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...Without a Niqab!

Reasonable Accommodation or Hypocritical Exigence?

A Religious View
            Following a local commotion in the province of Quebec following a request of a Muslim group to have their meals at a public Sugar Shack specially prepared in accordance to Muslim religious dietary requirements and the clearing of the main floor for prayers, the question of ‘what was a “reasonable accommodation” in regards to religious groups’ became a vigorously debated topic for a while. In fact, during these times, a special 30-minute “Second Look” documentary was aired on this issue in which (Quebec) Seventh-day Adventists and the Sabbath work accommodations granted to them took up half of it.[1]

            In one newscast in which it was being discussed whether Customs/Immigration checking points should have a private booth where Muslim women wearing the niqab could privately remove it to verify/confirm their facial identity to the officer, an activist Muslim woman on this issue was interviewed for a local news report on this story. Not surprising, she was adamantly, categorically against having Muslim remove their niqab without the “shielding” of such a private booth. She also added that she herself would defiantly never do it. I was about to normatively give her the ‘benefit of her plausible religious right’ here until the rolling video of the interview suddenly registered in my perceptive mind: The woman was making her stance on this religious view, heard by a potential 7.5 million people on this province-wide news network, yet here she was... appearing without a niqab!?!
            A Customs/Immigration officer certainly does not have any more pairs of eyes than this!

The Biblical View
            Considering that one’s actual face is absolutely indispensable for readily, really getting to actually know any other person, their feelings and also their character-  attributes that are of the utmost importance for having healthy and enjoyable, transparent relationships, it is quite logical that the Creator God of the Bible, Yahweh, does not require us to go about life, and engage in relationships, even binding marriage covenants, in, effectively, complete blindness. If a person comes to have immoral/impure thought simply by looking upon someone else face then they truthfully have a quite non-natural mental condition, i.e., a response that God did not at all incorporate into the natural processes of humans.
            In the light of such strident, non-logical exigences, as in the news report above, it can indeed reflected on the word of God, and see, like David, that “the Law of the Lord is perfect” (Psa 19:7; 119:96), i.e., it does not require more, nor less, than what is really the optimal best for us! (Jos 1:8; Psa 119:72; 127, 128; James 1:17).

