15
Oct
08

On air: Is it time for Christians to defend themselves?

We’ve talked in the past on World Have Your Say about religions like Islam feeling they are under attack or being persecuted, but now Christians across the world feel increasingly threatened after a wave of attacks in recent months.

Here are some of the recent stories…..  Attacks on Christians in India– in Mosul, Iraq- and in Egypt.

In certain areas of the world, as above, people’s lives are being threatened just because of their faith. So should they be standing up and fighting back, or is it the responsibility of government and church to protect them?

For some the fight is life and death, but for some in the western world it’s a matter of feeling like a second class citizen, like Christianity is any easy target.

This blogger feels her faith is under attack. So is it time for Christians to defend their faith? Are other faiths like Islam treated with kid gloves, while Christianity is seen as fair game for theatre productions and comics? Or in the west do Christians need to toughen up and stop being so sensitive?


289 Responses to “On air: Is it time for Christians to defend themselves?”


  1. 1 Vijay
    October 15, 2008 at 15:15

    Might is Right
    In backward countries with no sort of civil society minorities or weaker sections of society will always be persecuted on one pretext or another.

  2. 2 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 15:21

    Virtually every Palestinian I know in the US is a christian, and if asked, while they still absolutely hate Israel, they don’t like Muslim palestinians much either because of how they were treated by them. There won’t be many christian palestinians left in the middle east. I would not want to be a non muslim in a muslim majority country.

  3. 3 Vijay
    October 15, 2008 at 15:21

    In western countries where any subject is open to discussion ,Christians must accept the prevailing community standards and should not expect special treatment .In the U.K. there is a law regarding blasphemy ,but I do not think it is used very often.

  4. October 15, 2008 at 15:22

    I’m going to move my comments on this over from the other blog page….here goes…

    RE: Christians defending themselves

    First of all, I just took a look at the Right Wing Chicks blog and that perfectly illustrates something I want to say. Christians have widely varying views on EVERYTHING. So, if you look at what she has to say, as we begin a conversation please please understand that she is not representative nor is anyone who claims the mantle of Christian. We, like you dear agnostics and atheists, are all different. While it is easier to imagine us as dull-witted sheep or indiscriminate pit-bulls, we are all individuals. So….

    Just wanted to note – she says “Over the past few decades in an effort to be more “tolerant” of other faiths and religions Christianity, which was the religion of our founding fathers, is under attack and is not tolerated.” It is misleading to say that it was the religion of our founding fathers. The founding of our nation was based just as heavily, if not more so, on philosophy that came from the Scottish enlightenment and was decidedly humanist with a deference to a vague deity. It was convenient to couch much of the language in the common religion of the people, Christianity. These guys were intellectuals, some Christian, some Deist, some agnostic, etc….it’s a distortion that has been very useful to the right wing to present our founding fathers as “mostly Christian.”

  5. October 15, 2008 at 15:22

    @Gretchen and others…

    A pox on all our houses of God? That’s a lovely and open way to begin a discussion. Here’s what I was about to say before I read you’re comment.

    “So is it time for Christians to defend their faith? Are other faiths like Islam treated with kid gloves, while Christianity is seen as fair game for theatre productions and comics? Or in the west do Christians need to toughen up and stop being so sensitive?”

    I think the answers are yes, no, maybe, sometimes, etc. It is such a many-faceted discussion and the question gets to one of my frustrations on the matter which is the reductionism that seems to be so easily accepted when the topic is “Christians.” We are painted as some monolithic group about which things can be said in black and white. However, to answer more directly, I do believe that in the west SOMETIMES Islam is handled a bit more gently than Christianity. But maybe that is ok and to be expected, perhaps the mentality is that Christianity is what the west knows best and has been around for so long that it is like criticizing family versus a neighbor. I think Christians would do well to toughen up a bit and instead of whining about the impending disaster at the hands of liberal atheists/agnostics like Bill Maher, we should be sitting down for drinks with them and cordially note their inaccuracies, ask them what they believe and why, discuss, discuss. etc. What passes for discourse and debate in the west on the subject these days is a poor excuse. This blog has been a perfect example. When faith comes up, each person hammers their shouting points which they have osmoted or read from their favorite pop-atheists who blindly blame religion for the world’s ills while conveniently forgetting all the hospitals, schools, abolition of slavery, etc….

    So yes, Christians need to toughen up, and those who just seem to have a burning need to throw stones need to learn how to listen and have a real conversation for once….that means actually being humble and open enough to the possibility that on a point here or there you might have to say…”oh, I never thought about it that way. I suppose you could be right.” I would be happy to do so on the same basis.

    Sincerely hoping we can have a real conversation,

    Keith Wilson

  6. 6 Roy, Washington DC
    October 15, 2008 at 15:24

    Religion is such a divisive issue that all religious groups are going to face negative commentary from time to time. In the West, Christianity is such a strong majority that it is going to face this far more often than most other groups. It is an unavoidable part of living in a world society.

  7. October 15, 2008 at 15:26

    Hi Steve, I agree for the most part. Though I happen to be aware of some exceptions. One of my best friends from high school is a Palestinian American Christian. His father has gone back to his homeland many many times to work at the peace process, and to work at relationships with Muslims. One of the most powerful books I have ever read is autobiography called Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour. He is a Palestinian Christian committed to Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Zoroastrian peace in the region. He founded a still thriving university where students of all faiths learn together and dialogue etc. I agree that hope is pretty meager, but there is some.

  8. October 15, 2008 at 15:33

    Well, I’m not a Christian, but if I lived in an area where there were really bad people of a certain violent nature I’d identify them then use a very small caliber, super accurate, silenced handgun to put an end to their misery. Wipe out enough of them very, very quietly and the mass of idiots might get the idea there is more of a future in being polite and at peace with all of Allahs little friends.

    troop

  9. 9 Philippa
    October 15, 2008 at 15:34

    In December 2006, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, lashed out to Tony Blair, and accused him of having put at risk the lives of all Christians in the Middle East, by thoughtlessly supporting the US-led attack on Iraq. I quote from the piece in The Times, for instance: ‘He has been backed by bishops across the Church of England, who say that Christians in the Middle East are now paying the price for the “chaos” in Iraq after the British Government failed to heed their warnings about the consequences of military action.’

    You sow what you reap, and in this case, Christians across the Middle East are reaping what Bush and Blair and co. thoughtlessly and recklessly sowed. Blair at least was warned, by Dr. Williams, and he chose not to listen.

    Which probably explains why Blair converted to Catholicism after he left 10 Downing Street: Confess your sins and you’re absolved. How mighty convenient.

  10. October 15, 2008 at 15:38

    There is a paradox in the logic of Christians defending themselves with force. Christ was a pacifist. He advocated turning the other cheek, tolerance, forgiveness, and non-violent solutions.

    Ultimately his main message that he demonstrated by his death is having so much faith that there is a better world beyond that one should accept earthly death as opposed to fighting. (Crazy to think that guy came out of the Middle East huh?)

    So if a Christian chooses to “fight” they ultimately loose their credibility. Their actions are in opposition to their message. The people in these traditionally Islamic regions are the “frontiers men”, and women, of Christianity. Life is hardest when off the beaten trail.

    So, should they take the offensive? I don’t know. But if they do, They are straying from Christ’s message. Should they defend themselves? Sure there is plenty of validity to helping your brother in Christ’s teachings. The problem is that many forked tongued Christians have adopted a “pre-emptive attack” posture and called it “defensive”.

    The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
    – William Shakespeare

  11. 11 Bob in Queensland
    October 15, 2008 at 15:44

    We need less militancy from all the various religions of the world rather than more from Christians.

    I’m an atheist but didn’t Jesus preach a religion of “peace” and “turning the other cheek”?

  12. 12 Robert
    October 15, 2008 at 15:53

    A lot depends on what form of attack you are under. For those who suffer physical attacks then the victims should defend themselves. Not because of any religon, but because every human has the right to defend themselves if they need to from physical harm.

    Where the attack is like that they face in the west, they again do have a right to fight back by using the right of reply and free speech that is a pillar of democracy. Argue your case and show your detractors they are wrong. Christians though shouldn’t be allowed to restrict the rights of non or other believers through laws or bans because they feel hurt. And the same does apply to Muslims, Jews, no belief system should recieve special treatment in this regard.

  13. 13 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 15:56

    The Jewish observance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur ended with no suicide bombers, no murdering of innocents, no car bombs, no homicidal maniacs.
    Reading from a book handed down from God 3,500 years ago Jews thru constant discussion keep the meaning of that book relating to a modern society.
    Jews work to restore their foundations thru faith even as turmoil surrounds us in the world. They seek to make the world a better place to help usher in their messiah. As a true Religion of Peace Jews do not destroy murder and terrorize innocents.
    Through the strength of the message it is understood that people have free choice to make a decision for God.
    I believe that the lesson for the Muslims and the “religion of pieces” (of destruction) is trying to make a modern world fit into the vision from a 7th Century book. It causes such cognitive dissonance that only wanton destruction and murder relieves the anxiety.

  14. October 15, 2008 at 16:08

    Dwight, excellent point and nearly 100% on target. I would differ with you on one point. You said,

    “Ultimately his main message that he demonstrated by his death is having so much faith that there is a better world beyond that one should accept earthly death as opposed to fighting.”

    I don’t think this is the “main message” of his death. If there is a message from his death, as opposed to his life and teachings, it was this “there is no greater love than this, to lay down your life for your friend.” And since love is prized above all virtues in the Christian faith, an act of self sacrifice for someone else is worth doing for that reason. It is widely misconstrued (by many Christians too I might add) that we live by Christ’s teaching because of a promised afterlife. The afterlife is spoken of much less often in scripture than THIS LIFE. We are here now, and Christ teaches that no matter how it runs counter to modern or postmodern self-oriented logic….those who can give more than they take, who can love more than they are loved, etc. etc. will ultimately be happier and at peace and the most fulfilled in life. So, being willing to die has little to do with where we are headed afterward, and everything to do with how we believe it is best to live while we are here now.

  15. 15 Nikitas
    October 15, 2008 at 16:12

    If there is only one good to come of the persecution of Christians the World over, it would hopefully be increased compassion by Christians for other cultural groups whose human rights are not respected. I quite frankly cannot believe that the persecutions of Christians is being emphasized in this discussion when there are more places on this planet currently persecuting homosexuals and whilst Islam has become somewhat of a satire for the western media. We cannot point the finger because of our own interests and ignore the plight of others. It would be hypocritical and in direct offense of the faith for which so many individuals claim to gain inspiration from.

  16. 16 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 16:14

    Hi WHYSers!

    A most timely debate. However, I wonder at its efficacy in terms of underlining the geo-politics involved in most of the examples highlighted above! The overwhelming instances of violence against Christians in the East, above, suggests that there is less tolerance towards cultural and religious minorities in those parts of the world where the more extreme examples might be seen. How might such states engender and encourage cultures/ societies in which difference might find meaningful expression without fear of persecution? Are there real opportunities for those minority Christian groups in Iraq, India and elsewhere to exist without fear of persecution, death and the enshrinement of hatred?

    Conversely, there is an increasingly anti-Christian rhetoric in many parts of the West/ern media, which I accept as par for the course, as more people disconnect from the ‘need’ for religious instruction, et cetera. What is worrying, however, is how this position fuels an abrasive critique of religion and religious people, most times out of hand! Criticisms are an almost necessary part of the experience of living in diverse cultures/ environments, however, hatred and intolerance cannot be accepted at any level.

  17. 17 Kaidala Danappiah
    October 15, 2008 at 16:15

    I am writing from Karnataka (in India), one of the states that suffered bacause of violence against a sect among Christians.

    It has deeply hurt the image of India as a secular democracy, although there never existed one!!

    Is it time for Christians to defend themselves?
    No. I do not think so. Justifiably defending oneself comes into picture when he/she is sure that his/her doings have good-intentions. Religious conversion, irrespecive of where it is done, and who does it, has a serious hidden agenda in it. It is said to be done to help people who are down-trodden in their present state. Most often, in the name of GOD’s love!! What hell??

    Religions (before and after conversions) lead to more confusion. It is also true that when the “have nots” convert, they get basic amenities such as food, access to healthcare and education. Some (not the majority)of the christian missionaries have done this since colonial rule in India, and done well.

    It is high time that we started identifying extreme elements/sectors within each religion (be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or anything). All religions have it. This may lead to more divisions. However, it is inevitable.

