Friday, June 11, 2010

A necessary, but not sufficient condition, and a hypothesis.

The Pew Research Center had a public opinion poll in 2009 in Pakistan.

Q62b Do you favor or oppose the following: b. the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion?

Favor 78%, oppose 13%, DKK/Refused 9%

Why does the Pakistani public support so overwhelmingly the death penalty for people who leave Islam?

A necessary condition for forced conversions to be a viable strategy for spreading the faith is a severe penalty for reversion.  Of course, penalty for leaving the faith could be high for other reasons as well, so we cannot infer from the fact of this penalty that forced conversions occurred.

Nevetheless we can pose a hypothesis: the geographical areas with the most forced conversions would have had stiff penalties (like the death penalty) for leaving the Muslim religion; and it has since ossified into tradition even though it is not very applicable today.   Areas where conversion took place voluntarily will not insist on these type of penalties so overwhelmingly, they were less necessary.

Of course, the reason that I bring this whole topic is that as we speak, forced conversions are going on in rural Sindh in Pakistan.

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