Archive for the ‘Fundamentalism’ Category


Research Shows Link Between Conservative Christianity and Crime

Christian fundamentalism is toxic: Recent research in criminology demonstrates a strong correlation between high rates of violent crime and conservative Christianity.

In The Devil You Know, the Surprising Link Between Conservative Christianity and Crime, Elicka Peterson Sparks, an associate professor of criminology at Appalachian State University, demonstrates that “fundamentalist Christian ideology is criminogenic – in others words it actually causes [crime].”

Of particular concern is “Christian Nationalism,” defined as a political ideology steeped in “a Christian right to rule,” and entailing a false revisionist history specifically focused on America’s founding fathers as devout Christians who did not believe in separation of church and state.

Pointing out that the United States has more fundamentalist Christians than any other nation, Sparks notes:

The United States also has a very high rate of violent crime, and particularly high rates of lethal violence – compared to other similarly situated nations.

This is not a coincidence…this belief system, and the culture it inspires, lends itself to many types of criminal activity including the promotion of violent crimes against a variety of victims, terrorism against those of different faiths, and even crimes against the environment.

Why does religion cause crime? Sparks answers that question with three points:

  1. the explicit theology of violence present in fundamentalist religions;

  2. the psychology attendant in insulating oneself from fear of death through religion;

  3. and the promulgation of laws, policies, and programs to address crime that stem from this belief system.

Noting the violent biblical passages often cited by religious conservatives, their sense of righteousness, their dogmatic mindset that tolerates no dissent, and their support for harshly punitive measures toward “sinners,” Sparks shows that their worldview is the ideal seedbed for violence.

Bottom line: Conservative Christianity’s toxic mixture of fundamentalism, authoritarian politics, patriotism, and retributory justice actually causes crime.

For more information on this topic see: The Devil You Know, the Surprising Link Between Conservative Christianity and Crime.

(Image via Twitter)

(Image via Twitter)


genocide

Roots Of Modern Terrorism And Religious Fundamentalism

By G. Asgar Mitha

– Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity – Pope Benedict III – Pope from 855 – 858 AD.

– Fear is the basis of the whole – fear of the mysterious, of defeat and death. Fear is the parent of cruelty and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand – Bertrand Russell

I‘ve quoted Bertrand Russell after reading his rather interesting essays titled Why I’m Not a Christian delivered on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch and that inspired me to write this article.

The horrors of the Catholic Church are well documented while even today the modernists, historians and politicians are turned off to discuss those horrors and are involved in discussing the horrors of a Muslim civilization. No civilization has been without its dark ages. Europe and America burnt people alive by tying them to stakes after accusations of witchcraft. Ancient Egypt used to cut off the limbs of their citizens from opposite ends and then crucify them. Rome too crucified their citizens. All kinds of horrors have been recorded in history books. One of the best movies I’d seen was The Name of the Rose starring Sean Connery regarding the Holy Inquisition involving the Church. The procedures of the Holy Inquisition involved examination of charges of heresy by the Church. Even those innocent were not spared by trumped up charges. Such was the terrorism due to religious fundamentalism within the European religious system that the Church reaped wealth, mainly from the poor and destitute while protecting the wealthy aristocrats. The Church was not only a religious entity but it also embodied politics.

The Spanish Inquisitions from 1474-1834 AD were held under Pope Sixtus IV mainly against the Jews and Muslims but also against Christian heretics. Those refusing to take up Catholic faith were led to the stake to be burnt alive in a ceremony known as auto-de-fe (act of failth) and their properties confiscated to the Church.

The horrors of the Catholic Church are provided in brief in the above paragraphs. However the roots of current situation of Muslim terrorism and fundamentalism need to be examined. The basis of all terrorism and fundamentalism is not religion (as correctly postulated by Karen Armstrong) which condemns both but rests in politics and powers of the state and the religious authorities. Both politicians and clergy have used religion to consolidate their power over the weakest of their audience condemning them as heretics and kafirs (heathen unbelievers).