    They are rotten tomatoes. They need to be separated from the mainstream and dealt with a strong rule/law.

  18. 18 selena in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 16:17

    I don’t understand the question. If Christians are following their leader Christ, how can they defend themselves?

    Jesus Christ went to his death and died on the cross rather than defend himself. Was he not setting an example for his followers?

    If not, what was the point of his death?

    Why do people who think they have to defend themselves call themselves Christians?

    Seems strange!

  19. 19 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 16:20

    Everyone everywhere has the right to defend themselves.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  20. October 15, 2008 at 16:21

    Well said Rawpolitics.

  21. 21 Rob from the Netherlands
    October 15, 2008 at 16:22

    My first thought was while reading the headline: Has there been a time that faith, regardless if its Christianty, Muslim, or any other believe, that faith hasn’t been under attack. Its my opinion that since mankind started to believe in any GOD they started to make differences in life opinions, way of life and what is good and right. Countless wars are fought on religious arguments.

    So where it comes down on response to the headline: Do we really need to act on the statement “an eye for an eye” but on the other hand, should Christians let it pass? Would an open debat help? It does in the Netherlands. We sure had our portion of open debates between Christians and Muslims, it helps to understand whats on peoples mind and to understand why certain groups act as they act. Although it doesn’t have mean the we all are best friends after, but is gains respect towards each other and makes life easier to bare to life among each other regardless faith.

  22. 22 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 16:27

    @selena in Canada
    Maybe I should let someone who is better at this than I explain but I could not resist.
    Jesus died for our sins. It had nothing to do with him wanting or trying to defend himself.
    Jesus ushered compassion into the world and along with the law given by God thru the Hebrews we have Justice.
    Now do you understand?

  23. October 15, 2008 at 16:28

    Selena, I think you’re are right on. there has been a distortion of this ever since the whole militarization of the church with Constantine and then beyond into the middle ages, etc.

    . I don’t think Christ’s mandate and example prohibits us from defending, say our children against a violent attack. I am a Mennonite (of sorts) though I haven’t fully accepted the absolutist pacifist doctrine which takes this to the greatest extreme possible. I think in terms of taking up arms, raising a “Christian army” yeah that’s ludicrous in terms of what Christ taught. Being persecuted comes with the territory I’m afraid. There is one puzzling scripture that I’ve never been sure about, and about which my absolutist anabaptist friends have no good explanation and that is one where Jesus is about to be arrested and tells his disciples something to the effect of: “In the past I’ve told you to go out and bring no purse or anything with you, but now I tell you go get your purse and bring a sword as well.” I take it to mean….people are going to be after you and you might have to defend your family and be ready to move to avoid persecution. Just food for thought.

  24. 24 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 16:28

    In terms of the point about Christians being pacifists or loose credibility, it might be useful to note, that there are some very political strands of religious faith. Many elements of the Old Testament might yet prove that point. Perhaps in the same way that Islam has been politicised in the West by names like ‘Political Islam’, as distinct (?) from other strands of the faith (?), it might be useful to see Christianity and even Judaism in a similar light. That we are not as willing or readily able to make those connections is telling.

    What is also often amazing about these discussions is how much is said about religion as cultural politics and less about religion as personal faith. The kind reassurance, confidence and self awareness that comes with an acknowledgement of one’s humanity as part of wider network of souls (?) on journey (to wherever!) is rarely ever emphasised. Hardly ever is religion spoken about on these levels. This always makes me curious.

  25. 25 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 16:29

    @ selena

    According to the bible, Jesus HAD TO die on the cross. It was his destiny. Jesus said:

    Matthew 10:34 – “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”

    and

    Luke 22 (dont know verse)”But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”

    So he I think he was ok with defending yourself 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  26. 26 Count Iblis
    October 15, 2008 at 16:35

    Try to imagine grown up people who still believe in Santa Claus. Then try to imagine that there are two groups of such people. One group believes that Santa lives in the North Pole, the other believes that he lives in the South Pole. Next, try to imagine these two groups fighting each other.

    This is how ridiculous these religious conflicts are.

  27. 27 selena in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 16:37

    @Dan
    Jesus ushered compassion into the world and along with the law given by God thru the Hebrews we have Justice.
    Now do you understand?

    Where is the compassion that Jesus supposedly ushered into the world? Where is the justice?

    Please don’t take this as a negative if you are a Christian. But, I have to say, with the exception of a few people who actually believe in loving one’s neighbor, all I have ever seen from my Christian family and friends is a lack of compassion and justice.

    They are quite willing to rush to war with all guns blazing without looking at a reasonable alternative.

    That is how I see it and it saddens me.

  28. 28 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 16:38

    @ selena in Canada,

    I would not be as willing and eager to judge who is Christian or not, on account of the need to defend oneself against persecution. The point, I think, of Christ’s death was to, among others, teach those who would come after as well those present at the time that death is not to be feared and is not the final chapter in this journey called life. That, however, does not obviate the need to address the deeply perplexing questions of social and political justice to end oppression. A defense does not have to be (only) physical, even while it can encompass that. Part of the misunderstanding (?) about questions of faith, specifically the treatment of Christianity, in terms of how it is positioned in this discussion, is the compartmentalisation and restrictively defined range of possibilities that faith presents to a believer.

  29. October 15, 2008 at 16:38

    Anthony, the context about not bringing peace is VERY misleading in your usage. He was talking metaphorically about how his message of turning the old Jewish legalistic law on it’s head in favor of Grace would be a cataclysmic change that would upset many and cause dischord in the Jewish community. It had nothing to do with physical violence.

    I have heard that scripture twisted by one too many atheists to shore up the argument that religion is responsible for all the world’s ills.

  30. October 15, 2008 at 16:41

    The point is that Christians are being persecuted in their homeland, murdered for who they worship. Should those people of Christian faith defend themselves – of course!

    Should Christians defend their faith in the UK/West? Yes. Should they use violence? No.

    The problem is that while trying to integrate and use multiculturalism as a base – it has failed – integration into society should happen with the persons faith outside of that. The person who wants to worship whomever they like is perfectly fine – but once you “seem” to be putting one religion above another – you begin to have problems because that is seen as favouritism. That is what has gone wrong in the UK, especially. And not for a sense of fairness either – it was for political gain – if the Muslim community had no baring on an election you can bet your bottom dollar that they would have been told to integrate and stop whining – politicians look at demographics and not community/society – they look at the next election rather than working for the people who elect them. All party’s are the same – how many times do you see a white/Christian woman on the ballot in a predominately Muslim constituency?

  31. 31 Robert
    October 15, 2008 at 16:41

    Rob in the Netherlands

    My first thought was while reading the headline: Has there been a time that faith, regardless if its Christianty, Muslim, or any other believe, that faith hasn’t been under attack

    Good point. Perhaps the difference now when compared with most of the last millenium for Christians is that the tide as turned and they are losing people from Churches. Maybe that explains the bloggers feelings. Defending yourself when you’re on top feels very different to defending yourself when you’re down.

  32. October 15, 2008 at 16:41

    Selena, in a conversation months ago, I answered your very question in a lengthy fashion. You ask the question based on your immediate experience and when presented with an answer that is informed my several millenia of world events – all of them, not just the ones that support your argument – you aren’t interested in listening to it. why? I’m sorry that your personal exposure is not to the compassionate among us, but how in the world is that evidence for a global trend? I would rather not have to go through a litany again, but will if necessary.

  33. October 15, 2008 at 16:46

    Selena

    all I have ever seen from my Christian family and friends is a lack of compassion and justice.

    They are quite willing to rush to war with all guns blazing without looking at a reasonable alternative.

    Then you really haven’t met many real Christians at all. I have no idea why – but those who rush to war are not, as you say, Christians.

  34. 34 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 16:47

    The point of faith, I think, is to widen the options available to an individual in terms of hope, etc. This widened palette encourages confidence even in instances where there does not immediately seem to be any.

    From what I have learned in my short time as a Christian is that, followers of Christ are also, at one level, aware that they may have to die for their beliefs. Sad but true! So, different peoples in different social and political contexts engage with that message in a way that they think best suits their circumstances.

    While, I am grateful that I do not have to contend with some of those issues, I am nonetheless aware that we are all on a journey and must act accordingly, based on the dictates of that journey. Does that mean physical defenses (violence?) is out of the question? I am not sure, but it does offer the real hope that there is no one set response to any particular sets of circumstances which plague the human condition.

  35. 35 selena in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 16:47

    @Keith

    I think you may be right in your interpretation. When one looks at how radical Jesus’ preaching was, it is amazing that he could tell people in a hate filled society to love.

    Jesus was radical to the point of actual practical application. He didn’t just talk the talk he walked the walk. How radical is that!

    The NT was written after Jesus’ death to fit the perspective of the time it was written and the people who wrote it.

    If I were a Christian, I would look only to the example of Jesus for my inspiration. It is simple and complete.

  36. 36 John in Salem
    October 15, 2008 at 16:50

    What?… You mean this group that claims to be on a first name basis with the creator of the universe can’t get a little backup?
    No way! Lions need to eat too, y’know!

  37. October 15, 2008 at 16:56

    Thanks Will, and well said.

    Selena, in fact some of us do! I’m sorry that you haven’t met them/us.

    Some of us may be seen by many on the fundamental right as apostates for believing so, but I happen to believe all of the bible has truth that is useful, but that it all must viewed through the Christ lens. Christ is the paradigm, and so to talk of the violence and war in the old testament is not a valid means for justifying violence. I believe in the theory of “exapanding revelation.” This basically says that God has communicated with people for a long time and always in a way that made sense in their context, and these revelations grew and came to a kind of fruition in Christ. 2,000 BC was a brutal time in most cultures and God was speaking into that world, the message has unfolded and finally changed quite dramatically with Christ saying essentially – ok all the minutia of the law that were given for your own health and welfare are now covered in the new covenant of grace that I’m bringing. This revelation continues to unfold I believe. I think this is what the UCC church is getting at with the slogan, “God is still Speaking.”

  38. 38 gary
    October 15, 2008 at 16:56

    Christians should defend their own souls, and should try to the very best of their abilities, to save those of the people who persecute them. Defense of their physical existence may militate against these two, ultimate objectives. Usually, running away from physical threats saves everyones’ lives, and gives all a chance to reflect upon their beliefs and actions. They may remain unmoved; but where life exists, so there also exists the hope that tolerance may be taught and learned. As always; communication is the key that unlocks the chains.
    g

  39. 39 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 16:58

    Matthew 10:36 “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”

    I don’t get it, if Jesus was divine/God, how could be be killed anyways?

    One thing that really angers me is whenever people talk about “real muslims” or “real christians.” What gives anyone the right to say “he’s real, but he’s not”. Who the heck are you to judge? Maybe they don’t think you’re a real whatever? If someone thinks they are something, then they are.

  40. 40 Ogola Benard
    October 15, 2008 at 16:59

    Everybody has got freedom of worship and creed provided its done at the proper place and time
    and in any way as the person or persons would
    so wishor otherwise like it to be.
    However religion as provided for by the creater
    should not have any attachment as to murder,evil
    and immoral acts that may or affect society as well
    as degrading nature.
    As a matter of fact,its really disagreeable to tell
    a certain community to dress on the same colour of
    cloth against their wish.
    Christianity is not war mongering but a solution to
    the livelihood of a better society.

  41. 41 Luz Ma from Mexico
    October 15, 2008 at 17:03

    Fighting back/war is the opposite of what Christiany should be, if the teachings of Jesus were truly followed by all Christians.

    Jesus was a pacifist, an advocate of tolarence and love for the other (even your enemies). Turning the other cheek is one of the hardest thinks a human being could do. It is the opposite of the human reaction to an attack.

  42. 42 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 17:06

    @ selena

    And if you were Christian, you would believe that all Muslims, Jews, Buddists, etc are gonna burn forever and be tourtured. 🙂

    @ Keith

    I just read the chapters of the 2 quotes that I put up, and I saw nothing of “his message of turning the old Jewish legalistic law on it’s head “. Please let me know what verses talk about this.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  43. October 15, 2008 at 17:06

    Steve, you’re question about Jesus being killed is being asked as if you’re parsing the ins and outs of what Superman is capable with fellow comic book nerds. As usual, I don’t think you want to truly understand why I or anyone else believes it empirically possible, rather that you are using yet another very random dart in hopes to “stump the chump” to borrow from Car Talk. If you are genuinely interested in the answer, then I’m happy to get all theological with you, but based on past experience I’m going to conservatively reserve my energies.

