Sunday, March 18, 2007

Global law?

I was watching the news over breakfast this morning, and there was a report on a minority religious group in Iraq. I'd never heard of this group, but then I'm pretty sheltered like that. They are called Mandaeans, and their beliefs are considered by many to be older than those of Christianity, although some schools of thought believe the sect may have been started by John the Baptist himself.

Regardless of how or when their religion was started, the Mandaeans are under threat of extinction, through murder, torture, rape, and forced conversion to Islam.

The news story focused its attention on two recent cases of abuse of Mandaeans: a jeweller who had been blinded (thereby unable to continue working his trade) by having acid thrown in his eyes, and a boy of about 10 years old who was kidnapped from outside his school and forced to jump through a bonfire to win his escape. His jump was too short and he landed in the fire, suffering burns to his body.

And I got to thinking...

Isn't it about time we got some world leaders in power who would stop all this fucking bullshit and start telling people like it is?

"There is no God. There is no higher fucking power. There is no point to your religions. Your religions that are the root cause of all the world's wars and grief. From now on, the practice of any religion is a criminal offence, punishable by life-long imprisonment. Denounce your religions. Denounce your gods. Or pay the price."

I truly believe this is what the world needs. Too many of the planet's citizens are adhering to nonsense that was invented centuries ago to keep the people in order. These "laws" were devised for an uncivilized time. We should now be beyond all that. The religious books have served their purpose and now they are being misused and abused to serve extremists' own ends. We should no longer be slaves to this sort of mind control.

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Blogger Milla said...

A couple of things from me:

1) thank you for your post, because I've learnt something new. I had no idea about the Mandeans, even though I'm not exactely "sheltered like that".
2) I COMPLETELY agree with you about religion. Faith however is a totally different thing. I know people who are not religious but have great faith in God, whatever God they believe in. My father had great faith in God and believed in God, but he loathed the Catholic Church he was born into. It is a pity that these days a lot of people mix faith and religion together and make a mess out of it (eg all those born-again xstians)

18 March, 2007 14:30  
Blogger The Anti Crapitalist said...

Imagine there's no heaven. Its easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today .....

Heard that somewhere before. Sounds like a great idea to me!!

18 March, 2007 15:45  
Blogger martinobhoy said...

Unfortunately we'd probably find something else to fight about.

18 March, 2007 17:23  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm with ya brotha, but leaders like that would be assassinated by those who follow their righteous gods IMMEDIATELY. People are not ready to wake up.

18 March, 2007 18:29  
Blogger apositivepessimist said...

I vote that we get to do those things to our World Leaders when they aren't up to scratch.

18 March, 2007 23:50  
Blogger Audible said...

You know, you can watch all the episodes of Heroes on NBC's site -

Also - I think your view is what we need in the world, but it will never happen. I mean, can you imagine the catholic church collapsing?

19 March, 2007 03:15  
Blogger Ben said...

I hope I don't sound too peevish, but don't you see a bit of irony in your post? "Renounce your faith," say the Muslims to the Mandaeans, "or pay the price."

19 March, 2007 05:18  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Milla: I'm glad to bring something new to people now and again. Re your point on faith: I would like for that to be Stage Two. After all, once you outlaw religion, surely it can't be long before people abandon faith, too. There's probably where we really need to be, ultimately.

Anti-Crap: Never heard that poem. What is it? Ahhh, kidding! Yep, that was always my favourite bit of "Imagine", funnily enough.

19 March, 2007 08:32  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martino: Sadly, that's absolutely right.

Lee: Yeah, they would, wouldn't they? That's why it needs to be a concerted effort by all world leaders at the same time, so no country can bitch about how another country has more religious freedom. Equal-opportunity persecution, that's what it needs to be.

APP: Hey, now you're talking!

19 March, 2007 08:33  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Audible: I'll check out that site, although past experience has shown me that these often don't work outside of the US. Licensing reasons, I guess. Can I imagine the Catholic Church collapsing? Oh, I can imagine it... but I guess that doesn't mean it will happen!

Ben: Thanks for your comment. I do, of course, see the irony! However, I'm not advocating violent retribution. And my point, furthermore, is that through the outlawing of all religious practice we might begin to find some common ground. But, as we all know, and as Martino wrote above, we'll still find something to fight about.

