Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fundamentalism on all sides

There is no benefit from hiding the facts for the sake of political correctness. The scriptures of the three Abrahamic Religions include pieces that can be used to justify terrible acts of violence.

Here is a piece from Deuteronomy 7, from the Old Testament:

"When the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you."

This is a mild excerpt. I invite interested reader to read more on Deuteronomy, especially what it suggests people to do, when one of their family members, in case they commit the ultimate "crime" of worshiping other gods.

Here is a piece from Koran, Sura 9, Sentence 5:

"So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

Koran is more mild in this case, as the sentences before and after this says those idolaters with which the Muslims had made an agreement should be spared.

Now, I know substantially larger sections of both scriptures preach a peaceful message, and most of them must be understood in the context in the case of Koran, and must not be taken literally in the case of Old Testament.

However, there will always be certain people who will take these excerpts out of context or literally in order to justify terror and destruction. Worse, a large portion of the believers are either inclined to accept those interpretations or live in societies where it is not an option for them to reject these interpretations. And this is not the problem of Islam only:

An Evangelical Christian, who believes in the literal truth of the scriptures like 20 million of her brothers and sisters, may become the next vice president of the only super-power. She believes the Bush administration was divinely inspired in sending troops to Iraq. Here is a video about her church, and their fundamentalist approaches:

Sarah Palin's Churches and The Third Wave from Bruce Wilson on Vimeo.

On the Islamic side, those who justify violence with scriptures are not finding it hard to recruit suicide bombers even from the most "integrated" members of the Western and Eastern societies alike.

The point I want to make is that it is more effective to compliment the pointing out of the peaceful messages of the scriptures, with more rationalism and secularism. This also includes bringing the worldly claims of religion, such as those of Palin that link divine will with the war in Irak or the Saudi top clerics fetwa legitimizing the killings of sattelite TV operators which air "infidelity", under the scrutiny of public discourse. The longer the religion stays behind the curtains for the sake of not hurting peoples feelings, the easier will it be for violent minds to instrumentalize it for their purposes. And those who are appalled by the idea of their religion being discussed are free not to participate or follow the discussions. And I am sure if the claims of their religions turn out to be true, they will enjoy it even more...

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