    As to your other point. I agree on the semantics and fairness of it, however I think the point Will was making was that if to be a Christian means to be a “Little Christ” as the original term was in fact derogatorily applied, then when people whose actions pretty clearly run counter to his life and teachings….well they kind of look a little less like Little Christs. Example – a key teaching of Jesus was, to paraphrase, “you have heard that it is said (in Jewish law) and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say…..etc.” and of course he goes on to talk about turning the other cheek, loving the enemy, etc. as OPPOSED to old school violence for violence form of justice. So, given that teaching is pretty clear…if a Christian declares their right to vengeance based on “an eye for an eye” it would give one cause to make some fair judgment’s as to their “little-Christ” ness.

  44. October 15, 2008 at 17:08

    Anthony, what I’m referring to is something that would require several chapters of biblical/theological analysis to lay out. I didn’t mean that it was explicit. I meant that it is a widely accepted explanation for what he was referring to. If you are still curious, I’d be happy to locate some commentary by scholars that bears this out.

  45. 45 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 17:12

    @ Keith

    Yes, that would be nice since I always thought that it meant to have protection. In the context of them, there are little hints of protecting yourself, and then the 2 sword references, but I don’t think I looksed into the prior chapters, at least not as an adult. A link or 2 would be nice if you’ve got it :).

    I’d hate to be quoting things with the wrong meaning!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  46. October 15, 2008 at 17:20

    Anthony, I’ll see what I can find. I was actually thinking of good old fashioned paper books! ha ha, but I’m sure there is some commentary on line as well. I just read through the chapter again myself and it seems to me that he is preparing his disciples for a world of hurt. Basically teaching them to value the imperishable things like their souls above their physical well being, acknowledging that they may be killed. When he talks of bringing not peace, but a sword it is in the explicit context that the message he brings will even divide households against one another. So, that’s kind of how I read it, but I’ll find you some commentary that explains what I was getting at, but I might not be able to supply just this moment as i’m er…at work. there goes my integrity!

  47. 47 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 17:26

    In our desire to allow people to make their own choices and create a world where noone is offended, we have shoved religion onto a back burner. That has also allowed more people to view those who are religious as different or extreme and in some way seeking to give you their religion germs. I do feel that people attack my religion, but I think it is more from lack of respect for personal differences. There is that desire to say this is how Christians act so I know you act that way too.

    I do at times defend myself against verbal attacks in person and online. I have thankfully never been physically attacked because of my religion, however, if I were to be, despite the fact that I am not violent, I would defend myself. Who wouldn’t? Any person-christian, Muslim, atheist, etc. should have the right to be safe.

  48. 48 Eric in Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 17:40

    If one has even the remotest understanding of the CHRISTIAN faith they would understand that CHRISTIANS do not fight back using physical force. we do counter those who persecute us with love! two scriptures basically define our outlook towards our misguided brothers:

    Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
    1 John 3:15

    He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 1 Thessalonians 4:8-9

    JESUS CHRIST and our apostolic teachers all suffered torture and death but lived the above scriptures to the very end! all CHRISTIANS are called to be reflections of this ultimate service to our FATHER. may the LORD bless you with HIS abundant grace and mercy, your friend in CHRIST.

  49. 49 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 17:40

    I have a feeling people are using the term “christian” like they use the word “democracy”. They presume it means only “good”. Democracy simply means the majority rules. In a democracy, you could have the majority voting to kill off the minority. That’s democracy in action. It doesn’t necessarily mean the good things you want it to mean. Same with christianity.

    Presuming Jesus ever lived, and he was this perfect person that he’s laid out to be in books, which is highly unlikely, because as we know, nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws, serious flaws, people are selfish as well. From what I’ve seen of the bible, God seems to have very low self esteem and wants the approval and worship of people. For being “supernatural” it seems that God/Jesus has lots of human faults, perhaps letting me know that just maybe God/jesus is a human concept, that we created these deities in our image, and not the reverse.

    That anyone gets attacked over religion is sad. But it’s just as sad that we still actually have religion, but I guess some are so needy for a purpose…

  50. October 15, 2008 at 17:40

    Jennifer, thanks that. To answer your rhetorical question of “who wouldn’t?” the answer is dogmatic Anabaptists (Mennonites, Amish, Brethren in Christ) and Quakers. I’m a Mennonite but I’m too realistic and not Christ-like enough yet to think I could just be a punching bag.

  51. October 15, 2008 at 17:44

    Um steve….see what I mean? When will you be interested in real dialogue?

    needy is as needy does.

  52. 52 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 17:46

    @ rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    “In terms of the point about Christians being pacifists or loose credibility, it might be useful to note, that there are some very political strands of religious faith. Many elements of the Old Testament might yet prove that point.”

    Good point.

    Many non-Christians to not understand that the God of the Old Testament did judge people in very violent ways. The Flood! In the New Testament Jesus (who is God in human form) turned over the tables of the money changers over. Jesus (Gods) anger was at the way the church was being used for profit and not for His Glory. When Christin’s are defending ourselves we have to make sure it is for His (God’s) glory and not for our own misguided self interest.

  53. 53 roebert
    October 15, 2008 at 17:48

    To me it is obvious that Christians should defend themselves if their lives and property are under attack, and if they aren’t given adequate protection by their governments or other leaders. They can’t simply wait around to be massacred and plundered. The real question is not whether, but how they might best defend themselves and their families.

    The first step should be a strong and globally concerted effort to bring the conflicting parties into a forum for dialogue, and the dialogue should not be denominationally centred, but should include Christian leaders from all the groups, as well as high-profile Christian politicians. In addition to attendance by the leaders of religious groups who are actively persecuting the Christians, there should be representatives from other, neutrally positioned, religious groups, which can act as goodwill brokers. And, most importantly, those inflicting and suffering violence on the ground should be directly represented.

    An important question to have answered is why these Christians are being attacked. My understanding is that many of these conflicts have to do with Christian proselytizing, and the attendant financial aspects of these evangelizing drives which places Christians at a financial advantage over other groups. So, perhaps the big question here is: are Christians willing to live and let live? or are they making a nuisance of themselves by converting people to a ‘western’ Christian mindset which is seen as a threat to local traditions?

  54. 54 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    October 15, 2008 at 17:48

    I don’t know much about Christians in other parts of the world. I suspect that those people, and the people attacking them, would be better defended by fighting against the freedom to acquire arms, rather than by taking sides in a new holy war.

    All I really understand is what happens in my country. I’ve listened to Americans who claim their religion is under attack, and I don’t buy their argument. I believe it’s a political tactic similar to a forgotten chapter of post American Civil War history. Newly freed slaves and poor white southerners began to recognize that they had more in common with each other than they had with wealthy landowners, who feared losing their power to this emerging majority.

    So the powers of wealth used the oldest trick in the book: divide and conquer. And they did it by spreading fear. They divided the emerging majority by threatening the manhood of poor white men. A historically well documented campaign spread a message that if black men were allowed to be equal to whites, they would soon think themselves equal to marrying white women.

    And so, as the dream of a united common people was dying, a new violence of racial intolerance was rising in its place. And it persists to this day in its lingering forms because that’s how powerful fear is. I see the ghost of this same strategy in a notion that Christian values are being threatened. This message of fear is not being preached from the pulpit, it’s being spread by politicians, who are depending on the votes of the fearful-in-greatest-numbers to keep themselves in power.

    Freedom of religion is no more threatened by outsiders in this country today than freedom of speech was threatened by communists during the McCarthy era. Then as now, the real threat to freedom is the fear and silence of those from within.

    So my question to anyone who would suggest Christian values are under attack is this: Do you really believe that if Christian values are not “defended,” Christians will lose their right to teach their children whatever they choose to believe? And if so, what plan of action would you suggest to prevent this? Who is the enemy, and how would you choose to fight back?

    The lesson of history is clear. I pray we won’t get fooled again, although I offer this prayer to no one God or person in particular. Except to you, whoever has read this. What do you pray for, or for not?

    [WHYSers: just over 90 seconds to read. Sorry]

  55. 55 Tom D Ford
    October 15, 2008 at 17:49

    “This blogger feels her faith is under attack.”

    “rightwingchicky.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/the-attack-on-faith/”

    I think that one of the worst and stupidest things that Bush did was when early in his first term he declared a “New Crusades”.

    So “rightwingchicky” has no credibility when her leader is doing the actual attacking!

    Go on the attack all the while claiming you’re the victim, that is exactly what Hitler did while invading Poland.

    “Is it time for Christians to defend themselves?”

    That implies that their “God” is either incapable or unwilling to defend his own creations; not much of a “God” in my opinion.

    Religion is the worst curse on mankind, worse than the Black Plague, worse than even War; because Religion is always on the attack against people, 24/7.

  56. 56 selena in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 17:50

    Keith~
    I answered your question months ago.
    I’m sorry that your personal exposure is not to the compassionate among us, but how in the world is that evidence for a global trend?

    First, let me say that my views are not such that I feel the need to defend them. Therefore anything I, or you, may have said months ago are lost in the sands of time.

    Please don’t feel that you have to explain anything to me. My view of Christians has been shaped from the ones I have met who most assuredly do not practice the teachings of Jesus, as I understand them. Obviously, they understand the teachings in a different way.

    Christians are every bit as good as I am. I am not saying that my understanding is in any superior. But, the longer I live the more I am inclined to believe that humans cannot change into peace loving creatures, no matter how many times George Bush says the words. 😉

  57. 57 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 17:52

    What about athesists? We are the punchbags of all religions. I am sick of hearing how this and that religion is being persecuted. The fact that persecution is happening is based on the fact that religions exist. it is the very existance of religions, which segreate themselves and and preach love while fighting wars in the name of their respective gods, that we have percecution and hatred. if there is no god to fight for a major reason of ignorance and mutual hate has been removed from the equation.

  58. October 15, 2008 at 17:52

    Sounds to me like a call to arms or some kind of a crusade.

  59. 59 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 17:53

    @ Keith

    “real dialogue” must mean that I have to accept the supernatural as fact? Without a shred of evidence?

    There is NO such thing as God. God is a fictional book character. There is no shred of evidence that there is a God. In fact, most of the names for God come from pagan God names. At least God could have thought of something original, and not re-use the name of Phoenecian gods? God could have probably written the bible a little better if he was so perfect and omnipotent. Again, there might be a shred of proof other than the desperate need of so many people for something because without it, they could find no purpose in life. That’s the truly saddest part of the fraud that religion is.

    My favorite proof that there’s no such thing is God besides the “can God create a stone he cannot lift?” is if you truly believed in God, you wouldn’t fear death, and you wouldn’t mourn the death of others. If there’s a God, and if you’re Good, you go to “heaven”. But deep down, you just know that’s too good to be true. And what would constitute heaven? Say if you want to be with someone for eternity that hates your guts? Is your heaven their hell?

    It’s irrelevant, becuase when you die, it’s exactly like the billions of years that went by before you were born. NOTHINGNESS. I can accept that, any fear of that is irrational. BUT why, i fyou believe in God, are you afraid of death and mourn the loss of others if they are “with God”??? Because you don’t believe it. It’s too good to be true. You don’t really believe it yourself.

    I can admit this. can you?

  60. 60 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 17:56

    The closest civilization to get to “true Christians” were a few tribes of Indians on the American Islands, who were able to be a true communist society, who almost never fought, and if it came down to violence, they would smack each other with long sticks until one gave up. And guess what, 300 Spaniards killed them all in the name of Christ. Oh yeah, happy belated Columbus day, lol 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  61. 61 Sam Mwaka-karama
    October 15, 2008 at 18:01

    In real life when you are hit by an equal – you hit right back. In soldiering you react appropriately appreciating your attackers preparedness and aim…

    In old Latino quarters in NewYork, I understand the street feared the mob, so the mafia ruled guns, blood and all…

    Well if the religious attacks are that bad read the rule of the game and act – here the Christian leaders and governments will stop you the Christian boy who might fight back – check that against your intentions. You will discover it is the christian system that fails you… so don’t think, act.

  62. 62 Kenny In Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 18:03

    So the Christians are being persecuted..can any say The Crusades? What goes around comes around.

  63. 63 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:03

    @ Steve,
    “Presuming Jesus ever lived”
    There is a book out (I read it a few years back) called Jesus. This book looks at the man from a historical prospective using anthropology not a religious one. So we know he lived.

