Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Religious rhetoric divides all - Daily Targum - Opinions

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Religious rhetoric divides all

The Tuning Fork

By Cody Gorman

By Cody Gorman-->

Published: Monday, January 24, 2011

Updated: Monday, January 24, 2011 23:01

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Religion is and has been a polarizing force in American and international politics. It has served as a source of inspiration, a moral compass and a guide of living for millions. It has also served as a means of destruction, death, slaughter and discrimination. Some of you may remember that last semester I penned an article regarding the mistaken aspirations of atheists like myself. The following may seem hypocritical, but after a few events over break and reading the Jan. 20 column in "The Daily Targum" titled "Anti-Semitism Exists Today," I feel it needs to be said. Christopher Hitchens was right when he posited that religion poisons everything.

To start, the column on anti-Semitism was an affront to religious intellectuals and an appeal to dim-witted zealots. In his article, the author makes enormous oversights about Shakespeare, Hitchens and anti-Semitism itself. He makes the claim that Shakespeare's character Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" was a mockery of Judaism. While he is portrayed as the villain, scholars believe that Shylock's speech in Act III, Scene I was the first plea to protect the rights of Jews and condemned the Christian trial of Shylock as unfair.

Hitchens is a virulent anti-theist, not a Jewish apologist. His explanation for the hatred of the Jews was further a condemnation in a three-chapter set of his book "God is not Great" of each of the Abrahamic religions.

While it is a true unfortunate fact that anti-Semitism still exists in modernity, the author and other Jewish apologists mistakenly attribute many things critical of the religion of Israel to anti-Semitism, while anything about other religions can generally be considered a justified criticism. This trait is universal to the major Abrahamic religions, which claim to have a monopoly on divine truth. Israel has abused the rights of Palestinians, Islamophobia is rampant in the U.S. and Europe, Egypt has been abusive to Coptic Christians, and Christians in Balkan Europe have been enduring sectarian violence for years. What do all of these things have in common, besides violence? The answer is simple: A claim to absolute, exclusive, divine truth that can only be channeled through one's religion or holy book. While the author was right in his quote of Hitchens, he was wrong in that it is not simply Jews who have targets on their backs — it is every monotheistic religion.

My reason for outrage at religion in general is a result of outlooks like this, as well as a few examples of cognitive dissonance that occurred on recent occasions. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., upon opening her eyes after an attempted assassination was reported as a "miracle," but a child who was also shot apparently had to be a part of "God's plan" — no miracles were there for her. When miners in a collapsed shaft in Chile came out of their entrapment, God was praised and it was reported as a miracle. When the same amount of miners died in a shaft after being trapped in New Zealand, it was deemed part of a plan. There seems to be some lack of continuity in miracles and divine plans. However, it does not stop the religious from falsely attributing them as divine miracles, and not to the bravery of rescue workers and the miracles of science, which allow for such life-saving interventions.

The truth is, religion is poisonous when it becomes exclusive and expansive. Biblical Christianity is homophobic, sexist and intolerant. The Catholic church continues to refuse endorsement of condom use in sub-Saharan Africa, causing countless to become infected with HIV and die of AIDS, and bringing children into the world that are infected. Islam was spread by violence at first and radicals continue to justify terrorism through Qur'anic quotes. The penalty for apostasy in many countries is death, and Pakistan endorses a death penalty for blasphemy and infanticide for children out of wedlock. Zionism has displaced hundreds of thousands and Israeli soldiers to this day commit atrocities on innocent Palestinians.

Do I condone hatred of religions? Absolutely not. I believe all people have the right to believe just as I have the right to not believe. This extends only to the point until people are put in harm's way in the name of religion. You hardly hear of atheist extremists opening fire on innocent civilians. Can hatred of religion be justified? Absolutely yes. The history of religions include the Crusades, the Inquisition, child rape protected by the Vatican, suicide bombing, genital mutilation, warfare, in-group exclusion, discrimination and the spreading of AIDS. However, it is worth saying that those who "hate" religion generally belong to one, and are simply hating other religions.

Most importantly, this is not an attack on those who are religious, but simply on religion itself. As an atheist, I do not try to convert, I only try to enlighten and challenge the paradigms that large churches and religions implant in people's minds. In most cases, religion is not a force for good, but the constituents of the religion are generally good people. But as the famous saying goes, "Good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things, that takes religion."

Cody Gorman is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. His column, "The Tuning Fork," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

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Tue Jan 25 2011 12:58 1/25/11 12:58 PM-->
I feel sorry for Cody too, but it's not his anger that worries me. It's his choice of footwear. Thems are some crazy creepers. Expect to be teased when you're an old man. Like, "yo look at that guy with the funny shoes." stuff like that. Your article was delicious.
Tue Jan 25 2011 11:00 1/25/11 11:00 AM-->
In some sense I feel sorry for Cody. I'm just not sure why. He seems angry. To be that young and that angry is not good.
Tue Jan 25 2011 10:37 1/25/11 10:37 AM-->

Let's not forget Mao, while we're at it. He was an atheist too. And Hitler was NOT a practicing Christian. His beliefs were in the supremacism of Germany. (No different, in point of fact than Mohammed's beliefs about Muslims.)

