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“All Muslims are potential terrorists”, “Islam is a religion of peace”, “the Religious Right is as bad as any terrorist”, “Islam is evil”, “Christian violence is worse than Islamic violence”. All of these statements can be seen, quite validly, by some people as blatant lies. On the other hand, depending on context, the opposite is true; all of these statements can be seen as arguably true. Put aside partisan reflexes and “certainty” for a moment and just ‘Imagine’ how such a paradox would be explained.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. That is not seen as too great of a tragedy by most of the people who make statements like these; the words are slogans or arrows aimed at an enemy, rarely are they sincere efforts to express actual thoughts, feelings or intents. In the light of this sad truth is becomes easier to see how pundits on all sides routinely conflate many effects, motives, natures and “reasons” in anything as dark and subtlety tangled as humanity’s tendency/habit/nature for killing other people “in the name of God”.

The two major elements in conflict in the statements in the first paragraph are:

  1. The nature of humans
  2. The nature of doctrinal scriptures in any particular human religion

“All Muslims are potential terrorists” – Actually, all humans with deep convictions are potential “terrorists”; it comes down to what moral choices a too rigid code of behavior “ordained by God” can put before a person. Anyone with a sincere understanding of the inescapable reality of “I COULD be wrong” is incapable of committing any great harm for their faith.

“Islam is a religion of peace” – Before I get hanged, drowned, burnt at the stake or pressed to death let me explain. The religious/semantic concepts here are familiar to both fundamentalist preacher and Soviet Commissar. In this case ‘peace’ is a word like ‘true’, (Pravda) that has one meaning to the speaker and another to un-indoctrinated listeners. The concept of “peace” in Islam comes down to everyone in reach being happily Muslim or inoffensively and impotently submissive to Muslims. It should also be pointed out that while the it’s scriptures consistently extol individual efforts toward peace, harmony and justice Christian doctrine, also based in scripture, does not even admit the concept of “peace” on Earth until after an apocalyptic Armageddon.

“The religious right are as bad as any terrorist” – O. K., but you have to ignore the massive social, cultural and scriptural differences that make the actual EXPRESSION of the “Our scripture says we are good and just to do (fill in the blank with the heinous crime of your choice), and there is NOTHING you can say or do to change that reality” attitude that many dogmatic religions share a difference between being a ‘pain in the neck’ and cutting someone poor f***’s head off.

“Islam is evil” – It certainly can be; so can total honesty, cheesecake and any given PTA. The one thing that pundits and apologists on all sides seem to selectively mis-remember is that even religions we do not like are protected by the 1st Amendment. Our dilemma, the problem that civil society OUGHT to be trying desperately to solve is how to dispassionately apply the Constitution so as to both preserve the 1st Amendment and rein in Islamic fundamentalists’ ability to “act out” in ways that “break someone’s leg or pick their pocket”. One part of any solution is that any and all laws and rules must be equally applicable and enforceable on any and all religious offenders of secular law who followed their faith into committing positive harm on another person.

“Christian violence is worse than Islamic violence” – That depends on where you are sitting. To the victims over the last 3 hundred years this statement is insultingly false. At the same time, when viewed through the lens of the expected attitudes, actions and reactions for someone desiring to be any accepted form of good Christian the statement is valid; any violence committed is a falling away from the strict path. The core texts of Christianity contain little to no material to stoke the fires of self-righteous human violence in the name of God; that even Christianity and Buddhism have violent pasts says more about human nature than about doctrines that seeks to transcend the darker parts of that nature. Islamic doctrine on the other hand is practically designed to be aggressively self-promoting in an earthly and social as well as religious sense giving freer rein to those who seek justification for their most evil tendencies.

Was that so bad? If anyone’s head exploded I either missed it or they fled to the lobby in time before their PC self-destruct countdown reached zero.

We have a problem people. Let’s stop pretending that we can only operate in the box, or out of the box; THERE IS NO BOX. There is reality, life and hope; patterns to perceive and problems to be solved.

America is not a zero-sum equation!

 

  1. S. Dear reader, did anyone notice that the terms conservative, liberal, progressive, democrat, republican, Obama, Palin, Sharpton, Limbaugh, MSM, Fox, tea bagger, left-wing and right-wing are missing from this piece?

