Universist Movement Statement on Muhammad Cartoon Conflict; Universists Hold Ground Under Threats of Violence

The global conflict of ideas fomented by millions of Muslims threatens to change the course of history for the worse. The Universist Movement, an international body of over ten thousand faithless people, takes a strong stand for individualism as the secular world questions its core values.

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New York, NY (PRWEB) February 9, 2006

In light of the recent developments overseas regarding the publication of cartoons of Muhammad and the ensuing violent reaction by Muslim extremists, the Universist Movement today issued the following statement:

The Universist Movement does not respect any "sacred cows.” Every religion and philosophy should be open to criticism and skeptical examination. Ideas must stand or fall on their own merits in an open marketplace. We are all free to choose among them.

As Universism moves out into the rest of the world, we are now fully encountering the challenge of breaking down the very thick wall that the religions have erected. Behind that wall are people who need what we have to offer; the opportunity to think for themselves, choose for themselves and to be respected for it. A primary challenge in this process is dealing with the moderate and progressive membership of faiths with fanatical elements. What does it mean to be of moderate faith? It comes down to increasing utilization of critical thought, reducing the religious experience to community and group identification. But moderate Muslims are often as offended and outraged by the thoughts of others as are the fundamentalists who react with violence. The entire culture of faith is an ecosystem of thought where an ocean of moderate fish feed the fundamentalist sharks.

So, millions of Muslims are outraged by cartoons. Seventeen governments in the Middle East asked Denmark for “firm sanctions” on the cartoonists. As people who share a common worldview wherein individual self-determination is our preeminent value, we also have something to be outraged about. Muslims are shifting global thought about religion as you read this. We face the real possibility of seeing religious criticism become unacceptable in public. Recently, a law limiting speech in this manner was narrowly defeated in Britain. Now prominent politicians in western countries are kowtowing to the Muslim world, agreeing that their great religion must not be disrespected, even by nonbelievers. This is how history changes. Millions of enraged people are making their will known to the world in a highly visible manner. The world will not be the same after these past few weeks. In which direction it moves has yet to be determined.

Universism stands against intolerance, even when accompanied by violence. The Universist Movement stands for and fights for equality. Equality in the most fundamental sense of the concept: none of us have a universal claim on religious truth. The Universist Movement endeavors to dialogue with those of faith, but we will not compromise our values. We will not allow Islam to determine for us what is right, respectable and decent behavior. Millions of Muslims believe they have the truth, the way, and that the rest of us are infidels. We believe in equality of the individual, not in the equality of ideas. As a group ideology blind faith is wrong, and it is dangerous.

We must advocate equality, and have a fighting chance, or keep our values to ourselves and see our world absorbed by people with more passion for the opposing view. One of the best ways you can advocate is by supporting the Universist Movement with your membership. As our numbers grow, so does our power to communicate our worldview in new and more effective ways. We are an organization of thousands of individuals with many talents and resources. If we are motivated by these events to successfully tap into the energy we have amassed thus far, the change that is occurring in the world right now may be for the better.

About the Universist Movement:

The Universist Movement is an international nonprofit organization focused on individual wellbeing, social progress, personal responsibility and the promotion of existential questioning. The Movement's mission is to evolve religion in a safe direction in light of the events of September 11. It advocates Universism, a rational religious philosophy elevating relative truth at the expense of group authority in metaphysical questions. In Universism truth is nontransferable, and the group collectively celebrates existential mystery, rather than absolute truth.

More information: http://www.universist.org

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