An article posted on Charle Hebdo and an article posted on Friendly Atheist have forced me to reexamine my conviction that all accommodation of religion is bad.
The Charle Hebdo article begins
For a week now, experts of all kinds have been trying to understand the reasons for the attacks in Brussels.
and goes on to provide its own reasons:
In reality, the attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale.
The Charle Hebdo article gives some very convincing examples of the visible parts of a very large iceberg; however, the example of “the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like” is not convincing:
Take the local baker, who has just bought the nearby bakery and replaced the old, recently-retired guy, he makes good croissants. He’s likeable and always has a ready smile for all his customers. He’s completely integrated into the neighbourhood already. Neither his long beard nor the little prayer-bruise on his forehead (indicative of his great piety) bother his clientele. They are too busy lapping up his lunchtime sandwiches. Those he sells are fabulous, though from now on there’s no more ham nor bacon. Which is no big deal because there are plenty of other options on offer – tuna, chicken and all the trimmings. So, it would be silly to grumble or kick up a fuss in that much-loved boulangerie. We’ll get used to it easily enough.
Is the local baker’s decision to remove ham and bacon sandwiches from the bakery’s menu something we should be “discussing, debating, contradicting or contesting”?
Maybe the Friendly Atheist post will help you answer the question. In the post, Hemant Mehta disagrees with the Swiss people who are furious that two Muslim boys won’t have to shake their female teachers’ hands because “their religion prevents them from touching women who aren’t in their family.” Mehta agrees with the school’s decision to accommodate the two students and compares the compromise “reached with the students involved, in that they also do not shake the hands of male teachers” to the
U.S. law that says students who don’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance don’t have to. When atheists sit out, there are always critics who say they’re being disrespectful or unpatriotic. Neither of those are accurate.
and goes on to say,
The administrators did the right thing by making an exemption. I understand why people are upset, but I fail to see how forcing them to shake hands against their will (or kicking them out of school for not doing it) would make things any better.
What do you think? Are the absence of ham and bacon sandwiches in a French bakery and a Swiss school’s decision to allow two Muslim boys to break with the tradition of shaking hands with their teachers before and after class topics we should be discussing, debating, contradicting or contesting?