It is almost as if, now tell me if I am wrong, as if those terms, those ‘boxes’, are useless in such a conversation. Who knows, they might even get in the way of first understanding actual problems and then solving those issues to the general satisfaction of reality, the Constitution and the public, (or republic if you are finicky) for which it stands.

Huffington Post’s Reverend Kimball Bears False Witness Against Christianity and Judaism

 Who would Jesus behead?

This, Virginia, is why I do not put any great weight on my own ordination; any fool can be ordained and seeking God has nothing to do with it; witness the blatant bearing of false witness to further a political agenda exercised by this so-called minister. Here a so called minister of God is even bearing false witness against his own religion, if you can believe it!

Here we have an analysis of the ranting’s of one Charles Kimball, the director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Baptist minister regarding the culpability of Christians and Christianity for the Oslo massacre and bombing by mass murderer (alleged, I think we are supposed to say Virginia) Anders Breivik.

The horrific events in Norway this past weekend provide yet another powerful teachable moment in the ongoing and increasingly dangerous saga of religion becoming lethal.

I can’t imagine how. Unless the good reverend’s point is somehow that the actions of non-Christian religious folk caused Breivik to snap I don’t see the point.  Breivik very pointedly explained that he was not, would not be, and did not recommend being a religious Christian; to him “Christian” seems to be no more than a catch-all term for non-Muslim of European culture! He also never used Christian theology in his writings to base his actions upon.

Indeed it would be hard to find any Christian “church” today, anywhere, that would be able to propound a theology based in the teachings of Jesus that would support the killing of anyone merely to make a point, let alone try to justify the slaughter of children to make said point. Even Fred Phelps and his sad band of haters do not promote violence, other than making decent people wish for an excuse to righteously kick their asses. Sadly, Phelps and Co. have been too clever so far to give the rest of us an excuse to use our laws to put them away… This is the price you pay for freedom.

Reality aside, facts aside, respect for his own religion and co-religionists aside, the good Rev. wants to use this as a teaching moment. Such aggressive compassion surely must be a good thing, right, Virginia? Right?

The murderous rampage by Anders Behring Breivik brings several important lessons more clearly into view.

Indeed, it does, but not in the way you seem to feel, Sir!

First, religion is an extraordinarily powerful and pervasive force in human society. Throughout history, people within various religions have been motivated to their highest and noblest best actions. At the same time, some of the worst things human beings have done to one another have been done in the name of or justified by religion. Religion is a powerful force inspiring constructive and destructive behavior among believers.

Right, but what does this have to do with a man, Breivik, who justified his evil with secular arguments, and did not use any religion’s message or theology to base his horror upon?

Second, we live in a world with many weapons of mass destruction. Quite apart from the horrors associated with chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, we now know that a devious plan can utilize automatic weapons, fertilizer, box knives and commercial airplanes as weapons of mass destruction. Attacking a summer camp for youth vividly reminds us that there are many ways people bent on doing great harm can accomplish their goal.

As far as I can tell that last paragraph was no more than background music for an ongoing apologia for the “free speech is good, but it can go too far” crowd who equate free speech with inoffensive (to them) speech.

Third, we now know with certainty that it doesn’t take many people to wreak havoc on a wide scale. Breivik may have acted alone or within a small circle of cohorts, as did Timothy McVeigh. Nineteen men carried out the attacks of Sept. 11. Small numbers of zealots who are convinced they know what God wants for them and for everyone else are capable of almost anything.

Notice how the oh, so honest Revd. throws in McVeigh, another secular terrorist who explicitly rejected any theological grounds for his crimes against humanity to balance the unarguably theocratic 9/11 terrorists, among others too numerous to count. What this compulsion he shares with other Leftists, to beat his breast and declare “We are just as bad!” instead of solving the problems, is all about is simply beyond me.

I can’t think of any modern religious terror committed by other than lone madmen at all except for the Islamic kind… Even the Irish terrorists who divided on religious lines never used Christianity to justify what they did, nor did the clergy in any way justify or support them, in fact for the most part they were Marxists whom the local Catholic clergy would not trust any more than they would Protestants!! The same can be said about abortion clinic bombers, they are lone wolves and, are not backed up by mainstream theology or communities in any way.

Not surprisingly, many preachers and pundits who have spewed hateful rhetoric and fanned the flames of Islamophobia are now scrambling to disassociate themselves, their published statements about Islam and Muslims, and what some call “true” Christianity from the actions of Breivik.