    “But it’s just as sad that we still actually have religion, but I guess some are so needy for a purpose…”
    A purpose for what? We all need a purpose in life other wise we would not get up. Everyone is in need of a reason to live. So what makes you get up! Work? Seeing friends?

  64. October 15, 2008 at 18:04

    Steve, real dialogue is possible if you are able to admit that I’m not a complete idiot, which I can see may not be possible, and if I am able to admit that you are not a complete idiot. If we can recognize that we both have the power to reason and that we are both valuable human beings, then perhaps we could listen to each other. Still, here what you insist on is hurling arguments like shotgun pellets and then posing a challenge at the end. It’s not even really debate Steve. What is happening is the equivalent of you standing up and shouting very loud about how foolish I and countless others are, and then when I respond, you get back up and shout more things from your list of complaints with complete condescension and disregard for the thoughts I’m taking care to tailor to your complaints.

  65. 65 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 18:05

    @selena in Canada
    Your sample size is too small to make any conclusion.
    It is the combination of the religions itself that result in Justice whose basic definition is the combination of the Law + Compassion.

  66. 66 phaedra
    October 15, 2008 at 18:06

    Oh Please. Anyone who believes in fairy tales is going to be ridiculed. Christians are deluded and a little tough love is what they need to break free of the brainwashing that has victimized them. Religion is psychotic a cult very and unhealthy for humans.

  67. 67 Pangolin-California
    October 15, 2008 at 18:06

    Oh, please. Not to minimize those little pockets of Christianity in Asian countries surrounded by hostile natives of other beliefs but… are you freaking kidding me?

    Religion is a virus, just like a computer virus, that replicates inside your head and then tries to get you to infect other people. It’s just another information packet trying to replicate itself and damn the consequences to you.

    Why are you defending a virus that keeps crashing the operating system and starting wars. Remember Bush saying the war on terror was a “crusade?” The Iraqis sure do.

  68. 68 Glenn_m
    October 15, 2008 at 18:10

    people shuld be nice to each other in general, short of that “why not be wronged?”

  69. 69 Mandie in Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 18:11

    Regardless of who or what you believe in, violence is no answer.

    History is riddled with violence in the names of gods just to allow more violence. judge not, that’s what I say.

  70. 70 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 18:12

    @ Keith

    Your welcome. I just couldn’t not protect myself either!

    @ Steve

    It’s nice that you posted your opinions on this subject. 🙂 It’s sad that you feel that people who believe in God/Jesus have low self esteem and need some crutch. I don’t think that’s true for every person who is religious. I also think that there is a difference between needing and choosing to have religion in a person’s life.

  71. 71 Kalypso in Austria
    October 15, 2008 at 18:12

    yes, i think this is definitely a problem. in ethiopia, which is an ancient Christian country, islam is increasing. and although Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for centuries in Ethiopia, now there are more and more reports of attacks, such as muslims burning forrests of monasteries. it is becoming terrible!
    May God help us!

  72. 72 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 18:13

    @ Steve,

    plus another argument, where would god come from and how could one supposed being be able to invent all of these complex systems around us, while still listening to everybodies wishes etc. I mean who created the creator, since apparently creationalism is based on creation and not evolution.

  73. 73 Mason in Utah
    October 15, 2008 at 18:13

    Christians are under attack in predominately Muslim areas like Egypt and Iraq, but Muslims are definitely under more scrutiny in the Christian world…the only difference is that the Western “Secular” world portrays their persecution as foreign policy (ie the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan)…in name the Western Governments, particularly the US, says it is a war on extremist, but when Christian Extremists (like Pres Bush) start, carry out, and sustain the war, it is, to them, a clash of civilizations, a new Holy War…all organized religion needs to go, it is the leading cause of death throughout history and it needs to take its place as the mythology that it is.

  74. October 15, 2008 at 18:14

    Equating violence against a religious minority in the war zone of Iraq with the status of Christians in the West is completely false and ingenuous. In the West, particularly in America, Christians are the majority religion and they tend to dominate the conversation. The Christians in the West are the ones who oppress other religious minorities because they constantly try to get Christian prayer incorporated into publicly funded schools and government activities. In the West we need more separation of Church and State. In Iraq, they need basic security. Completely different situations.

  75. 75 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:14

    @ Steve
    “God could have probably written the bible a little better if he was so perfect and omnipotent. ”
    God used real people with His divine inspiration to write the Bible. Most Bibles today have been translated from the original and as any translations there may be some words that have to be interpreted based on the context of the sentence. So until you learn Greek and read the original written word how can you presume that is it not perfect.

  76. 76 Glenn in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 18:15

    The underlying principle of Jesus’ teaching was pacifism. Anyone who takes up arms to defend themselves cannot be considered christian.
    Everything else is just politics.

  77. 77 Jonelle in Los Angeles
    October 15, 2008 at 18:15

    Religious tolorance is the key. It is difficult to achieve. Even in the US where there is religious freedom there is not alway religious tolorance. There is one God and religion is an individuals way of relating to God. People are not all the same why would we all relate to God in the same way. Tolorance, compassion and understanding should be extended to people of all faiths to each other.

  78. 78 Sauron K.
    October 15, 2008 at 18:16

    No matter what religion you are, it is time to stop the violence, the discrimination, and the hate! Nearly all religions teach lessons of peace and non-violence, and helping our fellow human beings, yet there are still holy wars that destroy innocent lives every day, and that is not what religion was originally about.
    Please, spread love and joy, not hate and war!
    I understand we all have our right to believe and practice our religion, and teach it, but we should never do so with the intent to harm!

    I pray for peace.

    K.J.

  79. 79 Jonelle in Los Angeles
    October 15, 2008 at 18:17

    Religious tolorance is the key. It is difficult to achieve. Even in the US where there is religious freedom there is not alway religious tolorance. There is one God and religion is an individuals way of relating to God. People are not all the same why would we all relate to God in the same way. Tolorance, compassion and understanding should be extended to people of all faiths to each other.

  80. 80 Serina in Singapore
    October 15, 2008 at 18:18

    I am going on news reports available of violence against Christians but it seems that if Muslims want a greater tolerance towards them then the actions of some to kill Christians does their cause no good when they decry what their kind are suffering. It is a reality that Islam is riding a wave of guilt and pc-ness and hiding behind it to a degree as in the west it is a huge no-no to criticise Muslims for the most part. And what I see first hand is a greater sensitivity to their religious practises when they are acting in discriminatory manner themselves.

  81. 81 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:19

    @ Thea

    I’ve read it in Hebrew. So until you learn Hebrew and read the original written word how can you presume that is it not perfect?

  82. 82 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 18:20

    @Pangolin-California
    It is because people need to believe in something greater than themselves. An entity that sets rock stable standards and not the transitory ones of Madonna or any Hollywood celebrity who cannot control their own lives.
    To believe is to be able to draw strength when all is bleak and problems seen insurmountable.
    But as the saying goes “If I knew God…I’d be God” so we have faith.
    Oh yeah as an FYI more people have died in wars NOT about religion that about religion.
    Who then cares if Bush used the word “Crusade”? is that something else for Muslims to be afraid of and another excuse to carry out inexcusable murderers?

  83. 83 kevin in trinidad
    October 15, 2008 at 18:20

    Any religion just should not push their way into people lives,like iraq and india. Look at america ,the christians there discriminate against other beliefs, wanting a monopoly of their faith,why cant indian hindus,iraq muslims want the same?

  84. October 15, 2008 at 18:21

    Mason, care to qualify this broad stroke?

    “is the leading cause of death throughout history”

  85. 85 Lawson from jamaica
    October 15, 2008 at 18:21

    It is not surprising that christian are gettin a fight they are seen as representatives of western culture which is seen as oppresive

  86. 86 John from Florida, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:21

    Living in the USA, I have never felt persecuted for being a Christian. I heard of some incidences, here and there, were a mosque or synagogue might be defaced in America. Very rarely are people of other faiths attacked or killed here. In large the Christians in the US are very tolerant and accepting of other faiths.
    Why is it, especially in predominantly Muslim Countries such as Turkey, Ethiopia etc that Christians are tortured and often killed for simply evangelizing the Christian faith? What are the Muslims that do these horrible things afraid of?

  87. 87 Elizabeth
    October 15, 2008 at 18:23

    There is only one defense of the Christian faith, which is to continue to rejoice in Christ and be peaceful, loving, charitable people. This is the defense of our faith, nothing more. Sectarian violence is occurring all over the world among all religions and we Christians cannot and should not claim any special persecution, especially not in the West. In any case, as Christians, we are to rejoice in persecution, not complain about it. Persecution is our blessing.

  88. 88 Vijay
    October 15, 2008 at 18:23

    Is it time for Christians to defend themseves?

    One way to help Christians in India is to take action against their oppressors associates in western countries.
    There are right wing Hindu fundamentalist groups operating in the U.K. Eg.Viswha Hindu Parishad (VHP) and BJP ,that raise money for activities in India, these groups must be monitored and banned if necessary.

    @Will
    Multiculturalism didn’t fail in the UK,it was overtaken by events namely unregulated immigration from Europe(Polish plumbers etc) and 9/11.
    Aren’t you from the heartland of the BNP Preston ,Bolton,Bury,Rochdale etc .. Is that why you moved to the “The Great White North”.

  89. October 15, 2008 at 18:23

    Jesse, very good point. I agree thoroughly.

  90. 90 TBO in Los Angeles
    October 15, 2008 at 18:24

    When I heard your topic for today I couldn’t believe my ears. Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting christians are being persecuted in the West? In America Christians are super-powerful, they have decided the elections for the past 8 years, and many important public policies since. We are probably the only developped country where some schools can’t teach evolution and we are less and less secular every day. Despite what Christians might say, it is scientists and non-christians that are in danger in America.

    If you do read this message, I would like to say to the Christians in America to remember that Jesus preached love- loving thy neighbor, turning the other cheek, and being tolerant. Please practice what you preach.

  91. 91 Q
    October 15, 2008 at 18:25

    Those who believe in absurdities can be made to commit atrocities.

    Doesn’t matter what religion it is, religion in general is the cause of much suffering in the world. We need to encourage people to break out of their religious delusion.

    Q

  92. 92 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:25

    @ Jonelle

    “There is one God and religion is an individuals way of relating to God. People are not all the same why would we all relate to God in the same way. Tolorance, compassion and understanding should be extended to people of all faiths to each other.”

    There is a big irony here. YOu talk about needing tolerance, but then you say there is “one God”. That means that you’re simply going to be intolerant of people who don’t believe in that, and I’m not talking about just athiest. Hindus believe in many Gods. There are plenty of polytheists. So to you, someone who believes in “one God”, you will think they have “whacky” views. And while you might “tolerate” them, you might even look upon them as people look at tribes portrayed in National Geographic.

    To those who said that christian means “little christ”, so that people should be like Jesus. How can you be like someone who never existed? How rational is this?

  93. 93 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:27

    @ Steve, 15:21: Who are all these people you profess to speak for or know of? Exclusively Spanish-speaking contruction workers, exclusively Christian Palestinians…

    You certainly do get around, but in very small circles I suspect.

    Why do I even bother?

  94. October 15, 2008 at 18:28

    Steve what on earth is your justification for the repeated claim the Jesus did not exist? To suggest otherwise is about as wildly revisionist of history as is the “there was no holocaust” movement. What are you basing this on?

  95. 95 Paul in Wisconsin
    October 15, 2008 at 18:29

    I do think that in some parts of the world Christians are under siege, but not in any way that stands out from how other religions are persecuted. Moslems in the US don’t necessarily have that great of a time. Also in places like the US, there is a large conservative Christian minority that is involved in politics and as a liberal Christian I feel as though I’m under siege.

  96. October 15, 2008 at 18:30

    It’s important in a democracy and as descendants of The Western Tradition to embrace reason and tolerance. There are different social taboos and moors in each and every country and these need to be respected. Christians in countries who are being persecuted ought to be granted asylum in The West; albeit, the persecution of a minority population that is not tolerated by the dominant culture of another country is not sufficient reason to violently intercede.

  97. 97 Robert in Cleveland
    October 15, 2008 at 18:30

    A guest on your program today has said that Christians in America face some amount of discrimination. What an understatement!

    In over 200 years, America has not elected even one Christian president! Most Christians are made to work on Christmas and Easter. There are entire states in the union with no Christian churches within their borders. The Bible has been banned from many jurisdictions, as well. Truly, American Christians face daily persecution.