While I was growing up in Pakistan until 1968, there was harmony and religious tolerance among the Shia and Sunni sects. Christians and Hindus too were accepted and tolerated and there were no Islamic laws that discriminated them. Hotels used to serve alcohol and advertise striptease shows of women from many countries. After having completed my education in the US, I returned to Pakistan in 1977 under the martial law rule of President Zia-ul-Haq only to find a Pakistani society devoid of all tolerance and one of extreme religious fundamentalism but not yet of visible terrorism. It was in the germinating stages. Zia was a diehard Saudi supporter who closely held the Wahhabist-Salfist belief of forcibly imposing religion upon the people. In exchange Zia received large Saudi monetary aid to breed religious extremism among the Taliban (students) in madressas (religious schools) operated as seminaries to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. The Saudis in turn received the political support from the US. The students were not taught true Islamic values which are based on knowledge and free learning that benefits mankind. The Wahhabist teachings are instead based on fear aptly described by Bertrand Russell.

The other Wahhabist-Salafist fundamentalist Saudi citizen, Osama bin Laden, led the Afghan Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Taliban against the Soviets under the umbrella of Al-Qaeda (the base). He was supposedly killed in Pakistan in May 2011 by the Americans. The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted over nine years from December 1979 to February 1989. Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash. He’d served his masters well and the Americans and Saudis rewarded him with a plea to God to open the doors of Heaven for him and for the houris (female angels) to entertain him. Unfortunately I perceive the same fates for other current Pakistani leaders who are serving their masters.

IS (Islamic States), for example, has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with fear, cruelty, politics and religious intolerance. IS does not represent Islamic moderation, tolerance, respect and knowledge. The IS Jihadists being recruited from Europe and N. America are most likely not mainstream Muslims but lunatics and converts in a society they hate. They could well have been victims of political and extremist religious brainwashing similar to the Taliban. Just like al-Qaeda and Taliban were recruited against the Soviets, the IS may have been created to plunder the Arab countries. The IS is conducting inquisitions against everyone regardless of their minority (Christians and Yezidis) or sectarian beliefs (Shias and Sunnis) and their methods of torture and murder (beheadings and burning) are as horrifying as was practiced by the European Churches.

Following the war’s end, Afghanistan was in ruins and those same political parties (the seven party Jihadists) that had allied against the Soviets engaged in trivial disputes and fighting among themselves. America abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan only to return in 2001 with a war against the former and military threats and promises of monetary aid for the latter. The Taliban returned victorious to Pakistan after having defeated the Soviet infidels. They now believed they were God’s chosen people and like Zia, it was their bounden duty to forcibly impose Wahhabism upon a nation. Terrorism and fear became their instruments and many of these Taliban also infiltrated the political parties in Pakistan in order to gain power and wealth similar to the norms of the Christian Church of the dark ages. America watched and learnt how hyenas fight over a carcass. Pakistan and Afghanistan were ushering in the dark ages. The lessons were going to be applied throughout the Muslim world with the objectives of once again gaining not only power but control of the precious black gold resource.

Saudi Arabia and other Monarchist Arab Wahhabist countries have been natural economic allies of America and its European vassals as they are weak and in need of protection. America continues to support the Saudis in exporting their perverted religious dogma across the Muslim countries in order to breed religious intolerance, cruelty and terrorism. Some of the countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria and Palestine have been war victims, others like Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt have survived upon American and Saudi aids. Iran is the only Muslim country where America and the Saudi monarchy have failed for exporting terrorism and religious extremism and both fear it as a regional power. Iran has adopted values of democracy, tolerance, moderation, justice, knowledge and learning – the hallmarks of Islam. The roots of Wahhabism are based on an extremist form of Islam, of intolerance of all religions, injustice and implementation of fear by their religious police known as mutawwas supported by the monarchies which the west supports. The one thing common among the Arab monarchies and the western ‘democracy’ is deep hypocrisy.


