Is religion a force for good? 30

One of our highly valued contributing readers, Jeanne, writes in a comment:

We may not like the form of “stabilization” that comes from Islam, but it worked to set up the type of community and family life that Mohammed desired. We may not like the “stabilizing” influence of Christianity from a thousand years ago, but it did the same. We may not like the Christianity of today that came from the Reformation, but it was a stabilizing factor of the beginning of our nation and forms the backbone of many communities by supporting the family, the individual and charities, which benefit them each. Judeo-Christian beliefs and values aided by the Enlightenment (or vice-versa) set the tone for the moral populace that was so important to our Constitutional Republic when it was making its mark and requiring such principled and responsible individuals to form a United States loosely held together by the laws of men and not divine-rule royalty or theocratic forces of Rome.

If we did not have such an organized Communist movement that worked on our nation for a century, helping to secularize the populace, we might have found that those who left the Judeo-Christian religion behind were still moral/ethical and responsible individuals disciplined enough to make a Constitutionalist proud, but that is not how it worked out. Instead we have no consequences for unethical behavior, because there is a deplorable lack of guidance for proper parental behavior, no reason to be ashamed of bearing out-of-wedlock children, no stigma to a man abandoning all his fatherly duties, no desire to be responsible, no desire to have allegiance to one’s community or country or to obey the nation’s laws and respect its heritage. And that has not so much come about as people left their church, but because of Progressive influence that has been very well done. Most people need religion to maintain a discipline of responsibility and morality.

We think it is a comment that deserves attention.

This is our review of it:

On Islam and the family: Muslim men can marry as many wives as they can afford to keep. The wives are totally subjected to the will of the husband. He is commanded by the Koran to beat her if he judges her to be disobedient or insubordinate in any way. There is no such thing as rape within marriage – a husband can rape his wife. A husband can divorce a wife by saying three times that he divorces her. For her, divorce is difficult to the point of being almost impossible. She cannot have custody of children past their infancy. A daughter can inherit only half as much as a son. If a woman is raped and four male witnesses did not witness actual penetration, she is not only considered uninjured, she is accused of illicit sexual intercourse which is a capital offense. Execution is by stoning. There is no lower limit to the age at which girls can be married. Little girls can be married to elderly men. Girls as young as five can be and often are raped by their lawful husbands literally to death. That was indeed the type of family life that Muhammad was said to desire. But if that is “stabilization”, then stability is no virtue.

On “Judeo-Christian”: This is a favorite hyphenation in the West of late. But it makes no more sense than would “Christio-Muslim”. (Islam derived some ideas from Christianity but it is a very different creed.) Christianity was a revolution against Judaism. The essential moral point of Jewish religious teaching was the idea of justice. (What those ancient men thought was just doesn’t match in every particular with what we may think is just, and the Jewish God is more a god of revenge than of justice, but the thrust of the doctrine was that guilt must be punished and innocence protected.) Christianity substituted love for justice. The guilty must be forgiven. The sin can be condemned but not the sinner. St. Paul, who is the author of the Christian religion (see the essay listed in our margin under Pages, The Birth and Early History of Christianity) wanted to abandon the Jewish Law altogether, insisting that it had been superseded by the “sacrifice” of “the Christ”. But the Church fathers could not organize an antinomian church so retrieved the entire Jewish bible as a prologue to their own “Testament” for the sake of preserving the moral law – which is to say, the “ten commandments”. They also needed the Jewish Bible for the prophesies of the Messiah, since they held Jesus to be the fulfillment of them. They changed the meaning of “Messiah” from ”King” to “God”, and declared that God was not One – the central tenet of Jewish theology – but Three. So little more than  a few laws, common to all the law codes of the Middle East and probably everywhere, remained of Judaism in Christianity. Christianity with its extreme intolerance even of slight doctrinal differences came down as a long night on Western Europe for a thousand years. Terrible religious wars between Christian factions, and between Christians and Gnostics such as the Cathars, took untold numbers of lives, century after century. What happened to families and the stability of communities while the Papal Inquisition was at work? Or in the civil wars fought over doctrinal differences? Or to the families and communities of the Jews persecuted throughout Christendom? It’s a blood-soaked history. When the Reformation came, the Protestant churches were as intolerant as the Roman Catholic church. The darkness was lifted at last only by the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment was a revolution against all the orthodoxies of all the churches, and broke their power. Western greatness dates from the Enlightenment. Doubt, valued by pre-Christian Greece and Rome, came back from long suppression to challenge the churches’ insistence on unquestioning conformity. The two greatest products of the Enlightenment were Science and the Constitution of the United States of America.

In a nation that made no laws respecting religion, the history of Western religion changed. Old historical religious conflicts were put to rest. In America, millions live peacefully with neighbors of different faiths and none. (But new ideologies have arisen, secular religions, stirring up antagonisms as intense and bitter as did the old.)

It may well be the case now that American church-going families are in general happier and more successful than others. It may well be that the abandonment of traditional religion contributed of late to delinquency, fatherlessness, and disregard of familial, patriotic, and civic responsibility.

But does that mean most people need religion to live responsibly and morally?

Did most people behave more morally and responsibly when they feared divine retribution? Was there in fact less theft, rape, and murder when, through the long Christian centuries,  everybody went to church? And if so, was it a good bargain to have more security for one’s possessions and one’s person at the price of living one’s entire life in terror of eternal hellfire?

In the past, in the long perspective, has religion proved itself to be a force for good?

Is it good now for a civilized educated nation to teach children to believe that a person rules over the universe, continually watching their every thought and deed so as to reward or punish them?

Is it good if the citizens of a free republic believe that a Lord, a King, an invisible Sovereign rules over them?

Is it good to kneel to, worship, suffer for, pray to, an omnipotent, omniscient, unknowable, immortal Tyrant?

Posted under Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 24, 2019

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The new tribalism 4

Certain Western politicians of all ages and in all walks of life who feel called upon by nature to organize society are keen to return it to tribalism.

The trouble with tribes is that they conflict with one another.

As they are doing now. 

The new tribes are designated according to sex, race, and religion, and in all categories there is increasing friction.

Conflict between the sex tribes 

Athletes in the sex tribe of  Women are in conflict with athletes in the sex tribe of Transgenders-into-Women.

Girl students in the sex tribe of Women complain against rules that allow students in the sex tribe of Transgenders-into-Women to share their locker rooms.  

Conflict between the race tribes

Members of the race tribes of Browns and Blacks despise and insult members of the race tribe of Whites – with particular ferocity in the case of Whites who also belong to the sex tribe of Men. (See here and here.)

