Under Construction

Introduction:

This page could be put in the society section, the history section, the political section or the mental health section, but I put it here in the religion section because of the dominance of religious intolerance.

Slightly more than 50% of hate crimes were racially motivated so we could classify this as a social problem, but the fact is white churches passed out sheets to KKK members and both the KKK and the white supremacists quote the Bible to justify their actions.

One of the main complaints of Islamic fundamentalists is western decadence and political involvement in the Middle East, so Islamic terrorism could be considered a social or political issue.
But this tension can be traced back to the crusades or earlier, which were a religious conflict.

In A.R. Schaffer's paper "Justification for war?" he says,
"While religion and politics do not often mix, politics often uses the "just war" theology of Augustine and Aquinas as a basis for their justification of their declarations of war."
We see that in Pizarro's conquest of the Incas below.

In the 1967 supreme court decision banning laws against interracial marriage, chief justice Earl Warren's opinion states "The present statutory scheme dates from the adoption of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, passed during the period of extreme nativism which followed the end of the First World War."

Following World War I nativist's (anti-immigration) in the twenties focused thier attention on Catholics, Jews, and southeastern Europeans and realigned their beliefs behind racial and religious nativism.[5]. The term fundamentalism was born at this time.

I think we all have a "hate gene", however it is expressed more strongly in some than in others or the "tolerance gene" overrides it in others.
This is a psychological or biological issue out of my scope, but I do have a theory on the fundamentalist page.

Background:

Ten years ago I was soliciting contributions for a mission trip to Honduras at work when a Hindu co-worker asked "Why do Christians think there religion is better than others". I couldn't answer.
The next year was on an outing in Tibet and shared a tent with a Jewish man who meditated twice a day. We were discussing Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and he said, "If one of these religions turns out to be right we are all in a lot of trouble."

The recent death of Steve Jobs who was attracted to Buddhism, the purchase of a house down the street from my church for Muslim religious use, and the islamophobic rhetoric of some Tea Party friends started me on creating this page.

About ten years ago I joined a men's Bible study to increase my understanding of Christianity and the Bible. Although the main focus was the study of scripture, I left after seven or eight years because of regular introduction of right wing political views (anti climate change, anti-environment, anti-gay, the value of thrift in dealing with money with no mention of one of the dominant themes in the new testament, that is using your money to help the less fortunate), with interpretation of the Bible to "prove" them.
It exemplified the "Echo Chamber Effect", where like minded people take a claim and reinforce each other in amplifying it resulting in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted version.
This was in the north east not the bible belt.

I still have doubts (see doubt in Why Christianity) about religion in general but am sticking by my religion (why is another story), however I have no desire belittle someone else's religion.
Whether it be the resurrection of the body, reincarnation, or God's revelations to Muhammed, most religions require some leaps of faith.
So, who am I to say two thirds of the people in the world are wrong or misguided.


Tolerance - Respect for other religions:

In Mich Albom's book "Have a Little Faith", he asks one of the two main characters, his old Rabi, how he can be so open minded (regarding discussions with a Hindu woman who was helping care for him). The Reb, as Albom calls him, responds,
"You should be convinced of the authenticity of what you have, but you must also be humble enough to say that we don't know everything. And since we don't know everything, we must accept that another person may believe something else."
"I'm not being original here, most religions teach us to love our neighbor."

Albom comments,
"If the only thing wrong with Moses is that he's not yours; if the only thing wrong with mosques, Lent, chanting, Mecca, Buddha, confession, or reincarnation is that they're not yours - well, maybe the problem is you."

In April 2010 the Pope asks us to pray 'that every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by respect, tolerance, and dialogue among believers'.

American religious freedom:
We were taught in school that America was primarily settled by people seeking religious freedom.

Fundamentalist Christians are trying to convince the American public that the founding fathers intended to establish this as a Christian country. Those on the left claim that Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe, were Deists, a popular belief in the Age of Enlightenment that an all-powerful creator did not intervene in human affairs with things like supernatural miracles and wanted a secular state.

In Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, BeliefNet.com editor in chief Steven Waldman says that all of the above views were wrong. He shows there was great diversity in the founding fathers, from Jefferson a self-diagnosed heretic, for instance, and Washington a churchgoing Anglican who was silent on points of doctrine and refrained from taking communion.

As to the question of "how did it come about that the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantee that 'Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof', he shows that the separation of church and state did not result from the activism of secularists, but, paradoxically, from the efforts of 18th-century evangelicals.

See also "Religious wisdom of America's founding fathers" at NotAboutReligion.com.


I quote the ReligiousTolerance web site a lot in the religion section of this web site for the good statistics they have. It is produced by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (OCRT), who's objectives are to disseminate accurate religious information and expose religious fraud, hatred and misinformation. (Their site gets over 10 million web hits per week)

They say,
"In recent decades, there have been a few largely inter-tribal mass murders and genocides. Consider Rwanda and Kenya. But most conflicts have involved inter-religion and intra-religion differences. Consider Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, India, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka and other hot spots. [I'd add Sunni/Shia conflicts in Iraq and Iran and other places]. We feel that it is important to help people understand how the misuse of religion can result in profound evil, even in those countries like the U.S. and Canada that have traditionally experienced relative religious peace."

Fundamentalism:
Fundamentalism appeals to religious believers who feel threatened by the encroachment of liberal values into traditionally religious spheres. They feel besieged by secular culture which they regard as immoral and godless.
This applies to both Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. and Islamic fundamentalists who feel western decadence violates the principals of most religions. At the New World Encyclopedia they say "The narrow exclusivism of fundamentalism, however, is contrary to the spirit of tolerance found in all religions."

See:
Fundamentalism at the New World Encyclopedia
Christian Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists here

Intra vs Inter faith tolerance:
It's my belief that moderates between religions are closer together (able to get along - tolerant) than fundamentalists and moderates within a religious sect.
I know of examples of major rifts between individual Sunnis over the violence of the fundamentalists and of major rifts within a Christian Church over beliefs of things like creation-evolution, the Iraq war, ...

Fr. Fergus O'Donoghue S.J., an Irish Jesuit historian, said, "Fundamentalists feel themselves to be religiously superior to everybody else, including those whom they see as less devoted followers of their own faiths."

I know I am more comfortable discussing religion with my moderate, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and atheist friends than with my fundamentalist Christian friends who have all the answers.

Our pastor gave a sermon just before Christmas contrasting the shepards who got instant faith when visited by angels and the Maji (Wise Men) to took several years to get to Jerusalem (Note: Those Christmas scenes showing the shepards together with the wise men at jesus birth are not historically accurate. The timing of the Maji's visit is not in the Bible.)
He pointed out that there can be a lot of animosity between members of the same church, some of whom can point to the exact time of their rebirth and getting faith and others who are on a never ending journey to define their faith. See doubt below.

Christian Persecution:
Persecution of religious groups, particularly Christians, by communist regimes (Russia, China) was common.
Persecution at OpenDoorsUSA.org says there are still hundreds of millions of Christians around the world today suffering persecution for their faith.
There have been increased instances of anti-Christian violence in Arab countries after the Iraq war and specifically after the Arab Spring uprisings in places like Egypt in 2011.

See The 50 countries where the worst Christian persecution exists.

Multiculturalism:
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures. It goes beyond religious tolerance to include people of different races and cultures.

For a country knows as the "melting pot" the United States has gone thru periods of discrimination against African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and others. Some of this still exists.
See: Multiculturalism at Wikipedia

Islam and the Qur'an:
Because of all the publicity on extremist terrorism, people are most familiar with the passages on infidels in the Qur'an (see below).
However Islam is probably the most ecumenical of the three Abahamic/monotheistic1 religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Probably because it was the last to be established and could draw on the other two.

