Bad Religion · Life

Bad religion

Here are two more example people could use to condemn religion or write it off as just a bunch of crazy people: Rampaging Muslims killed eight Christians in Pakistan this weekend after rumor spread that somewhere in a village

The Quran, Islam's Holy text
The Quran, Islam's Holy text

a Quran had been defaced; and Dale Neumann admitted to a jury that, while his daughter lay dying, he prayed instead of calling 911 or rushing the 11-year-old to the hospital.

Let’s start with the first one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t convince people your religion is based on peace if everytime someone offends you, you resort to violence. Yes, the rioting Muslims – 20,000 at last estimate – might be non representative of Islam. If so, let’s hear that proclaimed loud and clear – and not in polite policy statements, but from the mosques where these Muslims attend services. That’s what is lacking in every condemnation from Muslim leaders against terrorism – it doesn’t come from the mosques. Bibles and other religious icons of Judaism and Christianity are defaced frequently. People burn Bibles, gangsters co-opt rosaries as neckwear, and weirdo artists make a chocolate Jesus. Those actions will elicit a letter from the Pope or a condemnation from Israel or a petition started by believers in a certain part of the country. They use their words to express their outrage or offense – not their fists. Muslims seriously need to get a clue on this.

Likewise, Christians who believe in God but somehow don’t believe God gave people medicine or doctors, need to get a clue – and perhaps some jail time and psychiatric care. I come from Texas; I’ve been plenty exposed to people who claim direct communication with the Almighty. I’ve also seen, from people who would never bring attention to themselves or stand up on a stage screaming that God will heal your lame leg, actual physical healing in response to prayer. So it isn’t that I doubt there is sometimes healing that can’t be explained by medicine or science. But it is rare, and it is unpredictable. Medicine, too, can be unpredictable, and the cure is sometimes worse than the symptoms of the disease – just ask anyone who’s endured chemotherapy. But medicine has a far better track record of healing than prayer, and believing so does not mean you’ve turned your back on God, as Neumann seemed to think.

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7 thoughts on “Bad religion

  1. Let’s give equal time to violence committed by christians, Renee. 

    Once people have got it in their heads that there is a supreme and infallible being and that this being, in his or her infallibility, has given to them a code of behavior that all must follow, there’s a-gonna be trouble.  Combine this with ignorance, poverty, relentless propaganda and misery, and pretty soon you’ve got really big trouble.  All you have to do is define some group as being less than you because they don’t follow the right path and they become unworthy of the consideration you would give a dog.

    1. Absolutely, Leftfield, there are some Christians who commit violence in the name of religion – I mean, historically, there was a whole lot of violence by all religions against each other, but in recent history, yes, bombing abortion clinics is one example of extremist Christians committing violence in the name of God. But I was focusing solely on violence that happens because a group says their religion has been offended. Can you give me examples of any group other than Muslims who protest violently when they feel someone has disparaged their religion? Have you read, by the way, Infidel? Great perspective by a now-atheist about this particular behavior.

