Religious freedom is an important aspect of the libertarian philosophy.* Besides that, constitutionally we have no choice but to tolerate the peaceful practices of other religions, though we may disagree with them.
However, we should never hesitate to disagree with the practices of certain religions, on philosophical grounds; there is nothing oppressive or [insert topic here]-phobic about that. Why? Because we don’t ask for those practices to be discouraged or punished by the law (so long as they are nonviolent,) we are simply discussing the merits of religion which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
The religion which has proved to be so controversial lately is Islam.
Criticize Islam, and be branded instantly Islamophobic and a bigot; not only by the left (which is something we are well accustomed to hearing from them) but also by libertarians, who should know better.
The most important thing about the libertarian philosophy is liberty, obviously. And in my opinion, the ideals of Islam and more particularly, Sharia, are outright contradictory to the ideals of freedom. It is a ridiculous, medieval, primitive religion. How it has found such a prominent place in the modern world is altogether astonishing to me. Do the faithful still have a right to practice peacefully? Of course they do, no question about it. You would be hard pressed to find a libertarian that would deny them that right.
However, as libertarians, should it not be our mission to oppose all forms of oppression, intellectually and philosophically? Let’s face it, there is nothing enlightened about Islam and it’s law. All you have to do is look to the nations where Islam is the basis for political power – so happens that these are the most backwards and oppressive nations in the world. The West has made immense strides when it comes to the rights of women and homosexuals; these advances are unknown in those countries. How can we, as libertarians, defend Islam when Islam does not defend the rights for these groups and others?
Sure, we may find exceptions. There are peaceful Muslims residing in the United States. There are Muslims who have become dedicated libertarians. To a rule there are always exceptions – but it is not an indicator for the whole.
Forget the whole violence against infidels thing. That debate (on whether Islam is truly tolerant of other religions) will never be settled so long as the debate is conducted by people who don’t have a true command of the facts. Rather, look to their strange and primitive methods of punishment (stoning, cutting off of limbs/body parts, etc.) Look to the intolerance of homosexuals. Look to the oppression of women. These things are prevalent in Islamic societies, and increasingly in Western societies where Muslims congregate. How can libertarians justify that?
Why do some libertarians go to such lengths to defend Islam, which oppresses groups that we, in another breath, demand rights for? I can understand demanding religious freedom, I demand it too. But it is less reasonable to bend over backwards to defend a religious ideology which, in general, is not so tolerant of freedom of the individual.
In summary, does not Islam contradict everything libertarians fight for? Furthermore, we are not wrong in criticism the practices and beliefs of any religion, Islam included. We never question criticisms of Christianity – we don’t stomp our feet and declare “Christianophobia!”
*”Religious freedom” has become a sort of euphemism and justification for Christian theocracy. When I use the phrase, I mean it as it ought to be meant: freedom of an individual to practice their own beliefs peacefully as they see fit.