How Genesis Is Not Only Literally False, But Metaphorically False
Posted by Daniel Fincke
Mary Midgley argues that only the views of fundamentalist literalists are refuted by the fact of evolution:

Appeals to evolution are only damaging to biblical literalism. Certainly the events described inGenesis 1 are not literally compatible with what science (from long before Darwin’s day) tells us about the antiquity of the Earth. But this is not news. The early Christian fathers pointed out that the creation story must be interpreted symbolically, not literally. Its message centres not on the factual details but on gratitude for the intelligible unity of the creation. Later Christian tradition always understood this, even before the historical details began to be questioned.

This argument is so old that I feel justified in simply replying by reiterating the points I made in an old post.I

I made the central argument more clearly in the comments section, so I’ll start by reproducing most of that remark:

just because science-accepting Christians offer to read Genesis only  metaphorically does not exempt them the metaphorical or mythical  meanings from scrutiny.  Just being a myth does not make the ideas  contained within it automatically true.

If this was indeed a book described by God, why is it false both  literally and metaphorically?  Can’t God get his story right?  If he was  divinely writing books why not just be literally true and tell us about  evolution in the Bible?  Why not tell us we emerged through a long  process and because we were naturally selected for different  environments and ways of life than those in which we presently live, we  must take care to  correct for some of our ill-fit cognitive tendencies.   In other words, if this were a divine book it would get these sorts of  facts right.  But it doesn’t.  Because it wasn’t inspired by God it was  dreamed up by ancient people doing the best they could to imagine and  wonder what things were like.

There was nothing wrong with that at the time, but now we’ve moved  past those primitive guesses and we should accept that authorities once  taken to be true simply are not.  That’s not “war” against Christianity  and religion, it’s how reason works.  We abandon ideas and authorities  when they are proven false.

The problem with religion is that it wants to freeze us in the past.   We must forever think of humanity as fallen, even when we realize we’re  just descended from other animals and not from a pristine state of  human perfection in a pristine garden.  We must forever think that pain  comes from a curse when in reality it’s just an adaptive trait that  warns us of danger and it existed long before humans could have ever  sinned.  We must forever think of humans as inherently corrupted by some  ancestor’s sins instead of fundamentally innocent beings who learned a  set of social relationships of cooperation and hierarchy while still  lower order primates and are still struggling to learn the best ways to  take care of our own needs and flourishing while balancing the interests  of our society.

Religion insists we must always freeze our knowledge, we must suspend  our ability to say, “oh, the old religious myths turned out false—we’re  not inherently evil, we’re not to blame for suffering in the world, we  don’t have to mistrust our natural drives as corrupt—just instead see  them as sometimes ill-fit for contemporary society since they evolved in  another time for different needs.”

Religion tries to teach people to defer to ancient authorities who  have no knowledge credentials and to override free, rigorous, and  sincere reassessment of what is good and bad in our nature.  Religion  teaches you that bronze age people’s fantasies are somehow divine  revelations when there is not a single good reason to think so.  They  have no special knowledge that only a God could give them.  They didn’t  give us the theory of quantum mechanics as a gift from the designer of  quantum mechanics.  They don’t seem to know any single fact about that  alleged creator’s world that they couldn’t have made up themselves.  So  why think they got special knowledge from that creator?

It goes on and on and on, Lisa.  There is no good reason to believe.   The Bible is false on every level.  The legal code it gives is repulsive  barbarism and the antithesis of the democracy I believe is just and  enlightened.  The genocides of the Old Testament are the height of  immorality.  They’re indistinguishable in their evil from the actions of  Hitler.  There are commands to slaughter men, women, infants, to rip  open the wombs of pregnant women.  It’s pure corruption and no sign of  divine wisdom.  It took a turn away from faith to Enlightenment to get  the democratic institutions and scientific advancements that make  possible an egalitarian society and technological power to extend  lifespans into the 70s and to create powerful means of creating and  communicating.  Faith doesn’t do these things.  It freezes knowledge in  the past, it teaches us to hate our human nature as fallen, and it  opposes the spirit of free, secular society.  And in all these ways, it  represents an obstacle to people’s free reason and rational decisions  about ethics.

