On bashing people for their religion

I can bash religion as well as anyone else, but I draw a strong distinction between attacking the fallacies of religion and attacking people for their religious affiliation or expression. Mashable juxtaposed two New York tabloid front pages, both of which I consider seriously offensive. The Daily News quotes four politicians, expressing sentiments such as “our prayers are with the victims,” and declares in huge letters, GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” The Post says, in slightly larger letters, “MUSLIM KILLERS.”

It’s common for people to express sympathy for someone’s loss with expressions like “My prayers are with you.” It doesn’t generally mean they’re requesting divine intervention; it’s just their way of saying they care. The Daily News is so eager to make a political point, though, that it ridicules such expressions as “meaningless platitudes.” The Post sinks still lower, pandering to tribalism, xenophobia, and outright religious hatred. Hollywood Reporter calls the two front pages “sharply diverging” and Mashable says they’re in “sharp contrast,” but they’re both doing the same thing.
Front pages from Post and Daily News

Religion is, in practice, many things besides a set of assertions about the creation and governing of the universe. It’s a way people relate to their community and their culture. It’s one thing to consider its ideas absurd, another to mock people for conventional, benevolent religious expression or membership in a religious community.

9 Responses to “On bashing people for their religion”

  1. Christ Centered Teaching Says:

    2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

    3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires,because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

    4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2 Timothy 2:2-4 The Bible

    • Gary McGath Says:

      On the one hand, you demand that I preach the Biblical word (was I unclear that I’m an atheist?); on the other, you claim those who disagree with you have “itching ears” (what does that even mean?) and complain when they do any teaching.

      Your assertion that your claims are “the truth” isn’t a reason to believe them.

  2. Christ Centered Teaching Says:

    Mohammad made a doctrin and enslave e that would allow him to appeal to the base desires of men women and children. Study and you will know this for yourself. But Islam definitely enslaves. Be careful what you defend.

    • Gary McGath Says:

      Any faith-based doctrine can “enslave” in the sense of making people afraid to think for themselves. I agree that the Quran has a lot of hostility in it, but it’s no worse than the worst parts of the Bible. The stories of Joshua’s killing the entire populations of Jericho and Ai appeal just as much to “base desires.”

  3. Christ Centered Teaching Says:

    You obviously don’t know so I’ll give you a little history.
    Islam is NOT a religion of peace! Recommended reading “The Life of Muhammad” written by the Muslim historian Ibn Ishaq in 768 AD. The book gives an accurate picture of Muhammad… The very violent and aggressive military commander who fought and killed neighboring tribes into submission.

    One book reviewer writes:

    “Ishaq provides details identifying names of both Muslims and Non-Muslims in multiple engagements, sequencing and phasing of the fighting characterizing various attacks, description, background and narratives of specifically targeted assassination raids, and of the murders of other raid and expedition survivors. For example, the attack on B.Fazara resulted in the capture of Umm Qirfa Fatima d. Rabi’a b. Badr. “She was a very old woman, wife of Malik.” And she was murdered “by putting a rope to her two legs and to two camels and driving until they rent her in two (p. 665). Muhammad’s piecemeal, leisurely, butchery of between 600 – 900 survivors of the raid on B. Qurayza is described on page 464 and the parceling of the Qurayza property, women and (36) horses among the Muslims is described on page 466.”

    “Contained in each of these descriptions are examples of the planning, execution, discipline and tactics that should be of interest to modern day analysts who are confronted by actors modeling themselves on the examples of Mohammad and his followers”

    “Whether one is evaluating Mohammad as a self proclaimed prophet, military or diplomatic leader, this particular book is an essential source for analysts and researchers who need the best practical historical record.”


    Compared to this written by historian E. H. Lecky who was also a skeptic –

    “The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive in its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said that the simple record of three years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.”

    • Gary McGath Says:

      You’ve missed my whole point. Yes, Muhammad was a violent and aggressive military commander. This doesn’t mean that all who call themselves Muslims are violent and aggressive. Religions evolve over time, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Jesus offered changes in a peaceful direction from earlier interpretations of the Jewish law (e.g., rejection of death by stoning). Later Christians burned heretics; I doubt that Jesus would have approved of that. How people live their own lives is more important than the religious name they carry.

      • Christ Centered Teaching Says:

        You sound like you don’t know about the Reformation Martin Luther, Calvin and the part the Catholic Church played. It was corrupt and not Christian, thus the Reformation was needed.
        Read Foxes Book of Martyrs. The Catholic Church was full of legalistic hateful leaders who did not reflect Christlikeness at all. They were more like the religious leaders that crucified Christ evil men corrupt

        • Gary McGath Says:

          Yes, the Catholic Church was very corrupt at that period in history, with features such as a Borgia pope. Protestants haven’t always been innocent either; consider the Salem witch trials. That just gets back to my point that it’s people’s character that matters, not the religious label they choose.

          • Christ Centered Teaching Says:

            You show you don’t have a good grasp of the difference between a cult, heresy, and a true representation of Christianity. The puritan’s perpetrated the Salem witch trial. They missed the central emphasis of God’s Grace through Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics are considered to be similar to puritan’s in that they substitute the sacraments for the redemptive power alone Christ’s sacrifice instead of austere duty to their own works of righteousness. Both are called, “legalism” by protestants. Both of these instances you give serve to further prove the validity the gospel of Christ’s cross because legalistic religious leaders were the ones who crucified Christ. This is central to human nature and Mohammad made Islamic doctrine intentionally tailored to legalistic tendencies because his first attempt at Medina failed to compelling a following. At Mecca Mohammad transformed into a militant legalistic. The Islam of both eras is at war with itself and the world to this day through these conflicting doctrines in the same book known as the Koran.

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