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While the Associated Press says that there are more religious wars going on in the world now than at any time in world history, the United States has special troops stationed in 134 countries to fight the 15th Crusade between Christian and Muslim forces. The First Crusade started in the 11th Century when Pope Urban II urged Christians to re-capture Jerusalem taken by the Muslims in 1076: “Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.”
Many volunteered–-for many different reasons. One could get rich plundering the city. The Pope assured them they would immediately go to Heaven if killed because they were fighting for God. (Where have we heard about Paradise and 72 virgins before?) One could get all of his sins forgiven fighting for God. One was protected by the Roman Catholic Church if you volunteered—and your taxes were forgiven! A few Christians believed that Jerusalem was Christian territory. A monk called Fulcher was an observer of the First Crusade. He wrote that the streets were ankle-deep in Muslim blood with thousands being slaughtered. Some Muslims were spared so they could collect all the dead bodies, estimated to be 70,000 by Muslims, and bury them outside the city. The Crusaders then took all the treasure from the Dome of the Rock. So over the last thousand years we have had about 15 “Crusades” between these two religious forces—with nothing “settled” since Osama bin Laden started the latest one.
Does Faith Inspires Violence? The Evidence Seems Clear
Although some studies indicate there is less violence in the world, the Pew Research Center also indicates that religious hostilities are increasing and reached a six-year high in 2012. Sam Harris, well-known atheist and author of “Letter to a Christian Nation,” writes: “Faith inspires violence in two ways. First, people often kill other human beings because they believe the creator of the universe wants them to do it...Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation: Muslims side with Muslims, Protestants with Protestants, Catholics with Catholics.”
Of the 198 countries in the Pew study, 33 percent had high religious hostilities in 2012, up 13 percent since 2007. Religious minorities were attacked in 47 percent of the countries in 2012. Not only Muslims and Christians are involved. In Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, monks constantly attacked both Muslims and Christians in 2012. Sri Lanka has had problems among religions for decades.
2,300 Virgins In One Day? Is That Another Religious Miracle?
Some Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, have had deadly conflicts among Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Ahmadis, Wahabis, Jews, and Christians for centuries. Recently Iraqi Sunnis recruited 32 male suicide bombers to attack Iraqi Shias–in one day. We haven’t heard whether the Sunnis ran out of virgins in Paradise that day. Over 2,300 seems like a lot to me.
Sam Harris may be right: “Scripture itself remains a perpetual engine of extremism...The God of the Bible And the Allah of the Koran are not moderates. Reading scripture more closely, one does find reasons to be a proper religious lunatic–to fear the fires of Hell, to despise non-believers, to persecute homosexuals...Of course anyone can cherry-pick scripture and find reasons to love his neighbor and to turn the other cheek. But the more fully a person grants credence to these books, the more he will be convinced that infidels, heretics, and apostates deserve to be smashed to atoms in God’s loving machinery of justice.” Bad religious stuff tends to happen in “crazy” countries. But let’s remember that Uganda’s anti-gay laws allowing the death penalty for homosexual acts came directly from right-wing American Christians who are always wrong-wing. Since 2007, 185 countries have reported religious “harassment” within their borders. So much for flipping the cheek and sharing brotherly love. Trouble multiplies when government and religion are both with the powerful.
At Last Count There Were About 32,000 Religious Sects And Denominations
This number seems to prove that some humans are always looking for “the way, the truth, the life” but not finding it. The Vatican claims it has had the basic truths for over 2,000 years within the Roman Catholic Church. Some Christians don’t believe it. Mecca claims it has been the only source of religious truth for over 1,400 years. Some Muslims don’t believe that either, and have fought each other with scimitars and bombs since the Sunni-Shia split around 700 A.D. One might think that humans would understand from their total lack of ability to predict the future that it is likely they don’t understand the past either. Including religion.
In my last issue of The American Legion Magazine’s technology section the editors have listed “Fearless Predictions” that should have been retracted by now:
1825: The Quarterly Review asked: What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?”
1876: An internal Western Union memo: “This “telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
1899: The Literary Digest declared: “The ordinary horseless carriage...is a luxury for the wealthy; although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”
1936: The New York Times, panning space travel: “A rocket will never br able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
1939: The New York Times argued: “The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.”
1995: The tech magazine InfoWorld: “The Internet will soon go supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”
So much for all that collective human brain power. But think of all the nonsense, gobblygook, balderdash, hyperbole, histrionics, and outright huckstering that has taken place in religion since Greek priests examined and read the guts of chickens to see what the next millenium would bring.
