"Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"

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panhead

Stargazer I know this is Canada. I was responding to Trevor's concern over the unconstitutional nature of the inauguration.  The American right to bear arms as covered in the constitution is not really debatable. The intent for such a right was clearly defined by those who framed the constitution.

I'm sorry you feel oppressed by the Good Book. I don't understand how this infringes on your legal rights to exist as a human being free to make your own choices today. I don't think we will ever reach a state where everyones personal behaviour and choices will be condoned by everyone else, and if we do, I hope I'm long dead by then.

 

Kaspar Hauser

Remind wrote, "I was just going to say that "panhead" must be a non-gay white man, stargazer."

 Because God knows that every woman and every gay man is an atheist.

NorthReport

Jesus, will we have to go through the entire 21st century before all forms of public religion are relegated to the trashbins where they belong.   

Even the none threatening ones like the Quakers, the United Church, or Unitarians are not necessay. We don't have to be part of some religious network to do good.

Sick of all the religious nonsense in the world, which lead to more and more divisions on our planet. Don't we have enough problems as it is, without having to listen to some religious fanatic demand his free speech. I think a lot of religions border on hatred, and I thought we had laws against that. Off with the religious heads I say. Laughing

panhead

The only fanatic behaviour here seems to be yours NorthReport. You'll find a good playbook for your views in the history of the Inquisition. Live and let live and mutual respect seems the better course of action to me.

NorthReport

Yup, your wonderful religions have contributled to peace in the Middle East, and peace in Ireland, and peace around the planet. Cry

Stargazer

Panhead, I'm not sure why you refuse to understand they are not JUST WORDS and it is not JUST ME who is oppressed. Do you not understand the very high connection between religion and politics? Just look to the south for that. Jesus, I can't believe I even have to say these things.

Sorry I feel oppressed? Please! Debates about whether or not religions are used to control (yes, in the real world) women's bodies have no place on a lefty discussion board. 

Religion is used as the excuse to withhold funding to Africans who suffer from HIV (no meds for you!). Religion is used to omit funding for any group that offers up alternatives to abstenense. Religion is used to bring back the abortion debate, and take away a woman's right to choose. There are many US states that have outlawed abortion and many places in the world where women are treated as less than men. All over the world women are raped and killed for some reason or other, usually justified by some religious writings and in times of war (God told Bush to kill all those Iraqi people don't you know. Bush said so). 

You need to understand that "sorry you're feeling oppressed" is a pack of bs and why. And it is a rather horrible show of silliness when you actually can only say "you're sorry I feel oppressed". This isn't about me. It's about women, and those who are deemed the unwashed heathens going to hell (and by god they will help ensure they get there). 

That's the end of my talking to you on this subject, as it seems you have no true understanding as to how religion is, has been and probably always will be used to control and destroy women and gays and lesbians. 

 

And BTW, they get no respect from me until they begin to respect other people who do not fit in with their holy views. Screw religion, and screw those people who are apologists for it's toxic effects on people. 

 

 

 

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
Perhaps it is because I am an atheist product of a devoutly Christian home, but I believe that the problem at the root of this phenomenon is not fundamentalism or extreme religion, but religion itself, precisely because religious institutions propagate and sustain themselves by domination and control.

I disagree entirely. Religion is not only a vehicle for human beings to exercise power and control of one another, it is only one of many available vehicles. Here is an excellent example, IMO:

Quote:
The recent conflict in Gaza wasn't a war between Israelis and Palestinians, nor between Israelis and Arabs, but a clash of civilizations pitting Israel against Iran and extremist groups supported by the Islamic state, an Israeli official said in a Jan. 28 talk on campus ... terrorist groups in the Middle East and beyond "share the same ideology — Islamic fundamentalism — and what we see today is a very dangerous trend … whether it's in Mumbai, whether it's in Bali, Indonesia, or in New York ... The third — and toughest — challenge to nation states is the prevalence of unconventional threats in the "use of terror," combined with the fact that countries like Iran are trying to develop nuclear capabilities, the consul general said. "Iran is the one common denominator to those three challenges, and it is in this light that you have to see what happened last month between Gaza and Israel."

http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=104042

There is a lot in there.

First, we see the "yellow peril" propaganda model in action where fear is generated among the members of one group against another group (exactly pertaining to the topic of this thread), but presented in a very rational, real politk manner (by a man representing an ideological persepective completely founded upon a religious fundamentalism and somehow that goes unnoticed).

We see the "yellow peril" propaganda model go to the next step of labeling Islam "terrorism". This has a double value. First, in line with the "yellow peril" propaganda model, dialogue with the Islamic world is out of the question as one can't have a rational discourse with a zealot intent on murder. Second, the only motivation to be assigned to Palestinians is that of a zealot intent on murder. That fact that not all Palestinians are Islamic, religious at all, or that Palestinians have legitimate grievances are rendered mute. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they are out to kill us all. Finally, we see that the attack on Gaza is not about the Israeli occupation, collective punishment, or even the Israeli excuse of rockets, but it is about a longer, wider, and ultimately more deadly and violent war against Iran. Go and hug your kids ...