No my dear wolf in minister’s clothing, you are the one who is scrambling to tar innocent people with the taint of Breivik’s evil in order to further your own agenda  That is the very epitome of bearing false witness against your neighbor! I highly doubt even one of the people you seek to demonize ever called for violence against Muslims in any way; certainly none of the “influential” ones have; they certainly did not promote violence against the enablers of Islamism, which seems to be what Breivik thought he was doing in the dark buzzing cloud pretending to be his soul. At the same time, others quoted by Breivik have promoted violent and totalitarian schemes… but they are never mentioned by the oh, so righteous Reverend.

But words matter. Examine the path taken by violent extremists claiming inspiration from Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism and you can trace connections with the fiery rhetoric of influential, sometimes self-appointed leaders in madrasas, in books, at religious rallies, on websites and the like. There are consequences when cocksure Christians or Muslim militants proclaim God’s truth while stoking fear of the “other” in the minds of their would-be followers.

Here “Rev.” Kimball is bending over backwards until his spine snaps to attempt to “level the playing field” between Islam and other religions when it comes to directly inspiring violence. He fails to make his case.  Show me the violent Christian, Jewish or Buddhist movement, in the lifetime of this nation, that was encouraged by “fiery rhetoric” from “influential” books, churches, synagogues and leaders? Can you think of any in the last two hundred years? I can’t, just a handful of nutjobs who are universally excoriated by their own co-religionists.  No-one complained about what kind of burial Jim Jones got, no Christian thought it important how a lunatic mass murderer should be buried!

Meanwhile, the good reverend goes back to his “free speech is bad in the wrong hands” theme. The wrong hands here of course being hands that are possessed by someone who disagrees with the enlightened view of Revd. Kimball.

While there are no easy answers or simple solutions, there are constructive ways to move forward in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world community. It begins with education.

Study programs in schools and colleges, churches, mosques and synagogues are essential. Interfaith dialogue and engagement with people of different religious and cultural backgrounds are invaluable ways to dispel generic fears and help humanize the “other.” All across the U.S., Christians, Muslims and Jews are working together to build Habitat for Humanity houses and work on common problems such as crime and drug abuse within their communities. These kinds of intentional efforts at education and cooperation are vital at the local, national and international level. We need more and more such endeavors in the U.S., not only for the well-being of our communities, but also as a way to model the kind of healthy religious pluralism our future requires.

The truly sad part about Kimball’s misguided view is that the above actions are not being done, and never will be done by the kinds of religious extremists he worries about; not the handful of Christian ones and, not the thousands upon thousands of Muslim ones. At most they will use such activities as a smokescreen while they pursue their theocratic agenda’s unmolested.  I can only assume that either Mr. Kimball’s seminary did not offer a real course in history or, that he flunked it.

He also seems to be guilty of the sin of Liberal Racism. To that mindset the “underclasses” of past racist philosophies have not vanished, they are poor, helpless children that must take under protection, for their own good.

Because they are “of the oppressed”, a state of permanent victimhood, their actions do not make a difference compared to the actions of the evil, dominant White Man from Europe and America that is Kimball’s real devil, and God.

He will never compare the fruit of Muslim and Christian fairly, because then he would be forced to speak of Islam (from the perspective of any devout Christian clergyman) as a religion that might stem from God but, that has been mired for most of its existence in a theo/political system of worldly evil.

The path to a more hopeful and healthy future also requires people of faith and goodwill to speak out clearly and directly against extremists of all stripes.

I can’t argue with that. That is what the Heretics Crusade is.

Although most of us were taught by our parents not to talk about religion or politics in public, the stakes today are far too high for deferential silence or casual indifference. Ignorance is not bliss; silence is proving deadly.

Once again, I agree, I don’t think anyone reasonable would try. But, that is not the pitch, that is just the windup with a lean to the left to imply a slider, this next bit is the pitch; a spitball, knuckleball covered in tar.

Just as many people continue to call on Muslims to speak out forcefully and unambiguously against violence and extremism, so too must Christians and Jews openly challenge those who advocate extremism and foster hatred in the name of religion. This means, for example, naming names and identifying the theological and political positions of Jewish fundamentalists and Muslim extremists who block potential paths to peace in Israel/Palestine.

