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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

French secularism and hopeless atheists

There's an article in Slate today about immigration and growing religiosity in France. I had thought about visiting St Denis last weekend instead of my "un-Christian" tour. It seems like it's more of what I was looking for: seeing the French immigrant experience.

Europe is changing. Accroding to one analysis, the Muslim population in Europe is expected to double by 2015, and among children under 14 in France, Muslims are already the majority. Because Europe has historically done a poor job of assimilating immigrants, there are going to be some interesting geopolitical implications. Thomas Friedman recently interviewed two 18-year old French Muslim girls, and his report is a disturbing:

Both girls I interviewed wore veils and one also wore a full Afghan-like head-to-toe covering; one was of Egyptian parents, the other of Tunisian parents, but both were born and raised in France.

What did I learn from them? That they got all their news from Al Jazeera TV, because they did not believe French TV, that the person they admired most in the world was Osama bin Laden, because he was defending Islam, that suicide "martyrdom" was justified because there was no greater glory than dying in defense of Islam, that they saw themselves as Muslims first and French citizens last, and that all their friends felt pretty much the same.

We were not in Kabul. We were standing outside their French public high school -- a short ride from the Eiffel Tower.

This all makes an interesting counterpoint to an astoundingly poorly argued op-ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. (Despite Robert Bartley's passing, the pages haven't improved.) In this piece, Samuel Gregg tries to argue that Europe's economic stagnation is caused by... atheism.

Atheists, you see, have no hope, because"the fire of hope... only comes from the virtue of faith." Moreover, "the idea that there is something wrong with foisting the payment for one's present comfort onto future generations is incomprehensible to secularist minds." (Of course, this doesn't explain why President Bush, arguably the most religious president in history, is also leaving us with the largest federal deficits in history.)

Gregg, sounding a lot like the "prosperity gospel" preachers Creflo and Taffi Dollar, argues that Europe needs more religion to get their economies going. Sounding a lot like Chairman Mao, he also argues that Europe needs a "cultural revolution."

Let's pray for some unanswered prayers. This could get ugly.