And so we have a rational, secular, political vehicle to complement our religious vehicle for violence. It's quite the hateful program is it not? Can anyone think of a historical parallel?

I'm an atheist, too. But the more I observe and filter, the more I learn that God and religion have nothing to do with it. I think all men and women of power are atheists. They must be. Because the alternative is knowing they've betrayed their own God. And how could they do that to an all powerful and knowing deity with whom they claim an immortal covenant?

We use men of the cloth to persuade the masses, and suits with glasses, powerpoints, and infrared pointers to persuade the social elites, and both require the suspension of critical thinking and challenge to the word spoken from those being persuaded.

 

Kaspar Hauser

Stargazer wrote, "And BTW, they get no respect from me until they begin to respect other people who do not fit in with their holy views."

This is interesting, because religious people like the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, Ghandi, Martin Buber, and many, many others have demonstrated considerable respect for people of other faiths (and those of no faith, assuming, for the moment, that this isn't a faith position).  Do these people not count?  Or are you only interested in the sort of religious people who conform to the stereotype of intolerant self-righteousness...the sort, for example, that refuse to acknowledge the virtuous members of the groups they criticize, preferring to define those groups solely on the basis of their most ethically debased representatives?

Perhaps you gave us your answer when you wrote, "Screw religion, and screw those people who are apologists for it's toxic effects on people." 

panhead

God didn't tell Bush to do anything and I find your position incredibly naive. Halliburton told Bush quite a lot as have Shell and the other oil moguls, along with the massive defense contractors that make their living off human suffering, not to mention a significant ethnic lobby that ties its interests with political instability in the midddle east. Pharmaceutical companies also dip their hands into large scale murder in Africa and other places around the world.

You are right that religion is used to support these actions, but so is secularism when the plight of Afghani women is used as a pretext to encourage support for the Canadian military to share its liberal views with Afghanistan by shelling them and shooting them.

Breaking the tool is completely irrelevant. If your concern is oppression then you should worry more about those who use any means necessary to further goals that really, have nothing to do with religion or atheism but more to do with world wide dominance and money.

Tear down the political system that is funded by a shadow government of oligarchs and their dominating monopoly of the mass media who tell you who you need to hate today, and you might find that you'll get along better with people who have different beliefs than yourself.

NorthReport

"The third — and toughest — challenge to nation states is the prevalence of unconventional threats in the "use of terror"

Humm....I guess they must have overlooked multinationals or capitalism in their survey.

What nonsense.

Stargazer

Oh please! Seriously, this is insulting., Here are men defending religion, and so much so that you'll use any tactic to prove a point (which you are failing miserably at).

 

Get back to me on religion when you are a woman. Until then, you can insinuate that religion is just keen because the Dali Lama was religious. Like that makes all the rest so much better. 

 

Oh and panhead, the topic is RELIGION, not capitalism. Religion. Nice try though. Really. Doing a fine job apologizing for all the horridness caused by those who "believe". 

panhead

Where did you find that North Report, in the CIA world fact book?

Stargazer, the discussion evolved out of your statement that religion is the active catalyst of war, famine, HIV in Africa and the plight of the North American lesbian. I'm not defending the actions of religious and non religious zealots. I'm simply pointing out the fucking glaring fact that religion has never really had much to do with any of these world wide conditions, except when used as a propaganda tool by those who wield political power and that mutual respect , even between those who hold completely different world views, is necessary if the real ailment is going to be addressed.

NorthReport

Here is another sound reason to reject all public expressions of religion.

Abortion is essential to our survival.

Two children should be limit, says green guru

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article5627634.ece

saga saga's picture

panhead wrote:

God didn't tell Bush to do anything and I find your position incredibly naive. Halliburton told Bush

Laughing very funny!

panhead wrote:

quite a lot as have Shell and the other oil moguls, along with the massive defense contractors that make their living off human suffering, not to mention a significant ethnic lobby that ties its interests with political instability in the midddle east. Pharmaceutical companies also dip their hands into large scale murder in Africa and other places around the world.

You are right that religion is used to support these actions, but so is secularism when the plight of Afghani women is used as a pretext to encourage support for the Canadian military to share its liberal views with Afghanistan by shelling them and shooting them.

Eeew ... not so funny.

Quote:

Breaking the tool is completely irrelevant. If your concern is oppression then you should worry more about those who use any means necessary to further goals that really, have nothing to do with religion or atheism but more to do with world wide dominance and money.

True

Quote:

Tear down the political system that is funded by a shadow government of oligarchs and their dominating monopoly of the mass media who tell you who you need to hate today, and you might find that you'll get along better with people who have different beliefs than yourself.

 Did somebody say 'United Church'?

Because I personally do not believe one is obligated to respect institutions like the Anglican and United and Catholic churches in Canada, that 'laundered' Indigenous lands on Canada's behalf, for the benefit of the extraction industries and themselves, etc. They still refuse to say how many children died in the 'Indian' Residential Schools, in their care, and they never informed families.