And:

the non-literal reading of Genesis is just as false as the  metaphorical one.  When religious people argue that the Garden of Eden  story is unaffected by scientific knowledge they ignore the fact that  the Eden myth asserts an initial state of perfection from which we have  fallen because of a sin.  But that’s not “metaphorically” or  “mythically” true.  Our ancestors were (1) not even better human beings  than us, let alone “metaphorically perfect” humans, in fact they were  “lesser” evolved than we are socially, culturally, morally, and  physically—pretty much by every standard we have for judging human  excellence, (2) they did not incur pain on the universe, either  literally or metaphorically, since it already preexisted our arrival by  millions of years, and (3) our tendencies towards ethical failings and  our sufferings are not punishments for any sins (“original” ones or  otherwise, either literally or metaphorically) but are in fact  explicable in terms of both the precision and imprecision of complex  sets of strategies for social and environmental success that proved most  benefiical to our survival.  Similarly our intellectual shortcomings  have everything to do with an evolutionary necessity for making  judgments of a local kind coupled with an evolutionary indifference to  judgments of highly precise theoretical kind.

In other words, an evolutionary understanding of primeval history  exposes not only that the Genesis story is not literally true but that  its mythically presented propositional claims that pain in the universe  is connected to moral failing, that moral failing is a punishment for a  sin, that the need to work and for women to suffer excruciatingly during  child birth are both owed to matters that are our faults, and that  humanity was initially better off than we are now are, are all flat out false.

And finally I want to repost two superb videos that add much, much more to those points I just made.  The first points out the falsehood, both literal and metaphorical, of Eden myths and the points out the harmful consequences of such thinking.

embedded by Embedded Video
YouTube Direkt And start Christopher Hitchens’s brilliant speech below (maybe my favorite of his) and think about whether the scientific picture of reality he presents is one that we were made in the image of God by a benevolent personal God who selected the ancient Israelites to reveal himself to us and to provide us with our morality:

embedded by Embedded Video


‘The Great Agnostic’: Giving Up Politics To Preach Against Religion

by NPR Staff

The Great Agnostic

Attention American history buffs, here’s a name you might not have heard before: Robert Ingersoll. According to author Susan Jacoby, he was “one of the most famous people in America in the last quarter of the 19th century.”

“He went around the country,” Jacoby tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “He spoke to more people than presidents. He was also an active mover and shaker behind the scenes of the Republican Party.”

But Ingersoll is largely forgotten today. His crime? Speaking out in favor of the separation of church and state. Jacoby, the author of a new biography The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, says he promoted Darwin’s theory of evolution and fought publicly against government interference in religion.

“Because of this, as The New York Times said in his obituary when he died in 1899, he couldn’t run for public office even though he was a big deal behind the scenes,” she says. “Because even then, although most of the Republican presidents from Lincoln on didn’t even belong to a church, you still, if you were an open agnostic or atheist, could not hope to run for public office.”

Ingersoll actually gave up his public career, Jacoby says, because “he thought it was more important to talk about the ways in which fundamentalist religion was a bad thing.”

Author Susan Jacoby says Robert Ingersoll "was probably the first person who said, 'I don't believe in a God,' that a lot of people had ever seen."

Author Susan Jacoby says Robert Ingersoll “was probably the first person who said, ‘I don’t believe in a God,’ that a lot of people had ever seen.”

It was a controversial message. “He had enormous audiences,” Jacoby says. “The late 19th century, we think of this as the Victorian era, and stuffy and all that, but it was a time of enormous change” as Americans began to discover Darwin, and immigration changed the social makeup of the country. “Ingersoll was probably the first person who said, ‘I don’t believe in a God,’ that a lot of people had ever seen.”

