In a lively discussion on Facebook, several of my conservative friends insisted that 100 percent of liberals are always forgiving Muslims for their anti-woman behavior and the violence associated with terrorists.
I disagreed, since that was obvious stereotyping. I know many liberals; most of them don’t agree on much. That’s true for the conservatives I know. As has been reported, conservative commentators are publicly arguing with each other over proposals by Republican president nominee Donald Trump. The same is true in the Democrat Party, where presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is being both praised and attacked.
The biggest libel is that Muslims all support terrorism.
That’s absurd. Just look at the fight with ISIS. Muslim troops from 34 countries led by Saudi Arabia are heavily involved in the fighting with that conservative Islamic organization.
It’s also wrong to insist only Muslims engage in terrorist activities.
The reality is that any monotheistic religion, given control of a country or a group of people, will impose its doctrine on its hapless population and kill, ostracize or otherwise harm anyone who dares to disagree with its teachings.
There’s plenty of historical evidence to support that claim.
|Artist view of Phineas at work|
In the book of Numbers in the Bible, Jews lashed out at those who “defy” God’s laws and received divine approval:
Chapter 25: While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.” Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phineas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. The Lord said to Moses, “Phineas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
In addition, once Jews ruled a small, but independent kingdom starting in 142 B.C.E., they marched into Samaria and forcefully converted residents. The choice was standard: convert or die.
|Burning opponents at the stake|
That vicious approach became the norm in Christianity when it became the favorite religion of the decaying Roman Empire at the end of the 4th century. Initially, as dogma was being developed, Christians split into different groups and attacked each other. Then, once legalized, they assaulted pagans. That was followed by pogroms against Jews and then outright slaughter of any opposition.
For centuries, Christian noblemen annually went on murderous hunts against pagans in Eastern Europe. Before they went on Crusades to butcher Muslims, they decimated Jews living peacefully among them. They turned on Cathars and other sects who attempted to break away from Roman Catholicism. Even people who preferred adult baptisms were hunted down and massacred.
In England, Queen Mary in the 1500s became known as Bloody Mary as she tried to wipe out Protestants who had replaced Catholics in authority. Burning at the stake was common.
In this country, Puritans settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s and promptly persecuted anyone who showed the slightest dissent to their “pure” faith. They killed and harassed Quakers, and sent one of their dissident ministers, Roger Williams, into the woods during a fierce Massachusetts winter without any protective clothing.
He couldn’t help but note the irony of pagan Indians saving his life in contrast with the despicable behavior of fellow Puritans, and supported freedom of religion as a result.
In reality, Roman Catholics would have continued their barbarous behavior except for the Protestant Reformation, which engendered the Age of Enlightenment. Christianity lost its ability to inflict its ideas on the masses, just as Judaism did after its land was seized by Rome. Today, Israel is a secular state, no doubt saving countless residents from prosecution.
Islam is still in power throughout the Middle East. As such, Muslim hierarchy can do what they want while would-be protectors of the faith can try to inflict as much damage as possible on non-believers.
|Orthodox Jews and their wives|
As for the argument that only Islam demeans women, no male-dominated religion like Judaism, Christianity or Islam has any role for women. Orthodox Judaism, which was the norm into the 1900s, still has men and women sit apart in services. Women in some sects must shave their heads and wear wigs. All are subservient to men.
The same is true in many sects of Christianity. The idea of a Roman Catholic female priest remains an anathema to the Church, despite an acute shortage of male priests. One of my friends left her Lutheran Church in protest because a female pastor was hired to lead services. The attempts to control women through health issues, sexual activity and athletics continue unabated.
Islam is no different.
One of my Facebook friends expressed the hope Islam would change as it “grows up.” Actually, maturity has nothing to do with it. If Judaism or Christianity still held complete sway over any land, it, too, would mirror Islam with dictatorial controls and terrorist activities against real or imaginary opposition.
They aren't trying be trying to impose any kind of belief. Power is the only reality. Religion be damned.
Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history with an occasional foray into American culture. He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. He holds an ABD in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University and an M.A. in communication from Kent State University. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is the author of the famed novel The Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus as well as The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Comparative Religion for Dummies. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. He can also be followed on Twitter.
In addition, you can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1