Jim Davila has two abnormally troubling posts on PaleoJudaica.com. The first concerns the disposition of per-Islamic religious artifacts in Saudi Arabia. It seems that the question is whether things like ancient crosses should be destroyed or just covered up. Read Jim’s post and the underling Huffington Post essay to get the background. Jim correctly observes,
Let me get this straight: if ancient Christian or Jewish religious artifacts are excavated in Saudi Arabia, it is not certain whether they should be destroyed? The most sympathetic way that I can read this is that Ms. Jawhar is personally opposed to their destruction (she doesn’t quite come out and say this), but finds it in any case to be an open question in Saudi society. The idea that religious artifacts should be destroyed because they belonged to another faith moves from the provincial into the barbaric.
The second abnormally troubling post concerns a decision by the Egyptian authorities not to publicly display the Coptic Gospel of Judas because it “contain[s] material deemed disparaging to the Christian faith.” Again, read Jim’s post the and article he links to for more details. On this Jim says,
This is political correctness run amok. Meanwhile, I think Coptic Christians would rather that their government expend more effort in protecting them from being murdered.
The premise behind both of these cases is the notion that governments have a legitimate role in defending religious sentiments or doctrines. They don’t. All sentiments and doctrines, including the ones I am expressing here, deserve open discussion; all historical artifacts deserve open access. Governments should promote both. That, out of an over abundance of religious fervor, the Saudis and, out of an over abundance of faux political correctness, the Egyptians both seem to think they should protect such sentiments and doctrines doesn’t make it so.
PS. Amok is not the alpha privative of muck but I like the way they sounded together.