Monday, February 14, 2011

Killing for Religion

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.


David said...

Mark, I am sorry for your experience at the food shelf and I am sorry to say that I have experienced the same type of behavior in my own church as well as others. Please lean on your knowledge of the Bible and recall that none of this is taught by Jesus. Jesus came to all and while here associated mainly with the same people that the religous right of his day would condemn much in the same way that you experienced. He taught to love your enemy and he taught that we can hate the sin but should love the sinner, because we are all sinners. You are correct when you say that men have created God in the image of people to control behavior, that has been going on forever, but that doesn't mean that God approves of it or that he is not real or present.
He is and it is through his son Jesus that all of us with all of our faults are forgiven and accepted and welcomed to start anew. Unfortunately we are never perfect and always in various stages of improvement but we are accepted as Christians immediatly upon our acceptance of Christ. It is for this very reason that there will always be those that are ignorant. It is the freedom that Christ allows us through his grace and acceptance that creates zealots of all sorts. Please know that Christians are not always good representatives of Christ any more than Americans are always a good representatives of America. Our country was founded on the same Christian-Judeo values and thus is very much like the church. Both are beautiful because of the freedom that they allow and frustrating because of what that freedom allows us to do and say. The vast majority of the Christians that I know from many denominations are no more like the people you describe than most Americans are like the members of the KKK. But the fact that they exist is the evidence of the beautiful fact that we are accepted as we are in a free country and all are accepted by Christ. This is the God that I know and I pray that you will become reacquainted with as well. For the record as a devout Christian I often say "show me a person that God didn't make and I will show you a person that God doesn't love." Gods Peace. Dave Hefko

Naomi said...

Hi Mark, am trying to contact you re my novel set in Detroit. I'm also on blogspot (, but haven't posted for a long time. I can't find a way to email you. Could you contact me at
That would be great, thanks Naomi