19 March, 2007 08:33  
Blogger Tanya said...

".... Denounce your religions. Denounce your gods. Or pay the price."

That won't work because it's a continuation of what a lot of fanatics are trying to do anyway.

There are those who do take comfort in their Faith and beliefs, whatever they are, and have successfully lived their lives without launching small wars. Or large ones. Any sort of oppression in any form is deplorable, and the government monitoring religion and dictating a set of rules for anyone practicing a religion would fall under that bracket.

It's not the spiritual faith that people hold that's the problem. It's the people who manipulate those faiths and the people who believe in them that are the problem. And face it, if you want to manipulate people en masse, use religion.

Banning religion is asking for trouble. Buddhists are pacifists and we practice tolerance and compassion. Many other faiths do too. Removing people's right to practice whatever faith they wish is removing someone's choice. That's pissing on their freedom.

19 March, 2007 09:44  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Tanya: While I agree that it's an infringment/removal of freedoms, I see it as a continuation of a theme we all live with through childhood: "play nice, or I'll remove your toys", or "the minority has ruined it for the rest". And after all, we are treated like children by our governments in most aspects of our lives, so why not in this one?

BTW, I don't know much about Buddhism, but I was under the impression that it was not a "religion" per se, since it does not have a god.

19 March, 2007 09:57  
Blogger Tanya said...

Buddhism is a spiritual practice and a philosophy, really. But, I think that most people group it under the heading "Religion". I do think there is a destinction between spiritual practice and religion. Depends on how you want to define religion - not all spiritual practices have a need for a divine superior being. Some religions rely on ancestor worship. Or nature, even.

I believe you're talking about organised religion, rather than spiritual practice and faith. Buddhism falls under the heading of spiritual practice and philosophy.

Organised religions are dictatorships. People are easilly controlled an manipulated by organised religion. Spiritual practices no matter what their basis should have freedom of expression as their foundation.

I view my practice as my practice. It causes no harm to anyone, it doesn't force repression on anyone. It's a practice that is based on freedom, which is most important to me, having been a Catholic and been made to feel worthless because of who and what I am. I am not into that. I am not a masochist.

This is an interesting debate you've opened up here. I suppose that because my Buddhist practice has replaced organised religion in my life, I still view the Buddhism as a religion.

19 March, 2007 10:28  
Blogger Pickled Olives said...

Personally, I think if you got rid of religion, you'd have to replace it with something. Pottery maybe?People seem hellbent on worship. Even when their religious leaders and religion have been shown to be completely flawed (mormons), there are those that say it just reconfirms their faith. I know! Pack of sheeps everywhere.

19 March, 2007 12:02  
Blogger Milla said...

*A, I think Faith is a very personal thing, isn't it. You can have faith in god and no one knows it. I don't see a problem with that, if it remains a personal thing.

Red is your goddess, no? You have faith in her no?

19 March, 2007 13:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Tanya: Oh, I hate when I open up a discussion... I always end up looking like I haven't thought through my position! You're right, of course, that most practising faithfuls don't infringe on other people, but I fear one day we will have to draw a line in the sand. Our "leaders" should be the first ones to share the "news" that all religion is bogus.

Olives: The pottery idea sounds perfect. And of course religious leaders are the worst kind of leaders... That's a given.

Milla: Absolutely, you can keep your beliefs to yourself without infringement. One can't legislate for beliefs; only for outward demonstration of those beliefs. But see also what I said to Tanya in this same comment entry. (No one ever said this was going to be an easy sell!) And yes, Red is my goddess, but she's a goddess here on earth, rather than some celestial deity, and earthbound gods and goddesses are acceptable to my new order.

19 March, 2007 14:37  
Blogger Tanya said...

Our leaders are full of shit. I wouldn't look to them for any valuable answers. I reckon they are part of the problem. Most of those leaders manipulate and control the same way organised religion does, many using the same organised religion and its structure to do just that.

19 March, 2007 15:14  
Blogger Ben said...

Well, I'm glad to know violent retribution's not on the agenda. :)

I guess it would be easiest to take the original post as a simple daydream - "Boy, wouldn't it be nice if everybody agreed with me?" But speaking as a religious person, I'm a bit disturbed by the extent to which the Dawkinses and Dennetts and Harrises of the Western world have been taken seriously when making similar propositions (e.g., Dawkins' equation of religious upbringing to child abuse).

