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For Christ's sake

Recently, in a thread discussing the latest Al Qaeda terrorist threats, one commenter dredged up the appalling tactic of moral relativism, where he implied that we couldn't condemn the links between Islam and terrorism, because as we all know, Christians have done some pretty hideous things in the name of their faith, too.

(For the record: I don't consider myself a Christian. I was raised Methodist, and have had considerable exposure to other faiths, including Judaism, but call myself a "born-again agnostic." But as an outsider, I feel I can bring some "objective" perspective to the question. And this isn't the first time I've done this sort of thing; I have major issues with the Catholic Church, but felt compelled to speak up on the election of Pope Benedict.)

I challenged him to cite ten incidents of Christian-inspired terrorism from the last twenty years. To be more precise, "Unless you'd care to cite say, ten incidents of Christian-inspired terrorism in the last twenty years. Terrorist incidents where the terrorists proclaimed that they were doing it for Jesus, and significant numbers of Christians either refused to denounce it, or said it was "provoked."

He reworked it to the last 40 years, and came up with this list:

1-3. Eric Robert Rudolph's bombings of abortion clinics in 1997 and 1998, plus his bombing of a gay nightclub in 1997. In case you doubt his religious intent, from one of his letters sent to authorities after the bombings: "We declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legislative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington. It is you who are responsible and preside over the murder of children and issue the policy of ungodly perversion thats destroying our people."
Eric Rudolph. One lone wacko, not an organized group.
4-23. The KKK (a "white Christian" organization) firebombed 20 black churches in Mississippi during the summer of 1964.
19 incidents in one summer 40 years ago. And the backlash was immense.
24. The firebombing of Vernon Dahmer's house by the KKK in 1966. He had offered to allow blacks to pay the poll tax at his store.
Same bit, with the Klan.
25. The murder of Barnett Slepian, an abortion doctor, by James Charles Kopp in 1998.
Again, one lone wacko, with no organization behind him. And more of an "issue" crime than a "religious movement" issue. He wasn't fighting a perceived enemy of Christianity, but one who opposed a single issue that has far more repercussions outside of religion.
26. The Atiak massacre in Uganda by the "Lord's Resistance Army" (a Christian rebel group) in 1995. Around 200 civilians were killed. According to the Christian Science Monitor, a "field commander" for the LRA allegedly told one of his troops "that an angel ordered the massacre."
27. About 100 refugees were killed at attacks on the Achol-pi Refugee Settlement by the LRA in 1996.
28. Another twenty refugees were killed in a separate attack by the LRA at the same settlement in 2002.
29. Also in 1996, the LRA abducted 152 girls from St. Mary's College in Aboke. After negotiations, 109 of them were later released.
30. In Kitgum in 1997, the LRA killed another 412 civilians.
Not familiar with this group, so I'll let it slide. I suspect, though, the differences that prompted these acts are less theological and more tribal.
31. The 2002 Soweto bombings in South Africa by a group called The Warriors of the Boer Nation. In an email where the group claimed responsibility for the bombings, they referred to themselves as "fighters for God and the Boer people".
Another group that I've never heard of before, but casual research shows them more a white-supremacist group than a religious movement. Racial, not theological.
32. In 2000, a group known as "God's Army" took over a hospital in Burma, holding 750 patients and medical staff hostage. They threatened to detonate two bombs if their demands were not met. God's Army is a splinter group from the Christian Karen National Union.
Another I'll grant, pending further research.

But my point is simple: yes, all religions have committed atrocities in their past. It's part and parcel of the package. But the important thing is that the great religions outgrow that stage.

The first Jews were brutal and relentless in their early days. Go and read the accounts of the conquest and settlement of the Holy Land. But they've settled down remarkably since then, to the point where they make it damned difficult to convert, and "evangelical Jew" is one of my favorite oxymorons. Some even say that they've grown too peaceful and tolerant, and point to centuries of persecution -- and I have a hard time arguing that point.

Christianity started out as brutally oppressed, but eventually conquered their oppressors and became the dominant faith in Europe. Then they found out that it's good to be on top of the food chain, and started such wonderful innovations as the Inquisition, the Crusades (a debatable action, but it is indisputable that a lot of bad things were done in their name), and the like. But again, they outgrew it. There's no more "conversion by the sword," and nations that are predominantly Christian tend to be the most hospitable to other faiths.

Islam, however, is still in its violent, conquering stage. I hope they'll outgrow it, but I'm not willing to bet on it happening any time soon. And to point out that it can be dangerous to not be Muslim in a Muslim land isn't racism, it's simple fact. Beheadings are a fact of life, as are routine discriminations and other assaults. In Saudi Arabia, Christians are forbidden from openly revealing their faith (a perverted version of "don't ask, don't tell"), and Jews are outright forbidden from entering at all. "Terrorist" isn't quite synonymous with "Muslim extremist," but it's the safest bet before more details are known. When that nutjob shot up the mall in Tacoma, Washington yesterday, who didn't immediately think it was an Islamist?

As I said, I hope they'll outgrow it, and soon. But in the meantime, I'm not going to bet on it happening.

And to compare Islam and Christianity when citing the role of religion as a threat to the peace is not only insulting, blind, and stupid, it's just plain wrong.


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Comments (98)

Hmmmm.32.... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

32. In 2000, a group known as "God's Army" took over a hospital in Burma, holding 750 patients and medical staff hostage. They threatened to detonate two bombs if their demands were not met. God's Army is a splinter group from the Christian Karen National Union.

The Karen are a rebel group seeking the overthrow of the Burmese government and the creation of an ethnic "homeland". It has nothing to do with Christianity.

31. The 2002 Soweto bombings in South Africa by a group called The Warriors of the Boer Nation. In an email where the group claimed responsibility for the bombings, they referred to themselves as "fighters for God and the Boer people".

Again this is a rebel group seeking the overthrow of the South African government because they feel they're being oppressed by black rule. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

...

Frankly all of these examples are rather idiotic. They're mostly all either rebel groups or racist organizations with minimal ties, if any, to Christianity. Certainly none have direct ties to mainstream Christian sects or organizations.

What is clearly interesting is that there are no examples of the Pope advocating the beheading of captives. The Pope approving of homicide bombings and etc.

And that is the essential difference between Islam and Christianity and it most definitely underscores the lack of substance in that poster's argument.

You make great points here,... (Below threshold)

You make great points here, but I feel the need to point something out. According to the Bible, once peace comes to the Middle East it'll all be over, anyway.

I see peace coming by one way only. That is only when Islam outgrows what you're speaking about here. Food for thought.

You cannot call the KKK a C... (Below threshold)
Jake:

You cannot call the KKK a Christian organization. It was the political enforcement arm of the Democrat Party in the South. Senator Byrd has said that he joined the KKK so he could move up the ladder in the Democrat Party.

Remember that Blacks were voting Republican in those days and had the numbers to throw Democrats out of office in certain localities. The KKK terrorized these Republicans so they would not vote.

Don't forget to mention ... (Below threshold)

Don't forget to mention why the Crusades started, JT. I guess the Muslims in Israel decided it would be fun to kill/drive out all the Jews and Christians and desecrate their holy sites. Hence the whole "taking back the Holy Land" thing.

The LRA in Uganda are reall... (Below threshold)
joe:

The LRA in Uganda are really brutal, and really, really strange. No one can figure out quite what they want. Their leader is a mystery. They kidnap children into their army all the time and force them to fight.

They claim to be Christian. Now, if they claimed to be Muslim, there'd be worldwide fundraisers for them, just as there are for the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Hamas, etc.; Saudi Arabia's fine citizens send billions to such "charity" annually. But they claim to be Christian. Outside Christians look at them in horror and condemn them.

THAT's the difference.

Ever notice that Christian charities help everyone, but Islamic charities help only Islamic people, and make it very clear that that is their mission, not helping people in general? Sure, some Christain charities are evangelical (some much more than others), but they'll feed you and give you medicine no matter what.

The atheists have got all t... (Below threshold)
Jake:

The atheists have got all the religions beat. They executed 80,000,000.

Thank you Joe, for pointing... (Below threshold)
Eno:

Thank you Joe, for pointing out the main difference between Christianity and the "Religion of Peace." The KKK and South African groups claim to have christian "beliefs", but they use this perversion to justify their ends which are RACIAL, not religious.
I'm very anti-abortion because I feel it is the wrongful taking of an actual life. I think Kopp and Rudolph are both guilty of the same thing. I think 99.999% of pro-lifers would agree with me. Whether or not those nutcases said God was on thier side or not is irrelevant.
CAIR and other Islamic groups do not condemn the butchering of Jewish schoolchildren by Hamas and other racist hategroups. Not until the recent Jordanian murders have large groups of Muslims protested act done in the name of their religion, and then only because they suffered. Islam cannot be taken as a serious religion until conservatives of the faith condemn the slaughter of innocents.

Like the song goes, "How bi... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Like the song goes, "How bizarre, how bizarre."

One wonders whether the commenter in question would claim that, in the 19th Century, the Taiping Rebellion (which resulted in several million dead as it raged throughout China) should be laid at the feet of Christianity, since the Chinese rebel leader believed he was Jesus Christ's younger brother?

Jay,The response t... (Below threshold)
Al:

Jay,

The response to his list is... another list.
Of crimes by people claiming Islam as their religion... from the past 40 years. Um. 4 years. Ok, how about the past _month_.

This may take serious research, many of these are not immediately placed into the 'Jihadist' column. Witness the beltway snipers - extensive notebooks, but deliberately distanced from Islam regardless of available facts.

One tiny little fact about ... (Below threshold)

One tiny little fact about the Lord's Resistance Army: they're directly supported, financially and militarily, by the very militant Islamic Sudanese government.

In return, the LRA fights against internal rebels in Sudan and makes moves into Uganda that can be officially denied, while their leader spouts off a few carefully-selected Bible quotes. They're really a tribal movement, too, with the leaders all coming from the Acholi tribe.


This generally all reduces ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

This generally all reduces down to the fact that in those who are searching with ulterior motive to justify behaviors and choices that are defined by Christianity as condemning of one's immortal soul, any ONE or any ONE GROUP of people who can be made to appear "Christian" are then attempted to be made to appear as "all Christians" or representational of Christianity, and upon/about which people in search of a way out of the Christian concept of salvation will then try to demean the faith.

