I have a particular interest in religious thinking. I learn a lot about cultures, philosophies, and traditions through religion.
As I mentioned briefly in the Q&A section of my Anarcho-Capitalism II lecture, there can exist things outside of market forces existing within a society, such as religion. One can listen to the Pope, obey the Temple laws of Mormonism, peacefully meditate all day: none of these violate any of the axioms upon which libertarianism is founded.
In fact, it is generally held as a stock tenant of libertarian thought that the freedom of religion is undeniable, that people are allowed to worship in anyway they’d like. But I contend this is not necessarily so. I do not believe that the “freedom to believe whatever you want” trumps other freedoms, even though it might sound like it does.
By this I mean that there are certain rights that are more inviolable than the “right” to faith: the right to not be harmed for instance. In fact, insofar as rights exist, they must necessarily follow from the non-aggression axiom (which, along with the right to property, is the absolute bedrock upon which libertarianism is founded). Thus, I contend that if one’s practicing of religion negatively affects unwilling third parties, it is permissible to respond forcefully in self-defense.
The Day of Ashura is a special day for many Muslims. It has cultural and historical significance that are insightful and significant. I would contend that to understand much of the historicity of Islam (especially Shia Muslims), it is necessary to understand the role Husayn ibn Ali played in its early formation. [However, space does not permit an adequate description and you are encouraged to follow the link.] The Day of Ashura commemorates the martydom of Husayn ibn Ali as is celebrated across the globe.
In a few communities, mostly in Lebanon and Iraq, a blood ceremony is held to experience the “sacrificial ecstasy” of martydom. While discouraged by local leadership, it is nevertheless practiced:
[Warning: This video may not be appropriate for all people. View discretion is advised.]
In the video you may catch glimpses of some teens and children that also have blood on them. [Not seen, I don't believe, is that many young children and babies are also made to participate.] People’s head are cut by striking a sharp blade, razor, etc across the scalp repeatedly. People then beat their hands against their head to increase the pain and cause the blood to flow more.
As much as I wouldn’t wish to practice it myself, this sort of behavior amongst consenting adults, I guess I would have to accept. There is a claim that could be made that a form of “religious coercion” could be made, but let us return to that issue at a later time. But can any libertarian honestly claim that doing this to children is okay?
Children are incapable of voluntary action in any meaningful sense. They cannot consent. They cannot agree to this. What are we as libertarians supposed to do about this? If there is evil in this world, are we not responsible to seeing it eradicated? If not us, then who?