17 September 2006

Say No to Rome?

I don't normally comment on religion, it is not one of my major concerns, as an atheist.

I think faith is a private matter and for each individual to decide upon, but when religion, religious beliefs or its exponents cause major social damage or death (as we saw with the cartoon fiasco) then I feel that the matter is worthy of comment.

As far as I can discern from extracts of the Pope's speech, he is quoting a 14th century individual, and the words should probably be best viewed in that world wide and historical context.

Spats between religions are nothing new, historically speaking, many religions manufacture conflicts to differentiate themselves and acquire power, but should it concerned believers in secular society (and by that I mean the separation of Church and State, etc)?

Should religions be beyond criticism? Should secularists walk on eggshells when discussing religion?

I think we all should be concerned, religions are not beyond, criticism after the Reformation, and in contemporary society we should expect a vigorous debate on religion, its impact on society and where to draw some boundaries.

I don't think that we should necessarily go out of our way to the offensive to individuals concerning religion, but the Reformation happened and so did the age of Enlightenment.

We are no longer compelled to seek religious guidance for every action in life, we are no longer compelled to defer to the Papacy or watch as the Inquisition burns people.

Puritans no longer control British life as they did in the 17th century, so believers in civil society, religious or otherwise, need to make the point clear that incitement to violence or killing people merely because they wish to discuss some aspect of religious belief must not be tolerated in any way shape or form.

Killing people because they offend your religion or belief system, with words or cartoons, is murder pure and simple.

Ironically, the last word goes to Popery:

"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

Update 1: The Taliban wants in on the act "Afghanistan's Taliban on Saturday demanded Pope Benedict XVI to apologise for remarks linking Islam with violence, adding the comment showed the Christian West was waging war against Muslims."

Surreal or what?

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