Ingersoll’s father was actually a Presbyterian minister, who kept a library “of all of the things that Ingersoll came not to believe,” Jacoby says. “There is nothing like reading the Bible literally to make you question it; Ingersoll said that quite often.”

And he was public about those questions. “He wanted to revive the secular portion of America’s revolutionary history,” Jacoby continues. “He did not want to deny the role of religion in the founding of America, but he wanted to put it in its perspective.” Then as now, she adds, many people asked whether America had been founded as a Christian nation. “As controversial then as it is now, Ingersoll’s answer was no, and he went around explaining why it was no.”

Men like Ingersoll would have been astonished, Jacoby says, by the survival of fundamentalism in our era. “I don’t think that they would have been at all surprised that people are still religious. I think they would have been very surprised that anybody, by the end of the 20th century, would have been running for office on the platform that the Bible is literally true.”


God Doesn’t Go Where He’s Not Wanted
Reminds one of the series “Trueblood” where vampires are forbidden entry into peoples homes without permission!
Brian Fischer wants us to know that God won’t go anywhere that he’s not invited.  His god is like a vampire that way, I guess!

I just don’t know anymore.  You’d think that someone from the Christian mainstream would step up and explain “omnipresence” to Fischer.  You’d think someone would explain that a God who will go to Nineveh won’t stop at a school room door.  You’d think that some influential Christian would explain that Christians don’t worship a God that petty.  But there’s never any pushback.

That leaves idiots like Fischer to us; atheists, liberal Christians and religious minorities calling them out. Is there any point? We can chronicle all the horrible things that people like him say, but they just keep on saying them. You can’t embarrass them. You can’t shame them. They live to be offended, and every attack against them just fuels their persecution complex.


Fox News Host Wants Federal Investigation into ‘South Park‘ for Blasphemy

Fox News’s Todd Starnes is sick and tired of ‘South Park’ and Hollywood getting a free pass. The Fox News commentator participated in the Values Voter Summit panel on “Religious Hostility in America” over the weekend.

The panel featured the familiar argument that Christians in America are somehow a beleaguered minority that is under constant assault. Starnes claims to have a pile of stories stacked up on his desk about “instances of people who have been facing attack because of their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Speaking of the controversy surrounding the laughably bad “Innocence of Muslims,” Starnes asked why the federal government isn’t investigating “shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths.” He also demanded to know why President Obama hasn’t denounced Hollywood.
We have the seen the administration come out and say, “we condemn anyone who denigrates religious faith.” And they come out in regards to this anti-Muslim film.
Well, that’s well and good, but my question is, when has the administration condemned the anti-Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood? Where are the federal investigations into shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths?
Where is the outrage when people of the Christian faith are subjected to this humiliation that is coming out of Hollywood?
Religious Right activists have been the most vocal supporters of the filmmakers, if you can call them that, and have rightfully pointed out that the First Amendment protects their activities. Starnes, however, seems to have a double-standard when it comes to speech that he deems offensive to his religious views.
As it turns out, the only investigation going on around the “Innocence of Muslims” concerns whether one of the purported “filmmakers” violated the terms of his probation. Otherwise the government has no place policing speech, regardless of who is offended, and the president is not the film critic in chief. President Obama can be excused, however, for speaking out when Americans are being killed over an amateurish YouTube video.

Alex Aan’s trial begins Thursday

Via:- Maryam Namazie

Alex Aan‘s trial begins tomorrow, Thursday, with the first prosecution witnesses being called, according to Rafiq Mahmood. Alex is the 30 year old Indonesian civil servant who has been charged with ‘insulting’ Islam in an atheist group in Facebook.

Rafiq says:

This isn’t just for Alex but for all of us. There have been far too many “blasphemy” cases which have just slipped by. We have to stop it if we have a chance and Indonesia is a very good place to make a stand.

And a stand we must make.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and the Atheist Alliance International are collecting money towards Alex’s case. If you want to support his case financially, you can send a donation to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Just make sure to earmark it for Alex Aan.