Monday Moanin’

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I missed this story last week: Muslim parents force British elementary schools to remove gay marriage books from the curriculum. I don’t like to be in bed (so to speak) with the Muslims, but at least they have retained some fundamental tenets of the natural law, whereas us Judeo-Christian descendants have thrown them out in favor of a hopeless relativism.

Then again, maybe things aren’t so naturally crisp in Islam. From the same article: “Traditional Islamic views condemn homosexuality but there are liberal movements, such as the Al-Fatiha Foundation, which is dedicated to gay Muslims.”

Which underscores a point a TDE reader made in response to last week’s story about Islam overtaking Catholicism as the world’s most-populous religion: “Islam is unlike Catholicism and like Protestantism in that it is badly fragmented.”

He’s right, and it’s highly relevant. If you break down Islam among its different sects, it would no longer be the most-populous. If you merely peeled-off the Shi’ites (thereby leaving the Sunnis, which encompass the vast bulk of the Muslim population), the Muslim population and Catholic populations would be about equal (1.13 billion Catholic to 1.17 billion Muslim).

How badly fragmented is the Islamic community? There’s not a lot on the web, and my Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions doesn’t discuss it. This article is pretty good, though: [Y]ou can’t throw a rock into a crowd of Muslims without hitting someone whom all the other Muslims consider a heretic. . . .

It seems to me that we owe it to ourselves, as well as our peaceful Muslim neighbors, to parse these demographics. All Muslims believe to some degree in Jihad, but not all of them take it to dangerous degrees. I have no idea what percentage do and which sects do. That’s where a more serious probing into Muslim demographics would be useful for determining immigration and foreign affair policies. Of course, drawing such distinctions is the type of thing that raises the hair on relativistic folks, so they might resist such efforts. The “Islamic lumping” approach also serves political agendas. It’s politically convenient, for instance, to link opposition to gay indoctrination at elementary schools with 9/11 and female circumcision.

The perceptive and erudite Angelo Matera comes out in favor of gay civil unions, with caveats. I am not in favor of gay civil unions, but I know Matera (have exchanged emails and spoken on the phone with him many times) and respect him immensely. His article gives me a lot to ponder (note especially his first post in the combox).

Neat site, but it kinda strikes me as the rough equivalent of the official Amish homepage: The Mt. Athos official homepage. Here’s a good Books & Culture article about Mt. Athos that I linked to last year. The most-interesting excerpts from the lengthy article can be found here.