Monday, October 16, 2006

Religious Intolerance

My good friend, Chxta, has spoken at length on this particular subject, and he has been vilified, castigated, chewed out, spat on, and promised an eternity in hellfire for his views. I’ve known Chxta since we were yea high tots. He is not controversial by nature, but he does always speak his mind. Regardless of whose ox is gored, whose chicken is run over, or whose cow was given to Mai Suya.

I was not baptized at an early age. In fact, it took full adulthood for me to become a “practicing Christian”. I did not begin attending church until my second year in the University. And I wasn’t Baptized or Confirmed until Law School. (Ja, I’m Catholic.) My old man had this weird policy: in matters of religion we were to be totally free to make up our own minds. As such, he told us we wouldn’t be forced to go to church if we didn’t want to, and we wouldn’t be forced to stay home if we did. My mother, herself a staunch Catholic, accepted this decision. As a result, while most other kids had to spend their Sundays going through interminable church services and utterly boring Sunday school replete with floggings for failing to recite the Ten Commandments properly, I spent my Sundays doing pretty much whatever the hell I wanted. Some are already shaking their heads at this terrible way of bringing up a child in the “path he should follow.” The thing is though, I wasn’t just given any old weed-threatened path to follow. The man gave me a 10-lane expressway complete with functioning street lights.

While my father didn’t put much stock in religious education (he never went to church, and still doesn’t go unless physically dragged on account of some special occasion or other) he did imbue all of us with a strong sense of right and wrong, and an annoyingly solid foundation of principles. He wasn’t overly strict with us, but if we screwed up, we sure as hell knew it. I learned it was wrong to steal, lie, and cheat, to respect my elders, and honor my father and mother, etc. without being told that these were orders from God. Rather, I learnt that some actions were wrong because they weren’t the right way to live. These principles are so strong, they stay with me to this day. The result – I can’t get a girl drunk and take advantage of her, and I couldn’t find it in myself to jump on the 419 bandwagon. I could have been a millionaire by now. Damn him.

Of course, we had CRK (Christian Religious Knowledge) in school, and I made an A in the subject in my WAEC. Did this mean I was a good Christian, subconsciously? Hell no. It just meant I was a rather smart student. But the fact that I could make an A in the subject while living an actively “pagan” lifestyle minus booze, weed, and women (they would come later) merely shows that I didn’t have to go to church to be able to answer questions about the Bible, and give correct quotations from it.

To wit, Christians and Muslims are God’s children. My proof – when Sarah found that she still couldn’t conceive, she told Abraham to take her servant and knock her up. Imagine that fellas – your wife telling you that not only is it okay for you to sleep with the housegirl, but that you’re permitted, nay ordered, to knock her up into the bargain. Wow. Abraham (strong man that he was) duly did knock up the housegirl, and she bore him a son named Ishmael. The housegirl then began carrying shoulder for her madam because she’d given oga a male child when madam couldn’t. Silly girl. She grossly underestimated the power of incumbency. In double quick time, she’d been kicked out along with her son, and sent into the desert. When they were on the point of death, God sent his angel to her, and he opened up a well for herself and her son to drink. Also fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that he would father many nations for Ishmael’s descendants can be found in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman etc. Ishmael's descendants also constitute the vast majority of the Muslim population in the world today. And, since the world generally accepts the first-born theory, Ishmael’s descendants hold the rightful claim to being Children of God.

Which brings me to all the “Muslims-are-going-to-hell-and-so-are-you” people Chxta has had to contend with.

