Friday, March 10, 2006

Crap. I meant to post a blog yesterday that I had written about a new poll in the Washington Post that showed that a majority of Americans have negative feelings about Islam. I spent some time working on my post, but apparently I accidentally erased what I had written before posting it (I think I logged off thinking I had already published the post). Anway, suffice it to say that I am frustrated and disappointed by the results of the poll. I think that there are plenty of religious fanatics within the confines of American Christianity who do just as much if not more damage to the world than the Muslims. Maybe the primary difference is that instead of being a marginalized, splinter group who has to resort to terrorism in order to fight their ideological opponents, our religious zealots seem to be able to gain prominent positions within our government and society. You don't have to set of roadside bombs when your religious base votes you into office and you can just go ahead and start a full scale war.

I gotta say, that as a nonreligious American (I wouldn't call myself a complete atheist, but agnostic probably fits) I feel pretty beseiged by Christian conservatives in this country. They've managed to pretty much ban gay marriage, they're relaunching their attack upon abortion, they're pushing for Christian iconography in government buildings, they're continually pushing for prayer in schools, they've been pitching a fit about the whole "Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" thing, and they even want us to turn our back on science and teach intelligent design in schools rather than evolution.
Let me assure everyone that I'm not out to attack Christianity. I'm happy for people who practice it and find meaning and comfort in it. What bugs me is that nowadays it feels like Christians can't seem to leave everyone else alone.
Kids shouldn't have to feel like outcasts if they don't want to join in group prayer in school. Knowledge gained through scientific experiment and discovery shouldn't be discarded because of political pressure from people who aren't capable of reconciling modern scientific thought with their religious beleifs. Institutions of government shouldn't intimidate non-Christian and practicitioners of other religions by way of Christian iconography on the courthouse lawn (the role of governemtn in this country should never be to make one group feel more privileged than another within our society). Jews and non Christians shouldn't be excluded from the holiday season just because they don't wish people a "Merry Christmas" (especially since the church is historically said to have established the holiday of Christmas largely in order to compete with the Roman holiday of Saturnalia and Celtic winter solstice celebrations). Christians shouldn't be allowed to force non-christians to comply with their religious viewpoint of what a marriage ought to be, and although Christians are entitled to their religiously-informed views on abortion, their views shouldn't hold more weight than any other person's merely because they are based on Christian theology.
I don't know. I just feel frustrated. I think that Islam and Christianity can both be beautiful things when practiced in the right way, but they each need to include a respect and reverence for other people and their ideas as they are practiced (and I don't think that it's impossible to be a devout Christian and still be tolerant and open minded- after all, Jesus taught primarily by way of persusasion and leading a life of example- not by trying to force other people to adopt his views, right?).
Anyway, all of this to say that even mainstream Christianity (or at least the religious right) can seem kind of oppressive and Christianity certainly seems to have its own radical splinter groups (The Branch Davidians, The Aryan Nation, and others seem to all claim to practice a form of Christianity), so it just irks me to see America casting stones at Islam. I guess the whole thing isn't too unexpected given the fact that Muslims have been getting pretty much nothing but bad press in this country since 9/11.

I just reread this and decided that it sounds like I'm coming down a little too hard on Christianity as a whole. I didn't mean to do that. I was just trying to point out that there are hardline religious conservatives within all different kinds of religions (including Islam and Christianity), and that zealots who practice intolerance are difficult to deal with, no matter what religion you're talking about.


JMD said...

Dolph Steanso, what, in your mind, is the distinction between atheist and agnostic?

The League said...

Agnostic: a) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
b) One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Atheism: a) Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
b) The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

J.S. said...

I think Roundball actually hit it on the head, Jim.