The problem with this little gem is that the Jewish and Christian communities in this country as a whole have always stood against anyone who used violence and extremism to advance or defend their faiths! It has been held a virtual truth that to do so is to abrogate that faith entirely!

Just what more is it that they are supposed to do when the mainstream Islamic community complains about how Osama Bin Laden was buried after assuring us for years that he was not a “real Muslim”?

For me, as a follower of Jesus and a Christian minister, it means strongly disagreeing with TV preachers with political clout such as John Hagee and Rod Parsley. They have every right to espouse their religious and political worldviews. But their ill-informed and hateful rhetoric about Islam and Muslims, as well as their certainty that Jesus will be arriving in the next couple of weeks, has very real consequences.

That is nice Chuck, when are you going to do it? This whole piece reads like it is aimed against free speech and, to me, seems to be intended to gently brush Oslo/Breivik tar on anti-Jihadist bloggers and writers who have never propounded, or invoked, an ideology of violence; yet gives a pass to Breivik “inspiring” figures and writers (in his own words) who happen to be on your side of the war in your mind. You haven’t even given us a clear idea of just what they say that you oppose! If that last paragraph was really the point of your post then, I have to say I think your point fell flat.

The mind-boggling terrorism manifest in Norway will continue to provide hard but important lessons about the dangers all around us and the need to find more constructive ways to move forward in the 21st century. It is a stark reminder that we share a fragile planet where ignorance, hate and fear can link easily with religious worldviews and produce horrific consequences.

Yes Virginia, the world is a dangerous place, especially if you equate the evil acts of lone scumbags with the evil acts of organized and ideologically driven scumbags who are numerous and active instead of isolated and sporadic.

Dearborn Michigan Arab Festival Enforces Sharia Law: Christians Be Silent or Be Mobbed

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Having lived in New Orleans a number of years and having spent a lot of time observing Jackson Square, where all the Tarot and Palm readers hang out, I have seen a great many Christian street preachers at work. Many of them are obnoxious and some are positively toxic and flout the law left and right because the “rightness” of their faith has convinced them that they can do no wrong in the service of their god.

On the other hand many are sincere, faith-feeling folk with a great inner love and compassion for their fellow man; whether I agreed with their message or not, such people were never offensive to me. But, other than the few who flouted the law, like the fellow with the megaphone from Radio Shack who already knew it was illegal but used it for over an hour until TOLD by the police not to use it, only then did he comply; and repeated this tactic with another shift of police later in the day! Then there was the man who stood on the steps of the Saint Louise Cathedral during service and preached (to the square, back to the church, I guess this made it ok in his mind) a hellfire and damnation rant that included just about everyone in the square, including the parishioners in the building behind him, as hell-bound sinners in need of his message for their soul’s sake.

The fun thing about freedom of speech though, others were free to answer back! It is not right to disrupt someone’s legal speech, but responding is certainly ok! I answered a few myself when they crossed the line. I went toe to toe with the megaphone man and with greater volume (thank you theater training) gave him hell for not having enough passion in Christ to preach the message with his own lungs, relying on devil spawned technology to shove his words into unwilling ears. Yes Virginia, I can have an attitude, but I always have fun! I have also stood BETWEEN an obnoxious but legal preacher and a bunch of immature Pagan types who wanted to mess with him in ways that were more obnoxious than what he had done himself… Hypocrisy is never fun to watch and the Square was my professional home and I defended it.

The thing is though, this was all verbal, in 8 years I never saw anyone who wasn’t obviously mentally disturbed or blind drunk every try, note I said try not succeed, in initiating violence or mob intimidation tactics. The video that follows shows something very different from anything I ever witnessed, regardless of the religion of the preacher or the crowd.

I would want to talk to a lawyer but, I do believe that the actions of the crowd, and its instigator/leaders, can be seen as an active, spontaneous, conspiracy to deny the preacher his civil rights! Recast the scene with a black man preaching to white townsfolk about joining his church in 1945 Alabama and it would appear a heinous violation of the preacher’s identity as a human being by a hateful, bigoted mob. The man even appears Arab, but, for daring to preach any “gospel” but theirs he is all but set upon and the mob is allowed to intimidate the man to leave a public space where he has been exercising his rights… If this video is not a bit Orwellian to you, then Virginia, you just have not been paying attention.

