1981
Religion and International Law by Mark W. Janis, November 2002 http://www.asil.org/insigh93.cfm

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3 Responses to “a paper i had to write for a stupid company”


  1. 1 Mustafa
    September 15, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Hey, I wrote for luckedraft.com as well, I wrote for them for over a month. They owe me over $600 and never paid me. I’m saw that you wrote this on September 1, have you figured anything out in terms of what to do? I thought I was alone in the situation. Anyway, maybe we can put our heads together and figure out a way to at least make sure they don’t do this to anyone else (I’m still holding out hope about getting paid, I have to pay my cell phone bill in two days and I have no money).

  2. 2 Me too
    September 15, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    This almost happened to me but I reniged bc of how unprofessional the contract was. I have all contact info like phone number, contract etc if you need it. Just email.

    • 3 Mustafa
      September 15, 2009 at 5:44 pm

      Yes, it’s been impossible for me to get in touch with them, they don’t answer any e-mails or phone calls. Any information you can help me with would be appreciated. Thank you


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