Members of Brown and Black race tribes who sit on University Admissions boards, along with their White collaborators, discriminate against members of the race tribe of Asians.   

Conflict between the religion tribes

In African and Asian countries, members of the old established religion tribe of Islam are enslaving, torturing and killing members of other old established religion tribes, in great numbers in the Arab lands of Africa and the Middle East. With the mass migration of Muslims from Africa and Asia into Europe, this time-honored custom is augmenting the tribalist movement in the West.  

The religion tribe of Leftists presides over the process of re-tribalization in the West. In alliance with Islam, the Left has created a movement within which its designated sex, race and religion tribes observe a doctrine called “intersectionality”. It is ostensibly ecumenical, but it is also hierarchical, and as some tribes are held to be superior to others, conflict is not avoided. Also, it is not all-inclusive. The movement reluctantly admits White Men on condition of their self-abasement. And it excludes the religion tribe of Jews.   

Why this atavism in our advanced CyberAge? What is the motive of the Left? Does conflict serve its ends? If so, how? What are its ends?  

Posted under Leftism, Race, Religion general, Sex by Jillian Becker on Monday, March 25, 2019

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The great good movement to destroy humanity 10

 

A bunch of eminent professors and kindly persons who love nature want the human race to be extinguished. Wiped off the earth. Never to arise again.

“Would human extinction be a tragedy? ” asks Professor Todd May in the New York Times.

“Our species possesses inherent value, but we are devastating the earth and causing unimaginable animal suffering.” he says.

Todd May is a professor of philosophy at Clemson University.

He does not speak of those animal species that depend absolutely on humans for their existence. Or those whose lives have been much improved by human care. Or the suffering that animals cause other animals. Nor does he notice that natural forces cause animals to suffer. Humans are cruel to animals. Human existence causes animals to suffer. Ergo humankind must go.

There is good news for him from an academic colleague.

Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts that humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change.

Fenner, who is emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, said homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and “unbridled consumption”, and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species.

Fenner told The Australian he tries not to express his pessimism because people are trying to do something, but keep putting it off. He said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization (a period now known to scientists unofficially as the Anthropocene) rivals any effects of ice ages or comet impacts.

If the burning up of the earth because of human beings’ dirty ways does not destroy the human race, perhaps through starvation, our species can be wiped out by disease. Professor Eric Pianka of the University of Texas has picked the best disease for the purpose: ebola.

“The Texas Distinguished Scientist of 2006, University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka told a meeting of the Texas Academy of Science that 90 percent of his fellow human beings must die in order to save the planet. A very disturbed Forrest M. Mims III — Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, writing at The Citizen Scientist — reported”:

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world’s population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved.

Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets.

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population is airborne Ebola (Ebola Reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs.

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, “We’ve got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

“An Oxford philosophy professor who has studied existential threats ranging from nuclear war to superbugs says the biggest danger of all may be superintelligence.”

Superintelligence is any intellect that outperforms human intellect in every field, and Nick Bostrom thinks its most likely form will be a machine — artificial intelligence.

There are two ways artificial intelligence could go, Bostrom argues. It could greatly improve our lives and solve the world’s problems, such as disease, hunger and even pain. Or, it could take over and possibly kill all or many humans. As it stands, the catastrophic scenario is more likely, according to Bostrom, who has a background in physics, computational neuroscience and mathematical logic.

“Superintelligence could become extremely powerful and be able to shape the future according to its preferences,” Bostrom told me. “If humanity was sane and had our act together globally, the sensible course of action would be to postpone development of superintelligence until we figure out how to do so safely.”

Bostrom, the founding director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, lays out his concerns in his new book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. His book makes a harrowing comparison between the fate of horses and humans:

Horses were initially complemented by carriages and ploughs, which greatly increased the horse’s productivity. Later, horses were substituted for by automobiles and tractors. When horses became obsolete as a source of labor, many were sold off to meatpackers to be processed into dog food, bone meal, leather, and glue. In the United States, there were about 26 million horses in 1915. By the early 1950s, 2 million remained.

The same dark outcome, Bostrom said, could happen to humans once AI makes our labor and intelligence obsolete.

“It sounds like a science fiction flick, but recent moves in the tech world may suggest otherwise. Earlier this year, Google acquired artificial intelligence company DeepMind and created an AI safety and ethics review board to ensure the technology is developed safely. Facebook created an artificial intelligence lab this year and is working on creating an artificial brain. Technology called “deep learning,” a form of artificial intelligence meant to closely mimic the human brain, has quickly spread from Google to Microsoft, Baidu and Twitter. …

“There are maybe six people working full time on this AI control problem. We need to add more brilliant brains to this technical work. I’m hoping my book will do something to encourage that. How to control superintelligent AI is really the most important task of our time — yet, it is almost completely ignored.”

Those who look forward to the extinction of the human race can join like-thinkers in a group called The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). According to Wikipedia it is “an environmental movement that calls for all people to abstain from reproduction to cause the gradual voluntary extinction of humankind”.

So the question confronts us. How valuable is human life?

Valuable to whom?

It is an unanswerable question.

You cannot measure the value of human life. Human life is itself the measure. It’s like trying to measure the saltiness of salt or the wetness of water.

Without human life, human consciousness, there is no such thing as “value”. There is no “clean” and “dirty”, no “right” and “wrong”.

It can even be said that there is no “planet earth”, no “universe”.  Sure there are things out there, energy in innumerable multifarious forms. There are even forms of consciousness, but as far as we know there is nothing other than the human mind that names anything, nothing that ascribes value to anything.

Oh wait! Yes, many believe there is a human-type MIND presiding over this universe. They believe it created matter out of nothing. In that human-imagined MIND the value of human beings can be measured. Is measured. Weighed and found wanting. Our good, our bad, how well we fulfill our purpose (which is to worship the Creator MIND), is alleged to be under its constant surveillance. But they who believe all this believe without reason.

How afraid should we be? Will the earth destroy us with the heat we ourselves obstinately go on generating? Will we all starve to death? Will ebola be deliberately spread among us? Will intelligent machines ruthlessly kill us? Is voluntary abstention from reproduction likely to become so general that those living now are the last generations?

We hope not. But we do see something at work that really could destroy us all. It is not global warming. It is not starvation. It is not disease. It is not robots. It is not chastity – the most unlikely of all.

It is stupidity.

Flirting with evil 17

In Judaism and Christianity, Satan is the personification of evil. And “evil” is understood to imply “a cause of suffering”.

