Such religious police are common in the Middle East and North Africa, where roughly one-third of those countries (35%) have police enforcing what are termed 'religious norms'.
The Muttawa religious police of Saudi Arabia (formally known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) impose a government-approved moral code on residents of the country.
The type of enforcement the Muttawa engage in is as follows:
â€¢ strict segregation of the sexes,
â€¢ prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol,
â€¢ a ban on women driving and
â€¢ other social mores based on the government's interpretation of Islam.
It looks good but try eating it
In February it was revealed that the Muttawa conducted anti-Valentine's Day patrols which monitored businesses that were selling chocolates, flowers and red or heart-shaped souvenirs.
It is a very serious matter to allow this sort carry-on in a society whereby any social inter-action not adjudicated by appropriate adults as the first step towards the slippery slope of western debauchery. 'Appropriate adults' are those who monitor relationships for approved personal contact (on the one hand) or those who don't get enough (on the other).
Religious Police actions is also happening in our own region. In Vietnam, the government's religious security police monitor what the Government refers to as "extremist" religious groups, detaining and interrogating suspected Dega Protestants or Ha Mon Catholics.
Protestantism and Catholicism therefore are target groups in Vietnam. Christian theology has a huge input into issues of justice. No wonder they'd be targeted.
Might it seems is right
What about Malaysia and their state Islamic religious enforcement officers and police. Recently they carried out very public raids to enforce sharia law and what was targeted was:
â€¢ indecent dress,
â€¢ banned publications,
â€¢ alcohol consumption
â€¢ and khalwat (close proximity to a member of the opposite sex).
None of this should surprise us as religion has been consistently used as a form of controlling the masses. Ancient history reveals such scenarios as did Roman times where Christian worship was seen to be a threat against the state with its own Roman gods and later Caesar himself.
Christian martyrdom was then and remains a huge issue where the British Parliament was shocked to hear late last year that one Christian every 11 minutes is killed for simply believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. (au.christiantoday.com)
A red light on religious corruption
The history of the Reformation is littered with similar martyrdoms with religious police on the prowl and the mass exodus of freedom lovers of religious belief out of Europe to the new world was to escape the claws of such politic.
Australia too hears the political cry of those who demand sharia law be enforced across the nation. Recently my wife Delma and I were invited to a 30th birthday bash at Nobby's Beach on the Gold Coast which would have broken so many of those sharia laws.
As each person/s arrived they were given a set of rules for the afternoon and evening's activities. It was good fun as people went from specific location to specific location and the like.
But we too have a form of religious police in relation to the social mores of the nation. A recent furore over a grand-fathers being challenged at the beach is one such example, when looking after a grand child by the do-gooder brigade.
This is one of the concerns in relation to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, that ultimately, it will not only put an unconscionable burden on that sector but it will be much much more. (au.christiantoday.com)
Australians need to be constantly vigilant in any of these matters.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html