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Old 05-14-2013, 07:08 PM   #196
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This is my initial response, and I'm sure I'll have a more in-depth answer later.

If someone believes in God or gods or what have you, does that automatically mean they deserve to be labeled as wackos, mentally ill, weak, stupid, etc? If they are the Fred Phelps, yes I can see why anyone would think so - because even I do. That's because what he and his family does is dangerous and based on hate and fear. They also lack empathy for everyone - gays, military families, victims of shooting sprees, etc.

But what if someone has their beliefs, yet doesn't bother anyone, lives a good life, and doesn't attack anyone for not agreeing with them - do they deserve to be labeled as stupid and mentally ill?

I know a few people who firmly believe in astrology. They read their horoscopes everyday and identify with being Aries, Capricorn, etc. They might even nudge you and say, "I think so-so is a Scorpio. Look at how she does xyz!" But that's it. I don't believe in astrology because my horoscopes never came true and my personality doesn't add up to my sign. But I don't worry about those who do. I may roll my eyes a bit, but I'm not going to rant and rave about how stupid those people are. I also wouldn't think the world is in trouble.

However - I have dealt with others who take astrology to the extreme. I once had an interview with this woman who needed a blogger for her women oriented website. She asked me what was my sign. I was baffled because that was such an odd question. When I said Gemini, you should've seen the look on her face. Not that is dangerous. She basically discriminated against me and labeled me over something that is so narrow. That is someone I'd complain about because she is actively hurting others.

Or how about vegetarians and animal rights advocates? If they were the type who weren't militant about me eating meat, I wouldn't mind their beliefs even if I disagree and wouldn't mind playfully challenging them. But if they were to start screaming at me, calling me a murderer and all, I'll just laugh and make a big show of eating chicken or ham.

My point is, there are some beliefs out there that baffle and don't add up to me. But I don't see the point in getting upset that someone sees the world differently than me - unless they actually hurt me in some way, or others too. I think it is possible to think differently than others and not lose rationale.

My reason for being upset over D'Souza and his crowd is because they are dangerous in the sense that they are spreading fear to those who are already fearful. And from what I've seen with my radically conservative family and the blogs they refer to, I think it is highly possible that a lot of terrible things can go wrong. The political polarization in this country scares me more than anything, because I don't see it getting better and knowing how blind some people are with their fears, I'm surprised blood hasn't been spilled yet (honestly).

Now yes, a lot of the political problems here are related to religion, particularly abortion, SSM, evolution, etc. I do believe in separation from church and state, because we're a diverse nation and democracy is about letting everyone think for themselves. The radical conservatives are preventing democracy by trying to enforce their beliefs on others.

My lunch break is coming up, so I'll end this quickly: if you want to criticize someone for believing in God and also aims to enforce their beliefs on others, I say go ahead. There is a mental illness there - and not because they believe there is something out there. I'd say the mental illness there is more narcissistic like - as in, everyone must believe and live like they do. Yes, it sucks that some of these people wear crosses around their necks because they give everyone else a bad name. It especially sucks that they claim to be God-fearing people yet fail to realize the Bible makes a huge emphasis on humility.

OK, I'm totally rambling here and I probably make no sense. In fact, nothing in this post makes sense and sounds fractured. All I can say is, why bow your head in shame that some people believe in God but are good people who mind their business? I don't bow my head in shame that some believe in astrology or that eating meat is wrong. But if they were militant, then I will.

As I said before, I'll get back to you later. I also probably missed your point altogether. I can't wait to see the smilies in response to this post.
But you're making the classic mistake of equating a criticism of an ideology to a criticism of a group of people. This thread wasn't called "Muslims are Savages" it was a strongly worded critique on their ideology.

Astrology is dumb. Period. The people who believe in Astrology are painfully uninformed and foolish, but I'm not saying they're wackos. Willfully ignorant, maybe...certainly. But I'm able to separate the person from the belief.
It also helps that astrology isn't being used to shape public policy. But I challenge you to explain to me how a public policy based on astrology would be any different than one based on Christianity. How would you be able to rationalize one over the other?