If you can convince enough other people that you're just fine doing what you're doing, promoting what you're promoting, encouraging others to do what you may want them to do or that they already are doing -- when those actions, choices are defined as threatening to your immortal soul by Christ and Judeo-Christianity in general (although the New Testament delivers salvation that the Old Testament does not, but this is another issue...just saying here that the New Testament refines what the Old Testament affirms and it's significant to understanding Christianity that one know and understand the message of Christ in the New Testament, while limiting one's understanding to the Old Testament can affect understanding) -- you can by demeaning Christianity also attempt to elevate the behaviors and choices involved.

I always find those efforts indicative of a moral dilemma. A person has innate understanding that there's a moral compromise there within certain choices and behaviors, and yet opts to override the intuitive, and goes about rather than changing oneself, attempting to change the perceptions of others about how they perceive the choices, behaviors and based upon what.

I'm glad people here clarify as to the KKK...not being a Christian group, any more than the German Socialist Party was one. There are many misperceptions, unfortunately, allowed to stand and even instructed about in public education. That, again, serves to assist the "acceptance" of the unacceptable, so it's important to examine the source in comments like these, in efforts such as these to discredit Christ, Christianity, the Church.

Interestingly buried information, for example as to contemporary happenings, is that the Catholic Church's Charities organization has been aiding and assisting millions after the Hurricane Katrina damage and has remained nearly completely out of the press. Which then allows people to wrongfully declare the Church as being unconcerned, etc. Perhaps others can see the pattern there...denouncing Christ is the behavior by people who really are trying to hide from Him.

And criticising Him is, too. I find it a call for help. Nothing wrong with it, but it merits attention. Christ came to save but He also saves by refining...and casting out sin.

Pretty well any of these an... (Below threshold)
Albertanator:

Pretty well any of these anecdotes you site have nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.

Aside from that, as one who has studied Islam for over 20 years, you are correct in insinuating that Islam will not turn peaceful anytime soon..

IN FACT, it NEVER will as Islam's core teachings are inherently brutal.........Muhammed was and is the example of every pious muslim and Muhammed was a looter, rapist and murderer himself who advocated horrific things.....

The great difference lets say between Christians and Muslims is that those Christians that do horrible things in Christ name (and their have been some to be sure) do so against the teachings of Christ..........Those Muslims that do horrible things in the name of Islam have perfect sanction within the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah!!

Thanks

forget religion. Look at th... (Below threshold)
fred:

forget religion. Look at the records only. Don't forget Central and South America, Bosnia, Yugoslavia. Dredge up all the muck and scum you can find. Then assign it to left, right, center (proprotionally if you're that anally retentive).

Then get those people prosecuted, and then sentenced, and be done with it. I have had enough of all monkeys (left, right, center) choosing to focus on crimes of their "opposition". It's pitiful how all of you use whatever arguments are convenient to ding your opponents.

Clinton lied, and then parsed words to try and get away with it.

The WH & WHIG lied about the weapons in Iraq (show me those weapons or proof thereof if you disagree)

Nixon lied.

etc. etc.

Stop being like kindergarden kids and face up to it : politicians do this kind of thing, and anyone who does it should be caught and punished regardless of political convictions.

The day the Pope issues a f... (Below threshold)
Patricia:

The day the Pope issues a fatwah on non-Christians, encourages the beheading of Muslims, cheers on the elimination of all Muslims and threatens that the "infidels" shall bathe in their own blood, I'll see the moral equivalence. Christianity is a religion. Radical Islam is a priapic death cult.

Christ said love your neighbor as yourself, do good to those who spitefully use you.

The Prophet said..convert or die.

The MESSAGE in each religion comes from the top man. A good tree brings forth good fruit, and evil tree brings forth poisoned fruit.

We see the nations of the world where poverty, hate, murder, and chaos thrive. Those places are NOT primarily Christian. Ever notice that?

One final chauvinistic word : as a woman, I know which religion will not stone me to death for being raped, for impinging on the "honor" of my vainglorious male relatives.

Patricia makes the sound po... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Patricia makes the sound point that needs to be emphasized this it is strands of radical Islam and the jihads that are the dangers to the West. Most of these Middle-East societies without main stream Islam, or religion of some kind, would probably pose even greater criminal threats.

The WH & WHIG lied about... (Below threshold)

The WH & WHIG lied about the weapons in Iraq (show me those weapons or proof thereof if you disagree)

I don't need to -- the lack of weapons doesn't prove a lie, you need to prove they knew the weapons had already been spirited out of the country during the 14-month-long glacially slow "rush to war."

McGehee,You missed t... (Below threshold)
permanentceasefire:

McGehee,
You missed the point that fred was trying to make. He summed it up nicely:

Stop being like kindergarden kids and face up to it : politicians do this kind of thing, and anyone who does it should be caught and punished regardless of political convictions.

By continuing to focus on and defend the imaginary WMD, you lose sight of the real issues.

You could look at the terro... (Below threshold)

You could look at the terror campaigns in Northern Ireland--and outlying areas--as examples of Christian terror. While there were certainly economic and social issues involved, the battles and bombings were being done in the name of particular Christian identifications. Often the targets were selected solely on the basis of which thread of Christianity they followed.

A point of fact: Saudi Arabia does not automatically disqualify Jews from entering the country. I've known Jews, in Saudi Arabia, as far back as 1981 in my personal experience, and know of some still there. The Saudis don't permit Israelis in, however.

Another thing here that is ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Another thing here that is key is that Islam is an ideology that has within it's structure of beliefs that some lives be taken as acts of ideology.

Christianity does not. There is no aspect to Christianity that requires that the faithful go out and claim lives among those who refute or refuse the beliefs.

While, as I wrote, Islam does so require. I think it's speculated that some among wicca and satanism do, too.

I can't see how anyone could even compare Christianity to much of anything else, in my experience, beyond the behavioral. But that seems to be the focus of people who perceive Christianity as yet another club or social organization in which human behaviors are shared with society in general.

Albertanator specifies that... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Albertanator specifies that which I reserved, as to Islam and Muhammed. Thanks for being so straightforward.

John Burgess...and Israel w... (Below threshold)
-S-:

John Burgess...and Israel won't allow Christians citizenship in Israel. To temper a bit there as to exclusions by whom and where.

"Christian terror" is a complete misnomer, a contradictory, nonsensical statement.

It's not "Christianity" that terrorizes, nor Christains who engage in "terror" upon others. There are people living in and amidst those who are Christians, engaging in "terror", yes, but it's not Christianity that is motivating it.

Anyone can sit in a pew, sing a song. It does not mean they are Christian.

It's debatable whether Rudo... (Below threshold)
Half Canadian:

It's debatable whether Rudolph qualifies as christian in anything but the "ethnic" sense.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-05-rudolph-cover-partone_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA


With regard to terrorism, a... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

With regard to terrorism, a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity is that Islam institutes the concept of a holy war against infidels. These holy wars are not "jihad", but rather war that's physical in nature and general is scope, applying to infidels everywhere and for all time. On the other hand, even the Christian old testament restricts physical war to an explicit list of nations and times and for the purpose of bringing about the nation of Israel. The only general call to war for Christians is a spiritual war against the forces of evil, which can be as practical as fighting against our own base nature or as ethereal as using the Name that's above all names to battle demonic forces. We see what Islam calls a martyr; someone who blows themselves up in order to kill others. Read Acts 7 to see what Christianity calls a martyr.

From "S" "Another ... (Below threshold)
JC:

From "S"

"Another thing here that is key is that Islam is an ideology that has within it's structure of beliefs that some lives be taken as acts of ideology."

I hear the the Gangster Diciples (and the Crips and the Bloods...) believe the same thing!

Rudolph isn't a Christian.<... (Below threshold)
Ian:

Rudolph isn't a Christian.

Jay:But my poin... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

Jay:

But my point is simple: yes, all religions have committed atrocities in their past. It's part and parcel of the package. But the important thing is that the great religions outgrow that stage.

People committ atrocities Jay; religions are abstract concepts which people create and interpret, somtimes in order to justify their actions, IMO. Bringing up the idea that so-called "great religions" get somehow outgrow their terrorist phase is just weird. What?

I hear this argument time and time again. There is so much violent and weird shit in both the Koran and the Bible that its unreal.

Going around saying that "Islam" is responsible for committing atrocities ignores the specific groups and individuals that are committing the acts. Terrorism occurred in Ireland, and was committed by Christians. Terrorism has been committed by practicing atheists. Terrorism has been committed by Muslims.

For me it's not really useful sit here and try to assess all the world's religions on some kind of scorecard, especially since acts of war, terrorism, and horror are generally committed for varying POLITICAL reasons, even though religion is used as some kind of banner for both sides.

9/11. They were radical Muslims, with some serious homicidal issues, among others. I do not "blame" Islam, but instead the people who planned, supported, and carried out the acts of terror.

Dont make me go pick out stupid and violent quotes from the Bible, because there are plenty of them. It's not the religion people, its the individuals, the actual humans who committ the acts, that are the problem.

This is like blaming some heavy metal band for kids' bad behaviors. Like saying that violent lyrics somehow FORCE people to do evil things. I dont buy it; I think its a copout. I dont care how weird or violent the passages in the Koran or the Bible are. I blame the people who use religions and other tools as ways to achieve political goals, etc.

Hitler was a terrorist. So was Stalin. Do we blame Fascism, do we blame the idea of Socialism? Hell no. We blame the people that fell for that bullshit and did things they knew was wrong.

The whole LRA thing in Uganda is another great example. Joseph Kony is a terrorist, and horrible things are happening in that country. Children are being brainwashed and used as soldiers, and this is all done in the name of some religion. Kony and the LRA wants to overthrow the government, so he comes up with all his religious BS to get people to follow him; or to scare them into following him. The government of Uganda isnt exactly angelic, so many of the people are caught inbetween. They have this shitty government, and this violent terrorist group fighting that government. Blaming whatever "religion" Kony claims to follow is stupid in this case, as it's just an irrelevant oversimplification.

Ian is correct. ERRudolph ... (Below threshold)
taz:

Ian is correct. ERRudolph is not a christian. He is racist. He has made it clear that he bombs abortion clinics, "because they only abort white babies".

I've heard this prolife rationale all my life.

No, I don't think ALL prolifer's feel this way, but some of them do.

"No, I don't think ALL prol... (Below threshold)
Toby928:

"No, I don't think ALL prolifer's feel this way, but some of them do."

Clearly proving that not all prolifers are Christian...or sane.

Tob

TobThank you for y... (Below threshold)
Taz:

Tob

Thank you for your understanding.

