Attorney Steve Grow
September 19, 2012
Where freedom prevails (as it rarely has anywhere) anyone has the right to disagree with anyone else (or be uncertain) about ANY matter of religion--notwithstanding that a particular embodiment of religious practice contains doctrines, theologies, laws or practices, allowing or mandating stoning, murder, rape, cruelty, etc. Under our constitution (but few others), religious freedom does not include the freedom to commit crimes like murder, stoning or rape in the name, or under the purported mandate, of religion--however sincerely believed.
For example, if the Catholic Church, as it once did and might still (I don't know), has provisions in its doctrine authorizing or requiring one to burn at the stake a "heretic" or "witch", or go off to the Holy Land and murder Muslims and Jews on the purported basis that religion requires it, then EVERY Catholic including its highest officials, and any head of state, who participates in or directs or counsels or orders such action, is guilty of a crime punishable by local law if that law protects the religious freedom of the Jews and Muslims properly. No amount of apoplexy at being opposed in this would justify the crime, whether on the part of the Pope or any Catholic or purported Christian caught up in the mob hatred of anyone opposing their frenzy.
The way psychology works, individually and especially in groups, that mob will see anyone opposing them as hateful, and be blind to the hatred that is driving themselves. The same principle applies to ALL others. In my opinion, people who think otherwise on what they regard as religious grounds—just ain’t got religion. (Herein lies the key flaw in “hate-crime” legislation that has been proposed in this country.)
Had Jesus been present at the first official Church bonfire for a heretic, he no doubt would have said when the fire-lighting moment arrived: "Let him or her who is without sin light the first match." They might have thrown him on the fire, too--but he (NOT the hate filled mob including even the highest church or government officials present or guiding things from a distance) would have had it right. The smoke from the bonfire would have been a stench in God’s nostrils, and not only because Jesus was on it.
Just as in the case of Christianity, Islam is a great religion (and devout practitioners of it have many different understandings about it)--but not everyone gets it correctly. Likewise, for much of its undistinguished history, the Catholic Church just didn't get Jesus --though there were always some Catholics who did. The Church still has not come to fundamental grips with its centuries long problem with child abuse. Karen Armstrong, formerly a Catholic nun, I believe, has written a number of excellent books about Islam.
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I believe Mohammed, for example, said somewhere, even perhaps in the Koran, that there must be no compulsion in religion.
Of course, it takes courage to stand up for what is right--and especially if others project their hatred into you and accuse you of being hateful when you oppose them--while being utterly blind (blinded by their resentment, the world’s most powerful illusionist) to their own hate. The devil’s cleverest trick is to get you to hate evil. Don’t fall for it, else you will be unable oppose it with good—and become its instrument rather than its opponent.
© 2012 Steve Grow - All Rights Reserved
Steve Grow holds degrees in physics, law and philosophy. He is a retired lawyer who practiced business law for many years. He studied philosophy and cognitive psychology at the graduate level, including working with one of the world’s leading scholars on the work of Aristotle. He was co-editor in chief of his college newspaper. He has observed and wondered about history, psychology, religion, politics, journalism and good (and bad) government since childhood.
He believes that, now and always, the central problem in politics is monitoring and governing those in political positions—so that ordinary people are the ultimate governors and can hold those in office fully accountable. Ordinary people deserve, and need, full legal protection of their privacy. In contrast, all activities of those in government should be open to full scrutiny at all times. In a certain sense, ordinary people should be “ungovernable” and accorded a broad measure of privacy – on the other hand, politicians and their actions should be open to monitoring, closely watched and constrained. Anyone with a contrary view, he believes, is an enemy of freedom—wittingly or unwittingly.