Monday, May 23, 2016
We’re losing our religion. And that’s not a bad thing (?)
Karen Brooks makes a quite stupid mistake below, all the more amazing because she is allegedly a psychoanalyst. Her employment in a neo-Marxist outfit has clearly caused her politics to trump her science.
In her discussion of religion, she fails to take account of the fact that there are many influences on human behaviour, with religion being only one of them. And NO religion has ever made any nation into a nation of peaceniks. There could be no more peaceful religion than Buddhism but the Buddhist Japanese showed great savagery in WWII. Nationalist ideas trumped Buddhist ideas.
The only reasonable way to compare religions, therefore, is to look at the religions themselves, not the deeds of groups who claim some attachment to the religions concerned. And Muslims are in fact a good example of that. Despite the constant calls in the Koran for attacks on unbelievers, 99% of Muslims in the Western world are entirely peaceful in their deeds. They are "bad" Muslims from a religious viewpoint. Their religion has no major influence on that aspect of their behaviour.
So what we have to do is to look at influence at the margins. We have to ask what is the effect of the religion when it does have influence? So we see that for a very small number of true believing Muslims, the commands of the Koran to attack kuffars are acted on with terrorist deeds. But what about equally devout Christians? Their scriptures include no such commands so there are no Christian suicide bombers, which is a very good thing, and much to be encouraged. Instead it has commands to "love thy neighbour", which result in some Christians building hospitals and doing all sorts of charitable works.
Religion DOES have an important influence but Karen is too dim to see it. Her Leftist hate of a rival faith blinds her to reality. To forestall stupid "ad hominem" attacks, I am myself a complete atheist. I don't believe in Jesus Christ, Mohammed or Karl Marx. I don't even believe in global warming
Last week, columnist Andrew Bolt declared there was a war on Christianity. Claiming that Christians are being “harassed out of public space”, he provided examples before descending into polarising rhetoric of Christianity is “good and Islam “bad” (that is, violent and intolerant).
Cherrypicking quotes from the Bible and Koran to defend his points, Bolt then stated only a Christian society is safe for nonbelievers: “Christianity, for instance, tells us to treat even strangers as we would our own kin and insists the life of even the most lowly is sacred.”
Tell that to Peter Dutton.
Historically, Christianity’s record of kindness to strangers, their intolerance towards the “lowly” and those with differing or no beliefs, like that of other major religions, is grossly blemished.
One has only to read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the various zealous missionary work undertaken around the world, to understand the destructive impact of Christianity on people and cultures, never mind how the God of peace could also transform into one that justified its warriors killing, raping, maiming and plundering in His name.
While Catholicism was the dominant religion in the Western world for centuries, Martin Luther and the subsequent Reformation changed that.
In less than 50 years, England, for example, went from a Catholic nation (Henry VIII), to a Protestant one (Henry VIII and Edward VI), reverted back to Catholicism (Mary I) before settling (uncomfortably) with the Church of England (Elizabeth I).
The Interregnum under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell saw Puritanism take hold before the Restoration and Charles II, who reinstated the Church of England, but died a Catholic. Under all these monarchs, those of minority faith were persecuted, imprisoned, executed and/or deported.
Religious intolerance and the wars and bloodshed in God’s name, continued for centuries — and not just in England.
Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, has never been homogenous. Puritans, Anabaptists, Quakers, Muggletonians, Seekers, Ranters (to name a few) all splintered from it and fought to exist.
Jesus may have suggested, “turn the other cheek”, but the facts are Christianity, like other major faiths, has a long and tortured history that’s bellicose, hypocritical and more about the accumulation of wealth, lands, power and control of the ignorant, than bestowing blessings.
While Bolt’s correct in saying the Church is being increasingly disregarded, it’s a reflection of the times when, because people are better educated (and thus more likely to eschew religion), they’re able to critically reflect on what institutionalised religion offers.
With the shocking revelations of systematic abuse of children in the Catholic Church especially (but not exclusively) high on the public agenda, the indoctrination of would-be terrorists occurring in Mosques and cyberspace, let alone the murders being committed in Allah’s name, people’s tolerance, not so much for God, but for those who claim to be doing His work — whatever it may be — is rapidly diminishing.
Then there’s the bigotry and hatred expressed online and in other spaces by purported Christians towards homosexuality, abortion, refugees and on other human rights issues.
The fact churches don’t pay taxes simply adds insult to the increasing injuries.
Reflecting this, for the first time the 2016 August census will have the “no religion” option in the top spot. There’s a chance Christians collectively may lose their majority status in Australia as they did in New Zealand when a similar change occurred.
Is this such a bad thing?
The notion that a moral framework and ethics, living a “good” life, can only be learned through religion is a furphy.
While I might be damned for saying this, the safest society is a predominantly secular one, but of the kind sociologist, Jurgen Habermas, describes. This is one where religious and secular mentalities are open to a complementary learning process where shared citizenship and cultural difference is balanced.
This is sometimes described as a “soft-secularism”. It believes in the separation of church and state, but works in favour of believers and nonbelievers alike by practising tolerance in other spheres.
While we must steer away from religious extremism, we must also avoid an aggressive secularism that dismisses religious beliefs (but never excuses bigotry or hatred towards others). Likewise, we must not allow rhetoric, which, on the pretext of defending one faith, actually privileges it while apportioning blame and vilifying another, fuelling fear and hate and causing deeper divisions in the process.
In our increasingly disconnected world, I understand why some find the community and sharing, the sense of belonging some faiths offer, seductive. But isn’t it better to have faith in each other, practice goodness and compassion in the here and now, respect each other equally, with dignity, and leave an everlasting tangible legacy, than continuously defer to an invisible entity?
Secularism at its best is inclusive. I’m yet to be convinced about religion.