By continuing to focus o... (Below threshold)

By continuing to focus on and defend the imaginary WMD,

Imaginary? They existed. Fact. And it was Saddam's responsiblity as part and parcel of the ceasefire in the first Gulf war to provide proof of their destruction.

Geez, is religious dedication to ignoring historical fact a requirement of the Leftist Cult?

S wrote:There i... (Below threshold)
ryan:

S wrote:

There is no aspect to Christianity that requires that the faithful go out and claim lives among those who refute or refuse the beliefs.

Compare with:

"If your nearest relative or closest friend, even a brother, son, daughter, or beloved wife whispers to you to come and worship these foreign gods, do not consent nor listen, and have no pity; Do not spare that person from the penalty; don't conceal this horrible suggestion. Execute him! Your own hand shall be the first upon him to put him to death, then the hands of all the people."

-Dueteronomy 13:6,7

Top Muslim leaders call for... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Top Muslim leaders call for bloodshed so often that their calls to violence don't even make news. Compare this to the outcry, especially from many Christians, when the idiotic Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Chavez and the Divine destruction of a municipality in Pa.

Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him." Vol. 9:57(Hadiths)

Jesus said,"He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." --Matthew 26:52(Gospels)

Quite a difference in philosophy, indeed.

And then there's this, from... (Below threshold)
ryan:

And then there's this, from the Revelation, in which Jesus codemns Jezebel and her followers for practicing immorality and eating meat that was sacrificed to other idols:

"I gave her time to change her mind and attitude, but she refused. Pay attention now to what I am saying: I willlay her upon a sickbed of intense affliction, along with all her immoral followers, unless they turn again to me, repenting of their sin with her; and I will strike her children dead."

-The Revelation 2:20

Not exactly accepting of other beliefs...sorry, but there is some weird shit in the Bible, and it's not exactly very tolerant of other viewpoints. But I dont blame the relgions here; I think they're all subject to interpretation, and that individuals are responsible for their actions.

Ryan...I think you... (Below threshold)
leelu:

Ryan...

I think your first quote refers to how to treat someone *leaving* Judaism, not how to treat all non-Jews. Which doesn't carry forward to Christianity.

As far as Revelations, it's not Gospel, altho it is in the new Testament. Revs is a much more mystical, convoluted book than any other. I doubt seriously that any quotes are authentic.

;-)

Ryan,What is "The ... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Ryan,

What is "The Revelation"? It does not seem to be the Book of Revelations. I cannot find your citation anywhere in the Bible.

As to violence in the Old Testament, you are correct that the Old Testament describes some acts of violence and a few less than holy acts by some of the prophets. Jay Tea notes as much when he mentions that Judaism has some violence in its early history (Book of Numbers).

Christianity also has violence in its past. However, I don't see groups committing violent acts today (beheadings, bombings, or otherwise) in the name of Yahweh or the name of Christ. The modern interpertation is that such acts are forbidden by Christianity/Judiasm.

Committing violence in the same of Allah, with hardly a stirring of protest from most Muslims, is a daily occurence.

Nice try in blurring the issues.

Glad to see I could get thi... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

Glad to see I could get this discussion rolling in force. For those of you who don't know, I'm the one who posted the list Jay referred to in the original post.

I noticed a few of you "get it" (Ryan and Fred specifically). This is NOT about religion folks. Most of the terrorists, regardless of their religious affiliation, have SOCIAL/POLITICAL goals.

For those of you who still think the problem is Islam, I would ask: What is the solution? Try to convert them all to Christianity (Spanish Inquisition style)? What about the hundreds of millions who won't convert? Wall them up somewhere? Maybe concentration camps?

Folks, you need to stop and think where your line of thinking is leading. I find it shameful that in a country, where freedom of religion was a founding principle, that religious intolerance can be so acceptable. At least the founding fathers were smart enough to realize that religion and politics don't mix.

BTW, for those of you who don't think the KKK is Christian, I recommend you visit their website, where they refer to themselves as a "white Christian organization". Which brings me to my next point: Are they truly Christian? I cannot speak to what is in their hearts, although I tend to doubt it. Regardless, they claim to be. Is bin Laden truly Muslim? I would give the same answer for him.

Leelu:I think y... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Leelu:

I think your first quote refers to how to treat someone *leaving* Judaism, not how to treat all non-Jews. Which doesn't carry forward to Christianity.

Look, I'm not trying to split hairs here. People are trying to act like there arent any "aspects" of Christianity that are violent and/or intolerant. Sorry, but there are. I understand that the quote is from the OT, but since it's basically stapled to the New Testament, I would consider it at least an aspect of Christian thought. Remember, my argument here is that blaming the relgion is a waste of time. I'm bringing up weird quotes from the Bible to prove a point; the fact that the Bible asserts violence in certain places doesnt condemn the religions of either Judaism or Christianity...alot is a matter of interpretation and individual responsibility.

As far as Revelations, it's not Gospel, altho it is in the new Testament. Revs is a much more mystical, convoluted book than any other. I doubt seriously that any quotes are authentic.

What do you mean by authentic? How can anything be considered authentic? Supposedly, the Revelation was revealed to John by by Jesus, as permitted by God.

Proud Kaffir:Wh... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Proud Kaffir:

What is "The Revelation"? It does not seem to be the Book of Revelations. I cannot find your citation anywhere in the Bible.

Weak. I'm holding The Living Bible paraphrased edition, published by Tyndale. In it, the final book is entitled, "The Revelation." You have to remember that different editions and translations have slightly different word uses. Some versions do indeed call it the "Book of Revelations" I believe. But you knew that, you're just playing stupid games.

Committing violence in the same of Allah, with hardly a stirring of protest from most Muslims, is a daily occurence.

You're missing the point, pal. People committ violent acts in the name of all kinds of beliefs and ideologies and religions. To me, that doesnt mean shit, as the people themselves are responsible for what they do. The point is that those people who support that are doing it by choice, and I dont care what religion they follow. Why keep trying to focus on the abstraction? I would rather stick to specifics.

I'm bringing up weird qu... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

I'm bringing up weird quotes from the Bible to prove a point; the fact that the Bible asserts violence in certain places doesnt condemn the religions of either Judaism or Christianity...alot is a matter of interpretation and individual responsibility.

However, no one today uses quotes from the Bible or the Torah to justify widespread violence. This is the problem. If Muslims simply ignored the violent passages- although I believe you have to do a lot of rationale gymnastics to downplay the violence in the koran- we wouldn't need to call attention to the obvious links between Islam and violent terrorism.

The issue, by the way, is not just the terrorist groups. Equally horrifying is the repression of people, especially women and Christians, by Muslim regimes.

kaffir:If Musli... (Below threshold)
ryan:

kaffir:

If Muslims simply ignored the violent passages- although I believe you have to do a lot of rationale gymnastics to downplay the violence in the koran- we wouldn't need to call attention to the obvious links between Islam and violent terrorism.

I dont give a damn about downplaying the violence in the Koran, Hitler's journals, the Old Testament, or Harry Potter. That stuff exists. People choose to use that as a rationalization for their actions, which I think is bullshit.

Radical Islamists, I argue, use those passages to attempt to justify what they are doing. These are things that were written in what, the 7th century? Do you ever read anything from back then? Well, there's no shortage of violence and weird shit in literature from that period, obviously. People interpret religions in many ways, and some use them to further political means. But its all a bunch of ideas and concepts, and blaming 1400 year old concepts for whats going on in specific places today isnt very useful to me. I'd rather talk about the specific people who are doing these things, as opposed to making sweeping claims about the inherent qualities of a religion.

The issue, by the way, is not just the terrorist groups. Equally horrifying is the repression of people, especially women and Christians, by Muslim regimes.

The repression of any group of people, by whatever regime, is horrifying in my book. The repression of Muslims by Christians=horrifying. The repression of Jews by fascists=horrifying. The repression of Native Americans by colonial powers=horrifying. No one human group has a corner on the market when it comes to evil, transgressions, and violence.

edmcgonSorry, sir,... (Below threshold)

edmcgon

Sorry, sir, but I believe you don't get it. Islamism is an all encompassing, religious ideology that declares all "man-made" governments null/void/kaffir. Islamism controls all spheres of human existence = government, society, culture, the individual. Islamic ideology holds there are but two realms... dar ul Harb (us infidels) and dar ul Islam (the superior moslems) and that there is no coexistence between the two.

Judaism has always existed within larger non-jewish cultures in a Hey, you do your thing, we'll do ours and Christianity has a tradition of "render unto Caesar".

Such tradition, teachings does not exist in Islam. Islam is "Convert, Submit (dhimmitude) or Die"

What do we do about it? Make it unequivocally clear we will not suffer totalitarian theocracies that preach the destruction of Western Civilization and that Islam must change. They must make those changes in their religious teachings that Islam as a faith is only legitimate when voluntarily embraced and it seeks to live in civility with other religions. Persuade with discourse, not by violence.

Ignoring the nature of Islamism hasn't done France any favors.

Okay Darleen, I think I can... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Okay Darleen, I think I can make a point to you here. I still think that you are confusing the governments and organizations with inherent aspects of Islam in general. I know that the Koran has plenty of violent aspects, thats easy to see. Well, so does the OT.

The problem isnt ISLAM, its the fact that we have autocracies ruling many Islamic countries, THATS THE PROBLEM. Do you think that it would really help to somehow edit the Koran? Do you think that all of a sudden radical/violent leaders will start being nice? Corruption governments that use Islam as some justification are the problem here, and we have plenty of those in the middle east. Nobody in their right mind would blame Christianity for the violence that occurred between the IRA and the Brits; that would be foolish. The root of that problem was a political conflict.

I think that alot of people look at the fact that the Middle east is full of Muslims, and they just cant get that out of their heads. Well, to me it would be best if we realized that the real problem might not be what was written in some book 1400 years ago, but instead the fact that brutal dicators have ruled in the region for decades, creating all sorts of nasty problems, including the rise of these radical terrorist groups. Repression breeds terrorism, and the Middle East has had it's fair share of repressive regimes.

"Repression breeds terroris... (Below threshold)
Toby928:

"Repression breeds terrorism, and the Middle East has had it's fair share of repressive regimes."

Well said. Our response should proceed from that observation. But therein lies the rub: a significant portion of western society and and even larger share of elite opinion makers now profess that we have no right to meddle in the afairs of other nations, no matter how despotic or threatneing they may be. Result: paralysis.

Tob

These are things that we... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

These are things that were written in what, the 7th century? Do you ever read anything from back then?