But to tens of thousands of healthy, schooled, well heeled persons in the Western world the name means something entirely different. Joined together in cults, they worship a good Satan – good in ways that are conventionally understood to be good.

The Daily Mail reports on one such cult, The Satanic Temple.

Since TST’s founding in 2012 [by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry], the organization has increased from a handful of members to tens of thousands, with chapters all over the US and the globe, from Stockholm to London and Los Angeles to Texas. And their “pranksterism” … has given way to a well-conceived ethos, forming an organized “religion” for a “group of contrarians” opposed to any organization at all. …

“Contrarians”? Doing shocking, but not illegal, things – the way teenagers do or say something defiant to challenge their parents, or Communists to “spite the bourgeois”?

They say they are against “tyrannical authority”.

A member of the cult explained it to Sheila Flynn, the Daily Mail reporter:

“Modern Satanism is a non-theistic religious practice that uses the literary symbol of Satan as a kind of symbol against tyrannical authority.”

In fact, as Satanists – they will have it known – they do really good things:

“In reality, what’s going on here is nice people gathering in their communities who organize charity events …”

Their stated doctrine hardly defies convention:

The seven tenets of The Satanic Temple [are]:  

One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason

The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions

One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone 

The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own

Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should never distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs 

People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused

Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word

So these “Satanists” are for nobility in action and thought: compassion; empathy; wisdom; justice; rectifying harm; reason; pursuing truth through science; respecting freedom and the inviolability of the person.

Occasion for defiance of convention is suggested by their principle that the pursuit of justice should “prevail over laws and institutions”. No objective determination of what is just, then? Rather a matter of what you feel to be just? A preference for subjective justice? If so, reason – though declared to be the guide of “compassion and empathy” – is demoted here.

To hold that the body should be inviolable is a fine idea, a noble thought; but violators abound, not only human but bacterial, viral, animal, and inanimate, and defending the body from violation is the business of law and institutions as well as science.

Reason is reinstated in the statement that belief must depend on scientific understanding. The only trouble about that is that there are different understandings of what science proves – differences that at present make for passionate controversy.

Is there anything that links them to more recognizably Satanic cults?

Well, they adhere to the known symbolism:

The Satanic Temple … is not afraid to take legal action when it feels that representations of Baphomet and other Satanic icons are not accurate reflections of its ethos and organization.  When Netflix released its new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series last autumn, for example, the show featured a goat-headed statue of Baphomet – very similar to a sculpture commissioned by TST – which the Temple contended was portrayed as evil. The Satanic Temple sued Warner Brothers and Netflix – and in November announced that it had ‘amicably settled’ the lawsuit …

So they are for Baphomet, as they are for Satan, but against evil.

What of their rites and rituals? The Daily Mail shows pictures from a video in which a black mass is being performed in one of their temples.

But, “They’re as likely to run charity blood drives or collect sanitation products for homeless women as they are to take part in any sort of dark ritual.”

Do its acolytes consider it to be a religion?

“The Satanic Temple,’ [says] religious studies professor R. Andrew Chesnut, “actually present themselves as atheistic and really see Satan more as a metaphor.”

More than what? A god?   

“They’ve actually been criticized by other old-school Satanist groups – how on earth can you say you’re Satanists, but at the same time claim to be atheistic? Because if you believe in Satan, Satan is a supernatural figure. So they’re really kind of a new generation of Satanists, and I think more than actual veneration of Satan, this is really about much more kind of politicized.” 

He [Professor Chesnut] adds: “They don’t really seem engaged in the kind of organized rituals and worship that the older-school Satanist groups do.”

And one member, Jex Blackmore, confirms the professor’s understanding that the TST is primarily a political movement. She says:

“If you’re godless , free-thinking and are a rebel, then you are a Satanist in the eyes of many in our community and society and, certainly, by people in your government, whether you like it or not. … Before I decided I was a Satanist, it was really the Bible that said, ‘This is what a Satanist was like.’ The story of Adam and Eve is a story of Eve’s original sin. Eve was very curious, as her nature was as a woman. The devil appeared in the form of a snake and offers the fruit of enlightenment. We are taught to fear that, but at the same time, it seems the most liberating – because if we did not have that opportunity, we would have to be in total servitude, without free choice. Ultimate servitude is slavery; reframing it in the light of salvation is probably one of the greatest tricks ever played on humankind. Satanism is about embracing that Satanic status, rather than being controlled by it. … The devil directly challenged God, so – as a Satanist – I believe that directly confronting injustice and corrupt authority is an expression of one’s Satanic faith – and I believe activism is a Satanic practice. Traditionally, Satanists practice very privately, closed doors, black candles, black metal music, but with the Satanic philosophy being where Satanism represents rebellion against arbitrary authority, we believe it requires a level of political participation. I think that we need to go into the public sphere and announce ourselves without shame.”

That’s exactly what the temple has done over the past nearly six years. It’s fought for a statue of Baphomet … to be displayed on government grounds alongside the Ten Commandments to demonstrate the pluralism and religious diversity of the United States.

It planned a Black Mass on the Harvard campus in Boston – one of the most Catholic cities in America – to directly contravene the teachings and traditions of one of the world’s largest religions (though it was postponed and moved to a Chinese restaurant/comedy club when the Boston Archdiocese staged a massive counter march).

To act out against the Westboro Baptist Church – perhaps one of the most reviled religious factions in America, which protests soldier funerals, denounces gays and basically thinks that everyone is going to hell except members – the Satanic Temple held an unholy ceremony at the grave of [Westboro Baptist Church’s] founder Fred Phelps’s mother.

Penny Lane is the maker of the film about the TST titled Hail Satan! She says:

“There’s a growing, rapid disenchantment with the institutional religions. I think that we live in an era which is increasingly secular, especially amongst younger people. People do research from here to here; there are more and more younger people who are separating themselves from that kind of religious tradition of religious institutions. And there’s something really lost with that. You lose a lot.

“Religion provides a way of healing, meaning, and organization and narrative, coherent and community and ethical kind of standards or ways we consider difficult problems of how to live your life. That’s heavy stuff. So when you lose religion, you get a whole lot of people like myself who find themselves casting about for that kind of organizing principle.

“In The Satanic Temple kind of reincarnation of Satanism, they set up a kind of answer to that problem that resonates for a lot of people. It’s not for everyone; it’ll never be popular, per se. If it was, it would obviate the need for its own existence. I mean, they’re supposed to be the outsider; they’re supposed to be the outsider. They’re supposed to be the kind of minority.