The government already bailed them out once when they screamed 'bankruptcy', due to its own complicity and responsibility. It isn't over yet as the investigation of missing children is just beginning. Freedom of religious practice is a given, and freedom of speech means none is sacred to everyone.

We can speak truths about corrupt organized religions. We have to.

But that is a separate issue in my mind from spirituality.

 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Stargazer wrote:

Oh please! Seriously, this is insulting., Here are men defending religion, and so much so that you'll use any tactic to prove a point (which you are failing miserably at).

 

Get back to me on religion when you are a woman. Until then, you can insinuate that religion is just keen because the Dali Lama was religious. Like that makes all the rest so much better. 

 

Oh and panhead, the topic is RELIGION, not capitalism. Religion. Nice try though. Really. Doing a fine job apologizing for all the horridness caused by those who "believe". 

 

It's really not pleasant to read Stargazer's posts being misconstrued.  It is undeniable that religion is oppressive to women.  Please take your strawmen elsewhere and don't even try to post shit like that on babble.

 

Well stated Stargazer.  I have respect for this discussion but not when men are trying to deny the oppression.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

panhead wrote:

 I'm simply pointing out the fucking glaring fact that religion has never really had much to do with any of these world wide conditions,

 

Case closed.

NorthReport

And yet, interestingly enough, at least in Christianity, women outnumber the men in the pews big time. I know one of the reasons is that women live longer than men, but that doesn't account for all of it.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

NorthReport wrote:
And yet, interestingly enough, at least in Christianity, women outnumber the men in the pews big time. I know one of the reasons is that women live longer than men, but that doesn't account for all of it.

 

I think it has more to do with their patriarchal environment, which fortunately is changing, although not fast enough.

 

I understand you North and said I have respect for the discussion but panheads responses pissed me off. 

 

Last thing, plenty of religions don't have pews.

panhead

Is that why you dissect the statements to take quotes out of context? You could try arguing a point if it's not too much of an intellectual leap for you.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

panhead wrote:
Is that why you dissect the statements to take quotes out of context? You could try arguing a point if it's not too much of an intellectual leap for you.

 

Explain to me how I took a quote out of context?  Because it has some bafflegab disguising it?

 

My point is, as stated earlier, you can't deny that religion oppresses women, LBGT, the poor and many others. 

 

There's my intellectual leap, good luck following.

Kaspar Hauser

Revolution Please: Brilliant.  Only women can comment on oppression and religion, provided that they believe that religion is inherently oppressive, since women who are religious (I'm thinking of rather brilliant women like Elaine Pagels and Karen Armstrong) have necessarily been co-opted by the patriarchy.  It really is an airtight and utterly useless tautology. 

You said that you found Panhead's responses upsetting.  Console yourself with the knowledge that Panhead didn't say something like, ""Screw atheism, and screw those people who are apologists for it's toxic effects on people."   

Anyway, yes, religion has often been used to oppress women and gays...just like politics, law, economics, literature, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and pretty much every other field with the possible exception of mathematics. And yet, I haven't heard many feminists demand the elimination of politics, law, economics, etc; rather, they advocate for systemic change in these fields in order to eliminate their patriarchal bias.  Similarly, feminists in various religious traditions are trying to bring about positive change within those traditions, or to create new religious traditions.  How do women such as these fit into your binary atheism good/religion bad schema?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Just to be clear here, because I'm not really sure of the argument, is it being suggested that if there was no religion we would be free of oppression, gender, racial, class, and there would be an end to colonization, conquest, and (wo)man's inhumanity to (wo)man?

 I don't think it's true but I'd be willing to ban religion and all silly belief systems to find out. Who's with me?

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Michael Nenonen wrote:

Revolution Please: Brilliant.  Only women can comment on oppression and religion, provided that they believe that religion is inherently oppressive, since women who are religious (I'm thinking of rather brilliant women like Elaine Pagels and Karen Armstrong) have necessarily been co-opted by the patriarchy.  It really is an airtight and utterly useless tautology. 

You said that you found Panhead's responses upsetting.  Console yourself with the knowledge that Panhead didn't say something like, ""Screw atheism, and screw those people who are apologists for it's toxic effects on people."   

 

Talk about taking things out of context.  I never said only certain people can comment.  But, babble, like elsewhere seems to have all these men trying to silence the very few women that are brave enough to put up wiith this crap.

 

I've said I respect the discussion but feel too many men are now attempting to control it.

Kaspar Hauser

Frustrated Mess: You should be careful what you wish for, given that a very strong case has been made by the philosopher John Gray that all of our political ideologies are forms of secularized millennialism, and therefore inherently religious.

Kaspar Hauser

RevolutionPlease: I'm sorry, but the only ad hominems I'm seeing are the ones being launched by the atheists on this board.  And as for silencing, no one has told you something like, "Please take your strawmen elsewhere and don't even try to post shit like that on babble."