  2. Condemnation does come from Muslim leaders. You are simply choosing not to listen. Here’s one example.
    And anti-abortion murders (uh, don’t forget walking-up-and-shooting the doctor, not just “bombings”) are indeed just because one group (pro-life Christians) feels their religion has been offended. Likewise, the medical choices for womens’ health care has been reduced in Arizona recently — because it offends the religious sensibilities of certain folks that someone who is not of their faith might make a decision about her body that they would not make. And there was definitely violence between Christians in Northern Ireland.
    A friend recently pointed me at a story out of Burundi, where the religious people in charge of the government passed a law making it illegal — punishable by years in jail — to be in a gay or lesbian relationship. No, these weren’t angry African Muslims or anything — Burundi is a majority-Catholic country. Where’s the Pope’s condemnation of that? Oh, right, he’s too busy encouraging hatred against LGBT people (which leads to our deaths, in the worst cases).
    Another problem with your analysis is that Islam is far from a monolithic entity; at the very least, you need to examine the factional differences and note that the groups who are in the minority — out of power — are the most extreme and the least under the control of “Islam,” whatever that’s supposed to be.
    Christianity is supposed to be a religion of peace, too — of loving your neighbor so much that you’d give your life for him, if necessary. And yet nations full of Christians will do a lot of evil to others, happily and willingly. Christian extremists will kill people because they follow their own faith (as with Dr. Tiller), and a large number of churches will spend a lot more time preaching against the evils of abortion or homosexuality than they will against the evils of murder.
    Believe me, across America, people like me — queers, LGBT folks — are actually at risk from your good ol’ petition-writing Christians. Not just that they’ll abuse the legal system to strip us of equal rights, as in California’s Proposition 8, but actual physical threats of violence.
    Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people are beaten and murdered regularly by your words-using, fists-eschewing good Christians — if anyone needs to “get a clue,” it’s you. LGBT are terrorized regularly in America, and in some parts fear for their lives daily, both in public and in their own homes.
    You may not realize at all that such thing happen — and that’s because you are not the target of the haters. You don’t have to worry that you’ll be killed because you look too “tranny” while riding the bus, or that you’ll be shot going to your church because you perform legal and consensual medical procedures, or that someone will cave your head in when they find out you’re a young transgender woman, or that your legal rights will be stripped away by popular vote, or that you’ll be left to die on a fence somewhere.
    That doesn’t happen to you. But that is violence inflicted by Christians, and just because they have the luxury — the privilege — in America to abuse the legal system to oppress LGBT people (or abortion doctors, or whoever), that doesn’t mean that they won’t still stoop to physically kicking our asses — in the name of God.
    Remember, there was Some Guy, pretty long ago, who talked about how you shouldn’t overlook the large hunk of tree in your own eye while you’re busy critiquing the speck in your neighbor’s. It’s easy to turn a scornful eye on Islam, and it’s hard to do the self-examination necessary to see how your religion, your friends, your family, your minister, your pope are hurting and even killing other people.
    But then again, That Guy long ago never said His path would be easy to follow.

    1. Dear Kynn:
      Lots in your response; let me take it one at a time. First, the link you provide is to a Muslim political group speaking out against the violence. Recall, in my post I said that was done, and done frequently. What is not done, and what is needed, is condemnation from the mosques.

      Second, you write that anti-abortion murders are “are indeed just because one group (pro-life Christians) feels their religion has been offended.” That’s not true. People who are anti-abortion span the spectrum, surprisingly perhaps to you, from atheists to what I would call radicals – those individuals who believe violence is the answer to other violence. They are not arguing solely from a religious perspective, but because they believe abortion is akin to infanticide. Some individuals – think Operation Rescue folks – DO see it as a “spiritual war.” But the nearly 50 percent of the public who believes abortion should be restricted in some manner, isn’t saying, “You offend my religious sensibility, ergo, I will kill you.” But more importantly, to stay on the topic of my post, I was talking about mass, violent riots in response to a specific religious “offense,” that’s all. That – mass, violent riots – doesn’t not happen with Christians or Jews or other religious groups, except, perhaps, as you point out, in Northern Ireland – although I’ve never read of a riot due to a religious offense, but rather the decades-old battle that is based in political and class struggle. However, I am far from a scholar on Northern Ireland, and perhaps you know more about that particular part of the world than I do.

      To your point, about religious people using petitions to get the laws changed to the way they see fit, you are absolutely correct that that is the way democracy works. Is it right all the time? Obviously not. I would say a glance at the civil rights movement shows that laws have been used to keep certain classes of people down. (And ironically in regards to this discussion, perhaps, recall it was religious groups who brought about the peaceful resistance that eventually led to the Civil Rights Legislation.) But again, that’s not what I discussed in my post. If Muslims in Pakistan are upset about a rumored defaced Quran, then they should take to the polls and get a law passed about it … or protest peacefully.

      I wrote about the Matthew Shepard case when it happened, and I’ve written in favor of gay marriage, as well as taken my own particular faith tradition to task over the issue, so I caution care in lumping me into some class of people who discriminate against the GLBT group. (Due to a class action lawsuit by the National Writer’s Union fighting for freelance writers’ rights, my published columns on those issues are not available on the Web sites of the newspapers for whom I wrote at the time.) Likewise, since you know very little about me or my life, you should be careful before you assume that my life has not been threatened due to who I am, what I believe or what I write.

  3. Good job, Kynn.
    reneeschaferhorton does seem to pick and choose. She also forgets the Balkans of the 1990’s in which Christianity was, once again, called upon to run cover for simple  genocide and fear. As usual,  Christianity got the job done.  For a while, up to a point.
    Makes one wonder about Christianity and Tucson Voice reneeschaferhorton and her aloha sidekick…

     

  4. Renee, in the case of the latter, what seems most disturbing is that it was a child involved, which is why, I think, the parent was condemned by the justice system. The child needed the parent to be a protector. That didn’t happen, and death was the result. So sad.

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