CRF Blog

Church, Temple, Mosque

by Bill Hayes

In Church, Temple, Mosque for the New York Times Book Review, Damon Linker reviews The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age by Martha C. Nussbaum.

As Nussbaum notes, the American and European developments differ in important ways. Above all, she writes, nothing in the United States “even remotely approaches the nationwide and regional bans on Islamic dress in Europe, or the nationwide Swiss minaret referendum” — let alone an anti-Islamic massacre. In Nussbaum’s view, the difference in severity stems from divergent views of national identity. Whereas European nations tend to “conceive of nationhood and national belonging in ethno-religious and cultural-linguistic terms,” the United States associates citizenship with the affirmation of an ideal of freedom that explicitly precludes the persecution of religious minorities. She suggests that Europe migrate to “a more inclusive and political definition of national belonging, in which land, ethnicity and religion would be less important than shared political ideals.” In other words, Europe should become more like America. [more]