Is there a possibility that the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek will lead to fundamentalist Muslims seizing power like in Iran? Although Egyptians are comforted that the military is supposed to help make the transition to democracy, Egypt had become more fundamentalist even before the demonstrations. I was struck by how many veiled women were shown on television celebrating the fall of Mubarek. Fundamentalist Muslims killed Mubarek’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat.
Pakistanis have recently stoned and beaten members of minority religious sects. The Indian city now known as Mumbai was a city that was home to several religious communities so fundamentalists from Pakistan attacked it. In some fundamentalist Islamic countries, unmarried couples without chaperones have been killed.
In Iraq, Sunnis and Shia kill each other and everyone can kill Christians with impunity. It was typical when the Afghan Taliban dynamited the huge Buddhist statues at Bamiyan, forbade television and hosted Osama Bin Laden. Israel is less about democracy and more about religion. Fundamentalist Jews killed Menachem Begin. I am old enough to remember when Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East before civil war between rival religious militias turned it into a mess of pock-marks and Christian Falangists attacked refugee camps on orders from Israeli Aerial Sharon.
Religious authorities promise various wonderful things in the hereafter but they always want to control current behavior. Most religious traditions promise especially wonderful benefits from martyrdom.
I have been volunteering at a food pantry for the hungry in Madison so I am around what I perceived as nice Christians a lot. I am in demand there a lot because I am physically stronger than most volunteers and know most of the New Testament of the Bible. I was shocked to hear some of them call for capital punishment for people who are gay or call peaceful Muslims worshipers misled by the Devil. The same day that I heard a call for capital punishment of gays, a gay activist was killed by intolerants in Uganda.
I think there are people of good will in the faith community. I would always be willing to go to churches for weddings, funerals and baptisms but I have gradually come to the view that God did not create people in His image, but that leaders of faith created God in the image of people to control behavior in this world. I would never become a militant Atheist like the Freedom From Religion crowd; I will never forgive them for putting the fence around the donated statue of Christ in my hometown.