Sunday, February 15, 2015

folks stay missing what the hon.bro.preznit is really about...,

salon |  Had religion not existed, had it waned by our time, all this violence would just not have happened. If some of these people would have found other reasons to fight, the religious aspect of the conflicts renders them intractable, even insoluble.

Conservatives were vexed by what Obama said next: “lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. . . . So this is not unique to one group or one religion.”

Straightaway, remember that both the Old Testament and the New sanction and even sanctify slavery, as well as proffer helpful advice to slave masters. The Catholic Church embarked on the Holy Inquisition not to do inexplicable violence “in the name of Christ,” but to rid its “flock” of unclean “sheep” – most notably “secret Muslims” and Jews, heretics and witches. Skull crushers and the auto-da-fé, breast rippers and thumbscrews (and much, much more, including Spanish Donkeys and Judas Cradles) all formed part of the godly torturers’ ghastly repertoire, which aimed to prompt innocents to “confess” their “crimes.” Which without religion would not have been crimes at all.
Obama went on to blame all this on “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.” But slaughter and mutilation occur as natural, almost inevitable phenomena among those believers – and they have been no trifling minority – who take literally their canon’s commands to conduct themselves savagely. After all, if, as a wannabe martyr, you think you’re carrying out the demands of “the Almighty,” with everlasting hellfire or the threescore and twelve virgins of paradise as the stakes, what will you not do?

We should not ascribe vile behavior to misreadings of the canon. It does not help us to suppose that its all-too-human authors penned words like “behead” and “enslave” expecting that they would be metaphorically interpreted. (You can perhaps imagine the absurdity of one of the benighted scribes, resurrected before a Religion 101 class, declaring, “By ‘smite off the infidels’ heads’ I really meant ‘give the unbelievers a stiff talking-to.’”)  After all, they were writing in barbarous ages. The inevitable conclusion: Most folk of the faiths in question behave decently only to the extent that they “pervert and distort” – that is, ignore – the more macabre dictates of their sacred credos.


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