 

Now, since it seems that you posted your response to my posting while I was adding another paragraph to it, I'll repeat that paragraph here, because I'd like to hear your answer to its closing question:

"Anyway, yes, religion has often been used to oppress women and gays...just like politics, law, economics, literature, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and pretty much every other field with the possible exception of mathematics. And yet, I haven't heard many feminists demand the elimination of politics, law, economics, etc; rather, they advocate for systemic change in these fields in order to eliminate their patriarchal bias.  Similarly, feminists in various religious traditions are trying to bring about positive change within those traditions, or to create new religious traditions.  How do women such as these fit into your binary atheism good/religion bad schema?"

NorthReport

FM,

I'm with you in so far as it is in the public domain.

What people do in the privacy of their own minds is..... well you know the rest.

I just don't want to hear about horseshit things like religion anymore.

But if you really want to read about religious bullshit read "Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown. It's hilarious! Laughing

Kaspar Hauser

North Report: Then why are you participating in a thread entitled, "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"

Stargazer, you wrote that I was insinuating "that religion is just keen because the Dali Lama was religious. Like that makes all the rest so much better."

I would appreciate it if you would at least try to respond to the argument I'm making, rather than the argument you would like me to make.  What I insinuated wasn't that religion is keen because the Dalai Lama is religious.  I insinuated that it was intolerant and self righteous to refuse to acknowledge the virtuous members of the groups you are criticizing, and to define those groups solely on the basis of their most ethically debased representatives. This is like judging all atheists by the examples presented by people like Mao, Hitchens, and Harris.

NorthReport

Spare me the nonsense.

Religion has been used as a tool to suppress, abuse, torture, maim, kill, and impoverish people way, way too often for me to ever want to waste my time trying to find its miniscule redeeming features.  

 

Off with any religious zealot's head, I say. Laughing

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I think the Dalai Lama is a terrible example of an ethical religious leader, by the way. When the Dalai Lama demonstrated he was fully prepared to overlook the spilled blood of Iraqis and sit with the occupier and butcher of Iraq to attempt to win some small advantage for his campaign for Tibet, I lost all respect for the man (or God ... whatever).

But I like this ...  " all of our political ideologies are forms of secularized millennialism, and therefore inherently religious". In fact, we are as dogmatically tied to many of our political beliefs as we are to our religious beliefs and often enought they are similarily divorced from reality.

Kaspar Hauser

Frustrated Mess: I'm not terribly taken with the Dalai Lama, either, for the reasons you mentioned along with a number of others.  For all his ethical shortcomings, however, he cannot credibly be accused of religious intolerance, which was the point I was trying to make when I brought him up.  

Kaspar Hauser

North Report: If you ever have an argument to go with that conclusion, let me know.

As for the "off with their heads" quip, I'm not sure that very many of the Tibetan Buddhist monks who have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed for their faith by the Chinese would find that comment quite as amusing as you seem to.

Well, technically, the ones who have been executed likely won't find anything humorous, but you get my drift.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Michael, view the following link: http://www.trimondi.de/EN/deba03.html

I post it only to demonstarte that in human affairs, there are always critics to pull the skeletons from the closet.

Stargazer

No thanks, I'll leave you boys to play in the "defend religion" playground.

So far I've been called too stupid to get it, intolerant of religion, and it is being continuously implied that I am far too stupid to understand anything you religion defenders post.

I'll pass on your pro-religion sausage fest. Now go hate on someone else. Like maybe the men who wrote the book's pages, and the men who interpret them for harm. But my guess is, you could give a rat's ass about that. Religion must be defended at all costs from the intolerant bigots such as myself, clearly playing in some fantasy land of make believe oppression. Ideologies are never dangerous, especially extremely well funded ones based upon patriarchy and colonialism. Oh wait, they are? Just not religion. I forgot. 

Religion is entirely benign. That's the point right? Okay guys, thanks. A woman like me, you know, clearly not bright enough to understand what you are saying, cannot possibly have any credibility in the face of MN's and panheads fully subjective and biased arguments. 

I don't know why you work so tirelessly for a system of ideology that is used to do countless nasty deeds. You must be super proud to defend religion - it is such an underdog on the world stage. 

 

Unionist

Michael Nenonen wrote:

As for the "off with their heads" quip, I'm not sure that very many of the Tibetan Buddhist monks who have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed for their faith by the Chinese would find that comment quite as amusing as you seem to.

Michael, as you know, you and I disagree fundamentally about religion. Just as a quickie reminder: I consider all religion to be akin to an inoperable brain lesion which encourages people to hate each other and prevents them from understanding the world. Religion is not the cause (as has been pointed out) but rather one of the most valuable tools of oppression throughout history.

Having said that, please try to confine your loathing for what you call "atheists" within the bounds of accuracy (see the bolded portion in your post above). 

Maysie Maysie's picture

For a very long time I've been extremely uncomfortable with the free-flow of anti-religion sentiment on babble. I've rarely wandered in to speak my thoughts, and now I am. Of course it's a valid political position to take, but as a few have said, looking at the extremes of religion and having the extremes represent the entire religion is, well, problematic at best.

I've used the following example before, and I'm going to try again.