While Rosetta Says “Hello” And Scientists Study Women And Their Genetic Complexity, The Vatican Taliban And The Muslim Taliban Continue To Subjugate Women
The European space probe Rosetta was launched in 2004 to eventually rendezvous with
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko ten years and 500 million miles from earth later. It will land a 220-pound lander vehicle in August, 2014. When Rosetta woke up after a 2 and ½ year sleep and said “Hello, World,” it took 45 minutes for the radio signal to travel the 500 million miles. Think of it! We are going to land on a comet with a solar-powered lander from Rosetta, then the two probes will stay with the comet and send signals back to us until December, 2015. And what has the Muslim and Vatican-American Talibans been doing during this period?
The Muslim Taliban was blowing up girls schools in the Swat Valley in Pakistan and shooting 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head because she criticized the Taliban for denying females an access to education. The Taliban barred women from working outside the home and allowed them to leave that home only when accompanied by a male relative. Mullah Fuzlullah, the man who planned the attack on Malala while she was riding a school bus, recently replaced the chief of the Pakistani Taliban who was killed by a drone missile. We can only hope he is the next one to be blown to Paradise and the virgins.
The Vatican-American Taliban investigated nuns around the world during Rosetta because they were spending too much time taking care of the poor and the sick instead of spouting medieval doctrine. The Vatican also kept insisting women could not be priests, bishops, cardinals–and popes-- because Jesus had no female apostles. If the Vatican and its bishops had been in charge of Rosetta it would never have gotten off the launch pad.
While Rosetta was flying to the comet 67/P, other scientists were working on the mysterious X chromosome, the chromosome that determines whether a human egg will produce a male or female. (If an egg inherits an X chromosome from both parents, it becomes a female. If it gets an X from mom and a Y from pop it’s a male. End of genetic lesson.) But there is remarkable complexity about X chromosomes in the female. For some reason females have more genetic diversity than males. Scientists are trying to figure out why. This can be important when studying cancer cells and other ills of the human body. I am getting in too deep here, but I need to leave you with this.
According to the research team, a mother’s X chromosome can dominate the left side of the brain while the X of the father’s dominates the right. Complete organs can be dominated by one parent. This research could result in a cancer cure. What’s more important? Killing each other over the ignorant ramblings of 7th Century Muslims and 11Th Century Catholic popes, or solving some of the most perplexing questions facing mankind? End of sermon.
Talibans Around The World Are Certainly Devout
When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 American Taliban leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame asked Christians to pray for rain during the inauguration ceremonies. It didn’t. Religious nuts are always asking God to send tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other major climate events such as blizzards to foil Satan’s (or Democratic!) celebrations. I still remember when Pat Robertson asked Christians to pray to God to send a huge storm to Tampa, Florida to punish the citizens for being so accepting of gays. Actually, a couple of days later a storm blasted Virginia near Robertson’s home. Message sent??
During the January 22 anti-abortion March For Life held in Washington James Dobson endured the weather gods when he addressed the pro-life crowd in below-zero wind chill. Dobson said it was so cold “I can’t make my mouth work!” There was no mention of having Christians pray for a quick warm-up. And I can’t leave out the 125 snake-handling congregations still operating in the Bible Belt. Tennessee banned snake handling in 1947, but snake handlers such as 22 year-old Andrew Hamblin come out of their baskets on occasion to prove their “faith” by handling rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins.
Young Robert has become a TV hit on a program called “Snake Salvation.”
According to research by the Barna Research Group in 2008 the Bible Belt Taliban has the highest divorce rate in the country. Even atheists have a better divorce rate than born-again Christians and Southern Baptists.
Divorce doesn’t seem to be a factor with the Muslim Taliban. The Taliban has a very strict interpretation of Sharia, the Muslim law. They reinforce their ideas with public executions and punishments such as floggings. Perhaps you remember the TV scenes of Muslim women who violated Sharia being shot in the head before thousands in Kandahar and Kabul. The Taliban bans TV, music, the Internet while strictly enforcing the rule that men must wear beards. They do publish the taped interviews of their young dead suicide bombers through websites. I have often wondered if there are any old male suicide bombers. They all seem terribly young to me. Women caught wearing fingernail polish may have their fingers chopped off by members of the Ministry for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. I wonder if either Taliban gives a damn about what Rosetta and the X chromosome findings can do for personkind.