    In all seriousness, if Christians think they face a lot of persecution around the world, what do they think of the Jewish experience through history?

    The fact is, people will use any excuse they can come up with to discriminate against each other. Religion is often a convenient one. All religions seem to have persecution complexes, among other delusions in common.

  98. 98 Vandita
    October 15, 2008 at 18:31

    Hi There,

    We do hear a lot of criticism and talk shows for what is happening to Christians in India.

    But we never heard anything when the actual things happened.

    What now world see is a reaction to what those people have gone through.

    Poor people are forced and lured to convert there religion to Christianity. The person who gets converted are given many facilities and others not.

    People really don’t understand that, if it is really in name of GOD then why only those who convert get the privileges. Why this discrimination?

    And this has been going through from decades now what we are seeing is just reaction.

    If Conversion and discrimination stops, Christians won’t be prosecuted.

    Though I don’t support prosecuting Christian, but people should see the actual reason behind this.

    And People should not only talk about Christians getting prosecuted but also why Indians are revolting.

    Problems are solved only if reasons are gone and not by stopping people to react.

  99. 99 Lokesh
    October 15, 2008 at 18:31

    I hope some one is representing from India to give the correct facts.

    The main cause for the violence is the forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The church’s sponsored by foreign money is targeting the poor and the people in dire need, bribing them with money and other incentives to convert. Also the converted Christians are not given the same privileges to participate in the community activities.

    How can we (Hindus) tolerate if you a church attacks our faith? publish books criticizing our beliefs? We are a nation of tolerant. Hinduism is know for tolerance for centuries. Please do not abuse our tolerance.

    – Lokesh (440-250-2524)

  100. 100 Lee in Auckland
    October 15, 2008 at 18:32

    This just goes to prove my point that religion is not such a beneficial force in the world regardless of which branch you practice. These days Christians are suffering reverse discrimination and Muslims can feel almost entitled to put down Christians as they will hide behind a sense of being hard done by. This is no excuse this is simply revenge and highlights the flaw in their purported morality. But I have to add that religions talk about how they are about peace and those militants do not represent the faith.. well they do. If anyone acts violently in the name of that religion then it defines that religion as violent I must say.

  101. October 15, 2008 at 18:32

    Kate, what states do not have any churches? What places ban Bibles altogether? I’m baffled.

  102. 102 Kenny In Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 18:32

    @ katemcgough
    Where are you getting this information and what America are you living in?

  103. 103 Elizabeth in Oregon
    October 15, 2008 at 18:34

    Unlike other religions, we Christians are told to rejoice in sharing Christ’s suffering for our faith and to turn the other cheek. Suffering for the sake of our faith is a blessing. We Christians also have the responsibility to take care of our own and support them. I do not think that Christians should ask the world for sympathy or help. That would be unbecoming behavior for the Bride of Christ and it would also be counterproductive. Insofar as people help us, they share in Christ’s suffering, God will bless them, and insofar as we Christians do not share in it or help one another, we forgo that blessing. I am in America where Christians receive special privileges (we get our holidays off and our Bibles in hotel rooms etc.) and any talk of persecution here is ridiculous.

  104. 104 Kenny In Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 18:35

    @ Robert in Cleveland

    this is who this message was originally meant for:

    Where are you getting this information and what America are you living in?

  105. 105 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:35

    @ Keith

    Show me a single shred of evidence that jesus lived other than quoting from the bible. I can show you plenty of evidence of the holocaust. I can prove to you that Kemal Ataturk existed. You can’t do that with Jesus. YOu confuse your faith and desire for him to be real, with reality. Prove Jesus ever existed. And honestly, ask yourself this, given if he did exist, he was a Jew, and had a hebrew or aramaic name. Why do you even call him Jesus? Last I checked, Jews in Judea spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, not greek, and certainly didn’t have greek names, and the Apostles certainly didn’t have English names either. If you make up a story, it should at least be believable, right? It’s your job to prove Jesus existed and God exists, not for me to disprove it. In logic, you prove the existance of somthing, not the non existance of something, otherwise I’d have to ask you to prove that the flying spaghetti monster doesn’t exist, or that Harry Potter doesn’t exist. They’re in books as well.

  106. 106 Dinka Alpayo Aliap, kampala
    October 15, 2008 at 18:36

    YES. I think when someone confront you by the uses volience methods, what of you then?.Second, Christians should also applies TEN COMMANDMENTSin the states were they are majority or minority in any case if possible. Violence against christians was already shown to us in the BIBLE that CHRISTIANS WILL BE ATTACKED,KILLS, OR DISPLACES BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOMES CHRISTIANS. Christians were already punished by they BIBLE rules which stated that LOVE THOSE WHO HATE YOU as its happen now to INDDIANS-CHRISTIANS as they love there HINDUS counterpart yet they are killing them, there4 these violences against was organise by some Y-group(muslims) as a part of their war against Christians or ISREAL where JESUS CHRIST was born.

  107. October 15, 2008 at 18:36

    whoops, I’m sorry I meant that last question for Robert in Cleveland.

  108. 108 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:37

    @ Kenny

    Kate is adding text messages, those aren’t her opinions.

  109. 109 WN in USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:37

    I don’t know why the attacks on Christians in Iraq, and other Moslem dominated countries by extension, are any surprise. That Christian-majority countries, like the US, UK, Italy, Spain, etc., attacked Iraq on specious reasons which have wreaked havoc is the core of this problem in Iraq. With over a million Iraqis killed, yet there has not been as much as a peep from the Christian leaders, especially in the West. On the other hand, some of the more fundamentalist Christian leaders (in the US) were rationalizing the invasion without showing any contrition. Even the more liberal sects (in the West) did not protest against the illegal invasion.

    What is happening is called “blowback,” otherwise referred to as unintended consequences! I can imagine an ordinary Iraqi conflating the age-old Christian sects with the existential disaster that the ‘Christian’ invasion has wrought. As your Lebanese guest mentioned, the cross has usually gone hand in hand with Western colonialism and imperialism.

    I find the words of your Christian guest to be disingeneous. That people like him were nowhere to be heard when President Bush’s efforts at invasion were getting underway bespeak the hypocrisy of such religious peoples’ actions, then and today.

    If it matters, I profess the Christian faith but listening to some so-called Christians quote the Bible makes me nauseous.

  110. October 15, 2008 at 18:38

    I live in austin, by texas standards a liberal city. I have was raised within Christianity and have seen exactly how much hate and persecution Christianity has fomented. They consistently seek to deny right to gays and lesbians, fought and prevented stem cell research as well as preached against common sense birth control and contraception. I have no sympathy for Christianity. I regret and denounce all forms of persecution and discrimination, but Western Christianity has only itself if it feels persecuted. Christianity here in the United States fails to recognize how its actions reflect harmfully on Christians around the world. I personally find all religions suspect, but the historical record of Christianity leaves it, in my view, even more difficult to defends. Thanks.

  111. 111 Jonelle in Los Angeles
    October 15, 2008 at 18:38

    Steve –

    “you will think they have “whacky” views. And while you might “tolerate” them, you might even look upon them as people look at tribes portrayed in National Geographic”

    You have put words in my mouth and told me how I would view people. You are incorrect. However a person relates to god it how they relate to god. (Yes, even if it is many gods. It is still how they relate.) As for atheists they do not believe in god and they should not have others beliefs forced upon them.

  112. 112 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:38

    @Jesse, 18:14: I agree with your initial statement, that challenging people who profess Christianity in a place where Christians are the majority in power can not be compared to committing violence against Christians in other parts of the world.

    But you discredit your statement by going on to speak on behalf of the motives and intentions of those you do not know or represent. Not all Christians want to see prayer in schools. Suggesting that they do is a devisive tactic which only furthers divisions which I suspect you yourself do not intend to create.

  113. 113 roebert
    October 15, 2008 at 18:39

    It would be amusing, if it weren’t so very trying, to read what passes for critique of religion by some of the atheist contributors to this blog. These irrational attacks reveal a deep ignorance of various aspects of being human, including human history, culture, society and psychology. A serious study of religious development from earliest times would show that religion has contributed far more good than bad to our unfolding societies, and continues to be a major force for good in the world today. Most of those who profess to get by without religion usually make a religion out of their own point of view anyway, and defend it with a rabidity worthy of any other form of fundmentalism. Religions will always be with us, as will anti-religion, and both will have their fundamentalist apologists.

    Both religion and atheism are best taken with a good dose of liberal humanism; after all, both are valid ways of being human. If atheism is indeed the truest form of humanism, why does it always seem to express itself with such intolerance? Humanism presupposes a high degree of tolerance, surely?

  114. 114 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 18:39

    Does nobody get the irony that without gods there would be no persecution of any religiouse minorities/majorities by another religiouse group.

    people start thinking. who are these gods, if we stop believing in them. they will be nothing but a past figment of imagination.

  115. 115 Emily
    October 15, 2008 at 18:40

    I have several points. Religious discrimination is a travesty no matter who is being persecuted, and Christians certainly have a right to defend themselves (though I don’t agree with any type of violence). However, if we are going to focus on religious discrimination, I think islamophobia or discrimination against Muslims in the United States and the Western world is perhaps a very pertinent topic as well. The political election in the US is a perfect example of the racism and discrimination that still exists in this country. It disgusts me that people say they are afraid of Obama because they think he is Muslim (which, regardless, is completely not true). Why does this matter? Why can’t people see how prejudiced this is? Additionally I completely agree with the caller who makes the comment about how people tend to align Christianity with imperialism. And the history relating to this view is related to the so-called rise of secularism in Western society and its associations to capitalism. Therefore, many extremists who have POLITICAL ambitions in these areas scapegoat Christianity and of course Judaism- It is a lot easier to hate a largely defined group than to really see the problem as an extremely complex situation influenced by a multitude of factors. Tribalism and hatred of Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites etc. has been going on for centuries in the area of the Middle East in particular, and it is a history of a political power struggle that is tribal related rather than solely religous discrimination, that is why it is so hard to stop the violence in this hotbead of religious and ethnic intolerance.

  116. 116 S.W. from Portland (OR), USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:40

    Speaking as an American and a Christian, I’m appalled by the effects of Bush administration foreign policy on minority Christians around the world, and not just in Iraq, where centuries-old communities have been decimated by American occupation. Coddling of oppressors in such nations as Israel, China, and Sudan have encouraged sectarian violence against peaceful minority communities that include ancient Christian cultures. Not much is made of the attacks on Palestinian Christian communities in the occupied territories by Israeli settlers by U.S. policymakers, who (despite George W. Bush’s professions of religiosity) are driven by corporate rather than scriptural concerns.

  117. 117 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:40

    Hi Steve,
    You are correct it was written in Hebrew. That was my bad!

    You made the first comment that is was not perfect not me. Can you tell me why you feel it is not perfect? What would you change and how?

    I feel that it is perfect as it was written over many years by many different men from many walks of life. All these men had the word of God given to them and they wrote according to their style. David, for example, wrote in the style of songs and poetic verses. God did not inhabit these men to write the Bible, he chose to use them to write according to their skills.

  118. 118 Vandita
    October 15, 2008 at 18:41

    @Lokesh

    Very true. When Indians face forceful conversion nobody speaks but for Christians all are.

    People need to look behind the reason of all this in India

  119. 119 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 18:41

    Keith and Kenny,

    I think it’s called IRONIE, you should read the post again….no wonder there is so much miscommunication.

  120. 120 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:42

    @ Jens

    I’m sure you noticed, but people are evil, so if it weren’t religion, they would persecute for other reasons. The real question is would you rather be persecuted for an irrational reason or a more rational reason? Ie persecution by what fictional deity you believe in or would you rather be discriinated for your eye color or nose size?

    Getting rid of religion will not get rid of persecution. Only getting rid of people will get rid of persecution.

  121. 121 srikanth
    October 15, 2008 at 18:42

    Situation in every country is different at least in INDIA. I have seen several times that my Christian friend who get funds from around the world just to convert people. Whenever some important Christian religious head comes to India, my friend’s father used to give money to the slum and poor people, give them food and ask them to daily come to church and sing prayers. I have no problems with my friend, we even have a healthy debate but he too agrees that conversion go on large scales in rural and tribal areas.

    People who give funds to India to convert people should be questioned. Even if one organization which gives funds and has this agenda to of conversion believe what they are doing then they are responsible for the deaths in Orissa.
    One should always preach his religions or ideas with love. Conversion of innocent with inducements is not a sustainable way and only such incidents occur. Every person should answer to his subconscious when dealing with such sensitive matters.