Unlike Christians and Jews, Muslims believe the the Koran is the literal word of God regardless of when it was written. To attempt to explain the violence rampant in Islam today while ignoring Islamic text and orthodoxy is very naive. This would be like trying to understand the violent nature of Marxism and Nazism while ignoring the writings/proclamations of Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler.

Again, there is general agreement that you can find violence in all religious texts if you search long enough. There is also agreement that all religions had atrocities committed in their name within their history.

The problem with Islam is not isolated to the history or violent passages. The issue is that Muslims are violent today and cite their scriptures (the unedited word of God) as justification. Few Muslims openly denounce this interpertation today.

The issue, therefore, is both the teachings of the religion and the practice.

Toby:But therei... (Below threshold)
ryan`:

Toby:

But therein lies the rub: a significant portion of western society and and even larger share of elite opinion makers now profess that we have no right to meddle in the afairs of other nations, no matter how despotic or threatneing they may be. Result: paralysis.

Bingo.

For those of you who sti... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

For those of you who still think the problem is Islam, I would ask: What is the solution? Try to convert them all to Christianity (Spanish Inquisition style)? What about the hundreds of millions who won't convert? Wall them up somewhere? Maybe concentration camps?

No, but shining a light on the true nature of Islam and showing some solidarity with the daily victims of the deathcult- which ironically enough are mostly Muslims- might help the situation.

Proud Kaffir:Th... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Proud Kaffir:

The problem with Islam is not isolated to the history or violent passages. The issue is that Muslims are violent today and cite their scriptures (the unedited word of God) as justification. Few Muslims openly denounce this interpertation today.

But books and ideas dont make people do anything. People convince others to do things, and those people have agendas and political motivations. So you're saying that the mere existence of these texts just magically makes people start killing one another? Like people have no control over what they choose to do? Are you serious? I have a copy of the Iliad sitting here, and I havent been compelled to go on some long murderous voyage as of yet.

The issue, therefore, is both the teachings of the religion and the practice.

The issue is how people teach it, and why. The issue is what agenda or political end are they trying to serve by teaching that religion in the way that they do. The issue is the leadership that tells people they have to kill others, and why thats happening. You're saying we should change Islam, and I'm saying that we should blame the leaders who use Islam to justify their violent means.

No, but shining a light ... (Below threshold)
ryan:

No, but shining a light on the true nature of Islam and showing some solidarity with the daily victims of the deathcult- which ironically enough are mostly Muslims- might help the situation.

You just proved my point. If many of the victims are Muslims, then how can Islam be the problem? It's the organizations, the leaders, and the governments that are corrupt and murderous that are the problem. Christ, they kill their own people. Same with Al Qaeda...Muslims are affected by their atrocities all the time, and yet people want to keep blaming the religion itself??? How many millions of professed Muslims just go about their lives everyday, trying to eat and sleep and be human? And yet, so many people want to blame the entire religion (which isnt just practiced in one form, by the way--the Isalm of Morrocco is not the same as the Islam of Indonesia) for the violent acts of radical groups that claim to be Muslim?

Millions and millions of Christians just try to live their lives everyday too. Should we blame Christianity when some psychopaths from the KKK, who claim to be Christians, commit some atrocious act? Of course not.

I say we shine a light on t... (Below threshold)
ryan:

I say we shine a light on the economic, social, and political situations of the nations which terrorists come from. Thats what I think. Walking around blaming some broad abstract ideology gets us nowhere fast.

ryan,It says nothi... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

ryan,

It says nothing about a religion when some person or group commits an atrocity in the name of that religion. It's how the majority of followers of that religion react to the atrocity that gives true witness of that religion. Followers of Islam dance in the street and celebrate atrocities done in the name of Islam. There's no equivalent in Christianity. The OT's violence was for a specific purpose, to bring about the nation of Israel, not the general call to spread the religion by the sword as is the case for Islam. Darleen has it right. Don't underestimate the goal of Islam or you may find yourself with the choice of covert or die.

But books and ideas dont... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

But books and ideas dont make people do anything.

So you are saying we should reframe from criticizing repressive and murderous ideologies and simply criticize the people who use the ideology to oppress and murder. I say we criticize both, and vehemently.

The fact that the ideology is a religion does not immunize it from criticism. I am Roman Catholic and feel free to crticize my own religion. Why should Islam be exempt?

The fact that Islam is oppressive and murderous, in fact, demands the crticism.

You're saying we should change Islam, and I'm saying that we should blame the leaders who use Islam to justify their violent means.

One action is not necessarily exclusive of the other. We should hold the leaders, and their sympathizers, accountable. We also need to try to offer an alternative vision to the young, brain-washed jihadists-in-waiting. Whether the alternative is a sanitized version of Islam, or another religion, I don't particularly care.

The violence cannot simply be ignored, nor can the violent ideology.

Wikipedia has an interestin... (Below threshold)

Wikipedia has an interesting article about Islam that can shed light on the topic of this thread. To go to the article, click here.

By the way, there doesn't have to be any Christian terrorists because too many Christians give Christianity a bad name without resorting to terrorism.

You just proved my point... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

You just proved my point. If many of the victims are Muslims, then how can Islam be the problem?

Look at a Stalinist regime. Many rank and file Communists were equally oppressed but still called themselves Communists. In such a society, the only way to even hold a decent job was to join the Communist party. However, to say that Communism was not repressive because most people in the society were communists is an absurd statement.

Kaffir.I dont thin... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Kaffir.

I dont think we're as far off as it seems in our thinking, but I do see a difference in how some people are trying to characterize the so-called "nature" of Islam.

When violence occurs, it would be really good for Muslims to loudly and clearly denounce those actions, but often that doesnt happen. I do not attribute that to the nature of their religion, but instead to the fact that many people may have mixed feeling about the conflicts, and about the two sides. It's just not some black and white good vs. evil thing. Look at what happened in Ireland. Do you think that there was just one side that was evil and held the blame for everthing? Remember, both sides were Christian there, so this whole argument for blaming the religion is irrelevant. Its the same thing, to me, as all of this terrorism from the Middle East. We have millions of people living under repressive regimes, and among them many radical groups spring up. Those groups garner the favor of people because they seem to be doing something, I guess; I dont know. But how do you expect some person in the streets of Palestine (or wherever) to KNOW that the US is on their side? How do they know WHO is on their side? Do they do what they do because Islam is evil, or because crime, violence and corruption is rampant? Are these things happening because of Islam, really? Or do the shitty social and political situations have something to do with it?

If Islam is such a problem, then how is it that we have Muslims here and they arent trying to kill us all? I've met plenty Muslims, and they dont try to kill and convert me. Why is that? I mean, what about that violent ideology?

I find massive generalizations about the nature of Islam to be next to worthless, sorry.

Look at a Stalinist regi... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Look at a Stalinist regime. Many rank and file Communists were equally oppressed but still called themselves Communists. In such a society, the only way to even hold a decent job was to join the Communist party. However, to say that Communism was not repressive because most people in the society were communists is an absurd statement.

Look, actual REAL people did the oppressing, not the construct that is "communism." Stalin ordered actual soldiers to go kill actual people; thats the problem. Blanket generalizations like "commies are evil" and "muslims are terrorists" dont mean shit to me.

I dont know what all the people under Stalin really considered themselves to be; they happened to live in a nation state that professed a communist ideology...does that mean that all the farmers in the middle of Siberia were steadfast commies? Did they care? God this is the same thing. The problem was the fact that the guy in charge was a goddamn murderer, and he ordered the deaths of millions of people. I have a feeling that if Mother Teresa were in charge of Russia at the time, things might have been a little different.

Ryan,I too have kn... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Ryan,

I too have known very good Muslims who I highly respect. I am not anti-Muslim, per se. I do not oppose people but I do oppose ideas. I am anti-Islam, or more specifically, anti-Militant Islamic Fundamentalist.

The fact that so many Muslims are silent over the atrocities committed in the name of Islam reflects very poorly on the religion as a whole.

I would hope that somewhere, there are influential Muslim leaders who will speak up and change such horrific beliefs and behaviors, but I don't see anything that gives me hope.

Perhaps the differences are in the wording. You don't want to seem to be against someone's religious beliefs. You would rather blame the actions of the fanatics. I don't see myself as against people, but against violent ideas (even be they religious) and their consequences.

You could look at the te... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

You could look at the terror campaigns in Northern Ireland--and outlying areas--as examples of Christian terror. While there were certainly economic and social issues involved, the battles and bombings were being done in the name of particular Christian identifications. Often the targets were selected solely on the basis of which thread of Christianity they followed.

This is probably a good point, although I would also point out that this dispute is really much more about who controls Northern Ireland, than actual religious belief. The members of the IRA and the Orangemen use their religion, but in reality do not act according to Christian teachings.

Also, they still don't meet the criteria of other Christians supporting or defending their cause.

But out of all the things listed, I would say that the troubles in the UK regarding this is probably one of the few things on the list (or added to the original list) that an legitimate argument could be made.

Although, in reality this is really just a power struggle cloaked in religiosity.

Kaffir:Alright, I ... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Kaffir:

Alright, I see that we are closer in viewpoint than it seems. It's a little hair splitting I suppose.

I can understand you're being against the violent ideas, and I am in full agreement with you there.

The fact that so many Muslims are silent over the atrocities committed in the name of Islam reflects very poorly on the religion as a whole.

I know what you mean, and this is a huge issue with many westerners. We're wondering when the mainstream Muslims are going to get loud and distance themselves from groups like Al Qaeda. That sure would make things alot more clear cut.

One of my friends worked as an aid worker in Uganda, and after I saw this film about what the LRA was doing there I get really bent out of shape and wrote her an email to ask her about the whole thing. At the time, she was right in the middle of the whole thing, amazingly. I had heard about the children being abducted, and the tactics of the LRA, and how so many people were terrified. She replied that the whole situation was incredibly complex, and that local people were really caught in the middle between the government, and this nasty terrorist organization. She told me that people would tell her that they hated what the LRA was doing, and how they were doing it, but they also had a certain amount of tolerance or acceptance, since the government wasnt much better, and was maybe just as bad.

This is what I try to remember when thinking about Iraq, and other places where terrorism is rampant. Why arent people denouncing those evil actions? Why would they stay silent? Maybe it's fear, and maybe they dont know WHO is right, and WHO will really help them. I just think its all very complicated.

