Extreme Religious Beliefs?

A man was barred from entering the UK this week because he holds “extreme beliefs”. An oversimplification? Well, yes. But it is certainly interesting to look at the story of Pastor Terry Jones, the infamous Qur’an burning provocateur and his recently denied entrance to the UK, from a strictly philosophical point of view.

As I play at being Socrates, let’s begin with the facts. A Home Office spokesman said: “The government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK.” So Terry Jones – incidentally, a gift of a name for satirists who can manage a Monty Python impression – is denied entrance to the UK because he is an ‘extremist’. What is an extremist? My dictionary (the Oxford English) says: “Extremist: a person who holds extreme political or religious views.” So Terry Jones was denied entry to the UK because he holds extreme political or religious views. We might ask, is it his political or religious views that have condemned him? Richard Dawkins holds extreme religious views, compared to the Archbishop of Canterbury for example, yet Dawkins is welcome in this country (as far as I’m aware…). What is ‘extreme? “Furthest from the centre or a given point” (my dictionary is working hard today), or “far from moderate”. Both of these could be true of Dawkins’ religious views. But there are no cries to deport Dawkins, so Terry Jones’ rejection can’t be simply because of his ‘extreme religious views’. Continue reading “Extreme Religious Beliefs?”

The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today

(Cross posted in Religion Compass Exchanges)

Nick Griffin (top) and right wing ideologue Lyndon LaRouche (bottom)
Nick Griffin (top) and right wing ideologue Lyndon LaRouche (bottom)

‘Speaking with Forked Tongues: The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today’ –
International Symposium Held at the University of Northampton Reads Between the Lines

by Christian Egners

On the 26th of June 2009 a one-day international symposium on the language of far-right movements was held at the University of Northampton. The symposium’s title, ‘Speaking with Forked Tongues: The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today’, duly recognized and drew attention towards a major shift in the way organisations and groups of the far right in various countries present themselves and their policies to the public. Fascist and right wing groups parading and marching in our city streets, wearing distinctive uniforms, are no longer the usual picture, nor does the problem of right wing crime exhaust itself in a few skinhead thugs kicking in heads of immigrants and homosexuals, or setting fire to their homes. While the statistics on politically motivated crime in several countries show a sizeable number of right wing crime, the theorists and political leaders of the far right deliberately aim to style themselves and their organisations as sensible political forces speaking the truth to the people, and opposing the established ruling political elites, who are supposedly betraying the interests of their national communities Continue reading “The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today”