In an increasingly secular world, just about everything and every issue can be held up for discussion, deliberation, and as when and where required, criticized without reservations.
Everything and everyone, except religion and its scriptural tenets, that is. Religion, it seems, occupies a unique, privileged spot in the hearts and minds of even the most liberal-minded individual. In fact, it is so taboo that the most heinous crimes done in the name of religion can simply be whitewashed away with wishy-washy excuses that would have made the worst criminal blush with embarrassment.
Religion's Bigotry: Outright Demand For Respect
Even the most bigoted politicians, such as President Bush or even President Kim of North Korea, would have trouble demanding outright respect from the masses, however despotic and tyrannic these monsters (and fool for Bush) may be. After all, no Republican supporter or candidate will claim that his political aspirations and beliefs are somehow infringed upon by members and Democratic Party. In short, politics presents a fair playing ground for trading barbs and insults, and that kind of playing ground extends to other issues too.
Yet, religions, with all its demands for piety and servitude from their flocks, demands respect from everyone, non-believers included. No questions ask, period. You either believe in the bible or you don't, but you are not expected to dissect and criticize a religious scripture, for such an act could be deemed as a slight against the particular religious group, and opinions can become so irrational that any form of anti-religiosity is deemed as outright racism, even if it has nothing to do with the believers in the first place.
In Singapore, two unfortunate teenagers have been charged, rather ignominiously of course, with the Sedition Act. Their crimes? One for criticizing Islam, the other for drawing cartoons depicting Jesus chomping off cute baby heads.
If this kind of servile bigotry is allowed to run riot in a supposedly "secular" nation, goodness knows what would happen have they been in Iran or some theocracy. I bet it would be their heads which would have to give way from their bodies.
Terror In The Muslim World: Secular World Stands Idle In the Face Of Deadly Theocracy
In the Muslim world, blasphemy as defined by Muslims, includes libels and criticisms against the Prophet Muhammad, and if such a charge is dished out by a Muslim cleric against a perceived infidel, the consequences can be dire: A death sentence in the form of a fatwa can be issued by a Muslim cleric against any persons involved in such a blameless crime, and I dare say blameless because blasphemy is, in its most basic form, part and parcel of free speech in a secular society.
Alas, as Salman Rushdie found out, even the most secularized nations in Europe could very well buckle in its knees when it came to free speech: As riots broke out all over Europe after his now-infamous book, " Satanic Verses" was published in 1988, none of the European nations, including Rushdie's adopted country, Great Britain, had the balls to condemn this fatuous, blatantly oppressive fatwa, issued by then Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini.
How dare a religious and political leader in a foreign country issue such a death sentence on any individual! What temerity! Wait....Khomeini did it to defend the dignity of his religion. After all, Salman proved himself to be the great infidel by alleging that Allah had tacitly acknowledged the existence of three pagan Goddesses, therefore, in the name of respect, Salman deserves to die, as a punishment for such a grievous insult to Islam! Great cop out, literally.
When the terrors of 911 began to unfold in front of TV screens almost 6 years ago, everyone was falling and fawning all over themselves trying to explain this inexplicable tragedy, with politicians proclaiming that this was the work of extremists, not mainstream Muslims. As the identities of the terrorists began to roll out in front of our very eyes, the fact that these terrorists were Muslims, and essentially pious, fundamentalist Muslims, became unmistakable.
Yet, few, if any, criticisms were heaped at the very root of these calamitous acts of religious piety and cruelty. These terrorists, mostly with degrees and bright futures, were motivated primarily because of a distinct belief in an afterlife, an eternal reward that was promised to them by the treacherous plotters of this heinous act. Such suicidal acts could only have been achieved with the persuasiveness and awe-inspiring clout of religion and its violent-strewed scriptures.
Not only was religious criticisms far and few in between, the perceived demagogue for religion, or specifically Islam, was echoed by moderate Muslim clerics, who simply parrot each other with the "Islam is a religion of peace" mantra. Curiously, though, no Muslim leader was able to clarify whether these "martyrs" were supposedly enjoying the fruits of their deadly labor: A eternity of sexual ecstasy with 72 virgins in paradise.
Just try to picture this mentally, if you will: SS guards from Hitler's Gestapo kidnaps the Jews and packs them off in cattle trains to concentration camps for incarceration and torture. Instead of condemning Hitler for his heinous acts, European politicians commence blaming SS guards for their dastardly cruelty, while praising Hitler's Nazi Party as a "Party of Peace". Sounds incredulous, callous, and essentially bullshit? Well, simply change "Nazi Party" to any form of religion, irrational piety is invoked. No questions asked. Period.
The Vatican's Murderous Lies
While the Vatican officially renounces violence of the terrorist sort, it is difficult to abstain criticism against this huge, redundant institution when it is at least partly responsible for abetting the AIDS epidemic.
Consider these "noteworthy" quotes, all spoken from the lying lips of religious leaders with at least the rank of Bishop:
1. “The truth is not in condoms or clean needles. These are lies, lies perpetrated often for political reasons on the part of public officials…by some health care professionals who believe they have nothing else to offer persons with AIDS…lies told by often well-meaning counselors.”
Cardinal John O’Connor, accusing health care professionals of dishonesty in promoting condoms [“Pope Condemns Bias Against Victims of AIDS,” Washington Post, November 16, 1989].
2. “Parents must reject the promotion of so-called ‘safe sex’ or ‘safer sex,’ a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS.”
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo and Bishop Elio Sgreccia of the Pontifical Council for the Family [“The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,” Origins, February 1, 1996].
3.“Use of this product is harmful to health.”
Condom warning label suggested by Mexico City Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera [La Jornada (Mexico), August 29, 1997].
4. “[W]idespread and indiscriminate promotion of condoms [is] an immoral and misguided weapon in our battle against HIV-AIDS. …[C]ondoms may even be one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV-AIDS.”
From the text of a statement issued by the bishops of South Africa following their semiannual meeting, where they considered a change in their official condoms policy in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic [Karen DeYoung, “AIDS challenges religious leaders,” Washington Post, August 13, 2001].
One wonders how many lives could have been saved, particularly innocent children, have such dastardly lies not been spewed by religious leaders hell-bent against sex for any other purpose save pro-creation.
Yet, few, if any political leaders, dare to voice out against such monstrously deadly, irresponsible lies, when millions have died, and millions more will die, from the ravages of the AIDS pandemic. (For a more detailed read, kindly proceed to the WHO website regarding the AIDS pandemic, here).
Should religion be allowed to get away, scot-free, by members of the "free press", who, for the sake of a few religious sensitivities, allow such moral travesties to sneak pass under their radar?
Or are we, as a human species, so used to this religious virus, that no amount of harm inflicted upon our human brethren can cause us to stop for a moment and decide why we should allow our rights to be trampled all over by the religious rights, at our own damn detriment?Religion Does Not Deserve A Free Pass From Critics
To sum it up, religion does not deserve its "Get Out Of Jail" free pass. Just as Democrats, Republicans or any other political group are opened to criticism, religious groups and cults should not receive any preferential treatment, given its horrendous records (if I were to trace and detail the ills and monstrosities of every religious atrocity of just the monotheistic religions, I'd be writing an encyclopedia, not a blog post).
One could argue that it is the individuals, not the respective religions per se, that should be held accountable. But that cannot exonerate the crimes of religions when their original texts are virtually littered with unspeakable violence and injustice. It is time for the secular world to say enough is enough: No more bullshit kowtowing and grovelling speeches to appease the religious masses. Just the plain, old sickening truth will do.