Perhaps the differences are in the wording. You don't want to seem to be against someone's religious beliefs. You would rather blame the actions of the fanatics. I don't see myself as against people, but against violent ideas (even be they religious) and their consequences.

Yes, it appears to be a matter of semantics basically doesnt it? lol

Man, I gotta go get some Chinese food so I can finish writing my paper tonight--I'm starving. Nothing like getting into a long political debate as a good form of procrastination eh?

I appreciate your viewpoint, Kaffir and others here, and thanks for not getting into any name calling. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who can do that. Ok its Kung Pao chicken o'clock, seeya.

Hmmm.I sa... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

I say we shine a light on the economic, social, and political situations of the nations which terrorists come from. Thats what I think.

What? France, Germany and Britian?

Ryan while I would agree th... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Ryan while I would agree that you can pick and choose verses from any religious text and twist them into something they weren't intended, you really are majorly misquoting scriptures.

"If your nearest relative or closest friend, even a brother, son, daughter, or beloved wife whispers to you to come and worship these foreign gods, do not consent nor listen, and have no pity; Do not spare that person from the penalty; don't conceal this horrible suggestion. Execute him! Your own hand shall be the first upon him to put him to death, then the hands of all the people."

-Dueteronomy 13:6,7

While I won't argue that there is violence in the Bible. You miss an important contextual point here, and that is these were instructions to the Hebrews before they were to enter the promised land. This area was not uninhabited, and this area was to be taken by conquest. The people they were going to take it from were pagan worshippers who worshipped in some pretty horrible ways (child sacrifice was among some of these practices, in addition to other things).

This admonition, was to protect the chosen people from the influence of these religions (an admonition the Hebrews actually failed to obey).

While Christianity would not support killing somebody for leaving the faith or for corrupting it, the moral principle behind it-that we should be wary of those who would corrupt church teachings and doctrine still remains.


And then there's this, from the Revelation, in which Jesus codemns Jezebel and her followers for practicing immorality and eating meat that was sacrificed to other idols:

"I gave her time to change her mind and attitude, but she refused. Pay attention now to what I am saying: I willlay her upon a sickbed of intense affliction, along with all her immoral followers, unless they turn again to me, repenting of their sin with her; and I will strike her children dead."

-The Revelation 2:20

I would just point out that Revelation is a book of prophecy, which involves imagery, and isn't taken literally by even those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The imagery here, is actually similar to the moral principle from Dueteronomy-which is to not allow the doctrines of the church to be corrupted, and a warning against permitting false teachers into the congregation.

I would also point out, that the judge in the context of this writing is Jesus, who is given authority to judge by God, and Jesus makes it pretty clear in the Gospels and in Revelation that corruption of the church by false teachers isn't to be tolerated.

But my point is that you are using a verse that involves judgement by somebody given the authority to judge-which is different than the average Christian taking that authority on themselves.

So I don't even think your Revelation selection is a good one to make a point with.

Hmmmm.I n... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

I noticed a few of you "get it" (Ryan and Fred specifically).

So you approve of people who agree with you? This is earthshattering eh?

This is NOT about religion folks. Most of the terrorists, regardless of their religious affiliation, have SOCIAL/POLITICAL goals.

No this is about equivalence. This is about excusing Islam by trying to demonize Christians.

For those of you who still think the problem is Islam, I would ask: What is the solution? Try to convert them all to Christianity (Spanish Inquisition style)?

And what *EXACTLY* do you think muslims are, and have been, doing to Christians? You don't like converting muslims by force to Christianity, yet you don't have a problem with muslims converting Christians by the sword?

Here's a clue for you; People who enjoying beheadings won't be impressed by your debating skills if they have you under the knife.

I find it shameful that in a country, where freedom of religion was a founding principle, that religious intolerance can be so acceptable.

And I find it disgusting and shameful that you're trying to draw an equivalence between Christianity and Islam.

Here's a clue for you; I don't have a problem with Islam. I have a problem with muslims that believe infidels can never be either civilians or innocent. I have a problem with muslims that don't object to or fight terrorist murderers in their midst.

And if that means either converting them by the sword or burying them, then that's their problem not mine. If it comes to open fighting in American cities, I know which side I'm on.

BTW, for those of you who don't think the KKK is Christian, I recommend you visit their website, where they refer to themselves as a "white Christian organization".

And Raelians claim they're space aliens. So what.

Here's a clue, none of those groups are lauded by mainstream Christian organizations. The Pope hasn't come out and said it's ok to blow up muslims. The leaders of the Baptist minitries haven't come out and said murdering children is fine by them. The Pope hasn't come out and stated that no non-Christian could ever be either a civilian or innocent.

The religious leadership of Islam have come out and said all of these things.

Is bin Laden truly Muslim?

Is he? He claims to be. Many mullahs applaud his actions. Many Ayatollahs praise him. Many Grand Ayatollahs point to his example.

He's extremely popular in the muslim world.

Go figure. Now you're trying to push the bullshit that he's not a muslim?

I would give the same answer for him.

And here's an answer for you, you're full of crap.

Hmmmm.So ... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

So I don't even think your Revelation selection is a good one to make a point with.

Frankly, as a non-Christian, I'm amused every time someone mis-quotes, mis-attributes and/or mis-uses scripture.

The problem isnt ISLAM, ... (Below threshold)

The problem isnt ISLAM, its the fact that we have autocracies ruling many Islamic countries, THATS THE PROBLEM.

Ryan, quick question. Who rules Iran?

And yes, the Irish/British question ... "The Troubles" had less to do with religion as it did with ethnicity. Go read up on Irish history and understand that people like Cromwell did not consider the Irish as FULL HUMAN BEINGS, regardless of their Catholic faith.

Islamism REJECTS democracy and "man-made law." That is part of THEIR religion.

I won't edit their Koran. I hold them responsible for rejecting the call to impose a 4th century edict on the world as a whole. If they wish to follow their religion within the constraints of living in a modern world where rule of law and democracy are practiced, I am happy to have them as valued neighbors. But if they follow an ideology that demands a worldwide Caliphate be established through violence and conquest, where non-moslems are 2nd class citizens or worse, they are my enemy.

Well Ed, I admit that my bi... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Well Ed, I admit that my biggest pet peeve as a Christian is when anyone misquotes or uses scripture out of context-from any side of debate-or for any purpose.

Christians, non Christians, and suedo Christians have all misused scripture at one time or another-sometimes for noble purpose, sometimes for evil purpose, and sometimes in the hopes of making some point.

I say ... (Below threshold)
I say we shine a light on the economic, social, and political situations of the nations which terrorists come from. Thats what I think.
What? France, Germany and Britian?

Ahh...looky at ed being cute! Ain't he adorable? Pay no attention to the unassimilated islamists in those countries who now claim their neighborhoods as "occupied territories" by the police of the host country.

Waqf, anyone? Maybe ed thinks that we should now support the creation of Paristine due to the illegal suppressive actions of the non-indigenous French.

meshugga

[email protected] Just Me... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

@ Just Me

Christians, non Christians, and suedo Christians have all misused scripture at one time or another-sometimes for noble purpose, sometimes for evil purpose, and sometimes in the hopes of making some point.

Yeah that's why I'm amused. I have many friends who are both devout Christians and who are very well educated in Scripture. I know enough of Scripture to not even try and quote it because I know I'll screw it up.

Amazing how many ten-minute experts in Scripture there are in blogs eh? Frankly I think the fastest way to look like an idiot in blogging is to mis-quote Scripture, but that has never stopped people from trying their hand at it.

:)

[email protected] Darleen</p... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

@ Darleen

Ahh...looky at ed being cute! Ain't he adorable? Pay no attention to the unassimilated islamists in those countries who now claim their neighborhoods as "occupied territories" by the police of the host country.

Actually that was my point. That terrorists do come from highly developed industrial Western nations so any attempts at using poverty, a lack of education or any of the other usual excuses is itself very suspect.

I guess my sarcasm was so acerbic it looped around.

I wrote:I say w... (Below threshold)
ryan:

I wrote:

I say we shine a light on the economic, social, and political situations of the nations which terrorists come from. Thats what I think.

Then Ed replied:

What? France, Germany and Britian?

Why, yes Ed, as I wrote above we should look at the economic, social, and political situations in which terrorists come from, wherever that may be. Is that hard for you to understand? I know that you think you're being witty by bringing up western nations in which terrorists arise, but that comes as no suprise to me; terrorism is not some third world phenomenon. Timothy McVeigh was home grown here in the good old USA, as was the Klan.

Just Me:While I... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Just Me:

While I won't argue that there is violence in the Bible. You miss an important contextual point here, and that is these were instructions to the Hebrews before they were to enter the promised land. This area was not uninhabited, and this area was to be taken by conquest.

Look, someone asserted that there was not an aspect of Christianity that was intolerant of others based on religious beliefs, and thats just untrue. Your contextualization of the quote doesnt change the fact that it calls for people to be killed based on what gods they worship.

It calls for murder, plain and simple, and you cant rationalize around it. Nice try though.

The people they were going to take it from were pagan worshippers who worshipped in some pretty horrible ways (child sacrifice was among some of these practices, in addition to other things).

What? Who were those people and what exactly were their religious practices? Is this first hand knowledge? Are you an expert on the religious practices of cultures during that time period, or are you making a big conjecture here? I'm sure they ate babies and pushed old people into the street too. Get real. So you're saying that it's perfectly fine to call for the murder of so-called pagans, because they had some unacceptable and "horrible" religion?

I dont blame Christianity, however, I blame your weird interpretation of it. Seems to me like you would look at that and say to yourself, ya, probably not something that I should endorse here.

I would just point out that Revelation is a book of prophecy, which involves imagery, and isn't taken literally by even those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I know what Revelation is all about, and I know what imagery is. People on here are getting all bent out of shape about the freaking Koran...dont you think that its full of so-called imagery that has to be understood in context? Thats the whole point here. We can all go around and cherry pick quotes from old books and use them for different means...terrorists do this, among others.

I would also point out, that the judge in the context of this writing is Jesus, who is given authority to judge by God, and Jesus makes it pretty clear in the Gospels and in Revelation that corruption of the church by false teachers isn't to be tolerated.

Oh, so murder is a good solution for that problem? I like how so many people like to condemn the Koran as being the source of all that is evil, and yet they can defend every passage of the Bible like it's any less violent and weird and insane in some places.

But my point is that you are using a verse that involves judgement by somebody given the authority to judge-which is different than the average Christian taking that authority on themselves.