Let's look at Christianity in the context of the transatlantic slave trade of the 18th century. Yes, it was used as a colonizing tool, yes it was used o justify stealing people from their homes, to justify slavery genocide rape and murder. But somehow, over time, it has come to mean something different. Many African Americans who attend church have a deep connection, via Christianity, to community and refuge from racism. This is a deep and profound reality, and it's these communities I think of when I see worlds like "throw all religion in the garbage" or "inoperable brain lesion" and other such thoughts. My disagreement stems from this.

Yes, religion can be oppressive. Yes, religion is often the very tool used to justify oppression. Maybe we can even say it's this way, what, 80% of the time? 90%?

So? These two ideas are completely compatible to exist together.

I respect the opinions of babblers who say they hate all religion and want all religion to go away, and who think the entire world will be better if all religion was gone. I disagree, however, completely. I say this as a person who never had religious influence in my family or anywhere. My only exposure/brainwashing was in Brownies/Girl Guides and the "secular Christianity" agenda as a kid/teen in public school.

For the record, no, I don't support any form of institutional oppression, from the ranks of religious institutions or anywhere else.

Both Michael N and NR Kissed have mentioned some good points about liberation theology and other religious-based radical political mobilization. The religion can't be separated out of those movements.

I really don't think either side will "convince" the other, and that's not why I've posted. I think that understanding the role of religion in people's day to day lives brings, to me at least, a deeper understanding of how communities come together and survive under oppressive circumstances. 

P.S. Re. systemic oppression: Just because you haven't, personally, experienced a particular systemic oppression doesn't mean, as progressives, we can't still oppose it. So just because I can walk up the stairs into a building doesn't mean I shouldn't also advocate for ramps to be installed so that all others can have access. One small example.

P.P.S. There is a huge difference between "religion" and "spirituality". 

Michelle

That's a fabulous post, Maysie.  I agree with it completely.  I have a lot of contempt for organized religion, having had some pretty bad experiences with it.  But on the other hand, I've also had some pretty good experiences with it as well (not enough to overcome the bad, unfortunately) and got my first taste of progressive activism within the walls of my church.  I'm betting a number of other people have had similar experiences within the walls of their religious institutions.

Stargazer

What an excellent post unionist. Especially this part:

"The day still comes, however, for all of us, that we have to walk out of our own church, join hands with all the believers and non-believers, and change the world together."

 

 

Unionist

Maysie wrote:
Of course it's a valid political position to take, but as a few have said, looking at the extremes of religion and having the extremes represent the entire religion is, well, problematic at best.

I want to be very clear about this. My opposition is not to the "extremes", as you put it. It's to religion, period, as a vehicle for division among people and distortion of reality.

In fact, focusing on the "extremes" is the unfortunate ploy of the "anti-fundamentalists" who invariably see extremism in those strange off-white folk far away, but never in their own heads. That's how they reconcile sending nice non-extremist soldiers to murder the "extremists". That's how Islamophobia works, and indeed, most xenophobia. The "other" always looks so non-human.

It is these same people of "moderation", whether themselves religious or atheistic, who wail and moan about the mistreatment of Afghans by Afghans, or Iraqis by Iraqis, and whose moderate God (or sense of civic duty) induces them to commit aggression and slaughter. It is they who say, "but what will happen if we pull our troops out?", as if the evil God of the Lesser People will then be restored to His throne and our nice God will gaze from afar, helpless to do good.

No, my opposition is not to "extremist" or "fundamentalist" religion. That's just an alias for "the religion of the other".  Those are politically correct code words for "primitive" or "barbaric" or "savage", which sound so very condescending these days.

As for African Americans taking solace and finding solidarity in Christianity, I fully support everyone's freedom of conscience. Those who feel they can find salvation in God (even if it's the God of their colonizers) are fully entitled to believe that and to practise their beliefs. The day still comes, however, for all of us, that we have to walk out of our own church, join hands with all the believers and non-believers, and change the world together. 

Fidel

In the here and now, it's not been because of Christianity that Iraqi and Afghans and those in the former Yugoslavia suffered medieval sieges in modern times followed by death from above. 

It's not the Church threatening Iranians and Russians alike with Trojan horse defensive-offensive missile installations in Ukraine and Czech republic.

They were and continue to be Roman gods of war and prosperity. And they are false gods. Alan Greenspan himself admitted that Iraq was about oil. New Gingrich among others say hawks are waging a phony global war on terror. Beware of false gods. They're everywhere.

Slumberjack

Yes, it was a good post, thanks Unionist.  There was a valid point made earlier as well, regarding individuals who work within the construct of their faiths, seeking to change the oppressive nature of the respective dogma.  Regardless of what atheists, (myself included) may view as a fundamental error in maintaining a belief in supreme beings, those that work towards ridding themselves of the oppressive elements of their faith should be viewed as exercising a fundamental right to believe in whatever they want, a right to their own thoughts, so long as it doesn't intrude upon others.  I find it problematic to discount their efforts to build some sort of neo-religious model that minds it's own business.  Equally though, by writing off the justified views of those who have been oppressed by religion, by silencing their right to express hatred of religion based on their own experiences, we demonstrate a willingness through the convenience of our own arguments to ignore the effects that oppression has had on others.  We become fragmented by the distrust that we create, instead of finding solidarity wherever it exists.