“They’re not going to take over the world or anything, but there’s obviously people who see themselves as being part of that marginalized outsider status [who] still want to be able to engage society and find brethren and organize themselves. That’s what they do, and they’ve really hit upon something that really does resonate for a lot more people than maybe I thought at the beginning.”

Professor Chesnut says:

“In many ways [the TST Satanists] are more Christian than a lot of parts of the Bible – and so what a lot of us would think about Satanism is definitely not reflected there. And advocating social justice and compassion and nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your body and everything – and I would say, also, putting it into a larger context, we’ve seen the proliferation in general of paganism and Wiccanism, witchcraft and stuff. … I think this also is part of this kind of burgeoning interest in alternative pagan religions, particularly among millennials and Generation Z and stuff. The most important trend on the American religious landscape is the very rapid rise of the religious “nones” – those who have no formal religious institutional affiliation – which is now 25 percent of the American population, which is now more than Catholics.”

While looking wicked, they are – by their own lights – doing good.

And apart from everything else, the Satanists have a lot of fun.

In John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, Satan says: “Evil be thou my Good!” The TST Satanists’ slogan could be: “Good be thou my Evil!”

If their name, rites and symbols shock the churches, no harm done.

We have yet to discover on which side of the great political divide they stand. Their stated respect for freedom and reason, justice and science, suggests they may be on our side.

But one of their two founders, Lucien Greaves, says in the documentary film about them: “This is the infancy of The Satanic Temple. In our own humble little way, we are changing the world.” Which suggests they are unaware what evil really is, that it is a constant of the human condition – or else that they are heedless of the danger of flirting with it.

Posted under Ethics, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 24, 2019

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Aasiya Noreen, blasphemy, and the quality of mercy 1

As the word “humane” means to be merciful, it implies that human beings are by nature merciful beings.

Is human nature innately merciful, kind, compassionate? We know it is not. People are not only commonly unmoved by suffering; people deliberately hurt other people.

Perhaps the fact that cruelty often requires an excuse – a claim that the cruel act was committed to serve a higher virtue – suggests an intuitive recognition that it is wrong to be cruel?

What are such higher virtues?

They lie in those fantasies of fulfilled desires: religions.

To do this or that for a god, on the command of a god, in the name of a god; to help realize the great promises a god has made for all mankind – to abolish all suffering forever, to put an end to death, to lay a path to eternal bliss … that is the higher calling, such ends are the higher ends, the goodness that serves those purposes of that god, is the higher – the highest – virtue, says religion.

But don’t religions teach that to be good to other people is the highest service their acolytes can render to divinity?

No. Very few teach “humaneness” as a principle.

One religion that does not, is the religion with the second-largest following in the world: Islam.

Oh, it implies that “mercy” is highly valued by calling Allah, its god, “the Merciful” (“Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim” – “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”.) But it commands Muslims to be merciless to non-Muslims. A multitude of surahs in the Koran order Muslims to do violence against “unbelievers”. (“Fight those of the unbelievers who are near you and let them find ruthlessness in you.” 9:1123. “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah and those with him are ruthless against the unbelievers and merciful among themselves.” 48:29. “Enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah alone.” 60:4.)

Islam is plainly a great horror afflicting the human race. But it was a late-comer among the world’s religions. It lit its flame from Christianity and Judaism, both of which did actually order that kindness be shown to both neighbor and stranger as a principle, but prescribed mercilessly cruel punishments for disobediance of their laws. Judaism commanded stoning to death for blasphemy; and blasphemy was an unforgivable sin in Christianity, punishable by an eternity in Hell. (“And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.” Leviticus 24: 6. “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:29.)

Believers must fear the criticism they call blasphemy. Criticism threatens the very existence of their religion.

The Enlightenment woke the West out of the nightmare of religion, and led slowly to the abolition, in the 20th century, of blasphemy as a crime in most Western countries. Notable exceptions still being, in 2017: Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria, Germany, Canada, and Ireland (which is holding a referendum this month, October 2018, on whether its blasphemy laws should be repealed).

No one in any of those countries or anywhere in Western Europe has been put to death by the state for blasphemy since 1765, when – to quote RealClear Politics:

A young man named François-Jean de la Barre … became the last person executed for blasphemy in Europe. … For a long time, this tragic tale was a distant chapter in the story of Western civilization’s road to a secular, pluralistic society; the issues it raised had long been settled in favor of freedom of speech. … [But] twelve people — artists and journalists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo — [were] killed in the heart of Paris for perceived blasphemy against Islam [on January 7, 2015].

Islam, yes. In Islamic states blasphemers can still be sentenced to death.

In our post Thirst: a story of religious injustice, May 10, 2016, we told the story of Aasiya Noreen, brought to trial in Pakistan for blasphemy.

We tell it here again, with some changes and additions to bring the story up to date:

Aasiya Noreen is called “Asia Bibi” in the court and the press. That means “Asia Woman” – the common way women are named and titled in the Islamic culture which systematically demeans women.

Aasiya Noreen (aka “Asia Bibi”)

She was a poor, illiterate woman who worked in the fields to help support her family of five children, two of them her own and three of them her husband’s from a former marriage.

She was a Christian. A Catholic. Her  family were the only Christians in the small village where she lived some thirty miles outside Lahore, the capital of the Punjab in the Islamic state of Pakistan. The Christians of the region were an underclass, traditionally assigned to menial jobs.

One hot summer’s day in June, 2009, Aasiya was harvesting berries along with some Muslim women. They all became thirsty. The Muslim women sent Aasiya to fetch water from a well. Aasiya found a battered tin cup abandoned near the well, and had a drink from it  before refilling it and carrying it to her fellow workers. One of them accused her of drinking from the cup and so making it unclean. Christian lips should not contaminate a cup that Muslims drink from. All the Muslim women agreed on that.  

A dispute arose. Which was the one true religion? The Muslim women knew that Islam was the truth. Aasiya knew that Christianity was the truth. She dared to say (according to her own account), “Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammed ever do to save mankind?”

The Muslim women were deeply offended. They went to their imam and told him that the Christian woman Aasiya Noreen had insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

The imam took action. He gathered together a number of good Muslims willing to defend the Prophet and the true faith of Islam, and led them to the house where Aasiya and her family lived. They set upon her and her husband and her children with righteous blows. The police arrived in time to save the Christian family from being beaten to death. The avenging mob agreed to spare them on condition that the police laid a charge of blasphemy against the woman. The police duly arrested her and put her in jail, where she waited until November, 2012 to be brought to trial.