For example The Qur'an, 2:62 which says,
"Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians...and (all) who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."

1. Muhammad was descended from Jewish patriarch, Abraham's son, Ishmael. See Muhammad on the Islam page.

As far as I am concerned the Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in one God so he must be the same whether you call him Elohim (Hebrew), ehyeh (Ancient Hebrew), Yahweh (YHWH) (Modern Hebrew), Elaha (Aramaic), Jehovah (anglicized version of YHWH), Allah (Al-Lah) (Arabic) or God.

See Names for God and See God on the Islam page.

Infidels:

An infidel (literally "one without faith") is one who has no religious beliefs, or who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a particular religion - especially in reference to Christianity or Islam.

When we think of the word infidel today it brings to mind Muslim extremists term for their enemies, but infidels has been used by all groups to refer to people they are fighting.

The Quran:
Many people will say that the Quran instructs Muslims to mount a jihad and kill all Infidels.
The references in the Quran actually refer to a specific group of people in a specific time. See Jihad on the Islam page

Historical evidence:
A considerable parts of India was for several centuries controlled by the Muslim Mughal Empire, yet Hindu's were not killed in mass.

When Saladin took back Jerusalem in 1291 it is said that he allowed all christian inhabitants to leave before his people entered.
King Richard and Saladin agree on a truce, , the terms of which permitted Christians to visit Jerusalem without paying tribute and have free access to the holy places.
Contrast this with the Christian crusades below.

Christian Use of Infadel:
During the Middle Ages (A.D. c. 450-c. 1500), the Catholic Church used the term to describe Muslims (followers of Islam, the religion founded by the prophet Muhammad; c. A.D.570-632). Source: What Was An Infidel? at eNotes.

Crusades:
In 1095 at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban gave a speech to rally the western Christians for a crusade to take back Jerusalem from the infadel!

When the crusaders got to Jerusalem they massacred every Muslim, Jew and even some Christian inhabitants. Contrast that with Saladin's conquest in 1291.
See: Ian's World of History

I still remember vacation bible school when I was 8 or 9 years old. The theme was the Crusades; We made swords and shields and sang

"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
...
At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
...
We are not divided, all one body we,
one in hope and doctrine, one in charity."
As far as I knew we didn't have any Mosques in my neighborhood or Muslims in my school and I never learned to associate them as the enemy, however I can see some might.

New world expansion:
In 1532, Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured Inca emperor Atahuallpa and held him for ransom. After collecting histories largest ransom (3,000 cubic feet of gold), they executed Atahuallpa. Accounts written by Pizarro's companions went as follows,
"The prudence, fortitude, military discipline, labors, perilous navigations and battles of the Spaniards - vassals of the most invincible Emperor of the Roman Catholic Empire, our natural King and Lord will cause joy to the faithful and terror to the infidels."
"It will be to the glory of God, because they have conquered and brought to our holy Catholic Faith so vasta a number of heathens."

I don't mean to make the Muslims out to be better than the Christians, but to provide balance to some of the islamophobia that I see too often. The terrorism of fundamentalist Muslims certainly far exceeds random acts of violence by a few lone wolves like Anders Behring Breivik, envisioning himself as a Christian crusader, who in 2011 killed 77 (mainly children) in Norway as an attempt to jolt Europe into recognizing the threat of multiculturalism.

See Criticism on the Islam page for provocation on both sides.

Terrorism, Violence and Hate Crimes:

We are all familiar with Muslim terrorism, which culminated in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade center.
Although with a few exceptions (Northern Ireland, Serbian Christian attacks on Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina) Christian violence has been relatively localized and small.

In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, killed 77 envisioning himself as a Christian crusader he intended to jolt Europe into recognizing the threat of multiculturalism.
Pat Buchanan said Breivik's views "may be right".