I know what your point is. My point is that there is pretty violent language in the Bible, period. I dont care if it says that Jesus, God, Mary, or the third wiseman is to do the killing or judging, or whatever. The quote is basically saying that people who follow other religious beliefs are to be killed, which isnt the way we do things in the 21st century. Now we can get all high and mighty about that, or we can try to understand it in its own context, as a part of the Biblical narrative. But the same has to be said for the Koran.

So I don't even think your Revelation selection is a good one to make a point with.

Look, we all know that the Revelation is insane, and it's really easy to go in there and pick out some crazy quote to mischaracterize the Bible. Thats my point: It's not a good idea to characterize an entire modern religion based on the insane quotes that are in its old texts. It has to be understood that those were written between 1400 and 3000 years ago, and the "literary style" at that time was somewhat different, to say the least.

Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta b... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta bomber is a follower of Nitzche and has made disparaging remarks about Christians. Under no circumstances is he a Christian and that example must be thrown out of the argument entirely.

Dear Darleen:Ry... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Dear Darleen:

Ryan, quick question. Who rules Iran?

The so-called Islamic Republic.

Islamism REJECTS democracy and "man-made law." That is part of THEIR religion.

I dont remember seeing the passage in the Bible that calls for Democratic elections, can you point that out to me? You think that Christianity puts man's laws ahead of God's? Where does it say that in the Bible?

I won't edit their Koran. I hold them responsible for rejecting the call to impose a 4th century edict on the world as a whole.

See, now we agree. Hold the people responsible, get away from blaming the concept that is Islam. It's old shit, and not compatible with todays world. Just like that weird OT and Revelation stuff. No more of that.

But if they follow an ideology that demands a worldwide Caliphate be established through violence and conquest, where non-moslems are 2nd class citizens or worse, they are my enemy.

Anybody, no matter what they profess to follow or believe, is screwed up and should be stopped when they try to rule by violence and conquest, IMO.

Look, I'm just trying to get you guys away from using the broad term "Islam" for all this. It's better to say that you're against the ideas of the radical militant Islamists of Iran, or whatever, than to say that Islam is a religion of evil. Sorry, but thats how I think. There are millions of Muslims who arent trying to kill you, and you should get a grip and realize that. There are certainly groups with evil agendas, and we should talk about them specifically. Opinions, opinions, opinions, of course.

Ryan, Choose bette... (Below threshold)
Jason:

Ryan,

Choose better examples, if you can find them.

The first verses you quote do not apply to Christianity, or Christians. So, you're not going to get any traction using them as a comment about Christian beliefs.

The second passage, which you used as proof that the Bible commands Christians to kill those who "refute or refuse" Christianity,

1. contains no commands at all, and
2. All of the judgments, whether you consider them just or not, are carried out by God, or more specifically, Christ, not Christians.

Again, you're not going to convince many Christians that they are commanded to kill those who are not Christians from this passage.

You would come closer to convincing them that they should wait for God to take care of any problem in that area.

Well Ryan I was going to ma... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Well Ryan I was going to make a nice big long response, but in the end Jason summed up what I was going to say pretty nicely.

You are using scriptures out of context to prove a point you believe about Christianity.

You should probably do your searches of proof in the other books of the New Testament (but be careful of context, context is important here), so get to reading.

Oh, and I will address the aspects we know of the ancient Canaanite religions. We know they practiced child scrifice (One of the evil kings of Israel-or maybe Judah-sorry I am about to head to work, and don't have time to look it up-who was corrupted by these religions sacrificed his child-by burning him to death in a sacrificial fire).

Try doing a search on Molech/Baal etc-you should get a pretty good idea of the religious practices involved.

Here is one to get you started: http://www.ancientroute.com/religion/Godsname/molech.htm
http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/M/Molech.asp

Ryan,New York city... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Ryan,

New York city wanted to build a hospital to bring desperately needed medical treatment to a blighted neighborhood. The first step was to forcibly evict people from their homes and businesses within the footprint of the hospital complex and then completely destroy every home and business down to the last foundation stone, so that not a remnant was left. Only then could construction of the hospital begin and at the ground breaking ceremony thousands of people celebrated in the streets.

On September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorists flew two jets into the World Trade Center towers causing their complete destruction, and thousands of people in Islamic nations celebrated in the streets.

When you excuse the general calling of Islam to holy war against infidels by comparing it to Old Testament violence it's the same as excusing the 9/11 attacks by comparing it to the destruction needed to build a new hospital. There is no valid equivalence between the two.

Darleen has it right. Islam calls for violence against infidels in general and for all time. The OT violence was for the specific purpose of creating the nation of Israel, through which God promised to bless the people of all nations. There is no valid equivalence between the two.

Your point of addressing terrorism through political and economic means has been tried for the last 50 years. The point others are trying to make is that all the rest of the world needs to hold Islam accountable. When terrorists kill in the name of Islam, non-Muslims need to make Muslims choose between supporting the terrorists or claiming Islam is against such actions. We can't allow Muslims to excuse Islamic terrorism by comparing it to Christianity. We have to drive the point home time and time again that there is no equivalence. Terrorism will only stop when the vast majority of Muslims reject terrorism in the name of Islam. It is about religion; and it always has been.

"What do we do about it? Ma... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

"What do we do about it? Make it unequivocally clear we will not suffer totalitarian theocracies that preach the destruction of Western Civilization and that Islam must change. They must make those changes in their religious teachings that Islam as a faith is only legitimate when voluntarily embraced and it seeks to live in civility with other religions. Persuade with discourse, not by violence."

Darleen,
What happens if they don't? This is their religion. This is what they were born and raised with. I find it highly doubtful they would modify their religion just because we ask nicely. Which leaves you with the options I mentioned. Are you prepared to do EXACTLY what you claim the Muslims will do to us?

ed,
With a billion Muslims to kill, you better get started now. It might take you awhile.


with a billion Muslims t... (Below threshold)

with a billion Muslims to kill, you better get started now.

You know, I've always held to the notion not to attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity.

IMHO, you've moved beyond the stupid stage.

RyanHold the pe... (Below threshold)

Ryan

Hold the people responsible, get away from blaming the concept that is Islam

::sigh:: Let me try again. I hold people responsible for their actions when they are following an ideology incompatible with human existence. I no more honor ISLAMISM (radical Islam) then I honor the ideology of the KKK, or Stalinism, or fascism. People who believe and act upon those ideologies are indecent.

Darleen,My comment y... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

Darleen,
My comment you quoted was directed at ed. However, since you decided to respond with a derogatory comment, instead of responding to the comment I directed at you, I will answer for you. You don't have a plan for dealing with, as you see it, the "evil" Muslim religion. You have taken the acts of terrorists, added some quotes from their holy book, and made religious intolerance. Just add some violent acts, and you can be right there with bin Laden.

Jason, you're taking me all... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Jason, you're taking me all wrong. The point is that we shouldnt judge modern religions based on the wackier parts of their religious texts. Fundamental Islamists may quote the violent parts of the Koran to justify whatever they want, but that doesnt mean, in my opinion, that we should all go around saying that Islam is the relgion of death, etc.

The Klan can go around using Biblical quotes all day long, and I'll just look at them as if they're insane. I dont see Islam as the main problem, but instead the political radicals who try to use Islam to justify murder. That way, I dont include all the peaceful Muslims in with my assessment of the matter.

Just Me thinks that I'm attacking Christianity and I'm not. The Bible has some strange language in it, mainly because it was written quite a long time ago, and was created in specific political and social contexts. It has to be understood on those grounds, and the same can be said for Islam. But you guys arent getting that, and instead are telling me that my choices arent good enough to illustrate that point. To me, it doesnt matter whether God is telling people to kill, or whether it was directed at Jews or Christians...it's the same God, and he's advocating things that we are against these days. Of course, thats if we take it all literally, which I dont.

Darleen:I no mo... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Darleen:

I no more honor ISLAMISM (radical Islam) then I honor the ideology of the KKK, or Stalinism, or fascism. People who believe and act upon those ideologies are indecent.

Awesome. Then we're in total agreement, especially since you at least made a small differentiation between Islam as a whole, and the radical Islam of terrorists, etc.

[email protected] ryan... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

@ ryan

Why, yes Ed, as I wrote above we should look at the economic, social, and political situations in which terrorists come from, wherever that may be. Is that hard for you to understand?

Oh I understand it. I understand what a bit of fluff that statement is. To "shine a light". That's a useless phrase that denotes neither a process nor a solution.

I know that you think you're being witty by bringing up western nations in which terrorists arise, but that comes as no suprise to me; terrorism is not some third world phenomenon.

Congratulations! You've accomplished the obvious.

Timothy McVeigh was home grown here in the good old USA, as was the Klan.

You forgot the SDS and the lefty terror groups of the 60's and their modern descendents the enviro-terrorists.

All you've done is, again, pontificated the obvious. That terrorists have political goals that they *gasp* use terror in order to achieve. While it is true to state that terrorism by itself has no religious connotations it is however extremely false to state that religion cannot play a significant role in terrorism.

In the case of Islamic terrorism religion plays both the role of the cause and the method of recruitment.

Hmmmm.Wit... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

With a billion Muslims to kill, you better get started now. It might take you awhile.

I'd say they've already gotten a headstart.

As long as muslims hold that non-muslims cannot by definition be either civilians or innocent, then there is no possibility of ever having a reasonable relationship between muslims and non-muslims. As long as muslims continue to divide the world between what has been conquered and what must be conquered, then there is no possibility of ever having a real peace.

*shrug* If you can't face reality, then that's your problem.

ed,You mean your "re... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

ed,
You mean your "reality", the one where ALL Muslims are out to get you? The paranoid reality where billions of Muslims are all working together in a conspiracy to take over the world? If that is reality, then they aren't doing very well at the "working together" thing.

Ed:While it is ... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Ed:

While it is true to state that terrorism by itself has no religious connotations it is however extremely false to state that religion cannot play a significant role in terrorism.

I never said it doesnt play a role, or that it cant be used as a tool or justification for terrorist acts. But religion can also play a significant role in bake sales, does that make religion the cause of baking?

Religions are human institutions, or divine creations, whatever you wish, that can be used to many ends. Religion does not cause terrorism; instead it is specific human groups that cause terrorism. At the same time millions of people may practice the same religion, and do so in a normal, healthy manner. Therefore, you cant really blame the concept that is Islam for terrorism...you can instead blame specific groups, with specific agendas for committing terrorist acts. Why condemn all Muslims for what some do? I think that only makes things worse as it alienates people who might otherwise be excellent allies in this huge problem.