Aasiya told the court that the woman who accused her of blasphemy had a grudge against her, resulting from an old quarrel, and the accusation was made out of a desire for revenge. The judge did not accept her story as a defense. He also chose to overlook inconsistencies in the testimony of the witnesses against her. He decided that she was guilty of blasphemy and sentenced her to death.

The description in Pakistani law of the crime she was fund guilty of, is: “Use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, … defiles the name of Muhammad 1986.” The prescribed penalty is: “Mandatory Death and fine (Feb. 1990).” And the law stipulates that the judge must be a Muslim.

She was to be hanged for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad. 

She was the first woman ever to be condemned to death in Pakistan for blasphemy – her crime being considered so heinous that even death was not sufficient punishment. She was also to pay a fine equivalent to $1,100. She and her family had never in all their lives possessed a sum approaching $1,100. Nor did they know of any way they could raise it.

When the verdict was pronounced, the crowd in the court rose to its feet, applauding and shouting “Yes, kill her! Kill her! Allahu Akbar!”. And yet more enthusiasts for justice, more celebrants of the glory of God, broke down the doors to swarm into the court, their furious, triumphant shouts swelling the chorus of “Allahu Akbar!”  The greatness of their merciful God could hardly have been more passionately attested.

Aasiya’s husband, Ashiq Masih, appealed the verdict. He and Aasiya hoped that the High Court would at least suspend the sentence.

There were humane men in authority; men who felt compassion, cared about justice, and wanted mercy for Aasiya Noreen.

There was a man in a high position who was deeply moved by the fate of Aasiya and determined to do all he could for her. He was Salmaan Taseer, the governor of the Punjab. He persuaded the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to come to her rescue. In December 2012, Taseer publicly announced that if the High Court did not suspend her sentence, the president would pardon her. And Zardari would have done so, but the Lahore High Court hastened to issue a stay order against a presidential pardon.

So Aasiya remained in prison in Lahore, in solitary confinement in an 8 by 10 foot dark windowless cell, for another six years.

At first the governor would visit her, with his wife and daughter. But then the court ruled that only her husband and lawyer (not her children) could see her.

On January 4, 2011, Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by one Mumtaz Qadri who resented the governor’s concern for the blasphemer. (He was hanged for the crime in February 2016.) 

The Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti – himself a Christian, and the only Christian member of the cabinet – was so disturbed by the case that he set about doing all he could to get the laws of blasphemy changed. He announced that he was prepared to die fighting for Aasiya Noreen’s release. He received many death threats, and on March 2, 2011, he was shot dead in his car near his home.

Many times Aasiya’s appeal was postponed. In October 2014, the High Court finally heard her case – and upheld her death sentence. Her husband then appealed to the President. But he was restrained from issuing a pardon, so her lawyers appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court. In July, 2015, the Supreme Court suspended her death sentence “for the duration of the appeals process”.

On Monday October 8 this year, 2018, the Supreme Court, after long delay, heard her last appeal and said it had reached a judgment, but has not yet announced what it is.

The judges have reason to fear for their lives if they do not sentence her to death. Will that fact ensure her execution?

And after men in high places have been killed for sympathizing with her, what chance would she herself have of surviving the killers’ indignation if she were to be acquitted? Her family have gone into hiding, and they fear for her safety and survival if she were to be released.

Hundreds of Pakistanis have publicly protested against her being still alive. An imam offered $10,000 reward to anyone who would kill her, and apparently some 10 million citizens declared themselves ready and willing to do the noble deed. 

And, Reuters reports:

The ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry and lionizes the bodyguard who killed Taseer, warned the court against any “concession or softness” for Bibi.

“If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences,” TLP said in a statement.

Are Christians doing anything to help save Aasiya Noreen?

The British Pakistan Christian Association reported on the eve of the appeal hearing: 

BPCA Outreach Officer Leighton Medley, who is in Pakistan on his 6 monthly mission has told us that many churches in Lahore, particularly in Bahar Colony, have declared a day of fasting and prayer as Christian communities seek justice for Asia Bibi. He tells us that many were praying throughout the churches, asking for the final release of this innocent woman and the end of this sordid chapter in Pakistan’s history. … Leighton spends time encouraging Christians to respond peacefully, and take to take in acting in a peaceful way, proclaiming non-violence the way that Jesus Christ did. [He says:]

We must have faith that God can intervene in this situation and this mountain will be removed. It is very much like going into the lion’s den.

For nine years, prayers for Aasiya Noreen have been prayed: by herself, by her family, by quite a lot of fellow Christians, for her acquittal and release. The praying has not resulted in her acquittal and release. So why not go on doing it?

One way or another, this long-suffering woman, Aasiya Noreen, is most likely to be killed soon.

She is under sentence of death for taking a drink of water from a cup that was afterwards used to quench the thirst of other working women on a hot day, and for saying something she had been taught to believe to the other women who had been taught that it was something that should not be believed and should not be said.

Because of fantastic rumors about a man called “Jesus” and a man called “Muhammad”, who lived (if at all) many hundreds of years ago; because of religion, lives are ruined, lives are lost. Cruelty and injustice reign. Again. 

Secret sacraments of rape and sodomy 8

Religion is the prostitution of reason and the pornography of the intellect.

Why then is it to be wondered at that priests are lechers?

Christianity teaches hypocrisy. It commands that Christians love everybody and forgive all offense – against human nature. Priests of the Roman Catholic Christian denomination are required to be celibate – against human nature. Christians do not of course love everybody, do not forgive all offense; and Roman Catholic priests indulge in every variety of concupiscence.

St. Paul, the author of the Christian religion and its first moral instructor, had this to say about marriage, sexual intercourse, chastity, and homosexuality:

1 Corinthians 7:1,2,7-9 King James Version:

7  Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. …

For I would that all men were [celibate] even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

And this:

2 Corinthians 11:2 King James Version:

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

And this:

1 Corinthians 6:18 King James Version:

18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

And this:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 King James Version:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind … will inherit the kingdom of God.

That last quotations is made more explicit on the sin of homosexuality in other translations from the original Greek:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men …  – New International Version

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality …  – New Living Translation

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality … – English Standard Version

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts …- Berean Literal Bible

Or do you not know that the unrighteous ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals …  -New American Standard Bible

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males …  – Christian Standard Bible

Have ye not known that the unrighteous the reign of God shall not inherit? be not led astray; neither whoremongers, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites … -Young’s Literal Translation

It’s quite clear. Homosexuals will go to Hell.