Consider this scenario: As a missionary you are sent to a remote village, where no one has previously carried a Bible into. On arriving there, you’re told a certain man just died. While he was alive, this man was a paragon of virtue. He never stole, told a lie, cheated his business associates, took another man’s wife or land, was generous to a fault, would give you the shirt off his back if you happened to need it more than he did, and generally observed what you call the Ten Commandments. Would you tell the villagers that because this man had never heard of God, he was destined for hell? I put this question to a certain “Born-Again Christian” (BAC) and she said yes- the man was on his way to hell. I beg to differ. If God truly sees all things, and knows all things, then a man who lived his life in accordance with the Ten Commandments even though he’d never heard of them, would certainly not be on his way to eternal suffering for being a good and principled man. If he’s not allowed into Christian Heaven, at least he’ll be sent to Valhalla. And that is on the assumption that there is segregation in Heaven, which I seriously doubt. This BAC held on to her views, and began machine-gunning Bible quotations at me to back up her claims. However, when I lobbed a few quotations from the same Bible in her direction, she fired the BAC standard response at me – “even the Devil knows the Scriptures.”

It is my firm belief that no matter what religion you practice be it, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sun Worshipper, or whatever, it is the ultimate height of arrogance and indeed ignorance to insist that whomsoever doesn’t kow tow to the same faith as you do is bound for damnation. Nobody knows where he or she will end up. Granted, it would appear on the surface that Muslims are much more prone to violent reactions to any denigration of their religion, but for those willing to cast their minds back through history, the Crusades were about Christians trying to force others to their religion. Colonialism, a crass rape of other people’s natural resources and subjugation of their freedom, was carried out under the banner of “taking God to the Godless.” As one writer famously remarked, “They took our land and our freedom and gave us Bibles.” No doubt the early sermons were all about turning the other cheek. Galileo was excommunicated by the Church for daring to insist that the world was round and orbited around the sun. I think most people have heard about the Spanish Inquisition. And, if that trip through history is too far for some people to take, cast your minds back to Waco, Texas, and the Christian fanatic who caused hundreds of his followers to end their lives via mass suicide. Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, was a Christian. The white men who shipped our millions of our people off to work their cotton fields in the “New World” were good Christian men. The men who fire-bombed black churches in the southern United States were Christians. The men who hung black men from trees were Christians. They waved their Bibles freely to show that their actions were sanctioned by God. Adolph Hitler was a Christian. George W. Bush, a man who has plunged the world into previously unimaginable chaos is a Christian.

Hell, had “The Da Vinci Code” been written some centuries ago, Herr Braun would have since confessed to giving Eve the apple, convincing David to go out to his roof to see something interesting, and wielding the spear at Christ’s crucifixion, amongst others. Then he would have been barbecued. (There are some who insist that he be given that very treatment even today!)

Clearly, Muslims do not hold the monopoly on extremism. Yes, many are touchy about their religion, but who isn’t? And the fact that some of them resort to violence and back it up with quotes from the Qu’ran doesn’t mean they’re all that way. I’ve met Muslims who quote from the same Qu’ran to show that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood.

The other day I read on a Nigerian’s blog that Arabs were “murdering sand niggers.” That fellow has my undiluted pity for his is a mind so shallow an ant wouldn’t drown in it.

We live in a complex, complicated, dangerous, and, sometimes, downright crazy world. We will always have our differences, quarrels will always flare up, but if we can’t or won’t learn to live and work together, perhaps whatever God we individually pray to is already shaking His head in regret.


texazzpete said...

Agree with you on most points you raised, bu tu have to admit that most of the excesses of Christianity in the past was due to ignorance. in a situation where only the clerics could read the bible and their interpretation was the law, ordinary folks didnt find it hard to swallow stuff like the crusades, and convincing the europeans (who still bore lots of superstitions from their days of idol worship) that witches were a clear and present danger didn't take much effort.
But Christianity has moved on, has come out of the dark ages. the peace preached by Jesus has finally sunk in. The Onus now is for the radical and extreme islamists to embrace the path of peace, to cool the smouldering passions in them. Unfortunately, their religion doesn't seem to quench the fires of passion in them, and it isn't designed for that either. For instance, instead of directly working to temper the innate lust in men, the women are forced to wear full body coverings to prevent them from being seen.
Anyway, nice article. just want to point out that McVeigh didn't do his deed in the name of the Christian God, neither do many of the 'christian' terrorists.
Once again, funny piece. keep this up, and send me links when u post again.

