Different laws for different religions?

In colonial Maryland, relations between Catholics and Protestants were so tense that there were laws that defined an insult to either religion as a breach of the peace.

In the Ottoman Empire, people of different religions lived side-by-side in peace for centuries, all governed by their own religious laws and leaders, subject only to paying taxes to their Turkish rulers.

Dmitry Orlov thinks that such arrangements are the key to peace in countries in which Muslims and non-Muslims live together.

The only solution I see is a duopoly, where Moslems and non-Moslems run their respective segments of society according to different sets of rules.

Some rules they must have in common, such as a ban on incendiary, extremist speech. The prohibition against “shouting fire in a crowded theater” applies to such arrangements.

Vladimir_Putin_and_Gusman_hazrat_IzhakovExamples of such arrangements being successful include the Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation) where Orthodox Christianity and (majority) Islam coexist peacefully, and mixed marriages can offer a choice of religions to the children they produce.

Another example is the Republic of Chechnya (also Russian Federation) which, having fought a bloody separatist conflict financed by the Saudis and the US, can now successfully combat Islamic terrorism on its own, without involving federal authorities.

Russia is now a dual Christian/Islamic federation; if current demographic trends continue, then at some point it will become an Islamic/Christian federation. So be it. If peace is maintained, nobody will notice or care.

France can embrace the same choice, forming Les Républiques Françaises, and probably will, because what choice does it have—other than losing the war?

via ClubOrlov.

A thoughtful proposal, but I have problems with it—even assuming that dual law works as well in Tatarstan and Chechnya as Orlov thinks it does.

I have no objection to Muslims, Jews, Amish, Mormons or anybody else voluntarily choosing to live by their religious law, and to settle their disputes in religious rather than secular courts.  Nor do I object to consenting adults signing binding contracts to be bound by religious rather than secular law.

But what about the right to change your religion?  In the Ottoman Empire, you were born into a religious community and bound by its law, regardless of your personal beliefs.

This is the oppose of the contemporary USA and most European countries, in which religion is a matter of personal choice, and individuals may well adhere to no religion or to several different religions in the course of a lifetime.  In Tatarstan, as Orlov describes it, religious choice is given only to the children of mixed marriages.

Religion in Tatarstan is governed by two religious councils, one Orthodox Christian and one Sunni Muslim.  There is freedom of religion for any sect that is registered with the government as a legitimate religion, and there are registered places of worship that are neither Muslim nor Orthodox Christian.

Advocates of the radical extremist version of Islam are trying to gain a foothold in Tatarstan, and the government is trying to suppress them.  Tatarstan’s two-religion policy may be the best for that particular nation, I don’t know enough to say, but I don’t think it provides a general solution to the issue of religious peace.

I don’t think that the supposed clash of civilizations has reached the point where Western nations need to compromise on basic human rights and the rule of law applied impartially to everyone.

What Muslims get out of this is the right to peacefully practice their own religion without persecution.  Based on admittedly limited experience in one American city, I think most Muslims accept this.  Let those for whom this is not enough move to majority-Muslim countries.


On the Charlie Hebdo Carnage by Dmitry Orlov on ClubOrlov.

The Republic of Tatarstan web page on religion.

Tatarstan: The Battle Over Islam in Russia’s Heartland by Ronan Keenan for World Policy Journal.

The Xinjiang / Chechnya correlation by Peter Lee for Asia Times Online.  Both Russia and China are struggling with extremist Islam.

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection by Mohammad Al-Sudiari for The Diplomat.

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2 Responses to “Different laws for different religions?”

  1. peteybee Says:

    If the “problem” being solved by the proposal is the current animosity between the Islamic world and the West, I don’t think it’s the problem is a deficiency of Western laws, at least as they are written.


  2. Steve Finnell Says:


    The message of Jesus was one of love, but He never taught religious tolerance, that is a fabrication of man. Jesus, speaking to the scribes and Pharisees said “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you……’But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ ” (Mathew 15:7-9) Does that ring of placability? Jesus, conversing, again with the Pharisees said,”…If God were your Father, you would love Me…..You are of your father the the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father…(John 8:42-47) Does the reveal an indulgent Jesus?

    If Jesus did not teach religious tolerance, then where do Christians get their directive for mingling with teachers of false doctrine in assorted union fellowships? Can you imagine the apostle Paul participating in a Good Friday communion service with the Judaizers, Sadducees, scribes and Pharisees? No, he said the exact opposite. “Now I urge you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves not of the Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17-18) Does that sound like a resolution to endure erroneous religious instructors?

    The absence of a Biblical directive authorizing interreligious activities in which Christians may participate seems of little consequence to the contemporary church. For example men join in interdenominational and interreligious worship. It may take the form of a Good Friday communion, a musical concert, a teaching seminar, or other ways in which we show our tolerance, if not our obvious acceptance of the those who pervert the doctrines of God! Why would you want to give credence to those who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, teach polytheism, pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints, deny the essentially of immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins, claim that sprinkling is a valid form of baptism, advocate once saved always saved, teach that men are saved by faith only or deny that Jesus Christ is the only Son of the living God?

    How important is doctrinal purity? Can we deny the central principles of the Gospel and still be saved? Many of the religious groups who have joint activities deny the following Scriptures.

    SOME DENY THE BODILY RESURRECTION: Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved;

    A FEW TEACH POLYTHEISM: Mark 12:29-32 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD……32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated HE IS ONE , AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;


    MANY DENY THAT WATER BAPTISM IS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    SOME DENY THAT JESUS IS THE ONLY MEDIATOR BETWEEN MAN AND GOD: 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.

    SOME SAY THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO THE FATHER: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way , and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.

    THERE ARE THOSE WHO PREACH, ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED: Luke 8:13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

    The Scriptures teach that there will be false apostles who will masquerade as apostles of Christ. (2Corinthians 11:4-15)

    Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven , should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

    The apostle Paul had a, LOW TOLERANCE, for RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE.

    Considering what the Bible clearly teaches about religious tolerance, we can only conclude that Jesus taught us to love those in error, to pray for them, study God’s word with them, but He never suggested we accept them in their present state as joint heirs, heaven bound.

    There are those who would excuse the honestly ignorant; but will self imposed ignorance be excused come judgement day? Ignorance is not the problem with most, after having read the Scriptures, they simply reject what dose not suit their particular tradition or their personal concept of TRUTH!

    Religious Tolerance may help us cultivate friendships, but will
    it save anyone?

    (All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com


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