Robert Wilken has a post arguing that the Swiss ban on minarets is not a curtailment of religious freedom since its really just about preserving culture and tradition:
For the Swiss, erection of minarets taller than church steeples would alter the skyline of cities and towns, visibly severing links to the past. The construction of minarets was seen as an assault on memory and memory is attached to things. Without memory a people have no sense of who they are. In Italy the assault on memory had to do with the central Christian symbol in the west. In a historic Christian culture wrote Barbieri, “the symbol of a naked, suffering, unjustly condemned man in whom all that is good and worthy of worship and respect . . . is centered, is buried deep in their souls.” In Italy even atheists and Communists respect the Crucifix “because it means so much about the condition and value of a man.”
The issue is not human rights or religious freedom, but respect for cultural traditions and fealty to those who have gone before. There is no reason to think that prohibiting the erection of minarets in Swiss cities will jeopardize the rights of Muslims to practice their religion. But if a society loses all memory of its Christian traditions, there is a real question whether those things that make western civilization unique, e.g. human rights, freedom of religion, will endure.
So presumably this would mean that if a historically Muslim country voted to band the construction of cathedrals that would also not be a matter of religious freedom and rights, but merely the preservation of a culture? Anyone else smell the bullshit?
This post strikes me as yet another display of a common presupposition among many of the First Thingers: that Christianity is inalienably tied to “Western culture” which should thus be propagated, maintained, and extended throughout the world without regard for other cultures or forms of peoplehood.