Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whose Religion Demands the Most Hatred?

In response to my earlier post, I received (and posted) a comment from a reader who has trouble with the 1st Amendment. You know, the part about how we can’t allow the government to establish a national religion.

If you didn’t see it here it is:

“For every opinion or belief someone may hold there will be another party who just as strong opposes that idea. Both sides usually claim to sit with the best arguments, the real facts and the best world view, and, ironically, both sides regard the other as being indoctrinated, blind to the obvious and outright stupid.”

“I also urge you to look further than mainstream media and, if you can find the time for it, read the Qur'an yourself.”

“Based on what I have learned from the Qur'an, I strongly object to a mosque being built near ground zero.”
I guess I have three thoughts in response to this, and I decided rather than bury it in the comments that I would promote the idea to the front page (at least for today).

The reader assumed I had never read al Qu’ran. I have. Especially the parts of it that are exactly transcribed from the Holy Bible. Yes, there are some disturbing things about al Qu’ran, especially the parts about how Jews are bad, bad people. But then you have to take that in context: the Prophet was persecuted by Jews. He was also aided by Jews and he gave them credit where credit was due. Quite frankly I am disturbed by how someone can interpret writings from the 9th century (and earlier) and conclude that a house of worship should not be built a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. It makes no sense and generally speaks to one’s religious bias.

The Founding Fathers did not have a religious bias.

The Founding Fathers, you see, weren’t Christians, they were Deists. They believed in the existence of a Creator. But since America is and was a country of immigrants, and many of these immigrants were there to escape religious persecution from their own home countries (and some of my immigrant forebears were among that number) they saw the wisdom of putting right there in the First Amendment, right at the beginning of the First Amendment, mind you, the first of the first if you will, the idea that favoring one religion over another, or more precisely, disfavoring one religion over another, was not kosher.

Finally, I find that disfavoring a religion because of what one finds in their holy scriptures is probably not a wise tack to take. Imagine if America were a country dominated by followers of Islam and a minority religious group wanted to build a house of worship 5 blocks from a site that was attacked by people of the same religion as that minority group. Let’s say the attackers were a group of fanatics that were perversely affected by an oil-rich guy who was also an outcast of his own family.

Imagine that, and then imagine someone opposing the construction of their worship facility because they had read this in their holy scriptures of that minority religion:

“Then we turned, and went up the road to Bashan; and Og, the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the Lord said to me, 'Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land to your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.' So the Lord our God gave into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we smote him until not one was left to him. And we took all his cities at that time, sixty cities, the whole region of Argob the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were all fortified cities with high and haughty walls, gates and bars; besides a great many unwalled villages. And we utterly destroyed them as we did to Sihon, king of Heshbon. Utterly destroying every city, men, women, and children. But all the cattle and spoil of the cities we took for booty for ourselves.”
That these people have those words in their holy scriptures would even give me pause. It would appear that these people are a rather bloodthirsty lot.

But then I see my country a little differently than the commenter. I see my country as one that allows people of all the world’s religions to come and live here, become citizens maybe, and worship in the religion of their choice without government interference.

And yes, that passage is actually found within the holy scriptures of a religion that has quite a following. I found it in the third chapter, verses 1 through 7 of the Book of Deuteronomy.

Imagine that.

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