I’m hearing a great deal these days about religion, especially from the very Conservative Right Wing in both Canada and the USA.
It’s hard not to listen to a radio talk-show these days, especially emanating from the States, where the host isn’t invoking God into his/her monologues, or during caller exchanges.
It seems to me that the Americans who are most supportive of Bush’s war policies, are also the ones who least get the point for their nation’s need to have gone to war.
What the Americans are fighting is religion. American men and women are overseas in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan fighting Islamists. Hell; the whole threat to the modern day world is coming from Islamists who have an iron willed belief in their God and dogma.
When the Russians (Soviets) were fighting the Afghans, and the Western world was supporting the Mujahedin, I was rooting for the Russians. The USA pulled out all stops to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan by supporting Islamists of every stripe.
Not only did the CIA arm the Islamists, they also trained them, provided logistical information, and cared for their wounded and famished members in refugee camps in Pakistan. All for the purpose of killing Russians.
There is no question that this US strategy helped end the Cold War and the threat of Communist expansion. But at what price?
The Russian war in Afghanistan ended more than a decade ago, but the training and arming of the Islamists was never forgotten. The incredible victory of Islam over the Atheist Russians empowered the Islamists beyond any of the Western world’s worst nightmares.
I contend without doubt, that the Islamist victory over the Russians in Afghanistan begat 9/11.
MY GOD’S BETTER THAN YOUR GOD!
The founding Fathers of the United States who framed the US Constitution were brilliant in their decision to separate Church from State. So much so, that it enabled America to become the beacon by which the rest of the Western world has more or less set their collective social and political compass.
The American Constitutionalists established two clear and distinctive Rights concerning religion. The Right and Freedom to practice whichever religion a practitioner chooses (including none). And the Right (obligation) for the State to practice none.
I am a Jewish Atheist. It’s simple for me to believe in the history and culture of the Jewish people without believing in the existence of God. That’s what I believe, and according to my Constitutional Rights within Canada, that is what I am allowed to believe.
Most of my friends (Christians and Jews) however, believe otherwise, and have faith that there is a God. And according to their Constitutional Rights, that too is what they are allowed to believe.
And as long as everyone is allowed to believe as they wish, with the State professing no belief, the system works. It is when the State decides in any capacity that religion must, or should be a part of political and social life, is where the problems begin.
In the Communist doctrine, the practice of religion was more or less forbidden. This didn’t work, and neither should have it. In the Islamist States, Religion is the cornerstone of all society. And this doesn’t work either. It’s a disaster.
On March 4, 1789, 214 years ago, 55 men put into place a document that guaranteed there would be no religious strife within the borders of the USA. The Framers of the US Constitution made certain not to bring the religious prejudices of their newly immigrated citizens upon their new country.
Even though the premise of separation of Church and State was worthy and moral, it took more than two centuries for this doctrine to become embedded as part of the American culture. But now, there are far Right Wing forces trying to reverse the clock and the doctrine by fighting to have God re-introduced into schools and government.
I remember how revolted I used to be watching football teams in mandatory team prayer before games. It pisses me off to no end when someone like Whitney Houston takes to the stage to accept a music or acting award and blathers on and on about thanking God.
Did she really believe that God wanted everyone else to lose? And if God is so important in her life, how come she’s a drugged-out alcoholic who isn’t sure who she’ll be sharing her bed with?
I used to recite the Lord’s Prayer every day in school. I used to sing Bible Hymns such as Onward Christian Soldiers, not realizing that these same Christian soldiers carrying the Cross were marching to murder Jews and Moslems during the Crusades.
Even today, I can sing many if not most of the Christmas Carols by heart. And none of that harmed me. But that didn’t make it right either.
Like most Montreal Jewish children of my day, I went to Protestant school from morning to mid afternoon, and then to Jewish school afterwards. But more than most Jewish kids, I went to a Rabbinical College run by the ultra orthodox Lubavitchers.
And there is where I learned about religious fanaticism.
I don’t know if I was ever a believer, since there were so many questions for which the only answer was “because”. To me, “because” is not an answer.
If Judaism is the ONLY true religion, does that make the rest of the world illegitimate?
If the ONLY way to be redeemed after death is to believe unconditionally in Christ, does that mean the rest of the world will rot in Hell?
If considering ALL non believers of Mohammed and Allah to be Infidels and unworthy, does that mean the entire non-Moslem world is irrelevant?
If we are too thick to have forgotten the thousands of years of war and genocide all carried out in the name of religion, then what’s the excuse for us not to be sufficiently aware of what is happening today in the name of religion?
Just look at the backwardness, poverty and violence of countries practising official Islam everywhere.
Everyone must have the RIGHT to practice their religious beliefs as they wish, in as much as those beliefs cause no legal harm. And they should have the RIGHT to promote their beliefs in any forum they wish.
In every forum that is, but the Government and public institutions.
I don’t want to live in a Theocracy of any degree. I don’t want to swear on a Bible when I go to court. I would rather swear on the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights. Or just promise to tell the truth. Period!
There should be no reference to God in my National Anthem. God should be reserved for our own private beliefs.
I am pleased to wish my Christian friends a heartfelt wonderful Christmas. And from time to time Anne and I light Sabbath Candles and make a prayer over wine and Challah bread on Friday nights. It’s a comfortable way for us to keep in touch with our Jewish culture.
If we had children, which we don’t, we would give them a Jewish educational background so they too could understand and appreciate their roots. And we would make certain that they would also understand the principles and history of other global religions. And then they could then make up their own minds as to how they would choose to believe.
All of this is to say that the push to bring religion back into public vogue is terribly bothersome to me. It is also frightening.
I don’t want to be anything at all like the enemy we are fighting worldwide today. I want to base my beliefs, philosophies and choices on secular reason opposed to ANY form of religious dogma.
To move in any other direction would be a political and social disaster.