  122. October 15, 2008 at 18:43

    Wow Steve. Amazing. I don’t get your anger. There are numerous non Christian historians who refer to Jesus, and what does the anglicizing of these names have to do with anything? It’s not my “job” to prove anything to you, besides you have so much venom and disgust for my belief that I could magically take you on a trip through time and you would plug your ears and shout “I can’t hear you, na na na na.” I could debate my belief in the unprovable to you all day, I could debate the historical records as well. I am not going to do this with you here, because over and over and over again I try to ask you to have a civil discussion where-in you actually respect me and my intellect and you simply do not.

    So just to clarify, you are really suggesting that the man we commonly refer to as Jesus Christ simply did not exist? Any reasonable atheists want to help me out here?

  123. 123 Dylan
    October 15, 2008 at 18:43

    More like “should we defend ourselves from christians?” I think this mythology holds enough power in every level of our society that it needs no defense, nor does it warrant any. Not to mention that the christians (and muslims in many eastern countries)are the ones going around telling everyone what to do and how to do it. In America, the first amendment is more than enough to protect christians from persecution (ha) and, if properly followed, to protect the rest of us from them. It’s high time science was defended with half the zeal of these fairy tales.

  124. 124 Jacob from Oklahoma, living in Chicago
    October 15, 2008 at 18:44

    Being raised and schooled as a fundamentalist Christian — even I understand that Christians fail to recognize that they historically have antagonized and driven many persecutory clashes against other religions (i.e. Muslims, Jewish, Hindu and native faiths). Even today, the U.S. president has described the “War in Iraq” as a CRUSADE. We have to understand that backlash is a natural phenomenon — but to remain genuine to the Christian faith, violence should never be condoned in their defense. Otherwise they negate their faith by hypocritical actions. If Christians can intellectually defend themselves without contradicting their faith by their actions, they should. As I believe each religion should defend itself – but understand that pluralism is necessary for peace.

  125. 125 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:45

    @ Thea

    The old testament is allegedly the word of God. If that’s the case, even in the hebrew, it puts me to sleep. I dont’ care about all the ancestors someone wrote. you’d think if God existed, and if god could write, he would make it an energetic read, fascinating, a book people wouldn’t want to put down, yet it can bring grown man to tears and snores, because it’s such a dull read. If god’s that perfect, God could write a book that’s not dull, and would at least get the science down right. you’d think God might know things about astronomy and physics if he was omnipotent. But then again, we created God in our own image, the imagine of primitive people, thousands of years ago, whoh didn’t know any better.

  126. 126 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 18:45

    Hi Steve,
    Also remember that some of the New Testament is written by people giving a historical account of Jesus life. In those sections you will note these men may be using the common mans words of the day. God would also use the common day language to get His point across to the masses. Much like our reporters do.

  127. 127 Mason in Utah
    October 15, 2008 at 18:45

    Since the 1967, 6 Day War and the corresponding rise of the Religious Right in the United States, that saw this war as fulfillment of the book of Revelations and the beginning of “The End Times”, the United States foreign policy has drastically shifted from one of relative balance between Arabs and Israelis, to one heavily weighted toward Israel…it is startling to me that a country such as the US, which claims to be secular, has been driven over the last 40 years by such views as these…it is this narrow-mindedness that brings people like Sarah Palin to desire to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in order to ensure the apocalypse..it is scary and dangerous

  128. 128 roebert
    October 15, 2008 at 18:45

    Steve: proof that Jesus really lived can be found in the Roman writers, Suetonius and Tacitus, as well as the Jewish Roman historian, Flavius Josephus. These were writing in the period immediately after his crucifixion, and this event is recorded in Tacitus. In addition to these secular historians, there are the Christian patristic writers (eg. Clement of Rome) who knew the apostles, and wrote as directly informed by them. So, there is more than enough historical proof for anyone who really wants to know.

  129. 129 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 18:46

    @ roebert,

    what good did religion do. like the spanish inquesision, witch hunts, crusades, persecution of christians in rome, holocost, mid-east crisis, 9/11, bali/london/madrid bombing. hell all great acchievments of mankind in the name of some or the other imaginative deity, ME THINKS NOT.

  130. October 15, 2008 at 18:46

    Vijay

    @Will
    Multiculturalism didn’t fail in the UK,it was overtaken by events namely unregulated immigration from Europe(Polish plumbers etc) and 9/11.
    Aren’t you from the heartland of the BNP Preston ,Bolton,Bury,Rochdale etc .. Is that why you moved to the “The Great White North”.

    I would prefer that you take that comment back yourself – why a racist comment like that was published I have no idea – but to call you on it. I come from the North of England – Yorkshire to be exact not Lancashire, which you quote, quite correct – but my political leanings have ALWAYS been to defend ethnic minorities – even calling out the BNP on their racist, vile views. My Christianity also says, quite openly to me, that I speak out for those who cannot.

    I moved to Canada to get married to my Canadian wife – it had nothing whatsoever to do with moving away from the UK for your implied tone. Let me add, for further information into my personal life – we have every intention of moving BACK to the UK.

  131. 131 Jessica in NYC
    October 15, 2008 at 18:46

    @ Will and Selena

    Selena: “All I have ever seen from my Christian family and friends is a lack of compassion and justice. They are quite willing to rush to war with all guns blazing without looking at a reasonable alternative.”
    Will: “Then you really haven’t met many real Christians at all. I have no idea why – but those who rush to war are not, as you say, Christians.”

    I had this very debate last night for over an hour with a Christian pastor in Texas. He claims that Christians have a divine obligation to follow the laws of god, which are above the laws of society and war is necessary to uphold Christians religious beliefs. He is of the extreme view that ALL other religious are wrong and that is it Christians’ job to save “them”. So, Sale he has compassion, but only for those like him. Will, he’s not only a Christian, but one of it’s leader who believe God wants them to save all of us heathens.

  132. 132 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 18:47

    @ Keith

    Yes, you’re right. Jesus did exist, but if he was the “son of God” is the part up for debate. It’s like David Koresh, he did exist, but wasn’t God/Jesus reborn, like he told people.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  133. 133 Alan in Arizona
    October 15, 2008 at 18:47

    I can’t really imagine that the Hindu’s are so weak as to give up their religion for another! Neither of them would force the other to change.
    There must be some other reason for them to change, but they are to embarrassed to admit it!

  134. 134 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:47

    @ Keith

    That’s not how logic works. Fine, we’ll assume that God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are best friends, and share women, unless you can disprove it. There’s not a shred of evidence Jesus was ever a person that ever existed other than what’s written in history books about the bible and the bible itself. YOU prove. find me so archeological evidence that he ever lived. Unless you can do that, then you cannot dare accuse me of what you’re accusing me of.

    I tend to make claims I can back up. You’re just expecting me to believe what you believe simply because you believe it.

  135. 135 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 18:48

    steve,
    maybe true, but there would at least on less reason to go to the killing fields, and by having one of the main causes of discrimination removed people might get closer to one another, but just maybe.

  136. 136 Kenny In Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 18:49

    @ Steve
    thanks for the 411

  137. 137 jason in Seattle
    October 15, 2008 at 18:49

    I am suprised at the sudden martyrdom of christianity by some of your
    guests on this show, especially the man from Oklahoma. America has
    been so immensely influenced by the evangelical zealotry of the christian right for the past 30 years (most evident during the presidency of George W. Bush) that the concept of christianity being “under siege” now is laughable.

    Some may say that you shouldn’t bring politics into it, but when our president has made such an effort to infuse his political ideology and actions with his born-again evangelical beliefs, the lines get so blurred that it is hard to avoid the connection.

    Does it surprise anyone that the majority of the countries these attacks have taken place in are former colonies of the British and French empires, both models of the modern christian based West?

  138. 138 b
    October 15, 2008 at 18:50

    This is an extremely complicated issue with a long history that I don’t believe can be summed up by discussing violence against Christians alone.

    Coming from the US, where there are several large sects of Christianity that openly reject all other religions as false and sometimes evil, and persecute others for other various reasons (i.e. homosexuality, atheism), I find it difficult to see Christianity as an innocent victim. In addition, looking into the long history of violent persecution coming from Christians towards other various religions, it seems almost logical that there might be animosity towards Christianity in some parts of the world.

    All that aside, I feel very strongly that if, in the name of Christianity, you are going into another land with a different cultre and offering charity only at the expense of that culture, than you are not a Christain. Charity should not be dirtied with personal agenda, and learning to help those that are different than you without judgment or pity might do missionaries some good.

  139. October 15, 2008 at 18:50

    It’s a bit unreasonable to expect everyone to abandon their own spiritual path in life. It is more reasonable to appeal to the hierarchies of organized religion to actively pursue a peaceful resolution to the differences between peoples. We should also be wary of making sweeping generalizations about groups of people based on a single event. Also, any commentary that suggests Christians in The United States or Europe are persecuted is absolutely erroneous.

  140. 140 Sudarsana
    October 15, 2008 at 18:50

    I totally disagree, religion is nothing to with politics, Yes Great India philosopher Swami Vivekananda rightly said “Where there is no religion No Politics”,

    Even in a well informed society like USa Relion or sect of christians are important.

    In India the conversions are by the missionaries is ramphant with Poor people as the bishop has sais yes there is fundamental right to belong to any religion, but what this poor tribal people know about these rights, whta they see is the medical and finace help these missionaries are giving and inturn making them to change their religion.

    There by creating a majority, once a particular religion or sect are more then the politicians come from there, why do you think most christian vote for congress in India, just because it is not a non secular party it is more secular than any other party, just becuase a christian heads the party.

    So “o religion no Poilitics”

  141. 141 Sriram
    October 15, 2008 at 18:50

    India is a Secular Country and as an Indian I am proud of it.

    In the Hindu way of life we say – ‘Lokha Samastha Sukino Buvanthu’ – Let everyone live in happiness’.

    In real life we know that we can reach from Point A to Point B in ‘n’ number of ways. Why is it then that people who don’t follow one path are called as non-believers.

    In India People from all faiths have assumed great position in Society.

    When Barrack Obama has to publically state that he is a christian can we call he is persecuted in his own country.

    Calling India persecuting Christians is not appropriate. What do you call then the ethnic cleansing that is happening in Kashmir that has forced close to a million hindus pandits living as refugees in india. Can we generalize that all Muslims persecute others. No!!

    I am a hindu living in kuwait peacefully and have friends almost in almost all faiths and respect the Muslim faith and other faiths.

    In India we allow every religion practise their law and minority rights are greatly protected. People who don’t know a thing about India generalise. We are not perfect but have always been a open society from time immemorial.

    Learn, Understand and accomodate others as they are even if they follow a different path.

    Religion should not be converted to ‘Clubs’ with maximum subscription.

    Live and Let Live

  142. 142 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:52

    Did you hear the low self esteem of the caller? She said she worries about defending her faith and her kids defending their faith in the future? That’s like seeking out approval. Who cares if others don’t agree with you? Do you need to be told you are pretty all day and need praise all the time all as well?

    If people don’t agree with you? Who cares?

  143. 143 John in Salem
    October 15, 2008 at 18:52

    What Western Christians do not understand is that in the Third World, Christianity = colonialism.
    Of course they hate you! If you had been “saved” the way they have you’d hate Christians, too!

  144. October 15, 2008 at 18:53

    @ WN – many of us WERE in fact protesting and trying to have our voices heard as Christians in opposition to the invasion.

    @ Michael sadler – again you degrade the value of this discussion when you use broad strokes like “they.” I am technically a “they” and I espouse very different views and aims in life.

    @ Roebert – agreed agreed. I should warn you those wild and wacky attempts at bringing a higher intellectual standard to this discussion won’t get far. Many here prefer to pop in with a “take that, religious idiot!” grenade and then recede until they have the next pin pulled. Thanks for sharing, we’ll elevate this conversation one of these days.

    @Jens, I’m not sure what you are referring to exactly.

  145. 145 L Jackman, Gdansk
    October 15, 2008 at 18:53

    I must admit, whilst it is an uncomfortable thought, my impression seems to be in agreement with the caller you had on earlier. Western societies with a larger Christian population seem to have more tolerant than the perception of Middle Eastern and South East Asian societies. This would make being a minority in a Western society likely to be easier.