Kaspar Hauser

Unionist: Regarding Tibet--you know as well as I do that Tibetan Buddhism is intimately interwoven with Tibetan politics and Tibetan culture.  China is attacking Tibetan Buddhism because it knows that to do so will radically weaken Tibetan national identity, and thereby weaken Tibet's resistance to China's domination.  Towards this end, China has destroyed over 6,000 monastaries, leaving many nuns and monks homeless and creating a major disruption in Tibet's educational system, imprisoned and tortured and imprisoned many monks and nuns, created reams of propaganda demonizing Tibetan Buddhism, and otherwise attempting to disempower Tibetans by attacking the institutions and leaders of their faith.  So, yes, in a very real sense these monks and nuns are being persecuted specifically because of their faith.

Frustrated Mess: The similarities between religion and political ideologies are startling.  Here's an article I wrote on the subject, one that draws heavily on John Gray's work.  I'm posting the entire article because so much of the rhetoric of many of today's atheists (as opposed, for example, to atheists like Camus and Sartre, for whom I have the utmost respect) is founded on an untenable distinction between religion and the Enlightenment-based political ideologies that they espouse.

Religion By Other Means

http://www.republic-news.org/archive/183-repub/183_nenonen.html

Ivan Drury recently posted a public letter on his blog (http://ivandrury.wordpress.com/) explaining why he resigned from Vancouver’s Fire This Time social justice movement (FTT), a movement he helped create. Drury describes FTT as an umbrella for a number of groups such Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Youth Third World Alliance (Y3WA), and the Alison Bodine Defence Committee, among others. He writes that the core membership of FTT operates like a cult, though he hesitates to use this term for fear of minimizing the personal agency of the people involved and dismissing the good work they’ve done to raise awareness of imperialism and global injustice. Even so, he says that FTT has some cult-like characteristics and that some members have engaged in very ethically questionable and, in some cases, possibly criminal behaviour in pursuit of their revolutionary goals.

 

I should confess that I’ve attended MAWO meetings and protests and that the people I met there seemed to be sincere social justice activists, though a touch credulous when it came to the regimes governing Cuba and Venezuela. It’s difficult to reconcile my impressions with Drury’s claims, but I can’t ignore the fact that, far from profiting from this letter, Drury is laying himself open to potentially serious legal repercussions, an act that requires a degree of bravery that lends him some credibility. And it’s not just Drury who’s making these claims. His blog also contains letters by Mike Krebs, a man who was allegedly assaulted for resigning from FTT, Nasim Sedeghat, a FTT founding member who claims to have witnessed the attack, Ian Breeching, a former member of Y3WA who describes extremely abusive organizational practices, and Kimball Cariou, a Communist Party of Canada newspaper editor who writes about being bullied and threatened by members of FTT. If Drury’s simply engaging in slanderous political in-fighting, then he’s doing a masterful job of it.

 Setting aside the question of whether or not Drury’s letter is accurate, a question that’s certainly not for me to decide, I’d like to explore the vulnerability of political movements to the kind of dynamics Drury believes are besetting FTT. If Drury is correct, then FTT is operating like an authoritarian religious movement, but this shouldn’t be seen as a significant deviation from the political norm. In Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, (Doubleday Canada, 2007) John Gray writes that “Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion. The greatest of the revolutionary upheavals that have shaped so much of the history of the past two centuries were episodes in the history of faith—moments in the long dissolution of Christianity and the rise of modern political religion. The world in which we find ourselves at the start of the new millennium is littered with the debris of utopian projects, which though they were framed in secular terms that denied the truth of religion were in fact vehicles for religious myths.”

 

Gray argues that modern political ideologies are descended from Christian millennialism. Christian millennialism teaches that good and evil are locked in battle, but that this war is not eternal. It will end with the triumph of good over evil, a victory that will occur at the end of history. At last the world as we know it will end and a new one will be born, a metaphysical revolution that will usher in a transformation of the human condition. Whereas now humanity is mired in ignorance, sin, and tyranny, after the tribulations of universal transformation the human race will be elevated to new spiritual heights of wisdom, virtue, and justice. Christian millennialists understand history not as a series of causes and effects, but rather as a drama of human salvation. 

 

By offering life-affirming meaning with which to confront suffering, death, and injustice this myth lends comfort and courage to hearts wearied by the world’s numberless cruelties. Because it does this so well, Western political culture held onto the essential features of the myth even as its Christian trappings were abandoned: whereas Christian millennialists believe that God will create heaven on Earth, the political philosophers of the Enlightenment and their descendents believe that humanity will procure its own salvation either through social evolution, by which ignorance and injustice will be progressively overcome, or revolution, by which the forces keeping the bulk of humanity in servitude will be aggressively overturned.

