By its ability to strip rights and moral protections from people. Whether it is women, other religions or denominations, intellectual or religious dissenters or queers, the social power of monotheism can be measured by its ability to strip people of rights and moral protections.
(Or, to put it another way, it never just stops with the queers.)
This is blindingly clear in Islam. We can tell the social power of Islam due to the repression of women, the treatment of apostasy, the repressed state of other religions, the persecution of queers, the intellectual restrictions.
But it is equally clear in the history of Christianity. After all, if we look back at Christianity in its C15th (given it is currently the year 1432 by the Islamic calendar) we would see very much the same pattern of behaviour. The main difference would be the legal treatment of women was better. The main reason for that being that Christianity does not have God’s law.
The progress of the Christianisation of the Roman Empire can be measured by the steady stripping of rights from pagans, queers, Jews and women.
In the Anglosphere, given Protestantism was the established religion, the retreat of the social power of Christianity can be measured by women getting back legal rights and status they had previously lost, religious tests being abandoned, discrimination against Catholics receding, Jews getting legal equality and (something still in progress) queers getting legal equality.
If one looks at the struggle for Jewish emancipation in the C19th, one of the clear patterns is conservative Christians (particularly Catholics) being enormously frustrated that this group that they have successfully repressed and denigrated for centuries, getting full legal rights. Indeed, that the issue was even being raised. The outrage, but also the frustration, was patent. If you do not have the social power to strip rights and protections from a vulnerable minority you have successfully repressed and denigrated for centuries, what social power do you have?
One gets exactly the same outrage and frustration from conservative Christians (particularly Catholics) nowadays about queer rights, that it is even being raised. If you do not have the social power to strip rights and protections from a vulnerable minority you have successfully repressed and denigrated for centuries, what social power do you have?
It is all about the burden of God as the absolutely trumping moral authority and the use of God to strip people of moral and legal protections. Which is why the best measure of the social power of monotheism is its ability to strip rights and moral protections from people.
Musings On Iraq In The News - My interview with Charlie Winter on how the Islamic State is dealing with its defeat in Mosul was reprinted by Vox Pol.
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