Do Catholic priests believe it?

Seems not.

Vox (along with numerous other news outlets) reports:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court made public one of the broadest-ever investigations into Catholic clerical sex abuse of minors in the United States … The document, a 1,400-page grand jury report, is the result of an 18-month probe by Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and names at least 300 priests accused of child sex abuse by more than 1,000 victims throughout the state. …

Shapiro told reporters at a news conference that the report details “systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican”. 

The latest revelation comes at the end of a summer already marked by scandal for the Catholic Church. Last month, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, previously the archbishop of Washington, DC, and among the highest-ranking Vatican officials in America, was forced to resign his cardinalship following numerous accusations of sex abuse from both adult seminarians and children. …

Earlier this year, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s highest-ranking official, took a leave of absence to face criminal charges of child sex abuse in his native Australia.

These numerous high-profile cases have cast a wider media spotlight on an ongoing story of abuse, secrecy, and cover-up that dates back decades.

The Pennsylvania files, though, represent the most wide-ranging investigation yet into Catholic clerical child sexual abuse in the United States. Despite the fact that the report covers just six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses — just a fraction of the dioceses in America overall — it suggests a widespread and large-scale operation on the part of church hierarchy nationwide to cover up the behavior of offending priests and help them escape punishment.

The report, which is often graphic and disturbing, details widespread sexual abuse and rape by priests of both female and male minors, many of whom used the language and rhetoric of their office to convince their victims that their sexual abuse was “holy” or desired by God. …

The charges detailed in the report go back as far as 30 years, and implicate 300 priests in the abuse of more than 1,000 victims. (The report stresses that the actual number of victims and abusers in the state is probably much higher, given how common it is for victims to refuse to come forward.)

The report also implicates senior priests and bishops in knowingly reshuffling offenders from parish to parish, allowing them to continue their abuse unchecked. …

The report details a number of disturbing and lurid cases, including a priest accused of raping a 7-year-old girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils removed, and a ring of priests in the Pittsburgh area who traded pornographic photographs of their victims. …

For more on horrific cases, see the NYT report here.

Example:

The grand jury reported that it had uncovered a ring of predatory priests in the Pittsburgh diocese who “shared intelligence or information regarding victims”, created pornography using the victims, and exchanged victims among themselves. “This group of priests used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims,” the report states.

What is the reaction of the Marxist Pope Francis to the report?

Breitbart tells us:

Pope Francis is reportedly “embittered” by allegations that he knowingly promoted a serial sex-offending cardinal but has no plans to retire.

The Italian news agency ANSA cited “close collaborators of the pope” Wednesday in its report of the pontiff’s reaction to an explosive 11-page testimony by the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

In his report, the archbishop said that at least since 2013 Pope Francis knew of the serial homosexual abuse perpetrated by U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, along with sanctions imposed on his ministry by Pope Benedict XVI, and yet lifted those sanctions and promoted McCarrick to a position of influence, consulting him for the naming of future bishops.

Confronted with the charges by the media, Pope Francis has adopted a strategy of silence, refusing to utter a “single word” about the veracity of the allegations. …

While avoiding the subject of the grave allegations leveled against him, the pope instead returned to one of his favorite topics: care for the environment.

About which St. Paul had nothing to say.

At the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, Francis announced that next Saturday is “the fourth World Day of Prayer for the care of creation”.  In this year’s Message, which will be released Saturday, the pope said he would focus on “the question of water, a primary asset to be protected and made available to all”.

By pivoting from sex abuse to the environment, Pope Francis confirmed recent statements by the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, who told NBC News Tuesday that answering the allegations brought by the former nuncio was not a priority for the pope since he had more important things to worry about, such as the environment and immigration.

“The pope has a bigger agenda. He’s gotta get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church,” the cardinal said.

Never mind the suffering of children at the hands of his clergy. Never mind the breaking of priestly vows. Francis is a Marxist before he is a Catholic. And the proper concern of a Marxist is “the environment” and the protection of the Muslim hordes now raping Europe.

Nasty as the revelations of the report are, there is nothing surprising in them.

Nor is there anything hard to understand in a Pope’s unconcern for the victims of his Church and his religion. ‘Twas ever thus. And how could it be otherwise?

Political religions and the politics of religion 1

Robert Spencer is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, so we make allowance for his mistaken belief that our Western civilization is “Judeo-Christian” rather than the product of the Enlightenment.

We quote him because he is expert on the history, texts and teaching of Islam.

Here he talks about Pope Francis appointing himself a defender of that intensely anti-Christian religion:

So the old joke question “Is the Pope Catholic?” is no longer funny. The serious answer is “No.”

The Pope’s opinions derive from various political religions, among them: Marxism, New Leftism, Liberation Theology, and Islam.

Let’s review what the Pope is defending when he defends Islam:

The subjugation of women, including the religion-sanctioned beating of wives, sex slavery, honor killings, and the stoning to death of women and little girls who have been raped

A death sentence for anyone who leaves the faith 

A  death sentence for homosexuals

Intense anti-Semitism; anti-Jew, anti-Christian, anti-Yezidi, anti-polytheist, anti-rival-Muslim-sect terrorism, persecution and enslavement

Routine torture of prisoners and extreme torture to death even of civilians, notably: slow beheading with a knife; stoning; burying alive (of children as well as adults); burning alive; drowning in boiling oil; the amputation of limbs; crucifixion; the throwing to the ground of homosexuals from high places; starvation.

So to defend Islam is to defend oppression, savage cruelty and murder. Judged by contemporary Western criteria, Islam is a deeply immoral religion.

Oppression, cruelty and murder are not, however, against traditional Catholic practice. Catholics can defend the use of torture and murder on the grounds that in the past the Roman Catholic Church needed to have people burnt alive in order to discourage heresy. For hundreds of years the Catholic Church tortured and murdered untold numbers of men, women and children who were guilty of nothing worse than a personal opinion that was not in conformity with Church dogma.

But not now. Now the Pope is virtue-signaling without reference to – and, he must suppose, without taint from – the past.

Now he has decided that capital punishment is “inadmissable”.   

This is a political decision against the teaching of the Roman Catholic religion:

Prior to the changes announced through the Vatican press office Thursday, the Catholic Catechism taught that recourse to the death penalty was not to be “excluded” as a legitimate punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

The Pope probably intended his ruling to have an effect chiefly on the laws of the United States, where capital punishment is still available to judges as a punishment for murder.  

And his decision may be taken notice of in the US.