 Gray writes that “Modern revolutionaries such as the French Jacobins and the Russian Bolsheviks detested traditional religion, but their conviction that the crimes and follies of the past could be left behind in an all-encompassing transformation of human life was a secular reincarnation of early Christian beliefs. These modern revolutionaries were radical exponents of Enlightenment thinking, which aimed to replace religion with a scientific view of the world. Yet the radical Enlightenment belief that there can be a sudden break in history, after which the flaws of human society will be for ever abolished, is a by-product of Christianity…The very idea of revolution as a transforming event in history is owed to religion. Modern revolutionary movements are a continuation of religion by other means.” He points to the example of Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution (1923), in which Trotsky writes that socialist-controlled science will allow humankind to realize hitherto undreamt-of potentials: “Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser and subtler; his body will become more harmonized, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” Christian millennialists and Trotsky agree that history is a process by which humanity becomes superhuman, a belief with clearly mythological foundations.  Millennialism isn’t restricted to the political Left. Neo-conservatives who believe that American-style capitalism is the virtuous completion of human history and that American military force must eradicate the obstacles en route to the Americanization of the world are every bit as indebted to millennialism as Marxists and Jacobins, or, for that matter, as the Extropians, Ken Wilber’s disciples, or anyone else who believes that history has a plot.  If modern politics are religious, then it stands to reason that they’re vulnerable to the same kind of temptations as other religions. The most powerful religious temptation is the temptation to read myths literally rather than metaphorically and allegorically, to mistake, in Karen Armstrong’s words, Mythos for Logos. This can easily lead to cult formation. Robert Jay Lifton writes about this in his analysis of the Japanese Aum cult, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism (Metropolitan Books, 1999): “In reading mythological stories, we seek to reconnect their concrete details to the symbolized, metaphorical world in which we exist psychologically. A megalomaniac guru…does the reverse: he embraces the very concreteness of mythic narratives so as to circumvent the metaphor and symbolization so crucial to the functioning of the human imagination.”  As with other religious cults, political cults are expressions of mythological naivety. This produces some very sloppy thinking in which mythological categories like salvation and damnation are given simplistic 1:1 correlates in the political world. For instance, rather than viewing dialectical materialism for what it is—a 19th Century theory of history with all the limitations of any other product of human thought—Marxists who have descended into cultish behavior will view it as an ironclad truth with, despite all evidence to the contrary, an unparalleled ability to foretell the destiny of our species and to distinguish the righteous from the damned in the eschatological epic of class struggle.  When this happens, political millennialists can override all the normal ethical restraints on human behavior in the pursuit of their vision of global salvation, usually defined as “justice”. Albert Camus warns that this can create an “imperialism of justice” that “has no other means but injustice.” By attributing unlimited literal authority to the myth, political millennialists can rationalize any action, however base, as necessary for the revolutionary cause, and dismiss any criticism as symptomatic of the very wickedness they’re trying to destroy.  Regardless of the truth of Drury’s allegations, the danger of political millennialism is a real one. To safeguard ourselves against it, political activists need to be aware of the mythological subtext to our work. We must become mythologically literate, which is to say that we need to become more aware of the role of metaphor and allegory in human thought, as well as the ways that our mortality fears and our need for meaning influence our collective behavior. For many people this will mean having to go beyond a cherished but all-too-facile dichotomy that separates religion from atheism.  Whatever beliefs we explicitly hold, we are, each of us, essentially religious creatures, and so we’re all prey to the various perils of religious practice. Our vulnerability increases alongside our awareness of the world’s evils, an awareness that arouses our deepest fears and sorrows. To deal with these fears, we inevitably turn to mythology, to symbolic narratives that make sense of evil and suggest ways of overcoming it. It’s here that the temptation towards literalism is most compelling, and it’s here that good people can be damned by fables of redemption and corrupted by stories of a purified world.  

Kaspar Hauser

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Kaspar Hauser

Okay, that didn't work...let's try this again.

Unionist: Regarding Tibet--you know as well as I do that Tibetan Buddhism is intimately interwoven with Tibetan politics and Tibetan culture.  China is attacking Tibetan Buddhism because it knows that to do so will radically weaken Tibetan national identity, and thereby weaken Tibet's resistance to China's domination.  Towards this end, China has destroyed over 6,000 monastaries, leaving many nuns and monks homeless and creating a major disruption in Tibet's educational system, imprisoned and tortured and imprisoned many monks and nuns, created reams of propaganda demonizing Tibetan Buddhism, and otherwise attempting to disempower Tibetans by attacking the institutions and leaders of their faith.  So, yes, in a very real sense these monks and nuns are being persecuted specifically because of their faith.

As for my supposed "loathing" of atheism, look, I'm not describing atheism as a "an inoperable brain lesion which encourages people to hate each other and prevents them from understanding the world." As you'll recall, earlier on in this thread I posted a link to one of my articles that offers significant praise for atheism (once again, http://www.republic-news.org/archive/187-repub/187_nenonen.html)  The rhetoric of loathing in this thread is coming solely from some (though not all) of the atheists participating on it.

Finally, when we're talking about fundamentalism, we're really talking about right-wing authoritarianism's religious expression (once again, thank you, Robert Altemeyer: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/ ). 