The Law said...

I'll grant that McVeigh didn't act in the name of God, but it doesn't change the fact of who he was.

I've had the pleasure of meeting several Muslims who are simply appalled at the violence being carried out in the name of Islam. They have their extremists same as we do. Unfortunately it appears the extremists currently make their religious policy.

On the point of Christian terrorists how about the KKK?

Chxta said...

@ Texazzpete, the key point in your post is that the excesses of Xtian extremists back in the day was as a result of ignorance.

What do you have to say about those Islamic militants? That they are 'educated'?

The Law said...

good point chx.

Chukky Eboka said...

okay "the law" i had already seen the flaws in your reasonign before i read texazzpete's comment and saw that hey i'm not the only one. the difference is that these christians you call as extremists didnt do these things with christianity as a cause or as an excuse. the gripe is that the muslims always call islam and mohammed as their excuse.

and about the sand nigger comment, dont you get it, didnt you read my reply? i'm just going to paste what i replied on my blog because really you've overstressed the point and its really boring me the fuck out. this is what i said on my blog:

to Oria(The law), you really need to get your reading skills in order cos when i said sand niggers i wasnt referring to the entirety of the muslim community but just the few elements responsible for the sept 11 attacks. so if my racial slurs against a bunch of mass mudering terrorists is of utmost importance to you you need to have your priorities straightened .

so do you understand that or do i have to spell it the fuck out? i didnt call all arabs sand niggers, just those involved in the sept 11 attacks. you supposed to be smart so why does it feel like i'm talking to an 11year old. so i would really like it if you stop misrepresenting my statements. ok?

and u really shouldnt have to approve what people say on your blog made it public so allow people to comment freely. just a hint.

Anonymous said...

texazzpete said...

@the law
The KKK wasn't a christian terrorist group. The members of the group were nominally christian, that's all.

@Chxta & oria
Many of the islamic extremists are educated. Bin Laden is educated, Al Zawahiri (his deputy) is a medical doctor. unlike the christians of years gone by, every muslim has a Quran and most of them now know how to read it, or have family members that read it for them.

How many of the 'christian' terrorists you've mentioned have used the bible to justify their actions, how many quote whole sections of the bible supporting their claims? How many believe they have rich rewards waiting for them in Heaven in this day and age?
how does one become a martyr in xtianity? How did martyrs like stephen reach that state? And how many muslims believe they acheive martyrdom by submitting peacefully to oppression for their God's sake?

The Law said...

At no point in time have I ever suggested that what extremists do in the name of God is correct. I personally see no point in blowing yourself up along with several other people.

And @texazz, the KKK did quote the Bible copiously to justify their actions.

Look closer.

ify said...

@ chukky, u talk about moderating posts here thne delete my post from ur blog u hypocrite

The Law said...

@Ify, just cool down.

As the Hausas say, "Even silence is an answer."

Chukky Eboka said...

i included the full contents of your post in my reply so its still there for all to see. i only deleted it to butress my displeasure at unconstuctive statements made by uninvited people at your blog.
you talk shit but your blog is empty.are u such an airhead that you have no opinions? Go figure.

ify said...

i never denied dat i am an airhead. but not a waste of space like u.

The Law said...

@Chukky: If you have issues/want to exchange words/trade insults with someone, I strongly suggest you do so on your own blog. I think it's a tad hypocritical to suggest that I should allow public comment on my blog, then you turn around and complain about "unconstructive statements from uninvited people." on yours.

@Texazz: If you do decide to start your own blog, please send me the link. I'd love to see what spews out of your twisted mind. :D

Chukky Eboka said...

ok you know what? i'm done with all the name swapping. didnt mean to bring beef to your camp ok? i said unconstructive as a euphemism. her(is it a her?) comments were downright insultive. and hypocritical or not i had to do what i did. i dont care. well i've finaally put an end to all this on my blog and i aint saying no more so hope we can continue as the civilized people i'm thinking we all are? the people i know on here that is(chx, texx n you).

About Me

My photo
I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...