Saturday, September 10, 2005

A rare bit of relativism here at Commoner Sense

I have to grit my teeth while writing this, but truth is truth, and Protestants and Catholics in Belfast have spent the latter part of the summer hurling insults and bombs at each other. Before I criticize the bloody Sunni/Shiite rift in Islam once again, I must concede that Christianity--though considerably less psychotic--is just as deserving as Islam of being driven off the face of the earth. Just because Christians aren't presently capable of bloodlust equal to their Muslim counterparts doesn't mean we should tolerate them until they are. Religion is evil [see the update below], and anyone arguing otherwise has a lot of explaining to do.
Dar al-Harb, Christian style

Secular government that subjugates all religious ideology and differences to democracy and the absolute separation of church and state is necessary for the creation of a peaceful and just world. And I'm sorry, but secular democracy is by necessity athiest, and it may (by democratic vote) allow abortion, allow capital punishment, allow gay marriage, and allow women (or men, for that matter) to wear miniskirts and fishnets if they so please. If you don't like it, find a piece of undisputed territory and create your own medieval state. We'll mostly likely have to build a wall around it in a few years (for our own security), but it's your choice. Civilization ... love it or leave it.

I was raised Catholic, sort of. My mother is Catholic (I think she still is ... haven't bothered to ask her lately how that's working for her), my father is Protestant (Anglican, or American Anglican, or Episcopalian ... I'm not certain, and I could hardly care less). At a very early stage in my upbringing they seemed to have arrived at a mutually acceptable amalgam of the two disparate "faiths," an agreement that I would be raised with occasional doses of religion (perhaps innoculations would be more accurate) augmented by a regular diet of reason. The steady, inane droning of the priests who educated me served to hammer home the message, and by age eighteen I was an agnostic. No better way to create a fallen Catholic than eight years of Catholic school. I am now a tolerant anti-theist, which for me means that I don't care what you think about the universe as long as you don't desire that I think the same. But start hurling bombs at people who disagree with you, and tolerance wanes.

Catholics and Protestants disagree about a number of things, some quite important: birth control, abortion, and capital punishment, for instance. These issues should be immediately and without question turned over to a secular, democratic government (one that provides equal protection and rights to men and women, to ensure that the democracy is genuine). They also disagree about a number of absurd, practically meaningless questions, none that really matter at all to anyone living today: Should baptism be performed soon after birth or later? Should we bow down before statues? Was Mary born without sin? Did she get to take her body with her to heaven? Is this thing I'm putting in my mouth matzoh or human flesh? Should we cut off part of our infant's genitalia? (Is the absurdity getting through yet?)

Tossing a hand grenade over any of these issues is simply ridiculous. But nobody in Belfast--or in Bagdad, for that matter--is really committing murder solely on the basis of such idiotic disputes. Religious hierarchies have managed to reduce people in these places to states of prehistoric tribalism. And for that, we should all condemn religion, set it aside, take whatever spiritual beliefs we have and hold them close and quiet within our hearts. Let secular, democratic government handle public life. Focus our lives on doing what is right, which most people seem capable of understanding until they listen to priests and imams.

Update: I've received a fair bit of justifiable criticism for the stridency of this post. My apologies for the "evil" statement in the first paragraph--it's simplistic and over-the-top, as well as offensive to those who choose to believe. I let the vision of streets aflame in my ancestral homeland get the better of me. My feelings about the absurdity of the issues that religions deem important will stand as expressed.


Blogger Fred said...

Thanks for the heads up. I didn't realize there were still bombs going off in Ireland. I must not have been paying close enough attention.

10:06 AM  
Blogger proudconservative said...

Your commentary concerning Christianity is shallow. What is Christianity? Is it the body of beliefs relative to the moral behavior of people as taught by Jesus. Or is it the behavior of people who define themselves or are defined by others as Christians. Here is a big point that you seem to be missing: To call oneself or to be called by others a Christian does not make one a Christian. This would even include people who are recognized by others to be priests or other so-called leaders of the church. My point is that many who call themselves Christians have been giving Christ and his true followers a bad name for centuries. Any objective analysis of that subject should have brought you to that conclusion long before this. Your inability to see that indicates to me that you view Christianity through a thick prism of prejudice and bigotry. This makes your views not unique but certainly makes them pathetic. Your prejudice, fueled by a secular smugness, has blinded you to the message of Jesus. The devil wins. (There can be no good without evil.)

7:43 PM  
Blogger tompain said...

Thanks for the input, Proudconservative. I've added an update that I hope will temper the offense that some have taken in response to this post.

That said, your defense of Christianity is unconvincing to me. In fact, it bears some resemblance to apologies for Islam that ask us to accept (against all evidence and common sense) that terrorist jihadis are not real Muslims.

What you see as "a thick prism of prejudice and bigotry" is my growing intolerance for religion--an intolerance I feel is justified and in fact necessary for the survival of the human race.

9:41 PM  

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