When authoritarians become religious, they tend to become fundamentalists. Similarly, when they become political, they tend to gravitate to authoritarian political ideologies and leaders.   It's perfectly legitimate to distinguish between the religious expression of right-wing authoritarianism and religion itself, and to condemn the former while acknowledging the virtues of the latter.

Frustrated Mess: The similarities between religion and political ideologies (including those promoting social justice) are startling, and, of course, conveniently overlooked by many modern atheists.  Here's an article I wrote on the subject, one that draws heavily on John Gray's work:  http://www.republic-news.org/archive/183-repub/183_nenonen.html

Fidel

Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth

Quote:

Young Tibetan boys were regularly taken from their peasant families and brought into the monasteries to be trained as monks. Once there, they were bonded for life. Tashì-Tsering, a monk, reports that it was common for peasant children to be sexually mistreated in the monasteries. He himself was a victim of repeated rape, beginning at age nine. 14 The monastic estates also conscripted children for lifelong servitude as domestics, dance performers, and soldiers.

In old Tibet there were small numbers of farmers who subsisted as a kind of free peasantry, and perhaps an additional 10,000 people who composed the “middle-class” families of merchants, shopkeepers, and small traders. Thousands of others were beggars. There also were slaves, usually domestic servants, who owned nothing. Their offspring were born into slavery

Now there's a case where phony religionists and the CIA wanting throwing the hell out of the country

Unionist

Michael Nenonen wrote:

As for my supposed "loathing" of atheism,...

Michael, you misunderstood, but it's partially my fault for unclarity. I never said, nor intended to say, that you loathed atheism, or even atheists in general. I said:

Quote:
Having said that, please try to confine your loathing for what you call "atheists" within the bounds of accuracy (see the bolded portion in your post above).

I meant, "please try to confine your loathing for what you call 'atheists'", meaning, your loathing for the Chinese authorities and their repressive behaviour - nothing more than that. Sorry for the confusion.

Quote:
It's perfectly legitimate to distinguish between the religious expression of right-wing authoritarianism and religion itself, and to condemn the former while acknowledging the virtues of the latter.

You know, if religion weren't a watchword in mutual slaughter to this very day among people that should be friends and allies; if religious authorities of all flavours were frequently the first, instead of usually the last, to recognize the need for gender equality and opposing homophobia and treating all nations and races and faiths with tolerance and genuine equality; if religion wasn't constantly raised, even in 2009, in opposition to human learning about the world and self-knowledge; if the Pope and his minions, and the pro-Israeli settler Rabbis, and the most medieval of the mullahs, were all to climb into a spacecraft and go try to sell their ugly wares to some other civilization; and if the not-at-all-"fundamentalist" priests hadn't  blessed the fascist collaborators that helped the Waffen S.S. murder my family; then I too would try to appreciate the virtues of religion.

On balance, however, the damage so far outweighs the benefit (in my experience and my humble opinion) that I think I'll carry on for a little while longer with my unmitigated hostility.

Do let me know when that spacecraft leaves, though...

 

NorthReport

This thread reminds me of a new movie that is about to be launched:

 "He's just not that into you"

 

Kinda reminds me of the way I feel about organized religion. Laughing

Slumberjack

I take it that this is your explanation as to why Communist China feels it has very little choice but to exterminate the ones involved with these practices?  Benevolent intervention on behalf of religiously oppressed peasants certainly has a nicer ring to it than political repression and colonial expansionism.

Fidel

Unionist wrote:
; if the Pope and his minions, and the pro-Israeli settler Rabbis, and the most medieval of the mullahs, were all to climb into a spacecraft and go try to sell their ugly wares to some other civilization; and if the not-at-all-"fundamentalist" priests hadn't  blessed the fascist collaborators that helped the Waffen S.S. murder my family; then I too would try to appreciate the virtues of religion

Would the Nazis have had to put the brakes on planning the Holocaust and mass exterminations in Russia and Ukraine without the blessings of a few fascist priests?

Did US hawks seek assurances from the Pope before planning operation cyclone and Talibanization of Pakistan and Afghanistan - sieges of several nations and murder of over 1.5 million people in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq? Cart-horse?

remind remind's picture

 Thanks for that link fidel, I had referred to those truths in Buddhist history before to MN, but was poohed poohed, as being biased against religion, and had no external on line links to support my contentions. And I could not be bothered to look for them, so I really appreciate the link and the reality check information that it provides.

___________________________________________________________

"watching the tide roll away"

Unionist

Fidel wrote:

Would the Nazis have had to put the brakes on planning the Holocaust and mass exterminations in Russia and Ukraine without the blessings of a few fascist priests?

We'll never know, would we Fidel, what might have happened if the spiritual leaders of the community had said, "Please don't murder your neighbours; there's a commandment somewhere about that."

I'm happy, though, to learn that there were only a few fascist priests. The rest must have been busy risking their lives to provide sanctuary to Roma and queers and Jews and socialists, while running guns for the Resistance. You can always count on the priests to be on the front lines of the fight for freedom.

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