I think it is a deadly thing for humanity to forcibly privatize any sort of belief, to say, "You can believe whatever you like, but you can't live as though it mattered."

19 March, 2007 17:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Tanya: Aye, there's the rub. I'm looking to our world leaders to take the first step, knowing full well that anyone with a free-thinking mind will disregard anything from the mouth of a politician. Bugger!

Ben: "You can believe whatever you like, but you can't live as though it mattered." I love this quote! I should adopt it as my personal motto. I think everyone secretly wishes everyone else agreed with them; that's only human nature. And it is exactly what Christian missionaries set out to do in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries: make Johnny Foreigner believe the same things we do. Or, y'know, burn him at the stake if he won't succumb. There is no easy way here. Or rather, there is one incredibly easy way: live and let live. But it seems we humans aren't entirely happy with that... What to do?

19 March, 2007 17:50  
Blogger Ben said...

If I may commence Bible-thumping, for the Christian, it boils down to this: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). It seems trite sometimes to invoke Gandhi and MLK, but they really were on to something - the violence of the world is going to perpetuate itself one way or another. Our only real choice is whether we will fight fire with fire or with water, even if we know the water's not enough to put out the whole blaze.

19 March, 2007 18:54  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

hey asterisk... i wasn't going to comment here, because i was too overcome with disagreement and grief at what you propose to come up with a response. and it seems hopeless, at times, to say anything when someone so obviously believes something that so strongly clashes with what i believe (and by "i" i mean, any 'i' that believes differently than any 'you'... if that makes sense)

but ben is a friend of mine, and i'm so glad he has responded. the only thing i can think to say is that i agree with him. i know you want to hate Christians and Christianity (and all other religions at the same time) and see the world burn us all at the stake as you believe we want to do with those who disagree with us. but your wrong... Christianity (in it's true form) does not call for (and has never called for) that (and many other religions don't either). i can't put it clearer than ben's last interpretation of that which MLK and gandhi called for... we are asked (as Christians... and as i would assume even you would ask) to fight "fire with water" ... but the world is ugly and evil... and Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics... even atheists are no different.

freedom is not freedom (which i gather you don't value that much given this post, but i certainly do) if you honestly believe it is okay to tell people "you can believe whatever you like, but you can't live as though it mattered." i don't even know what that is... but it would be a horrific world... and whether you think i'm crazy or not (and i know you don't... i know you're my friend and will always consider me so... but i also know you value and appreciate honesty) i would rather die a terrible death and turn to dust than live in the world you propose.

19 March, 2007 20:15  
Blogger Biddie said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say. I try not to impose my views on others, and try equally as hard to be sensitive of the views of others. It is difficult at times.
eligion doesn't bother me. (I was raised Catholic/Lutheran)
I do, however, have a problem with religious zealots...Imposing your views through violence turns my stomach.

19 March, 2007 20:44  
Anonymous Pie said...

There's not many things that make me angry but religion is one. I'll not go on about it or I'll just get wound up.

Anyways, I wholeheartedly agree with you dude.

19 March, 2007 21:34  
Blogger Cynnie said...

you know i'm catholic ..and a believer. faith , my god is peace loving .. it's the fucking stupid ass people that want to hate and want to force everyone else to believe exactly like they do..they're the problems..
the idiots.

unfortunately they always seem to get in control of everything

19 March, 2007 23:07  
Blogger Shauns Bicester info blog. said...

Just read the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins mate.This book could be dubbed 'the athiest bible'(in my opinion).The book breaks down the absurdity of religion.Great read!.

20 March, 2007 04:54  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Ben: I totally agree with what I think are the basics of Christianity and, for that matter, any religion: the be-good-to-others, love-thy-neighbour stuff. That's all good common sense. And Ghandi and MLK of course were on the right track. It's impossible to argue with any of that.

I just have a problem with the deity bit. That's the only bit I can't accept. Oh, y'know, that and miracles and stuff. The "supernatural" bits, for want of a better term. What I really want is wahat any freedom-loving, humanity-loving person wants, as stated in my prevous comment: live and let live.