But it will not make any difference in Islam. On that he relies. If he thought it at all likely to offend those stoners, burners, crucifiers, boilers, buriers, throwers from heights, beheaders and amputators, he would be very unlikely to announce it.

Possessing a fine talent for cognitive dissonance, Francis must be confident that his condemnation of capital punishment will not make his defense of Islam into a bad joke.

Posted under Christianity, Islam, jihad, Judaism, Muslims, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 5, 2018

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Rooting out Allah 6

What is the root, hub, core, foundation, or essence – any one of those words will do, no mixing of metaphors – of Islam?

Allah, of course.

Take away Allah and the whole growth, movement, body, edifice, or idea will wither away, stop, die, collapse, or fail.

Allah the War God is no more and no less a cause of Man-made Global Distress (MGD) than is Jehovah the Vengeful or that ludicrous empyrean bureau, the Trinity.

Christians and believing Jews have no valid argument against Islam.

So it is now the most important task of atheists to destroy Islam by destroying Allah, with Reason and laughter.

Trouble is, atheists on the Left have forged an alliance with Islam. They not only refuse to argue with it, they fiercely attack atheists on the Right who dare to say a word against that deeply immoral religion.

Attacks must not deter us.

Criticizing God is our business. Making him a laughing-stock is our pleasure.

 

 

 

(Hat-tip to Don L for the symbolic device)

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Friday, August 3, 2018

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Atheism on the political right 58

World Religion News recently interviewed Lauren Ell, the founder of REPUBLICAN ATHEISTS.

She makes many interesting points, among them these:

WRN: Is there a historical precedent for this [Republicans being atheists], or would you call this a relatively new thought process?

LE: I don’t think atheist Republicans are new. They are new in the sense of being more outspoken about their atheist views, but they have existed as far back as the Civil War era. My organization, Republican Atheists, is the first organization I know of at this point that is representing atheist Republicans.

WRN: So you’ve mentioned you had this treatment by certain podcasters and writers, could you go into that in more detail?

LE: I started Republican Atheists in February of 2017 as an experimental project. I haven’t been involved with atheist organizations at all in the United States, such as American Atheists, Freedom From Religion Foundation, or Secular Coalition for America. Originally I had assumed these organizations would take some interest in Republican Atheists. I didn’t expect them to embrace our political views, but I thought at least they would maybe mention the existence of Republican Atheists to their base, considering many of these atheist organizations claim they are representing the entire atheist community in the United States. But I found when I contacted groups I did not get much response from them. They did not respond to the idea of mentioning Republican Atheists to their base. I was in contact with the Secular Coalition for America who at first had interest in Republican Atheists and said they would publish a guest article by me. I was in touch with their media coordinator and we discussed a topic to write about, and I wrote an article for them. It ended up being scrapped because they didn’t like my wording in the article, so I wrote it according to what they recommended and did multiple edits over a period of months. Despite all that time and effort of meeting their requests, at the end of the day they did not publish the article and didn’t even mention Republican Atheists to their base. They actually have not been responsive to me ever since. Some organizations haven’t responded to us at all, so I keep chipping away to build our relevance in the atheist community.

WRN: I would be interested in knowing about podcasters because you mentioned that specifically.

LE: I had an experience with one atheist podcast called Cognitive Dissonance. I actually hadn’t listened to them much, but I sent them an email introducing myself and offered to be interviewed on their show. They agreed to do a 45-minute interview. I was pretty excited because they are one of the more known atheist podcasts. I would say they have around 17,000 followers on Facebook. I ended up doing the interview with them, but they hung up on me 15 minutes into the interview because I mentioned something they didn’t agree with. They called it “the dumbest interview they’ve ever done”. I have actually been met with much more interest in gaining understanding by Christian podcasters.

WRN: What was the particular issue they didn’t agree with?

LE: We were talking about prominent movements such as Women’s March and the Occupy Movement which was big back in 2011. We discussed who is behind the movements in terms of people who financed protests, and I mentioned the name George Soros. The hosts didn’t want to continue the conversation after that.

In the course of the interview Lauren was so kind as to make favorable mention of our editor-in-chief, and simple vanity brings that part of the interview to this post:

WRN: So they’ve associated specific views on issues that don’t relate to Christianity directly, but they still associate it with Christianity. You’re saying within the Republican Party base you can reach a similar conclusion but through a different process and different thinking?

LE: Yes, that is what I do when I communicate with Republicans and Christians. I don’t bring up my atheist views up front and instead focus on what we have in common. I actually never really feel the need to talk about my atheist views unless I am trying to make a point about the existence of atheist Republicans. When I talk to people, I try to find what we have in common in terms of political policies and social policies. We’ll talk about education, taxation, freedom of speech, and so forth. I find a commonality with them, and once we have that commonality, they see that even though I’m atheist we have a lot in common. That is the situation I like to be in.

RN: This reminds me of Christopher Hitchens who was both an outspoken atheist and had several politically conservative stances. Is there anyone who you look to as a person who’s advocating besides of course yourself?

LE: There is a woman who is very impressive, and I wish she was mentioned a lot more. Her name is Jillian Becker, and she manages a blog called The Atheist Conservative. One thing I point out about Jillian Becker is she does not promote the Republican Party. Her thing is just conservatism, and there’s a difference. I always have to point out there’s a difference between an atheist conservative and an atheist Republican. I know a lot of people get it intertwined and sometimes conservatives get a little irritated. But Jillian Becker and I get along pretty well because we see eye to eye on a lot of issues. If you look her up you will see she has an impressive resume. She’s on Wikipedia. She has spoken with the British Parliament in regards to terrorism in the past. She’s a published author, has been featured in interviews, and is very outspoken. She is older now, so I wish she was mentioned more often. I also note Heather Mac Donald who is a published author and a conservative atheist. She was recently shut down on college campuses in California, and she has been interviewed about it.

We too are admirers of Heather Mac Donald, and strongly recommend her books – all of them.

Read the whole interview with Lauren Ell here.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Conservatism, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, June 14, 2018

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Would a reformed Islam be a tolerable Islam? 9

An Imam who wants to reform Islam speaks to Tommy Robinson:

He is self-contradictory on the main issue, saying both that Islam will “never” be reformed, and that preparation should be made now for it’s reformation some centuries hence.

But he says quite a lot that explains why Tommy Robinson and he can discuss Islam amicably with each other. This Shi’a Imam wants the sharia courts of Britain to be abolished. He wants the Saudis and other Arab leaders to stop pouring money into institutions for indoctrination, such as university colleges and professorial chairs. He wants the madrassas to be done away with. He opposes the failed policies of Saddiq Khan, the Muslim mayor of London, pointing out that London has lost respect among many Arab Muslims for electing the Pakistani. He puts heavy blame on the Left, calling Leftists “the real bigots”. He declares that to be against ISIS is a humanitarian position, not a political one.

