Posts Tagged ‘Islam’
Having been a fan of Pat Condell for quite a while now, I have to say that he hits a bullseye with his latest video: Religion of Fear. It’s refreshing to find somebody who’s willing to speak his mind without fear of retribution and, as a matter of fact, echo my own inner thoughts on the matter. I wish that he would run for Parliament ‘cos I would back him all of the way.
On a related note, I find the news story of the Muslim bus driver who insisted that the passengers on his bus get off while he prays completely ridiculous. Religious observance shouldn’t give anybody an automatic right to do as they wish at the inconvenience of others.
For many years now, religious people have sought protection from criticism of their convictions on the grounds that they are ‘sacred’. Until recently, the s-word has usually guaranteed unquestioning respect for beliefs and activities that might otherwise have been considered ridiculous, bigoted or downright dangerous.
Nowadays, certain atheists have become much more outspoken and believers are finding that their religious views are being challenged, in some cases, quite aggressively. Naturally, this hasn’t gone down too well, particularly with the more dogmatic religionists who have enjoyed immunity from serious criticism for far too long and this vocal minority of articulate non-believers has sent fundamentalists of all faiths into a frenzy of indignation.
But why should belief in the supernatural automatically be labelled as sacred? Why should bizarre and unfounded myths about invisible sky-gods, and their accompanying rituals, be singled out for special treatment? Shouldn’t respect be earned? When certain interpretations of so-called sacred writings can engender intolerance, hatred, even murder in a fanatical minority of religionists, can they be considered worthy of veneration? If beliefs and scriptures can legitimately be interpreted to support violence and oppression, are they really deserving of respect?
Fundamentalist views, in particular, shouldn’t be afforded any protection from scrutiny and condemnation if and when it is warranted. The appalling attitudes towards gays, women and members of other religions (or none) by some of those demanding respect for the sacredness of their beliefs must be challenged boldly and consistently. Covering some very offensive ideas with a cloak of sacredness has allowed them to flourish. Disputing those ideas in the light of rationality and morality will show them up for what they really are.
Perhaps we should all start demanding that the things we hold inviolate are protected from disruption or condemnation. For example, after a long, busy working week I consider my Saturday morning lie-in to be sacrosanct. So I don’t appreciate it when earnest proselytisers come knocking on our door first thing every other Saturday, disturbing my peace and sending our neighbour’s dog literally barking mad. I’d tell them to buzz off and not bother coming back, but by the time I’ve stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of bed and found my dressing gown, they’ve moved off to have a loud and fervent conversation with the unlucky woman next door who chose the wrong moment to set out for the shops.
On a more serious note, the majority of people in the UK believe that free speech is an inalienable right. However, the exercise of this freedom seems to get some fundamentalists’ backs up to the extent of parading the streets carrying hate-filled placards and even rioting and stone-throwing if they think they can get away with it.
Most people cherish their families, but, again, religious fundamentalists apparently have no qualms about blowing up other people’s mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to get their warped point across. How can such perverted individuals demand respect for their views and yet feel perfectly justified in trampling on the very things that other people hold dear?
Labelling religious beliefs as sacred, in my opinion, often gives the believer carte blanche to express those beliefs in ways that inconvenience or even harm others with perfect impunity. I say, “No more!” Let them learn the kind of respect for the cherished convictions and freedoms of others that they demand for themselves. And banish the word ‘sacred’ all together.
Edit: LiveLeak have now removed Fitna from their servers due to serious threats being made against their staff – a case of life imitating art, I guess – but it can still be seen on Google Video (see below) and YouTube.
On the 30th of September 2007, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens sat down for a first-of-its-kind, unmoderated 2-hour discussion, convened by RDFRS and filmed by Josh Timonen.
All four authors have recently received a large amount of media attention for their writings against religion – some positive, and some negative. In this conversation the group trades stories of the public’s reaction to their recent books, their unexpected successes, criticisms and common misrepresentations. They discuss the tough questions about religion that face the world today, and propose new strategies for going forward.