Wednesday, January 07, 2015
So today there is a lot of talk from religion’s defenders and critics. Defenders like Reza Aslan will try to distance what happened in his religion’s name from the “peaceful” religion in which he takes part – anyone who doesn’t see the difference, in his view, simply does not know the meaning of the word nuance.
I understand his argument, and I know the frustration of being lumped in with a group you feel does not represent your view. However, ultimately his argument rings hollow for me because he is defending the indefensible. Religion is violent.
There is no religion of peace. There are peaceful people who choose to bypass the violence dictated in their religion. I know peaceful people who belong to peaceful churches... but they do so by ignoring/sidelining/mythologizing the edicts in their holy books.
I believe Reza Aslan when he says that he is both peaceful and religious; but I also believe he maintains that position by choosing to select which aspects of his religion he will deem valuable.
The religion I grew up with commanded that women who were found not to be virgins on their wedding night were to be dragged to their father’s door step and stoned there. In fact, we had many offences listed in our holy book which required us to stone people to death. However, we never did it. In fact, most congregants were ignorant that those edicts were even in our holy text. I once spoke with a pastor who was surprised to find out that his church’s belief statements contained a line which condemned everyone not of their faith to Hell. Often, what the believer believes, and what the religion teaches, are two different things.
Holy texts are drenched with blood. They are filled with commands to kill the outsider and the infidel. They encourage rape, slavery, misogyny, and a host of terrors that can never be categorized under the heading of peace. Yet, through generations of self-talk, selective editing, and avoidance, we have made it common to equate religion with peace… and it simply isn’t true.
Humanity, with its bent toward empathy and compassion, is slowly untying the knot and shedding all that is violent and inhumane in these religious texts.
Until the day when we can shed them once and for all.
Posted by Andrew at 4:01 PM