The Burqa, the Baker, and the Bishops

Jun 13, 2018 by

by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine:

Denmark has become the latest European country to ban the Islamic full face veil in public. Wearing the niqab, which shows only the eyes, or the burqa, which covers the entire face, will result in a fine of 1,000 kroner ($156) for the first offense. In addition, anyone who coerces a person to wear a face covering can be fined or imprisoned.

I don’t know how Danish bishops have reacted to the ban, but French Catholic bishops reacted negatively to a similar ban in 2010. Bishop Michael Santier, the prelate in charge of interreligious dialogue argued, “If we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all believers to practice their faith.”

What if a burqa ban was proposed in the U.S.? How would American Catholics respond? Answer: they would probably react very much as the French bishops did—in terms of the rights of all believers to practice their faith.

One indication that this would be the case is the overwhelming support one finds among Catholics and their leaders for Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for the “wedding” of a gay couple. Along with many others, the Catholic hierarchy has welcomed last week’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Phillips. According to a statement issued by the USCCB, “Today’s decision confirms that people of faith should not suffer discrimination on account of their deeply held religious beliefs, but instead should be respected by government officials.”

But much the same could be said of a Muslim women’s desire to wear the burqa.

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