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ethno-religious race baiting needs to stop

September 10, 2010

I’m sick to death of all this manufactured hullabaloo about Obama secretly being a Muslim and Islam being more violent and less tolerant than Christianity. The right in America has been searching for a new boogieman since the end of the Cold War to replace the evils of communism — which, in the words of the late Sen. Absalom Robertson, “seek simultaneously to destroy our democratic way of life and the faith in an Almighty God on which it is based” — and they’ve found one in Islam. But I say, “Enough already!”

A recent survey shows that a growing number of Americans think that Obama is a Muslim. To begin with, a person’s religious affiliation shouldn’t matter, it’s their actions that count. Moreover, it’s completely irrelevant to public office considering that the First Amendment creates, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, a “wall of separation between church and state.”

What truly bothers me, however, is that not only do people care what religion Obama professes to practice, but they can’t even get it right! Either the majority of these people are so easily misled by right-wing hack-jobs that they’re willing to accept he’s a closet Muslim who was born in Kenya (despite the fact that he has a Hawaiian birth certificate) or they’re unwilling to say that they don’t know and guess (making themselves look even dumber when they get the answer wrong).

If there are ‘educated’ people who think Obama is Muslim, I’d seriously question their so-called education, and I’d think it’s more likely they’re using the label pejoratively in order to attack Obama and sway public opinion away from him, which is a disgusting and ultimately racist political maneuver if you ask me. Has the right so quickly forgotten their last contrived controversy surrounding Rev. Wright and the charge that Obama was a racist Christian attending a ‘radical black church’?

As if that weren’t bad enough, we have washed-up Jim Jones wannabes like Terry Jones going around threatening to burn Korans and claiming that Islam is a more violent and less tolerant religion than Christianity. Never mind that, historically speaking, Christianity hasn’t been very tolerant of other faiths, either, e.g., the various Crusades, which we against fellow Christians, Jews and Muslims; medieval pogroms against the Jews, etc.; and then there are things like Uganda’s anti-homosexual bill that was inspired in part by an American, evangelical conference, held a month before, whose theme was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda.”

And if you think that the holy books of Judaism and Christianity are any warmer and fuzzier than the Koran (which, by the way, forbids persecution of “people of the Book,” i.e., Jews and Christians), just read things like Deut 20:16-18, Deut 22:13-21 and Deut 22:23-24. Then there’s this heart-warming utterance of Jesus: “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:27). As Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).

If Jews and Christians took their holy books more seriously (i.e., literally), they’d be stoning people to death as well. The real difference, I think, isn’t in the substance of the three Abrahamic religions themselves, but in the cultures that are influenced by these religious traditions. Islamic society was, during the Middle Ages, arguably more tolerant and prolific than their Christian contemporaries. It was mainly Muslims that helped to preserve the works of Aristotle, for example; and the Muslims were far more tolerant of Jews in places like Spain than their Christian counterparts (for more on this, see Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, 323 & 419-31).

I think it’s fair to say that certain people and cultures are more intolerant and prone to use religious teachings to justify violence, but I don’t think it’s fair to single out Muslims or Islam as being less tolerant/more violent than Christians or Christianity. People should be judged by their actions, not by what they chose to call themselves. Yes, the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but singling out a particular religion like this only shows the world how intolerant we, as a country, can be.


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  1. I do have a different view of the Parable of the Talents, Jason. Here is what I wrote elsewhere:

  2. In respect to your last paragraph, I found this webpage this morning:

    The owner of this site is an atheist, btw.

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