Friday, 21 March 2008

Offending Religious Sentiments

As a bonafide atheist and infidel, I am often appalled by the evils and blatant abuses of Religion and its mind-numbing effects on the religious flock. I, as well as other enigmatic atheists, know and understand that it is not just a few black sheep that has resulted in such gross abuses. As institutions that promote dogma and degrade skepticism and reason, religious institutions are designed, not by God, but devious religious leaders and political leaders since antiquity to control the masses.

Unfortunately, such criticisms can often lead to misunderstandings: Race and religion are often seen as conjoined twins. If you insult or criticize someone's religion, it somehow becomes grotesquely misconstrued as a uniquely racist and bigoted remark. & it is in exposing the flaws and hypocrisies of such idiotic opinions that I would like to address in this post.

Religion: The Race Factor

The Jews are an unique diaspora: Accursed with being the founding race of three major religions, their ethnic roots are deeply intertwined and rooted with their religion. When one speaks about Jews, one is equating an archaic religion, Judaism along with its unique race in one single breath. This gives the impression that when the majority of a ethnic group or race has converted to a religion wholesale, the religion is permanently seared into the ethnic group's culture and ultimately, its identity. Even a non-practicing Jew, such as the late Albert Einstein, cannot escape from this identity crisis of sorts.

In countries heavily populated by migrant races, a person's race can be stereotyped in accordance to their religions: Arabs, for example, are seen as Muslims; Caucasians as Christians and so on. We become so used to this stereotypical way of perceiving individuals that over time, religion and race becomes one single, unifying factor.

Religion and Race Are Distinctly Separate Issues

Such a delusion, however, cannot be further from the truth: While a person is born to a unique race because of the identity of his or her parents, religion remains a individual choice pertaining to belief.

For example, I am a Singaporean Chinese by birth. According to conventional bias, I am supposed to be a Buddhist. Yet, I was raised in an American-style, Baptist Church, destined for an ignominious life as a lay preacher. Despite a change in destiny, I managed to twist it right the third becoming an atheist.

Stereotyping is a uniquely inaccurate method of purveying a person's beliefs: Everyone has different character traits that do not always conform to conventional social standards.

Criticizing Religions

Unfortunately, religious sentiments sometimes run deep in the veins of fundamentalists: Any slight or criticism against their imaginary Sky God can equate to just about every known or even unknown injustices against their faiths (Or egos): Draw a Muhammadian cartoon, and it becomes a gross, indecent blasphemous act against religious sentiments. Paste Halal food stickers onto pork packages to sneak past pork bans in public schools, and it becomes a racist, bigoted act against Muslims. Decline a wafer and red wine in a Catholic Church because you refuse to partake in the cannibalism and vampirism themes of the Eucharist, and you are deemed offensive to the Vatican and bishops (Apparently, touching altar boys' asses isn't oppressive: Priests do that all the time as part of the "Partake").

Secular organizations, such as political parties or corporations, don't seem to equate criticisms with personal insults: If I criticize the policies of say, a political party, I am quite sure that supporters or that party, or even the party's candidates, will not equate my criticisms as offensive to individual persons, much less being equated as a bigoted, racist remark. If I complain about the ineptness of my laptop manufacturer, I am definitely not going to be denounced as being insensitive to the sensitivities of the manufacturer's workers. Yet, religions do not play the same rules as secular organizations: They want to intertwine their bullshit, nonsense beliefs with the privacies of their flocks, which makes criticisms against religion so personal and offensive.

Much as we atheists love to lampoon religions, we certainly have no interest in being racists and hot-blooded bigots. After all, religion is just another disreputable institution, and we infidels certainly know that religions should never be allowed to enjoy their "free pass" from critics every time their charlatans perform their heinous crimes against innocent people (and worst, innocent folks from their gullible flocks).


Telmi said...


An excellent post.

Enjoyed reading it.


Pioneering Over Four Epochs said...

There is more to Salmon Rushdie than a swirl of religious issues. Here are some other thoughts.

When I was working in a tin mine on the west coast of Tasmania in 1981/2 at one of the dirtiest but emotionally challenging jobs I’ve ever had, Salmon Rushdie was catapulted to literary fame. I think I may have come across his name on the morning news before going to work on the bus and usually in the dark and the rain, for it nearly always rained on the west coast of this beautiful island state of Australia. News of Rushdie and his Midnight’s Children(1981) was the beginning of his story in the narrative that is my own life and, over twenty-five years later, I still follow the writing and life of this acclaimed and controversial writer.

Yesterday I listened to an interview on ABC radio1 with this Indian-British novelist and essayist, this Muslim-born and self-proclaimed atheist around whom have been swirling literary and political issues, especially since the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses(1988). I had left the tin mine by 1988 and was living in what is arguably the most isolated city on the planet, Perth, Western Australia. The comparisons and contrasts between Rushdie’s writing and mine I found helped to place my own work in a useful personal perspective. This first of a series of prose-poems examines these comparisons and contrasts.-Ron Price with thanks to “The Book Show,” ABC Radio National, 21 April 2008, 10:05-11:00 a.m.

I tell stories, too, Salmon
but I don’t draw on the
deficit model of history1
in the same way as you.

I, too, subvert linear history
with spacial, sacred, circular
and fragmented models, far
more transnational, not the
discreet national-local story
here, more the flickering film
of a phenomenal world where
a sense of unity is demanding
fulfilment on a tide of desire
for an outward and political
form mounting to a flood, to
a climax in these tempestuous
times of troubles and woes.

Writing for me was a second
choice, too, Salmon, after I
realized I could not make a
career of baseball and life
wore me out with forty years
of endless talking and listening
among other slings and arrows
of life’s outrageous fortune.

1Camilla Nelson, “ Faking It: History and Creative Writing,” TEXT: Vol. 11, No.2, 2007.

Ron Price
22 April 2008

libhom said...

These are really important points. Religion should be open to all the forms of criticism any other institution is subject too.

BEAST FCD said...

Thanks mate.