“He Who Is Without Sin”

Faith Wars Doom Planet?

Cartoon by Don Addis

Statement by Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, co-presidents, Freedom From Religion Foundation:

The Pope’s “faux pas” on Muhammad is the proverbial case of someone who lives in a glass house throwing the first stone.

In a speech a week ago, Pope Benedict quoted the views of 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, whom he first praised as “erudite,” saying:

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Coming from The Competition–the figurehead of the world’s largest Christian denomination–such remarks were hardly conducive to opening a “dialog” with Muslims, as the pope insisted was the overarching message of his speech. They were more like throwing gasoline on a fire.

The pope is guilty of fanning the flames, of pitting Christians against Muslims, however many times he sort-of apologizes. But some of the Muslim world is guilty of typically ironic overreaction: If you’re going to accuse us of being violent, then we’re going to kill you. (Or threaten to.) A Catholic nun in Somalia was murdered, many believe in retaliation, there have been a few angry demonstrations, and isolated minor firebombings of Catholic churches around the world. Then on Monday came the pronouncement, by would-be Islamic terrorists, that the pope and the West are “doomed.”

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, perhaps linked to al-Qaida, made that statement on a Web forum addressed to the pope (“a worshipper of the cross”). The group warned, “you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. . . We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion [to Islam] or [to be killed by] the sword.”

“We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life,” continued the message. (Careful reporters note that the authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.)

Although the statement itself seemed to prove that some Muslims certainly believe they may spread their religion by the sword, it is instructive to consult their sacred text itself. A compilation of Koranic denunciations of nonMuslims is handily available in Sam Harris’ book, The End of Faith, in which it takes several typeset pages to list them all. Among such denunciations: “Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword.” (2:190-193)

While the Pope got in trouble for quoting a reference to Muhammad spreading his faith “by the sword,” it needs to be pointed out that Jesus also made similar pronouncements, such as: “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

It takes seven typeset pages in Ruth Hurmence Green’s The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible simply to list the mass killings ordered, committed or approved by Benedict’s God. These range from drowning all but eight of the world’s human inhabitants, to merciless scorched-earth commandments to “utterly destroy” other nations (Deut. 7:1-2).

The Christian bible, the Hebrew bible and the Koran are cut from the same violent cloth, sharing the Abrahamic tradition. Each so-called “holy” book contains barbaric and bloodthirsty teachings which have spawned wars, hatred, persecution and strife in the name of God/Allah/Yahweh.

Not to be overlooked is what else the Pope said, when quoting his “educated Persian”: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” Here we get the typical whitewash of the bible: our god is a god of love–never mind what he does and says in the bible. There are countless biblical edicts to kill the innocent, and Mosaic and other decrees to kill blasphemers and unbelievers. Killing in the “Good Book” is of biblical proportions.

Who is the pope kidding? Christianity owes much of its historical success to conversion by the sword. It was his church that started the Crusades. This pope and his predecessor have incessantly demonized atheists, nonbelievers, gays, feminists and state/church separatists. This has paved the way for the global assault against secularism, an assault which the pope shares in common with Muslim theocrats.

The tension between Christian and Muslim believers is compounded by Pres. Bush’s “war on terror” (which he originally dubbed a “crusade”), in which the bible-believing “leader of the free world” appears to be playing into the hands of the Muslim terrorists. The situation looks ripe for a 21st century version of the Crusades. In an era of nuclear weaponry, the thought is not tenable.

The world will be “doomed,” doomed to repeat its mistakes, its outrages, its atrocities, in the name of religion, so long as religious faith goes uncritiqued, unchallenged, and uncured.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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