Act 17 Apologetics is, in my opinion a bit aggressive but, they come nowhere near crossing the line on first amendment rights to share religious “opinion” in the public square, as such they are to be defended in their rights as vehemently as any co-religionist of ALL Americans!

Frankly, the cops should have loudly told the crowd that the man had the right to preach all he wanted and that if they persisted in harrasing him to leave they would be arrested for conspiracy to violate his civil rights and any RICO/Mob related laws they could think of that might apply, now go back to your festival and have fun, or else!

Jesus was a Palestinian? That’s what one public school textbook says.

Jesus was a Palestinian? That’s what one public school textbook says.

From Fox News

Although Jesus lived in a region known in his time as Palestine, the use of the term “Palestinian,” with its modern connotations, is among the hundreds of textbook flaws cited in a recent five-year study of educational anti-Semitism detailed in the book “The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion.”

A “true or false” question on the origins of Christianity asserted that “Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus.” The teacher’s edition says this is “true.”

But even though Jesus is the founder of Christianity, the question ignores the fact that he was Jewish. And Ybarra said, “The Christian scriptures say that he preached in Judea and Galilee, not Palestine,” a term that was used at the time as a less specific description of the broader region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

“They’re under pressure from all kinds of minority groups, religious groups, and they try to satisfy everyone and that results in content that is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator,” he said. “And so, in that process, things can be missed. Errors can survive.”

Ybarra also claims that the textbooks tend not to treat Christianity, Judaism and Islam equally.

Islam has a privileged position,” he said. “It’s not critiqued or criticized or qualified, whereas Judaism and Christianity are.”

(HH here: in response toe the Liberal element lurking here I say yes, Christians have certainly also been guilty of painting school books in religious colors. The difference is that the tendency is in retreat in Christianity and in advance in Islam.)

One example is in the glossary of “World History: Continuity and Change.” It calls the Ten Commandments “moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God,” while the entry for the Koran contains no such qualifier in saying it is the “Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God.”

Experts agree, though, that part of the problem rests in the fact that there are so few textbook publishers.

Seventy-five percent of public school books are published by just three companies: Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education. None responded to requests for comment for this story.

“It’s a big problem right now that we have so few choices in our textbooks,” Haynes said. “This is an industry. … It’s a marketplace. They’re trying to sell their textbooks.”

But Ybarra said it goes deeper than pure economics. He thinks the school books are being used as tools for propaganda, particularly to perpetuate negative attitudes towards Christianity, Israel and pro-Palestinian views concerning the Middle East.

(HH: in public schools all religions need to be treated in completely objective fashion in historical context ONLY!)

“We fear that this is creating a generation of biased school children,” he said. “Some of our projects in the higher education realm with some of these same subject matters, we find that students do show up at universities with these prejudices.”

(HH: A big problem with this issue, just like the Radical Muslim issue, is that a fair number of the folks who agree that there is an anti-Christian, Anti-Jewish factor here want the freedom toe impose THEIR religious bias in the other direction. There are too few moderate voices attacking the hypocrisies of BOTH sides here. IT must be like living in the 50’s and SEEING the Soviet threat but the only people who truly agree with you are jingoistic McCarthy lovers and racists! My attitude would probably be the same it is now. I would kick butt verbally on BOTH the Soviets and McCarthy.

There is a huge red light that goes off when a radical, close-minded partisan speaks or responds. They take whatever position that they are reacting to and spin it to the extreme of the opposition. A hardline conservative might respond to ANY questioning of unrestricted gun ownership by attacking you as a fascist, big government, intervening traitor to all that is American. The Liberal version will respond to your assertion that it SEEMS that towns and counties with lots of guns don’t have much gun CRIME with slurs against your humanity and assertions that you want 8 year olds to be able to buy weapons at Walmart.

As you can see neither one is actually able to defend their ideas creatively nor can they pick out any of your thoughts and logically critique it.

These sad souls are not my audience. I am not speaking to them other than in response to their questions. I am speaking to the majority that stand in a state of inaction due to the extreme left and right not allowing any real discourse or, God forbid, solutions.)

Ybarra maintains that, ultimately, parents and communities need to get involved and demand accountability from school boards, publishers and scholars on what goes into the materials being used to teach fresh, young minds.