Anti-government rhetoric like that of the Christian Patriot movement, and to some extent the Tea Party, may help to justify violence in people who are unbalanced to begin with.
I'm referring to things like:
- Jared Lee Loughner, who shot nineteen people in Tuscon, six of them fatally, during an open meeting held by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a jewish democrat.
- Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, who claimed 168 lives.

Anti-gay rhetoric like that of the American Family Association, and anti-muslim rhetoric like Buchanan's above and Newt Gingrich comparing Muslims to Nazis and also push some people over the edge.

A USA Today article on hate crimes in 2007 in the U.S. showed 7,624 hate crimes by target from FBI data:
3,870 - Race     
1,400 - Religion (Crimes against Muslims declined to 115  from 481 in 2001)                
1,265 - Sexual orientation  (Hate crimes against Gays increased 6%)      
1,007 - Ethnicity/national origin 
   79 - Disability 
Only a small fraction are reported. A 2011 Bureau of Justice Statistics report estimated there was an annual average of 195,000 reported and unreported hate crimes between 2003 and 2009. An earlier study showed the average in the 2000-2003 period was 210,000, so the number is coming down along with violent crime in general. The shrinking of the national population of 16- to 24-year-olds, who are by far the most crime-prone population cohort may have something to do with it. The study showed that 56% of the hate crimes were not reported to police.
Most of these are by a few individuals, but the Southern Poverty Law Center says the number of hate groups has grown to over 1,000 in 2010. The states with the most groups are California-68; Texas-59; Florida-49, New Jersey-47, Mississippi-40. Of course with 34 million people the per capita rate in Calif. is lower than the others. Calif. has 2 groups per million, Miss has 14 groups per million.
See Christian Violence and Anger at the fundamentalist page.

Fundamentalist Religious Groups:

Not only do Islamic hate groups like Al Qaeda (al-Qa'ida), Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban use the Quran to justify their violence; Hate groups in the U.S. like the KKK and White Supremacists, frequently use the Bible to justify their hate, but as far as I know they didn't call themselves a Christian group.

See Violence at the Fundamentalist page.

There are however Christian groups wich promote in-tolerance.

American Family Association (AFA) founder, Donald Wildmon and Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the AFA and host of the "Focal Point" radio program on American Family Radio (AFR) have both denigrated gays, jews and President Obama.

After 9-11, evangelist, Jerry Falwell, an evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor, said on Rev. Pat Robertson's "700 Club" that the ACLU, Abortionists, Feminists, Gays, ... helped make the world trade center attacks happen.

On the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks controversial Florida pastor, Terry Jones, dubbed the day International Burn a Koran Day. He was severely criticized by religious and political leaders and eventually baked down.

See Intolerance at the Fundamentalist page.


Terms:
Apostates
Denomonist Rheology - Christians should control government
Femanism
Jihad
Madrassa
Racial Profiling
Siria Law
Zionism
Tea Party

Books:
1. Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman
2. "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam" by Karen Armstrong
3. "The Future of Terrorism: Violence in the New Millennium" by Kushner, Harvey W (1998).
4. Encyclopedia of religious freedom By Catharine Cookson
5. "Strangers in the Land". Higham, John (1963). 5. The Persistence of Racism in America. Powell, Thomas (1993)

Links:
religion/tolerance.html ReligiousTolerance.org:
  Separation Of Church And State In The US
  Court Decisions and Recent U.S. Court Rulings On The Separation Of Church & State, Part 2 at ReligiousTolerance.org
Religion in Colonial America
Inspiration, Spirituality, Faith, Religion. - Beliefnet.com
Fundamentalism at the New World Encyclopedia
Christian Violence and Anger
Christian Patriot movement
Christian Terrorism at Wikipedia
The Pope's Intentions a blog post on fundamentalism by Fr. Fergus O'Donoghue S.J., an Irish Jesuit historian.
Teaching Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center
Christian Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists here
Faith vs Reason

Return to Religion.


last updated 9 Dec 2011