But it is true that religious zealots of any persuasion will never let that come to pass. This was the inspiration for my original post. As a solution, the one I offered was impossible and, like much of the stuff on my blog, written with my tongue firmly in cheek. That's not to say I don't think this needs to be addressed. I really do. And I think it probably can only be addressed by the religious communities themselves.

The messages of tolerance and of love seem to be getting lost. Most visibly we see this today in Islam; but as a result of the apparent rise in Muslim extremism, we are also seeing a rise in right-wing values across the Western world. Lack of tolerance on both sides is not the way forward.

20 March, 2007 09:14  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: Your absence had been noticed but not unexpected. I appreciate there are things on which you and I hold divergent views. And I know some people would rather not comment on something they disagree on. Indeed, Red and I were talking about this only yesterday, especially how, from my point of view, this doesn't mean I can't be friends with someone.

I don't "want to hate Christians and Christianity". Nor do I want to see you all burned at the stake. Nor do I believe most Christians in this day and age want to burn at the stake those who don't agree with them. (Regarding this last point, I did specify a certain period of time; and it is true that Christian missionaries wiped out entire cultures that would not renounce their "savagery" and non-Christian religions.)

You are absolutely right that the world is ugly and evil. And most people would agree with that. I don't believe it has to be that way. And I do believe that religion (or, more specifically, organized religion) plays a large part in its ugliness, preaching that those who do not believe ought to be converted, and how those without Allah, Jesus, or whoever in their life should be pitied.

I value freedom enormously. Anyone who doesn't must be a fool. But I value the freedom of all people regardless of their beliefs (so long as those beliefs don't infringe on the rights of others, which my original proposition obviously did; but I assumed most people would get that there's a hint of [British] humour in there). I do think, though, that there is a truth in the quote that Ben provided. We each can believe what we want to; but we can't live as though that belief matters to anyone else.

I'm glad you know I'm your friend. I enjoy our exchanges, even though they occasionally get heated. And I also know this is a particularly horrible time for you and one in which you will find great comfort in your faith. And I can't be wholly down on anything that helps people cope.

The Anti-Crapitalist compared my original post here to John Lennon's "Imagine". On that theme, I'd just like to add another Lennon lyric: "Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right".

20 March, 2007 09:14  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Biddie: That's the root of my beef: zealotry. We just don't need it.

Pie: It makes me angry too. Thanks for your words of support. And nice to see you! It's been a loooooong time...

Cynnie: The "fucking stupid ass people that want to hate". Now they're the problem, for sure. And yep, they manage to get put in charge time and time again.

Shaun: The author you mention is one of the ones that Ben has condemned in a comment above. Interesting... Thanks for your comment.

20 March, 2007 09:14  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

thanks, asterisk... and i didn't mean to sound so heated. with all that has been happening, i'm just a little sensitive right now... and, as you know, my faith is so important to me... so it was hard to read what you wrote.

i want you to know, i see hints of truth in what you say. sometimes i want the people you actually refer to (the ones who use faith to hurt others) destroyed or locked up, too.

so... friends :) and i'll try not to be so heated next time.

20 March, 2007 14:20  
Blogger ldbug said...

The Chinese and the Russians tried that. It doesn't work. Everyone needs something to believe in. After saying that, however, anyone who believes the idiocy that their God will reward them for killing, maiming, is a moron.

But again, these people, that is, any people who will kill, will find a reason to do so, religion or no.

And, most of this stuff is politically motivated, not religious based. The leaders are using religion to create political chaos in the middle east. It's just sad there are so many ignorant people willing to kill/maim create that chaos in the name of religious belief.

20 March, 2007 15:52  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: You're welcome, sweetie. I don't mind anyone getting heated on here, and I know you're having a particularly shitty time of it right now, so absolutely no offence was taken.

LDB: I'm sure it wouldn't work... And those who want to hate badly enough will always find a reason.

20 March, 2007 16:33  
Blogger Ben said...

I don't mean exactly to "condemn" Dawkins - I haven't even read his book, actually, but from a chapter-by-chapter response on another blog, I gather than he uses an argument essentially identical to yours, but apparently with his tongue hanging somewhere well outside of his cheek.

20 March, 2007 18:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are evil people in this world who do evil things, and there are good people in this world who do good things.But to make someone who is good do something evil, it takes religion!.
Eg:the terror attacks on the London underground.

21 March, 2007 12:49  

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