  146. 146 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 18:53

    @ steve

    Thats the funny thing, you’re right, you can’t prove God just like you can’t disprove God, so it’s not scientific. It’s an assumption, just like believe what ever religion you want. So saying “God doesn’t exist because you can’t prove Him” is not very scientific.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  147. 147 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 18:53

    @Steve
    You are getting bogged down with who wrote the Torah. It is the meaning of such and what it teaches us that is important.
    I understand your point about no proof Jesus existed but similarly there is no proof Moses, Joshua or even God exist. It is called faith.
    Let me postulate this to you. 3500 years ago the people were too primitive to develop such deep ideas. There must have been a higher source of inspiration.

  148. October 15, 2008 at 18:54

    One last comment: if you participate in a democracy and reap the benefits of one you ought accept the precepts of democracy and embrace the separation of church and state.

  149. 149 Lokesh
    October 15, 2008 at 18:54

    @Alan in Arizona

    Alan, people do things for children,family and for life. Can you see your children sleep with hunger? Can you imagine your children without future? Life is bigger than religion.

    I would become a animal (figuratively) if god promises better things for my children.. By the way, that love comes because I am human.. not because I am Hindu…

    – Lokesh

  150. 150 mohammad
    October 15, 2008 at 18:55

    Christians being threatened ?? Thanks to western christians , specially american christians, and their aggressive proselytizing targeting the under classes around the world to convert. What do you expect , with the clonial exploitive history of whiteman all around the world while using christianity as a tool for political control , what the reaction of the rest of the world would be. The formation and survival of states formed on the basis of religion ( e.g. israel in particular ) is dependent on the propogation of religious hatred all around the world and thats why we are talking about this issue. As an atheist who grow up in muslim country I thought I will find refuge in USA when I emigrated but guess what, I still feel threatened to express my views openly. Todays world christians have bigger guns and there is nothing more DANGERIOUS than a BELEIVER with a GUN.

  151. 151 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 18:55

    @ TBO

    Yes, Christians in the west are being persecuted. Have you read the many posts on this blog topic today? As you can see, we have many people with many different opinions going all over the place. There is no respect for individual choices at all. It’s just you are wrong and I will prove there is no God. As for me, I don’t throw my religion around, but many times I have had people bring up the subject with me and downright insult me for no reason. I drank orange juice for breakfast this morning; must have been because I am religious!

    I am a peaceful person and I don’t go looking to argue with people but I am also not perfect and would defend myself if I was in physical danger. It would take a strong person to turn the other cheek. I am not that strong but maybe someday I will be.

    I am sure that there are republicans who do not believe in God and by their actions do not act Godly. God has not run our country for the last 8 years and I personally feel like he is gone from alot of things and going away long before that. God has left the building completely along with morals, values, tolerance, compassion, and every other imaginable virtue that could possibly create an understanding that we all have the right to believe or not in any higher power.

    My predictions for the future:

    Christians will be all but extinct in the near future. We will be living like the people in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

  152. 152 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 18:56

    @ Anthony

    In logic you prove the existance of something, not the non existance. Say if I asked you to prove unicorns dont’ exist… Or I ask you to prove that mermaids don’t exist.

    Mermaids don’t exist because I cannot prove they exist is not very scientific?

    The first premise about God is he is all powerful, yet can God create a stone he cannot lift?

    Where has God been hanging out all these years, and say if “jesus” came today rather than 2000 years ago, do you think he would be taken seriously or locked up in a mental institution?

  153. 153 Ed in Portland
    October 15, 2008 at 18:57

    Very interesting program. Having been raised as a Christian, my personal belief is that a good part of the problem stems from the so-called “Great Commission” which we are all raised believing. “Go out to all the world and spread the gospel”. If Christians did not proseletize so much there would be better relations with other religions. Thank you.

  154. 154 Mick in UK
    October 15, 2008 at 18:58

    Religion should come with a warning on the tin. Open with respect – you could become selfish and deny others if you think that God is yours.

  155. October 15, 2008 at 18:58

    Jesus was from the East…not the West. It is a huge falacy to say that Christianity is only a Western Religion.

  156. 156 Jessica in NYC
    October 15, 2008 at 19:00

    @ Steve [You’re funny today. Where have you been hiding?]

    “I would not want to be a non muslim in a muslim majority country.

    I would not want to be a religious minority in any country. Christian in the US were not very friendly to anyone thought to be Arabs after 9/11. I remember in south, many Muslim Mosque (that had none Arab members) were attacked along with business owned by South Asians (who were not Muslim or Arab). A Bangladeshi friend of mine has “— Arab” spray painted on his car. A British Indian friend was beaten coming out of a grocery store and call “— Muslim”.

    In general, I think religious fantastics are intolerant of most things different from them and digs a very deep hole for ignorance to dwell.

  157. 157 Gabriela Fiscu
    October 15, 2008 at 19:00

    Thank you for having this show – it is very interesting to hear the perspectives and experinence of people all over the world.
    In the western world, it’s a different story, for “CHRISTIAN”
    persecution in the west is not happening – so it can not be compared with the cases in other parts of the world.

  158. 158 Jonelle in Los Angeles
    October 15, 2008 at 19:01

    Why is it so difficult for people to just respect that others have different views, beliefs and different ways of doing things? We should embrace our differences and learn from each other.

  159. 159 David in USA
    October 15, 2008 at 19:02

    I’m not sure where the sense of persecution comes from in this woman from Georgia. The America I live in is over 75% Christian. Perhaps a sense of persecution is inherent in religion.

  160. 160 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:03

    @ Jessica

    There were a handful of attacks like you describe, they were not common at all, while there are anti minority attacks much more common in places like Pakistan. Synogogues would get blown up in Turkey, and in Tunisia. There in India has been a history of violence between the muslim and hindu communities, they periodically get into street fights and hack each other to death. What happens in the US is incredibly rare, and peanuts compared to what happense elsewhere in the world.

  161. 161 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:04

    @ Todd

    People don’t care where Jesus is from. People look for reasons to dislike other people.

  162. 162 b
    October 15, 2008 at 19:04

    Jonelle, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  163. 163 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 19:06

    @ steve

    Logic? You mean like when Darwin thought that giraffes necks were long because they would strech them to eat, and then the offspring would have long necks because of this? Like when scientists said that the atom was the smallest thing, yet then years later they discovered the pieces of the atom? Using your logic doesn’t mean its right, and we can look at history at all the retractions.

    Mermaids as we know don’t exist because the upper half of the creature wouldnt be able to survive under water.

    There have been “freaks” of nature that look like unicorns which was where the storys probably came from.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  164. October 15, 2008 at 19:07

    Steve, as usual you are informing me of my intentions and motives from across cyberspace. That’s faith in the unknown for you!

    What in anything I have ever said, would lead you to suggest that I am “expecting you to believe what I believe?” I expect no such thing. I’d like to expect some civility, but I’ve learned not to. I am not interested in proving it to you. Because you are not interested in listening. When you can let go of the notion and the surety that I have nothing to offer, that you might have something to learn from me (as I concede about you), someone who believes differently from you, it’s not worth it. Besides, Roebert gave you a nice list of historical records.

    Please refrain from informing me via assumption what I believe, how, why, and so on. I am doing my best NOT to assume that you are experiencing a violent personal reaction against some damaging childhood religious experience.

    If you should ever decide you’d like to understand why someone like myself believes what I do, and have a civil discussion about it, I’m happy to do so. But what you do here will not benefit either of us.

  165. 165 Kenny In Florida
    October 15, 2008 at 19:07

    I believe when we discuss politics on this programme we often hear the saying, this is a matter of who has the bigger hoo-has. Well, when it comes to religion, it works quite the same way.

  166. 166 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:08

    @ Anthony

    If you think mermaids don’t exist because the upper half wouldn’t be able to survive under water, how can God exist with out any body whatsoever?

    Okay, so if you really really wish something were true, then it has to be true, right? I really think my bank account has $5,000,000 in it, you can’t prove it wrong!

    Because you desperately want something doesn’t mean it’s real. Sorry.

    Santa Claus doesn’t exist either, or maybe he does because I can’t disprove he exists? There’s a lot more “proof” of Santa if you ask me.

  167. 167 Nadine
    October 15, 2008 at 19:09

    It is very sad to see how many people are full of agression against others, each is believing he or she is the lucky one holding the only truth. None of us has any merit for the religion he or she is defending so hard as the only holey truth. However it is certainly comforting for many people to inherit a faith, so they dont have to shop around for one. But calm down, because any religion or belief is finally what you make out of it. We should all preech for tolerance and peace among each other. With tolerance and acceptance of differences we would certainly hope for mutual respect and appreciation for the others. There was so much blood across history because of fanatism (not one religion was spared), let us try to learn and let our attitude speak for our belief and we will eliminate fanatism.

  168. 168 janek
    October 15, 2008 at 19:11

    The religious impulse arises from the fact we are symbol-using meaning-seeking animals that needs to imagine ourselves more powerful and less vulnerable than we actually are.

    We get our self esteem, worth and security through group approval by adopting prevailing values that inspire this confidence.

    The dangerous and evil result is that unconscious acts of aggression are acted out when the symbols are threatened by other mutually exclusive symbols or just taken away from us (Suicide at loss of a job) You can help another by affirming Christ’s love, and their acceptance. You can also lead healthy and happy life within its own Christian, Muslim, Gardening subculture. However the problem is teaching of absolutism. In an increasingly “globalized” world whose cultural boundaries are blurring, intolerant teachers set up invariant believers to judge, distrust or even hate others. The insistence that your way is the only way to peace, self esteem and confidence is ultimately evil because this naturally sets up conflict

    The paradox is, that we absolutely need to develop some “healthy” anxiety displacements to develop self esteem and confidence in growing up. Children need to feel that guardian angel is protecting them from boogey man in the closet. Religion has its place. However, when the displacements become rigidly absolute, people will become very aggressive in defending them. There seems to be a healthy arc of development that involves a increasingly generalized worldview.

    1) Identification with parental heros and development of self esteem by their early unconditional love and then getting their approval from successful negotiation of the social rules they present.

    2) Differentiation from the parents by successfully negotiating cultural rules or societal expectations – Tolle’s “world of form”

    3) Getting a sense of approval and belonginess from subcultures that are relatively more aligned to broader accepted cultural values. Choosing heros, beliefs, activities and groups that allow some sense of security, direction, personal expression and sense of worth and significance.

    4) Realization that they are many ways beyond form in which can get a sense of approval, belonginess, direction and that your way is not absolute. Finally separating imaginery status symbols from the actual biological requirements of healthy and happy social life.

  169. 169 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:11

    @ Keith

    Because i don’t agree with you, and because you can’t provide a shred of evidence that God exists, then the discussion is ended. What a good way to win an argument!

    I’m right and everyone else is wrong, even though I can’t prove it!

    At least I have the courage to admit I don’t know why life exists, why we’re here, but you’ve just got all the answers there in that book. How convenient!

    I’m curious, what was the purpose for god creating the earth, and life, if one day the sun is going to engulf the earth and the electromagenetic field will stop one day, making the planet uninhabitable? What good is having an earth with no life on it ? Nobody to worsthip this deity that apparently has no self esteem and needs to be worshipped.

    Why does “God” have the traits of someone who has no self esteem?

  170. October 15, 2008 at 19:12

    Religion should come with a warning on the tin. Open with respect – you could become selfish and deny others if you think that God is yours. Regards, Mick McNeill

  171. 171 Elizabeth
    October 15, 2008 at 19:13

    It seems that this conversation has descended into a debate about whether or not Christians are right or wrong about the divinity of Christ and the veracity of the Bible. That is not really the point because we ought to be able to have the exact same conversation about Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, or atheism. The point is whether or not we are persecuted (in some countries, yes, but certainly not in the United States, honestly, anyone who thinks so has no idea what persecution is- having people question your beliefs and disagree with you is not persecution!) and what we ought to do about it (Christ said, rejoice! Share in His suffering! Certainly not to physically or socially move against it in any way- Christ did not himself, why should we?).

    As a Christian I am appalled at the Christian reaction on this blog. and on the show and I am ashamed Christian soldiers are fighting demons, not Muslims; we fight hatred, not starving thirteen-year-old brainwashed Pashtun children or some “media” force. (How ironic that the Christian blogger on the show was railing against the liberal media in a country where we have so many views and such a diversity of media to choose from!)

