(Meme by me & Quote by Voltaire)

Religious Animals

I am sad to say that I am not the first person to come up with the clever title I used for this blog entry. I chose to use it anyways because the film that carries its name is in perfect keeping with the subject of this post. While I’ve never seen the film, I did track down the plot which lead me to the story of the events of the surrounding the movie. It is based on the true story of a Christian monk named Christian de Cherge and his apparent end at the hands Islamic terrorists.* As this is not a film review I will say that, film aside, Christian and the six other monks with him were decapitated at the hands of their assailants. Before Christian died he penned his last words proclaiming his love for god, how his vision would meld with god’s and he would see them [Muslims] through gods eyes. Despite such grandiose claims, Christian was level-headed to state “Clearly, my death will appear to justify those who would quickly dismiss me as naive, or as an idealist, “let him tell us what he thinks of it now”!”

I will not be so glib or arrogant as to ask a dead man how he feels about his murder but I will point out that the breathtaking loyalty to his faith that allowed him to pen his words is the very same loyalty the men who cut his head off had to their god. The sole difference is what version of god they pledged allegiance to, which concept of god and society they adhere to and what dogma they call home. Mark Twain once said: “Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.” This is the one true thing religion can always guarantee, the promise that you might die for your belief, with many seeing it as the ultimate sacrifice to god.

Faithfully Violent

Immediately we see that this is a dangerous process of thought; if you’re willing to die for your religion, you’re often willing to kill for your religion. I’m sure it seems like a rather wide chasm of thought but the ideas aren’t far apart. If you believe in god enough to die for him, ask yourself if you’re willing to kill for him. I’m guessing for most the real answer is yes but only under the right circumstances (ie god isn’t asking you to blow up an orphanage). If this is the case than I say to you now that you are a dangerous person, you are willing to kill on the word of someone you cannot prove exists. That is the question religion begs at its very core: Will you kill and/or die for your faith? Make note of how both the monks, Christian and their murders said yes to that very same question.

I’m always amused when I think about the fact that the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” was first said by a priest but really the road to hell was paved, and created by religion. Don’t mistake my statement as an accusation, I understand that many have tried to bend religion to the will of good but it’s difficult to do good when god gives permission to hate. That is one of religion’s glaring flaws, it offers justification, reason and permission to not only hate but to kill and enslave.

Many will deny me vindication of the crime of false accusations because they say that those people are extremists and their religion is all about peace and/or love. More will even throw it my face that most terrorist attacks today are due to Islam, despite mounds of historical evidence condemning Christianity for countless atrocities. Modern Islamic terrorist attacks, even the one visited upon Paris, pale in comparison to the rampant butchery of Christian yesteryear. But make no mistake about it, Islamic terrorism has the power that many Christian zealots before them did not, the age of information. They can twist words and reach millions of minds ready to infect and corrupt people with violent dogma from a wicked religion. Islam is growing and it could very easily overtake Christianity as both the dominant religion in the world and as the most violent.

Words Are Weapons

I’ve heard people talk about a war between religions, which there’s been many before, but I think there’s one going on right now. This war is for the minds of the people and it will decide the fate of our planet. The future isn’t coming, it is here, and the ability do harm on a massive scale is going to get very easy, very quickly. With the advent of a completely globalized and connected world the threat from violent religious doctrine only becomes more real. From the growing displacement and relocation of millions of Islamic faithful, to growing tension it creates in the more secular and high Christian population nations. The endless killing over whose god is more benevolent must stop and the answer is not more or even a different religion. You cannot achieve peace when one of the core principles of your chief ideology is hate.

Islam is growing, but so is atheism. And for every message of hate and fear from men like those that committed the attacks on Paris and killed those monks, there are ten others like mine, speaking of freedom and teaching reason. People like me will always be there to stand up and say “No, I will not go this way.” If we choose the path of sacrifice and compassion, even for our enemies, than we aren’t telling them we’re better we’re acting better. A hot meal and a helping hand are always better than gun barrels and fists but first we must put down old hatreds.