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Because we're talking about fringe microcosms, not entire groups. No one is calling all Democrats wacko, or all Republicans wacko, just a small microcosm within that group.
You're getting a bit too caught up in the specific example when it was really just meant to illustrate a point, but that's fine. Why is it okay to criticize a fringe group but not a larger one? I hesitate to use the word, because it shouldn't apply to grown adults, but this seems a bit like societal bullying. What is it about being a small microcosm that leaves your beliefs open to accusations of being a wacko? By this rationale, we're free to call the Amish wackos as long as we lay off Christians as a whole.
But again, you're making the mistake of attaching people to the criticism on an ideology. You wouldn't have to venture far from this thread to find rather harsh words for the Republican party in your country. Why can we criticize "the Republican Party" but not "Christianity"? Surely there's a similar amount of variation in beliefs among those two populations.

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Well actually the survey never did give us an overall number of Muslims in general who believed that, it gave those percentages for certain countries which ranged from 29% - 80%, also it didn't talk about breaking the rules, just those that converted.
The survey illustrated quite clearly that these aren't fringe groups we're talking about. I'm not sure what that last bit means. Do you mean converted out of Islam? That's breaking the rules

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Here's my take on this: people deserve to be criticized for their religious beliefs when they prioritize those beliefs over the well-being of people around them. The same thing goes for any ideology.
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You basically summed up my entire rambling post in a few words. I salute you.
I suppose in a perfect utopia this would be fine (I'd argue a utopia would be free from religion, but I digress), but even putting aside the complete chaos religion is inflicting on the Middle East, religion is far from not affecting the non practicing population in North America. It's nice to think that you can practice religion in your home and in your church and that's the extent of it, but it's just not the way society, at least this society, works. Christianity constantly has its finger in everyone else's pudding.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:20 PM   #197
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It's nice to think that you can practice religion in your home and in your church and that's the extent of it, but it's just not the way society, at least this society, works. Christianity constantly has its finger in everyone else's pudding.
I've posted on this a number of times, but this is an excellent point.

Actually the early Christians specifically rejected the notion of meddling in social/governmental affairs and viewed their path to salvation as exclusively preparing their hearts/souls for the arrival of the kingdom. An internal, not external practice. This contributed in large part to the split between the early Christians (who were typically Jews) from Judaism.

Judaism and Islam are NOT like Christianity (or at least the Christianity preached by Jesus and practiced by early Christians and not today's hopeful theocrats) in that those religions in essence demand that their religion permeates their entire social fabric. Jesus-era Jews, for example, could not submit to being ruled by polytheist Romans whereas early Christians did not wish to join them and rise up against Roman rule as they did not see this as necessary to their own salvation. The Koran is actually much more explicit with a number of verses which are often hotly debated about what they actually mean (i.e. does it really say "slay the polytheist wherever you may find him" and so on). But it is the same idea. Islam as a religion does not lend itself to playing second fiddle to a secular government.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:36 PM   #198
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But you're making the classic mistake of equating a criticism of an ideology to a criticism of a group of people. This thread wasn't called "Muslims are Savages" it was a strongly worded critique on their ideology.
I see your point, Jive. But I have seen many cases of atheists criticizing not just a religious ideology, but the people who follow them. Heck, some have even harassed theists - I once had a co-worker many years ago attempt to poor water over my head to mock my beliefs. Maybe you are not the type to call theists mentally ill or weak, but plenty are. Forgive me for equating you with them, but my defenses are up.

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Astrology is dumb. Period. The people who believe in Astrology are painfully uninformed and foolish, but I'm not saying they're wackos. Willfully ignorant, maybe...certainly. But I'm able to separate the person from the belief.
Well, that's good to know.

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It also helps that astrology isn't being used to shape public policy. But I challenge you to explain to me how a public policy based on astrology would be any different than one based on Christianity. How would you be able to rationalize one over the other?
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I suppose in a perfect utopia this would be fine (I'd argue a utopia would be free from religion, but I digress), but even putting aside the complete chaos religion is inflicting on the Middle East, religion is far from not affecting the non practicing population in North America. It's nice to think that you can practice religion in your home and in your church and that's the extent of it, but it's just not the way society, at least this society, works. Christianity constantly has its finger in everyone else's pudding.
If you mean institutionalized astrology where people's rights are determined by their sign, I would think that's nuts and very wrong. But you seem to be saying everyone who is a Christian - or any other faith - is discriminating against everyone who is different from them. I fail to see how I gave that impression to you, if I did. What am I, guilty by association?
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:56 PM   #199
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I see your point, Jive. But I have seen many cases of atheists criticizing not just a religious ideology, but the people who follow them. Heck, some have even harassed theists - I once had a co-worker many years ago attempt to poor water over my head to mock my beliefs. Maybe you are not the type to call theists mentally ill or weak, but plenty are. Forgive me for equating you with them, but my defenses are up.
Your co-worker was an asshole. I'm not defending people who make things personal. I'm just asking why we can't treat debates on religion the way we treat every other debate without people getting their knickers in a twist.
And no need to ask for forgiveness. I'm un-offendable