Example. Some Muslim extremist in Egypt kills thirty people, and is associated with a radical group of about 300. The news gets out all over the world. Americans freak out, and yell about the evils of Islam. On the same day, millions of Muslims woke up, went to work, ate lunch, just like we all did. By the time they get home, they see that once again "Islam" is being blamed for the actions of a specific few.

Why not just call them terrorists, find those guilty, and take care of them, and leave the massive generalizations out of the whole process?

Alot of you are wondering why Muslims arent lining up with Americans or other Westerners. Me too. Well, maybe many of them dont know what the hell to do, since on the one hand they have radical groups doing things in the name of their religion, and on the other they have half of the world hammering on them about the evil religion they practice. Meanwhile, many of them probably just want to go hang out with their families, like we all do.

I think that we alienate millions and millions of people unnecessarily, and I think that it makes this whole thing even more difficult to solve.

Mac:Terrorism w... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Mac:

Terrorism will only stop when the vast majority of Muslims reject terrorism in the name of Islam. It is about religion; and it always has been.

Why the hell are you people trying to lay the blame on all Muslims? Are you telling me that every Muslim from Indonesia to Africa to Morocco the Europe to the United States is responsible, and to be held accountable for, the actions of each and every terrorist organization that commits atrocities? So is each and every Christian responsible, and to be judged, everytime someone who professes to be a Christian commits a crime, or murder? Is that really how we should go about this???

When an American goes and kills people (which is a frequent occurrence...murder happens everyday here), are we all to be held accountable? Is it fair to then say that America is the country of murderers? Or do we hold the actual individual(s) who committed the acts responsible, and stear clear of huge generalizations?

I vote for choice 2, but many of you on here keep insisting that option 1 is fair and rationale.

drop that last "e."... (Below threshold)
ryan:

drop that last "e."

Ryan,Whatever your... (Below threshold)
tommy higbee:

Ryan,

Whatever your intended point, you've only confused things by trying to draw a non-existent equivalence between Islam and Christianity. The quotes from Scripture are so far off the mark that they're useless for comparing with Islam.

Take the passage in Deuteronomy 13.

6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the
wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee
secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known,
thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto
thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other
end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine
eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put
him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought
to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land
of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

What it says is to not let anyone, even a close friend, lead people away from serving God. Is this like Islam and its jihad? Not really.
1) This Old Testament law was given specifically to a NATION. The nation was a THEOCRACY, so perhaps it's not surprising that going after different gods was considered a form of treason.
2) Other posters have pointed out the historical context. The "other gods" were the gods of nations around them. In historical context, for Jews to have worshipped the God of, say, the Sidonians would have been to ally with the Sidonians against their people.
3) This is a LAW, not an encouragement to individual violence. Notice that the death sentence was to be carried out by stoning. The witness of the offense was not supposed to take it upon himself to kill the offender, but was to join the others in carrying out the death sentence. We know this because the next verse says to stone the offender. Stoning was a method of execution for a crime. Contrast this with the general encouragement for Muslims to kill non-Muslims.
4) The law was for the one nation. You won't find anything suggesting the Jews were to go out to other nations and kill unbelievers. Compare that to Islam.

The quote in Revelation, on the other hand, is so far removed from the discussion at hand as to be a pointless quote.
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the
Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like
fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience,
and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest
that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce
my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her
into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know
that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every
one of you according to your works.

By the time you get through verse 18, with its reference to "the Angel of the church in Thyatira," it's pretty obvious that this is symbolic language. The "adultery" is not really adultery, but faithlessness to their belief in God. "Her children" are obviuosly not her literal children, but followers of this same cult. "The prophetess Jezebel" almost certailny refers to false doctrine. The judge is Christ. No man is encouraged to make such a judgement. With all this symbolism, it's hard to tell if "death" is a literal judgement of God or symbolic of God's judgement.

In short, the very weakness of application of this verse to your point suggests you just couldn't find a better verse to "support" your claim in the New Testament.

Which is not surprising. When brought before Pilate:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The Catholic Church that grew up around 400 AD tried to marry Christianity with secular power. They were not content to remember that Jesus' kingdom was "not of this world". Not until the Protestant Reformation did this come to an end. And not immediately, even then. The Protestants "protested" and came out of the Catholic Church, but they kept the idea of allying themselves with secular power. Doctrinally, they were wrong. But because they did, they were in a position to fight back. The result was the Hundred Years War. Which had one good effect: Both sides gave up on the idea of winning by force, and settled for an uneasy truce. Which led, eventually, to groups who were not joined to secular power, such as Baptists, being able to pracitce their religion without persecution. Very eventually. Without force being applied to convert people, evangelism took the day.

Unfortunately, Islam never reached this point. The closest you could come is the division between Shia and Sunni. Unfortunately, there was never any part of the Muslim faith that said, "My kingodm is not of this world.

There are many differences between Islam and Christianity, and between Islam and Judaism. Almost every time someone tries to draw an equivalence between Islam and Christianity, they trample all over the big differences in the process.

Ryan,I just want t... (Below threshold)
AndrewSpencer:

Ryan,

I just want to commend you for your arguments here. They are thoughtful and well-reasoned and make good sense. I think some of your debating opposition are missing the point.

There seems to be a rejection of the fallibility of man. I.e., "It's not man's fault, it's his religion that is messing him up." This appears to result in a desire to change the religion.

Further, there seems to be some inconsistency of argument as well - those who abhor the so-called Muslim intent to convert the world to Islam through force, but who at the same time think that Islam is bad and should be changed. How do you suggest we do that? Fireside chats?

No Christian I know would accept someone coming in and saying "Christians, the way you practice your religion is wrong, the passages of the Bible to which you adhere are wrong, your religion is a travesty." What makes anyone here think that Muslims would respond any better to someone saying saying "Muslims, the way you practice your religion is wrong, the passages of the Quran to which you adhere are wrong, your religion is a travesty."

Until we change to focus from "Islam is bad" to "Crazy men who use religion (e.g., Islam) as an excuse to oppress and to kill are bad," we'll be fighting an unwinnable war against the wrong enemies.

Tommy,I think Ryan... (Below threshold)
AndrewSpencer:

Tommy,

I think Ryan's point is that anyone can take a passage from the Bible and use it to support taking bad actions. Similarly, some men take passages from Islamic texts to support their bad actions. That doesn't mean Islam is bad, any more than Judaism/Christianity is bad.

What good does it do to get into a dispute over whether Christianity is like or different than Islam? Chritians themselves differ over their interpretations of the Bible. There are many differences among Christians as well.

The point is that we should not be looking to the religious texts as the source of and solution for bad acts. If we did, we'd have to edit the Bible for fear that some crazy person would take a passage out of context and use that passage to commit a bad act.

tommy:Whatever ... (Below threshold)
ryan:

tommy:

Whatever your intended point, you've only confused things by trying to draw a non-existent equivalence between Islam and Christianity. The quotes from Scripture are so far off the mark that they're useless for comparing with Islam.

You're missing it here. In no way am I trying make and equivalence between Christianity and Islam, and I wish all of you could see that. What I am doing is taking Biblical quotes, without regard to context, and using them to say that the Bible coulbe considered "violent." Of course you guys come in here and yell at me about the context, and thats part of the point. The language IS violent, but is also heavily rooted in context. You can argue with me about what the intent is, and why the violent language was put into that part of the narrative: I really dont care.

It's really humorous how well you all can contextualize the language of the Bible, and yet when it comes to the Koran so many of you just go on and on about how inherently evil it is. THINK ABOUT THAT. Maybe the same arguments could be used for the Koran, and therefore we could look at Islamic terrorists as psychopaths who cherry pick the Koran for quotes in order to justify, in their minds, things that they are doing.

The quote in Revelation, on the other hand, is so far removed from the discussion at hand as to be a pointless quote.

Look, the language is violent, and has to be understood in context. And it has to be taken with a grain of salt, since it's all metaphorical language, as you know. Thats the point. Same goes for all the wacky shit in the Koran.

By the time you get through verse 18, with its reference to "the Angel of the church in Thyatira," it's pretty obvious that this is symbolic language.

Oh really? And I thought it was a news report. Of course it's symbolic! And how much weird symbolic language does the Koran have, or the Vedas? Do you get my point here?

Thats a very nice summary of the history of Christianity and its enlightened evolution. You conveniently left out the brutalities that were committed during the reformation, as Protestants and Catholics went around buring one another for herecy for a while there. And what about the g-damn Inquisition? Where's that? The Jews were given the old "edict of exile" in 1492, just as Columbus set up shop in the Americas. And lets not forget colonialism, pal. It's a nasty nasty story in some cases, and Christianity was a part of the process.

But I would never go around saying that because of the treatment of say, the California Indians by the Spanish missionaries, that Christianity is evil. I would say that there were individual people who did things, or commanded others to do them, that were horrible and evil. And the fact that they professed to be Christian doesnt matter to me.

Unfortunately, Islam never reached this point. The closest you could come is the division between Shia and Sunni. Unfortunately, there was never any part of the Muslim faith that said, "My kingodm is not of this world.

Islamic nations reached their peak in what the Europeans called the "Dark Ages." Go read about it: thats when the Muslim world was kicking ass and dominating economically and politically, and when they controlled the trade routes from North Africa all the way to the far east. They werent some lowly brutes either; you should maybe look into the advancements that came from that time period. Pretty advanced cultures going on there.

And I am fully aware of the Muslim slave traders, and the fact that they werent necessarily "nice." But then again, neither were all the so-called Christian nations that went in and colonized Africa, including England. Nasty shit, that history is.

So many people want to understand the middle east in the context of the wacky 1400 year old texts of the Koran, but maybe we should look at more recent events, like the how the colonial nations divided places up, what nasty rulers were in place, and how that affected the region. Iraq is a good example, where three ethnic groups that didnt get along were suddenly stuffed into one country and expected to be successful; thats thanks to the Brits great ideas. And we wonder why things are all screwed up! We wonder why those regions are economically and politically unstable! Gee, maybe it was because many of those countries were conquered, and then had a series of nasty dictatorial governments. Shit, thats still going on! We might work with Musharref of Pakistan, but that SOB just took over by military coup in 2000 or so. You think that might be problematic for a healthy government and economy in Pakistan?