Our British associate Chauncey Tinker, editor of The Participator, writes an interesting critique of the interview at Altnewsmedia. We quote it in part: :

About half way through the interview the imam reveals his views on the Koran and the Hadith (he doesn’t mention the Sira but I think we can assume his remarks about the Hadith can probably be taken to include the Sira as well). He says that in order to reform Islam, violent passages should be removed from the Hadith, but not the Koran – the Koran cannot be altered in the imam’s view. From what he says here I infer that he is what is called a Koranist (or Quranist), or at least he is something very similar – he speaks of throwing the Hadiths out of the window. A Koranist is a Muslim who rejects the Hadith and Sira and believes only what is written in the Koran.

Incidentally at one point Tommy and the imam discuss the question of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha when she was only 6. The imam gives quite an astonishing explanation for this which I have never heard before, Tommy was equally surprised …

Tawhidi maintains that Aisha was actually 21 when Muhammad married her, but it was so important to Islam that Muhammad’s wife be a virgin that they reduced her to infancy to ensure that she could not be suspected of being unchaste. Islam holds virginity to be a much higher virtue, apparently, than refraining from pedophilia. What the Imam seems to have forgotten, is that Muhammad’s first wife (according to all the accepted records of his life such as they are) was a widow!

Unfortunately there is a fundamental problem with the Koranist viewpoint in general, which has been identified by Islamic scholars. According to verse 33:21 of the Koran, Mohammed’s life is a most beautiful example for Muslims to follow, but the Koran contains only a tiny number of fleeting mentions of Mohammed, there is simply not enough information in the Koran for Muslims to learn very much at all about Mohammed’s life. It is only by studying the Hadith and Sira that Muslims can learn much about Mohammed’s life, and thus learn properly about this “beautiful example” that they are supposed to follow. Perhaps it is not surprising then that the Koranist movement is relatively only a tiny movement, because their beliefs simply don’t make sense. As he states in the interview, there are probably only a few million Koranists worldwide. The exact numbers are hard to know as the Koranists are regarded as apostates by many mainstream Muslims and therefore tend not to be open about their beliefs. …

The imam speaks of the existence of many different interpretations of the Koran in the interview …

There are, he says, “hundreds of thousands of interpretations” …

… and asks why he should not be able to reform the religion by making his own interpretation. He suggests that the violent passages (for example verse 8:12 that speaks of striking terror into the hearts of the disbelievers) can be interpreted as only applying in the time and place of Mohammed’s battles. Of course if we only refer to the Koran there is somewhat less certainty about everything, because the Koran is much less explicit than the Hadiths. If we look again at verse 33:21 of the Koran though, this  context interpretation is hard to take seriously – Mohammed waged wars against the disbelievers to propagate his religion, so surely the Koran at the very least condones this kind of behavior. In fact, violent acts of war are one of the few things about Mohammed’s life that actually are mentioned in the Koran. What’s more, verse 33:21 that states that Mohammed’s life is a “beautiful example” comes right in the midst of other verses describing a very violent period, including the reference at verse 33:26 to what is either the Banu Qurayza massacre or a very similar event:

And He brought down those who supported them among the People of the Scripture from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts [so that] a party you killed, and you took captive a party.

Finally on this question of context, there is nothing in the passages that explicitly states that the violence is only justified in the particular context. The references are for example to “the disbelievers” rather than to “the disbelievers in this particular settlement at this particular time”. For example Koran 8:55 says that:

The disbelievers are the vilest of animals … 

Even if we were to accept this context-driven interpretation of the Koran alone though … there is still a huge and inescapable problem with all attempts at a peaceful reformation of Islam. Let us imagine for a moment that at some point far into the future the majority of Muslims worldwide eventually accepted the imam’s interpretation of the Koran, and rejected the Hadith. As long as there are significant numbers of people in the world who believe that the Koran is the unquestionable word of Allah and that Mohammed was his last prophet, the door will be left ajar for any other interpretations of the Koran to return to prominence – including of course the violent interpretations. This is the reason I say that a peaceful reformation of Islam is not even a desirable goal,  the religion must be rejected altogether.

We strongly agree!

There is simply nothing worth reforming or preserving about this religion, it is a belief system that must be defeated so that freedom of speech can flourish and human thought can progress unhampered by threats of violence.  As the imam rightly points out, the texts cannot be physically destroyed, but there are many means available that should be used to persuade Muslims to reject their religion including reason and debate, economic pressure and social ostracism.

At one point the imam says to Tommy that we will never be able to stop the growth of Islam in the UK.  He cites the demographic trend, which is indeed suggestive of the continuing growth of the Islamic population if all else stays the same.  However, Tommy responds with some perfectly plausible suggestions about government policy changes that would in fact help to slow (and possibly even halt) the growth of Islam in the UK.

In particular he points out that if the British tax-payer were no longer to provide Muslim immigrant families (sometimes consisting of multiple wives and their children) with social security, free schooling, free health care, housing and legal defense, they would be less eager to come to Britain, or to stay in it.

… Beliefs can change, they are not a fixed aspect of a human being.

We are also in a new age of mass communication now, a point that the imam may not have properly considered. Never before has this religion (or any other) been subjected to such an enormous amount of scrutiny all around the world. The internet is enabling a revolution in human thought, and I truly believe we are only just seeing the beginnings of this revolution today. We simply don’t know the full impact that this degree of almost instantaneous around the world communication, exchange and clashing of ideas will have in the longer term.

While it is indeed refreshing to come across an imam who has the courage to so frankly discuss all these issues with an unrestrained critic of Islam such as Tommy Robinson (others could take note), I feel it necessary to point out all these problems with his belief system nonetheless. What we certainly don’t want to do is start moderating our criticisms of Islam for fear of upsetting this and other (probably well-meaning) reform attempts. Let us boldly speak the truth as we see it, and may the best argument win – if the imam’s interpretation cannot stand up to rational scrutiny then it is unlikely to catch on in any case.

… [M]y highest regard will continue to be reserved for those Muslims who, as it were, “go the whole hog” and throw not just the Hadith and Sira but also the Koran out of the window as well, and become EX Muslims.

A preference we echo.

Oh for a god-free world!

Posted under Islam, jihad, Muslims, Religion general, Videos by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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