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If you mean institutionalized astrology where people's rights are determined by their sign, I would think that's nuts and very wrong. But you seem to be saying everyone who is a Christian - or any other faith - is discriminating against everyone who is different from them. I fail to see how I gave that impression to you, if I did. What am I, guilty by association?
You think it would be nuts and very wrong, well guess what? (I don't need to finish that thought, I'm sure ). What if instead of creationism (I refuse to call it intelligent design) interfering in biology class, we had astrology interfering in astronomy class? What if it was required that each student read his or her horoscope before class each day? Or when in court, you swore an oath on your zodiac? I'm sure you'd think this was all an irrational impediment to learning and a vestige of a more ignorant time. And you'd be right! But that's what's happening today with religion.

And you're doing it again, Pearl (Bad Pearl!). I'm not implying that you're guilty by association or discriminatory. I'm not equating the ideology to the people. Sure, at some level, there are dick wads pulling the strings. And at some point, it certainly does become about the person; A homophobe hiding behind his or her religion is still a homophobe none the less.
But we might be speaking around my point a little. It wasn't about discrimination. It was about the need for rational discourse about religion without treating it with undue respect
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:04 PM   #200
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I've posted on this a number of times, but this is an excellent point.

Actually the early Christians specifically rejected the notion of meddling in social/governmental affairs and viewed their path to salvation as exclusively preparing their hearts/souls for the arrival of the kingdom. An internal, not external practice. This contributed in large part to the split between the early Christians (who were typically Jews) from Judaism.

Judaism and Islam are NOT like Christianity (or at least the Christianity preached by Jesus and practiced by early Christians and not today's hopeful theocrats) in that those religions in essence demand that their religion permeates their entire social fabric. Jesus-era Jews, for example, could not submit to being ruled by polytheist Romans whereas early Christians did not wish to join them and rise up against Roman rule as they did not see this as necessary to their own salvation. The Koran is actually much more explicit with a number of verses which are often hotly debated about what they actually mean (i.e. does it really say "slay the polytheist wherever you may find him" and so on). But it is the same idea. Islam as a religion does not lend itself to playing second fiddle to a secular government.
Very informative post
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:30 PM   #201
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Your co-worker was an asshole. I'm not defending people who make things personal. I'm just asking why we can't treat debates on religion the way we treat every other debate without people getting their knickers in a twist.
And no need to ask for forgiveness. I'm un-offendable




You think it would be nuts and very wrong, well guess what? (I don't need to finish that thought, I'm sure ). What if instead of creationism (I refuse to call it intelligent design) interfering in biology class, we had astrology interfering in astronomy class? What if it was required that each student read his or her horoscope before class each day? Or when in court, you swore an oath on your zodiac? I'm sure you'd think this was all an irrational impediment to learning and a vestige of a more ignorant time. And you'd be right! But that's what's happening today with religion.

And you're doing it again, Pearl (Bad Pearl!). I'm not implying that you're guilty by association or discriminatory. I'm not equating the ideology to the people. Sure, at some level, there are dick wads pulling the strings. And at some point, it certainly does become about the person; A homophobe hiding behind his or her religion is still a homophobe none the less.
But we might be speaking around my point a little. It wasn't about discrimination. It was about the need for rational discourse about religion without treating it with undue respect
I get what you mean. You're looking for a debate and discussion, and it is important because in my country - and elsewhere - there are religious fanatics ruining lives for people. I got a little upset there and I wondered if this was personal, but you're not doing that.

I don't think it is possible to treat religion with respect because there are so many. I also think if people take things too personal, there's some sort of self-centered thinking going on, like you have a fragile ego or something. Yeah, I know I'm getting psychological, but that explains people's behaviors than their ideologies. As for Muslims, they often come from theocratic societies where it is illegal to make the slightest criticism about Islam, so that is why they get upset so easily. OK, I'm rambling again. Frickin' weather has given me a nasty cold and my head is stuffy, so that may be why I'm going on and on.