That said, I agree with what you say. Evil men come in all forms. Being religious is no guarantee of goodness, just as being an atheist is no guarantee.

The point I was trying to make is that atheism is, and has been, easily as devisive as religion. Obviously atheism does not go back very far historically, but given its short tenure on our planet its track record is nothing to write home about, much less to honor as Cody seems to be doing.

Don't Believe Everything U Read
Tue Jan 25 2011 10:32 1/25/11 10:32 AM-->
Cody writes, "Can hatred of religion be justified? Absolutely yes. The history of religions include the Crusades..."

Again, this is just factually incorrect. When Christianity is used to justify violence it is done so in violation of the teachings of Christ. Islam, on the other hand, condones and glorifies violence.

Jesus was a man of peace, a man who turned the other cheek. In stark contrast to this, Mohammed was a rapist, enslaver, pillager, sadistic theocrat who demanded his followers to follow him into war and to wage war against non-Muslims for eternity.

Furthermore, Cody, your understanding of the Crusades is also completely incorrect. The following link shows quite clearly how the Crusades were only declared after four centuries of ceaseless warfare by Muslims against Christians, Zoroastrians, Assyrians, Jews, Chaldeans, etc...

I do not mean to be overly critical, Cody, but when you state lies as truth in your articles you do all those who read your work a great disservice. You do nothing more than perpetuate misinformation in the guise of a know-it-all. If you can support your opinions with facts and can counter my views with facts then that is all well and good, but until that time I will continue to criticize your work when it is clearly wrong.

Here is a timeline leading up to the Crusades which vividly illustrates the Crusades were foisted upon western civilization by the unrelenting aggression of Muslim jihadists.

Tue Jan 25 2011 10:15 1/25/11 10:15 AM-->
You know who else was, or is, an atheist? Einstein, Katherine Hepburn, Warren Buffet, and Stephen Hawking.

Naming evil people and pointing out that they were atheists is a fallacious argument and makes absolutely no sense. Oh, and let's remember that Hitler was a Catholic, never left the church, was never excommunicated, and put 'God is with us' on the belt buckles of his many German soldiers.

Atheism...The Answer?
Tue Jan 25 2011 09:17 1/25/11 9:17 AM-->
Yes, Cody, we need more atheists like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot around just to prove how smart you are.

As to your dissembling reference to Islamophobe. Here is another smart guy who has a very different (and I might say a "logical") outlook on that term.

Tue Jan 25 2011 09:12 1/25/11 9:12 AM-->
I've always said that religious organizations like the Catholic Church have done more harm for humanity than they have done good. I was raised in the Church of Christ a small conservative religious organization found mostly in the Southwest. It was very polarizing and finally alienated me away from the religious life. I now realize that religion is an internal concept not an external one. I now belong to a small open and affirming group and have absolute peace among a group of loving, nonviolent individuals.
Edward Reep
Tue Jan 25 2011 01:49 1/25/11 1:49 AM-->
You're right, though, Cody, because most of what is called "religion" does not truly follow what the Bible says and does all these horrible things.
Edward Reep
Tue Jan 25 2011 01:46 1/25/11 1:46 AM-->
There is absolute divine truth, and it is the Bible. The reason I know this, however, is from having witnessed with my own two eyes blatantly supernatural events that happened within a framework described by the Bible. The only logical force that could cause such violations of physical law is God. By the way, the Bible actually says nice things and explains why good things happen to some and bad things to others. See my previous Targum article about how hell does not exist in correct Christian doctrine.
Some Guy
Tue Jan 25 2011 01:39 1/25/11 1:39 AM-->
Cody's awesome
Tue Jan 25 2011 00:41 1/25/11 12:41 AM-->
Describing the author of another column as a "Jewish apologist" is itself anti-Semitic, and attributing faults in Israel's policies to its Jewish Character is anti-Semitic! Israeli soldiers maintain the highest ethical standards, and this author unfairly seeks to demonize the Jewish state. Legitimate criticism of Israel is reasonable when it is comparable to that leveled against other countries. By holding Israel to a double-standard, this author uses anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Tue Jan 25 2011 00:34 1/25/11 12:34 AM-->
i hate how smug and arrogant believers are. good to know they will be rotting in the ground just the same as me. my ultimate schadenfreude for all the pompous jesus freaks and zionist nutjobs
Tue Jan 25 2011 00:01 1/25/11 12:01 AM-->
your best column yet.

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