Why was Iraq all screwed up? Because Hussein was a murderer, and because they went through a brutal eight year war with Iran in the 1980s, among other things. Eight years of war doesnt exactly foster peaceful relations or prosperity. But sure, Iraq is screwed up because people follow Islam...right.

We cant just pretend that the history of western civilization, including Judaism and Christianity, is somehow "better" than civilizations in the Middle East. Each has their own history, and each has to be understood on its own terms. People who try to pretend that all "Muslims" are evil, and that Christianity has been some becon of hope are sleepwalking through lala land in my opinion. The important point, to me, is that BLAMING religions for the actions of individuals, states, or other groups of people, is USELESS.

Andrew:The poin... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Andrew:

The point is that we should not be looking to the religious texts as the source of and solution for bad acts. If we did, we'd have to edit the Bible for fear that some crazy person would take a passage out of context and use that passage to commit a bad act.

Bingo.

My transition up there suck... (Below threshold)
ryan:

My transition up there sucks. When I referred to this quote:

Unfortunately, Islam never reached this point. The closest you could come is the division between Shia and Sunni. Unfortunately, there was never any part of the Muslim faith that said, "My kingodm is not of this world.

I should have started off by saying that trying to understand whats going on in Middle Eastern countries TODAY by dissecting the history of Islam is really myopic. That would be like trying to explain the civil war in the US according to the Bible. Not a good plan. People during civil war times may have been running around claiming one thing or another about god and mankind, and they were certainly religious, but it would be idiotic to claim that Christianity was the cause of the civil war. Same goes for trying to explain terrorism and other conflicts in the middle east. All of that isnt happening just because Mohammed believed God talked to him in a cave in 622 AD. There's a little more to it.

Hammering on Islam for what... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Hammering on Islam for what modern people are doing in its name is about as accurate as hammering on Christianity for the fact that Native Americans were basically exterminated by colonials, and later state systems.

And YES, Christianity was indeed used to justify the conquest and extermination of Native Americans. Early colonists used to tell themselves that the Native Americans were dying because God realized they werent using the land properly, so he killed them to make room for people who could farm the fertile lands. How nice. Maybe the colonists who came up with that crap were the problem, and not the religion that they professed to adhere to.

I still would not call Christianity evil, and instead take issue with specific people who enacted the atrocities. I blame the guy who pulled the trigger on the gatling gun, not the book that sits upon his bedside table.

I would like to thank Andre... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

I would like to thank Andrew and ryan for raising the intelligence of this discussion.

Special thanks to Ryan for: "I never said it doesnt play a role, or that it cant be used as a tool or justification for terrorist acts. But religion can also play a significant role in bake sales, does that make religion the cause of baking?"

ROFLMAO!

Andrew,
You summed up what I was trying to say also, although you said it much better than I did:
"I think Ryan's point is that anyone can take a passage from the Bible and use it to support taking bad actions. Similarly, some men take passages from Islamic texts to support their bad actions. That doesn't mean Islam is bad, any more than Judaism/Christianity is bad."


ryan,Why the he... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

ryan,

Why the hell are you people trying to lay the blame on all Muslims? Are you telling me that every Muslim from Indonesia to Africa to Morocco the Europe to the United States is responsible, and to be held accountable for, the actions of each and every terrorist organization that commits atrocities? So is each and every Christian responsible, and to be judged, everytime someone who professes to be a Christian commits a crime, or murder? Is that really how we should go about this???

You missed the point again. When terrorists commit atrocities in the name of Islam I expect Muslims to disavow the terrorists for giving Islam a bad name. When that doesn't happen then non-Muslims need to say to Muslims something along the line of "you claim Islam is a religion of peace, yet your silence in the face of atrocities proves otherwise." Non-Muslims must be adamant that atrocities committed centuries ago do not justify their silence now in the face of atrocities committed in the name Islam.

It's the terrorists who are injecting religion into their acts, and it's up to the main stream followers of that religion to denounce such people. If main stream followers of Islam remain silent, then the world will know the true nature of Islam.

Insisting that the main stream followers of Islam choose between their passive support of Islamic terrorism and the good name of Islam is the key to solving this conflict. If they actively disavow terrorists, few young Muslims are going to believe that blowing themselves up is a quick way to paradise, and that's why religion is the key to this conflict. Arguments about ignoring religion in this conflict are naive at best and even dangerous.

Mac:You missed ... (Below threshold)
ryan:

Mac:

You missed the point again. When terrorists commit atrocities in the name of Islam I expect Muslims to disavow the terrorists for giving Islam a bad name.

Mac, I KNOW what your point is, and I disagree with you completely. What you're saying isnt going over my head, I think that what your suggesting is unfair, impractical, and a ridiculous stance. Are you telling me that every time the Klan does something under the guise of being a so-called Christian organization, that every Christian is expected to hold a press conference and disavow any connection with the KKK? Because thats basically what you're suggesting ALL Muslims must do for when SOME Muslims committ atrocities in the name of Islam.

So every time an American kills somebody, or committs a crime, are ALL Americans then to be considered guilty if they dont have some massive demonstration against every act? Or is it a little overboard to go blaming million and millions of people for what SOME are doing?

You're arguing for guilt by association, saying that since people practice Islam, they are somehow responsible for what every other person who claims to be Muslim does. Bullshit. I completely disagree. If I'm a Christian, in no way shape or form am I responsible if some Christian cult halls off and kills people. And I should not be considered guilty for the crimes of what other people committed, merely because they claim to be of the same faith. It should be an implicit understanding that since I was just going to work and church and living life, that I am not guilty, and that I should not have to defend myself for what some psychopath on the other side of town did. I think that our legal and moral system has moved beyond that point, and it's time that we apply that to this whole Muslim situation as well.

Remember innocent until proven guilty? I thought that was the way things worked around here, but then I see this anti-Muslim lynch mob start brewing, and I find it really disturbing.

Go after the people who actually committ crimes, and leave the millions of other Muslims out of it.

It's the terrorists who are injecting religion into their acts, and it's up to the main stream followers of that religion to denounce such people. If main stream followers of Islam remain silent, then the world will know the true nature of Islam.

I disagree, again. White Supremacists say all kinds of insane and violent things, and in no way should I be considered responsible because I too am of European descent. I have never gone to some anti-White supremacist rally, have never held a public press conference to diavow myself from that organization. Of course, all of the people who know me well understand that I abhor what those people do. But by your line of reasoning, however, I am somehow guilty, or to be considered complicit, because I have not made an announcement to the world that indeed, I completely disagree with what those groups are doing. Maybe the fact that I dont run around spewing hate speech, and dont commit violent acts, and dont associate with such organizations, is enough? For you thats not enough apparently.

You're telling me that some guy who in Indonesia who is Muslim, and who makes a living by selling carvings to tourists, is somehow expected to tell the entire world which side he is on whenever some psychopath in Iraq does a suicide bombing? See, for me, it would be unfair to blame that guy for what the other guy did. Thats not how our legal system works. But by your reasoning, that guy is somehow responsible, even though he probably doesnt even own a TV, and probably doesnt even know what happened. That, to me, is really wrong.

Insisting that the main stream followers of Islam choose between their passive support of Islamic terrorism and the good name of Islam is the key to solving this conflict.

Going about your life, following laws, and trying to make a living is NOT passive support. You keep trying to hold millions of people responsible for what a select few are out there doing, and you wont budge for some reason.

To me the solution lies in realizing that the problem is not about religion. Islam may be a part of the equation, but you guys think its the cause of terrorism, which I disagree with.

Christianity was not the cause of colonialism, even though it played a role in the process. READ THAT PLEASE. Religion played a role in European nations going around conquering other peoples, but by no means can religion be blamed for what happened. Colonials may have invoked God to justify their actions, but that doesnt mean that Christianity is somehow to blame. That doesnt make any sense, and thats EXACTLY what you're trying to assert here with Islam.

If you're going to go around claiming that each and every Muslim is guilty when ONE professed Muslim does something wrong then we're all in deep shit. There have been many many Americans, who profess to follow the same basic political ideology that I do, who have done atrocious things. It will take me the rest of my natural life to disavow myself from each and every crime and murder that has been committed by another American, since by your logic I should be considered guilty if I do not do so. Or maybe there is an implied understanding, according to our moral and legal system, that since I dont kill people I should not be called a murderer. Hmmm? Your reasoning would peg me as passively supporting the fucking Night Stalker because I didnt hold a press conference and state the obvious, namely that I am like any normal person and abhor what the guy did, of course.

If they actively disavow terrorists, few young Muslims are going to believe that blowing themselves up is a quick way to paradise, and that's why religion is the key to this conflict.

I am not ignoring the role that religion plays; I know that it is part of the process. I refuse to blame an entire ideological system for what some extemists do in its name. That doesnt make sense to me.

Remember Jim Jones? Well, I would never go around saying that religion was the CAUSE of all of those mass suicides. I would say that religion played a role in the process, and that Jones used religious ideas to get people to follow him. But the CAUSE of that whole ordeal was the psychosis of Jim Jones, and the willingness of people to believe what he was saying. Do people have to go around disavowing all crazy cults in order to be considered innocent in this case? Of course not, since we all understand that Jones was loony, and that normal people dont do shit like that. Who was responsible for that? It was Jones and anybody who helped him plan and carry out what happened. Not some guy in Ohio who belongs to some wacky new age religion.

Stop blaming all the Muslims for the Jim Jones types that they have running around right now. Lets deal with the psychopaths, and leave the innocents out of this. They might even want to help us out if we stop calling them all murderers.

Arguments about ignoring religion in this conflict are naive at best and even dangerous.

By no means do I ignore religion. I am contesting your asserting that all Muslims are responsible for what some Muslims do. You seem to believe that "Islam" is this monolithic practice, and that every person has the same conception of what it means, and that every person practices it the same way. Well, its not true. Go read a book by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz called "Islam Observed" and you'll get an idea of that. It's not different than Christianity. What Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson do with it is vastly different than what my grandmother does with it. Is my grandmother guilty for all the bullshit that someone like Robertson spews? HELL NO!

In the last paragraph it sh... (Below threshold)
ryan:

In the last paragraph it should read "It's NO different WITH Christianity." Just to be more clear in what I'm saying...

You go Ryan!Mac,<b... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

You go Ryan!

Mac,
So you want Muslims to disavow the terrorists? Go to the CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) website (http://www.cair-net.org/). On the front page, they have a link to a petition which states:

"We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

According to the website, they have over 690,000 signatures so far. While that is not even a majority of Muslims, let us also acknowledge that most Muslims don't have internet access either.




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