Epilogue - March 2010ff
            In the wake of another flare up of the “Reasonable Accommodation” issue in Quebec after a young muslim woman, during her French class in a public university, refused to make a speech in front of the class without her face being covered, and then only accepted to uncover her face, when she was allowed to actually have her back turned to the class; following immediate denunciations by pertinent ministers of the Quebec government, an express law was passed in the Quebec Parliament (Bill 94) banning the wearing of the niqab when recieving public services. (See news story here).
            The Government of France, which, it must be pertinently pointed out here, operates in a Regional context where Religious Liberty is a less pronounced issue[2] than in Quebec, due to its permeating, common, North American context, had recently also engaged in imposing such legislative measures, and that through a more widespread ban, to the proposed extent of it being outright, on grounds of National Security[3], for as French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said: “the burqa [the Islamic woman’s full body covering] is not welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”[4]
            Such rapid, widespread and outright developments, despite involving Constitutional/Human Right, Religious Freedom issues, has many priming lessons for SDA eschatology. Whereas in the days of our pioneers, at the height of a then revived “Age of Faith”, when so-called “Blue Laws” advocating for the legislated observance of Sunday as a day of Sabbatical Rest by all, were almost passed, thus almost initiating the fulfillment of the prophetic predictions in Rev 13, in now our “Post-Modern” Age, during this era of the “Age of Reason” or, at least, whatever is being left of it in this already birthed “Age of Unreason”, such a prophetic fulfillment will indeed be initiated by what is considered to be an “affront” to what has come to take the preeminent place of God and Religion in our society, especially western ones, namely: the Economy and Culture, respectively, This is especially the case when an intertwined mixture of these is then hysterically propelled to translate into extreme measures when a tinge of ‘National Insecurity’ is felt and evoked. Indeed the prefect recipe for blind and extreme intolerance, as there is nothing more blinding and justifiable than a claim evoking some theory of “self-defense.”[5]
            Indeed, if one is familiar with the Province, (currently Federally recognized as a “Nation” but still a “want-to-be Country”) of Quebec, then they know that here, just like, and even more, in its stately Cousin, France, culture is paramount and king.[6] So if this “Reasonable Accommodation” issue were to be, respectfully complied with, and thus come to require special concessions and tangible provisions in, especially, public services, it would have a perceptible economic impact. On the other hand, not taking these measures would then be considered to be a threat to National Security. Therefore it seemed almost quite logical to have Parliament pass a law against this overflowing and “so disturbing” religious practice.
            While, due to my own theological beliefs, as expressed above, I do not consider the wearing of head/facial coverings in everyday life as being a mandate of God, I find that such an interposition of a government into a Religion to be quite “interesting,” and prophetically indicative. Let this be an object lesson to SDA’s who literalistically (i.e., without spiritual implications), strictly believe that Sunday Laws will solely be drafted and passed in the future, and that, in the near future, simply because people will want to see Sunday be reverenced as a Sabbatical day of rest. Indeed, nothing short of unnatural, (i.e., super “Act-of-God”), natural disasters would provide such a religiously biased and controlled impetus in our “day” and “age.” (cf. LDE 256, 257). Yet this will not be allowed to occur until God’s required/entrusted work is truly done (cf. Rev 7:1-3ff). However, in a spiritually corresponding manner, let a group come to affect, even with fully Biblical acts, the man-made world shaped (or actually “skewed”) by the current reigning gods of this “day and age”, namely the Economy and the Culture, i.e., respectively, Capitalism and its accompanying selfish|avaricious “Way of Life”, and “National Security” will be contrively[7] evoked to support stateside actions against such religious practices, e.g. these Biblical ones.
            In other words, in regards to SDA eschatological/prophetical convictions, if the Church itself does not advance towards the “fuller” understanding of God’s Sabbath and its naturally derived, tangible, practical applications, it will never be in a position to have today’s society and world see it as anything, but quite insignificant and inconsequential, (and that, in a “Great Controversy” context, both temporally and spiritually), to the point of passing legislation to restore the supremacy of its having-been-dethroned gods of the Economy, and thus the more tangibly revered Culture it provides and ensures, especially in the Western, “First”, World.

[1] See the SDA segment here [in French. cf. It Is Written Quebec] - interestingly enough, premised as ‘The story that no one talks about... that no one has ever told you... but should have!’) - uuuhhh... I guess that’s solely the case because it really has not been an extraordinary/disturbing issue/problem!

[2] For France, through it 18th century “Revolution” against Catholicism, prevalent Christianity and also, indiscriminately, the Bible itself, is indeed the birthplace and bastion of modern secularism, as prophetically seen in the part it played in the historical fulfillment of Rev 11. (See  an exposition on the (thematically cognate) eschatological fulfillment of this prophecy here.)

[3] See BBC News report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8480161.stm

[4] Quoted in NY Times articles -  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/world/europe/01france.html

[5] Correlated rationalizations of ‘the preservation’s of one’s social and economic “life”’ as well as, though veiledly, ‘over population from “unplanned” infants,’ are made to legally condone abortions. A perfect example of the passing of the Age of Reason where now even Scientific facts, on top of Biblical Tenets, are also irrelevant when it comes to determining what is “truth.”

[6] Case in point, the whole push towards achieving sovereignty is closely related to, if not entirely dependent upon, a valued identity of seeing itself as a distinct culture in Canada. In fact a ca. 1% percentage point Provincial Referendum loss (= 54,288 votes from a total of ca. 4.7 million valid ballots) on this sovereignty issue in 1995 was, in part, (infamously and controversially) blamed, by the losing sovereignty party leader, on the “ethnic vote.”

[7] As an example of this blind contrivance, a person in France wearing their full winter gear during the coldest days there is just as “mysteriously” covered up as a muslim woman wearing a burqa.

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