Anyway, its all cool, Jive.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:33 PM   #202
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Anyway, its all cool, Jive.
Cool.
I always appreciate your input
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:38 AM   #203
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You're getting a bit too caught up in the specific example when it was really just meant to illustrate a point, but that's fine. Why is it okay to criticize a fringe group but not a larger one? I hesitate to use the word, because it shouldn't apply to grown adults, but this seems a bit like societal bullying. What is it about being a small microcosm that leaves your beliefs open to accusations of being a wacko? By this rationale, we're free to call the Amish wackos as long as we lay off Christians as a whole.
No, my point was more about how we can't criticize the Republican party based on Tea Party groups, just like we can't criticize Christianity based on Westboro Baptist type groups.

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But again, you're making the mistake of attaching people to the criticism on an ideology. You wouldn't have to venture far from this thread to find rather harsh words for the Republican party in your country. Why can we criticize "the Republican Party" but not "Christianity"? Surely there's a similar amount of variation in beliefs among those two populations.
First of all, no one is saying you can't criticize the Republican Party, Christianity, or furryism. Criticize anything you want, just know what you're criticizing and do it right. If you want to criticize the ideology, then KNOW the ideology and criticize it, not by using it's followers or the ideology of its fringe groups. If you want to criticize the people then do so, but not by criticizing the ideology or lumping them in with other followers by association. I think too often when criticizing a group or an ideology we start lumping too much together, we start making too many assumptions, or end up confusing the person with the ideology or vice versa.

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The survey illustrated quite clearly that these aren't fringe groups we're talking about. I'm not sure what that last bit means. Do you mean converted out of Islam? That's breaking the rules
This is the problem with surveys like this, they never show the specific questions that were asked, so the summary could be just one person interpretation of the data. I found the summary to be sloppy. In it's very clear as mud way the survey showed that these are fringe groups in some Muslim countries and not in others. The survey spoke to death penalty for conversion, not any other rules, in fact it showed the majority supported other religious freedom, which in fact some would argue goes against "the rules".
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:08 AM   #204
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You keep speaking about 'fringe groups' when I'm talking about actual text in actual books.

And I couldn't agree more about lumping too much together. Like when we lump everything under the heading of 'religion' and refuse to look at its individual parts. Pretty much my point throughout this conversation.

85% of Muslims in Egypt certainly don't constitute a 'fringe group'. And the questions are pretty straight forward. "Do you support x?". You're the one muddying the water.

What would be the 'right' way to criticize religion? As someone who seems reluctant to do so, I'm not sure you've got the right answer. You won't even admit that anything might be wrong with it.

And please stop brushing off death for converting out of your religion - death for converting out of your religion. Just think about that for a second - as no big deal
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:18 AM   #205
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If you want to criticize the ideology, then KNOW the ideology and criticize it, not by using it's followers or the ideology of its fringe groups. If you want to criticize the people then do so, but not by criticizing the ideology or lumping them in with other followers by association.
These two sentences completely contradict one another. I'm not even sure what you're trying to say
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:43 AM   #206
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As I gather, part of the reason for the attitude the early Christians held toward politics was informed in part by a fervent belief that the Saviour would be returning rather soon. They weren't really thinking about long term governance, they were anticipating the Return and the end of a corrupt world.

But it's true, there are fundamental differences there.

The eventual 'Christian Empire' came about relatively organically, I suspect, reaching a critical mass of followers during the economically bleak third century. Constantine's conversion was probably rather skin-deep and certainly pretty content-free (his mother was a Christian but he did not make any particular move to include Christian iconography on his coins until well into his reign). A temporary attempt to revive a mummified paganism later in the fourth century even got up briefly.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:20 AM   #207
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As I gather, part of the reason for the attitude the early Christians held toward politics was informed in part by a fervent belief that the Saviour would be returning rather soon.
Any day now!
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:45 AM   #208
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You should rejoice, it kept them out of politics.

In time, and by various circuitous routes, the empire itself came to be seen as the partner of Christendom. As late as 1000 AD a 'Holy Roman Emperor' was attempting to keep the dream alive; at least in parts of Germany and Italy. Not sure what the Byzantines had to say about it all.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:58 AM   #209
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I think Christianity coalesces with government as early as 325: that's when Constantine began surrounding himself with Christian advisors. By 400 the process is complete both in Rome and what would become Byzantium.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:12 AM   #210
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I think Christianity coalesces with government as early as 325: that's when Constantine began surrounding himself with Christian advisors. By 400 the process is complete both in Rome and what would become Byzantium.
I would say this was when Christianity went through the first stages of ruining itself. Constantine really hurt the religion by doing what he did. And as I understand, Christianity was not followed by the majority of the Roman Empire by then; it was still followed by a small percentage.
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