    I do take issue with the accusation that all Christian missionaries are liars and tricksters and colonialists. Are some? Yes. Were some? Yes. Are they all? No. Does this justify killing all or any Christian? Certainly not! I’m not going to shoot every door-to-door salesman just because one stole my identity or sold me a bad vacuum cleaner. This is a red herring. Just like terrorism among anarchists does not justify the persecution of anarchists; atrocities by Nazis do not justify the killing of modern-day Germans; theft by poor people does not justify the wide-scale oppression of the poor, the acts of a few Christians does not ever justify persecution of Christians of a group, and it has NOTHING to do with the discussion.

  172. October 15, 2008 at 19:15

    @ Jennifer

    thanks for providing another voice of reason. Often on this blog I attempt discussions but have either Christians who drop in for one comment and say random things professing their faith, and then attack dog atheists who have zero interest or ability in exchanging ideas (as opposed to swinging them with abandon).

    Unfortunately, I share your prediction of the future. However, I think this humbling on a massive scale is a prerequisite for any positive development in our culture. Maybe we’ll live like Mad Max and start all over and figure out how to build a society from scratch. Who knows. I just know the money-changers who inflated the worth of all the pretend monopoly money will be cleaning the latrines in my camp.

    peace,

    Keith

  173. 173 John Atem
    October 15, 2008 at 19:15

    I think the worl should copy my country`s example.In Cameroon muslims, christians and all other minority religions live in perfect harmony.In some cases Muslims even celebrate christmas with thier christian friends and christians to do celebrate the end of the ramadan with the muslims.Celebrating in this case does not mean believe in christmas or ramadan.If the world could emulate our example there would be no need for christians or believers in any other religion (no religion) to defend themselves.

  174. 174 James from Kenya
    October 15, 2008 at 19:15

    I am glad you said islam is treated with kid gloves. The thing is Christian doctrine is not violent like say Islam, we love those who hate us, many Xtians even on the Bible were persecuted its not sthing new.But as a Christian if someone comes with a dagger to kill me for my faith i will fight or run.Christianity is mocked by stars like madonna we dont kill her for it we desire she knows Christ.Good discussion

  175. 175 Anthony
    October 15, 2008 at 19:16

    @ steve

    Santa did exist. His dream, which has been altered through time, has continued.

    I can’t, but one WOULD be able to prove that you don’t have 5,000,000 in it, you would.

    I don’t desperatly wish God exists. It would be easier if I didn’t have the beliefs I have. Although I have my “own religion”, I like this verse of a song “Heavens a journy, but hell is just around the mutha fu@#ing way!” by a rap duo called “Twiztid”.

    And everyone knows the world was created a billion years ago when a Large Hadron Collider went wrong!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  176. 176 AH in Portland
    October 15, 2008 at 19:16

    One of your speakers made the statement that “people of all religions, christians, muslims, even atheists, believe in something, and that we should all be tolerant of each other.”

    I am atheist. The only thing I believe in is science. Science is not religion.
    I will tolerate your nonsense when you stop using the fruits of my belief system.

    This means, you need to stop using your:
    car, refrigerator, computer, cellphone, dvd player, microwave, hair dryer, oven, washer, dryer, satellites, all processed foods, television – just about everything modern society depends on.

    None of those things are in the bible or the koran. If you truly believe as you say, you shouldn’t use any of them – because they strictly come from MY belief system. That belief system is called science.

    All religious people who use the fruits of science are hypocrites who don’t really believe in anything. If you believe as you say, try throwing away your car keys. Then we’ll see how far your belief system really gets you.
    Science works. Religion is nonsense.

  177. 177 Elizabeth
    October 15, 2008 at 19:17

    My last post had a full-stop moved, and should read:

    “As a Christian I am appalled at the Christian reaction on this blog and on the show and I am ashamed. Christian soldiers…”

  178. 178 Scott (M)
    October 15, 2008 at 19:18

    Christians, Muslims, Jews, and the rest, should all be attacked with words. What is shocking—how little they are challenged, how little they are attacked!

    Christians should expect attacks, their own book says they will be.

    Religion is the biggest scam against humanity in its history; its practitioners are guilty of fraud and stupidity. They should not go unpunished.

  179. 179 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:20

    @ Anthony

    You’re telling me there was some fat man who dressed up in red and white and had flying reindeers and lived at the north pole and would deliver presents to ever christian boy and girl and skip our the houses of jews and muslims and hindus, etc?

    Yeah, I forgot, the world is 5760 years old. I’ll just have to ignore fossils, dinosaurs, etc.

  180. 180 Tom D Ford
    October 15, 2008 at 19:20

    Of the many versions of Christianity two that are at odds here are the “Jesus” Christians who believe and follow his teachings as in the New Testament and the opposing right-wing Christians who reject Jesus and his teachings as “too feminized” and believe in warring against non-believers, essentially they are Old Testament Christians.

  181. October 15, 2008 at 19:20

    Steve,

    I absolutely am not suggesting that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. I’m saying I’m not interested in parsing specifics with you when you don’t respect me. It’s a waste of time. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is a “winnable” argument anyway. I see it as a discussion, a conversation. My choosing to save my breath is not in any way my way of suggesting I’m better and I win. That is preposterous.

    Once again, you have informed me of my own beliefs, where i get my answers (that little book), etc. I by no means believe that all the answers are there. See what’s happening here? Why would I have a protracted debate where I spend half of my energy saying, “Sorry, you have me confused with someone else, I in fact don’t think or believe that.” because you presume to know already what I think or believe.

    I can openly and easily admit that I have all kinds of doubt, all manner of questions about all the big things you are presenting. I don’t proffess to have a monopoly on why we exist, why we’re here. I’m still asking the questions too. Again, how do you know me so well that you assume otherwise?

  182. 182 Jessica in NYC
    October 15, 2008 at 19:21

    @ Steve

    RE: low self esteem of the caller

    “….She said she worries about defending her faith and her kids defending their faith in the future? That’s like seeking out approval. Who cares if others don’t agree with you? … If people don’t agree with you? Who cares?”

    This is why I can sit and “chat” with fantastics of any religion and republicans all day long, everyday. I don’t mind when people disagree with me it’s when they “believe” what they do because their “religion” says so or “because” their parents thought that. I believe that is the fundamental callus of ignorance.

  183. 183 Strong Religion
    October 15, 2008 at 19:22

    ________Alan in Arizona October 15, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I can’t really imagine that the Hindu’s are so weak as to give up their religion for another! Neither of them would force the other to change.
    There must be some other reason for them to change, but they are to embarrassed to admit it!
    _________

    I would say, Christians have a weak religion + less people believe in it thats why they are trying to convert people as Christians.

    Its not only in India, I am a Korean in USA and every day at my bus stop, some or other Christians will come to give bible and pursue to convert me

    Thats itself tells who has weak religion and but embarrassed to admit it!

  184. 184 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 19:23

    @ Steve,
    I will have to agree with you in on that point. The geology is most painful to get past. I need coffee!! However, the last time I read the Bible cover to cover, I took a pen and paper to track it all. I changed my mind set to find out what God was trying to get at. As a reader I am not always perfect in understanding. Sometime is just takes mind set change. I know that this statement will not change our mind.

  185. 185 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:23

    @ Keith

    When have I ever said I don’t respect you? I asked you to prove that God and Jesus exist. You interpret that as disrespect?

  186. October 15, 2008 at 19:24

    No Steve, the Santa myth grew from a true story about a man indeed named Nicholas who was known for secret generosity.

  187. 187 Vandita
    October 15, 2008 at 19:25

    I think Indian religion is so strong that we need not convert people to Hindus.

    Embarrassment towards religion can be well judged by the act of followers. If Christianity is so strong WHY TO LURE n FORCE people to become Christians?

  188. 188 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:27

    Question to all that believe in God:

    Please answer the question. Since you believe in God, you must believe in an afterlife. Why would you fear death and mourn the death of others?

    Why is there such a huge pharmaceutical industry? Why do people freak out when they get a diagnosis from a doctor? Could it be because despite how religious they claim they are, they really don’t believe? If you truly believed, you wouldn’t seek medical treatment, you would be happy when loved ones died, because they are in a “better” place. But deep down, you know it’s just a fantasy that you desperately want to believe, but know you can’t.

  189. 189 Remesh
    October 15, 2008 at 19:28

    This is pure politics and exploitation in play. And from the Hindu Right in India, to the fundamentalist regimes of Islam, to the Zionists, to the Pope and the Church – everyone’s a player.

    For starters, those who claim to represent Hinduism (the Hindu fundamentalists) have got their fundamentals wrong. By it’s scriptures, this is not a religion of exclusion. There is no concept of apostasy. No call to go out there and convert the masses. It is not that meant to be that kind of belief system. So if a malnourished poor Hindu wants to convert to Christianity – let him! If Christian missions offer education, alleviation from poverty, whatever carrots are dangled before the poor – they have every right to convert. The HIndu Right movement is a dangerous political entity that incites hatred and violence amongst the poor, uneducated, brainwashed minority. Oh wait a minute – that applies to ALL religions. And they’re almost always acting out of insecurity and for very self-serving reasons.

    On the other hand this evangelical zeal can also be quite offensive. This need to go out and “save souls.” The belief that “non-believers” are damned. That is the problem with the “my way or the highway” religions of the Book. A built-in sense of exclusivity.

    The Eastern religions do not have in their scriptures specific words to describe non-believers. No one was excluded. But today, in the hands of the politicized or fundamentalists, that notion is shot to hell.

    Also Gwen from the US who said on the air that only Christianity gets mocked in the media is quite wrong. Eastern religions are mocked all the time – in advertising, in entertainment – for goodness sake, there’s a club called the Buddha Bar in Europe. And clubs in the US that use Hindu deities as decor! But no death warrants are issued. No major protests. Nothing. Until now. So I think people of ALL religions need to get tougher and less hypersensitive.

    The bottom-line is this: religion is failing humanity. Perhaps devotees of various doctrines should focus on the very many similar facets of different religions. This will help them go beyond “tolerance” – a word brimful of the prospect of “snapping.”

    I subscribe to a slogan I saw on a humble t-shirt – beneath a row of emblems representing various world religions was the text, “God is too big for any one religion.”

    Peace.

  190. October 15, 2008 at 19:30

    When have I ever said I don’t respect you? I asked you to prove that God and Jesus exist. You interpret that as disrespect?

    You haven’t said so, but I’ve picked up on it mostly because you have never responded to a single thing I have said on the subject of religion with even the remotest admission that we might agree on something, anything. It’s almost beginning to seem statistically unlikely that we would have such polarity in all of our views. When you make a valid point, I try to recognize that. If you raise a question I can’t answer, I admit it. If you had respect of the intellect of an “opponent” as you prefer to frame these discussions, you could at least examine my points and thoughtfully observe when they do make sense. It SEEMS to me, and yes I admit it is subjective, that as soon as you know someone is religious you paint a big red “LOSER” sign on their forehead and proceed to fire up your ready ammunition without a moment’s pause to listen and understand. This is why I suggest that you do not respect me. You do not converse with me in such a way that conveys any respect.

  191. 191 b
    October 15, 2008 at 19:31

    Stop fighting like spoiled little children. you are ALL right. Does that make you feel better?

    I love how all of these posts begin with psuedo open-minded statements, and then spiral into one-sided I AM RIGT AND YOU ARE WRONG arguements. I think now we see where the viloence in India, Iran, Egypt discussed here stems from, and that we shouldn’t hold our breath for it to end any time soon. And THAT is the only important piece of the discussion.

  192. 192 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:31

    @ Keith

    There are plenty of peple in the Hispanic community named Jesus, that doesn’t mean tha tJesus of Nazareth, the son of God, existed.

    So there was a generous man name nicholas, that doesn’t mean there’s some fat guy who has flying reindeer and lives in the north pole and gives out gifts. Perhaps the “truth” about jesus is that he wasn’t as powerful in real life, like the nicholas you describe?

  193. 193 Tom D Ford
    October 15, 2008 at 19:33

    As to whether any “Jesus” existed and taught, I suspect that he was a charismatic prophet type and was “God-ized” by persons who understood that they could benefit from being his interpreters. Governments have always used religion to manipulate and oppress people, the Pharoahs being a fine example.

    Joseph Campbell studied such things and found that the “death and resurrection” theme was well known before the Jesus story came along. And the “virgin birth” concept as well. Those are metaphors and not to be taken literally.

    I recommend Joseph Campbell: “The Power of Myth” in either book or DVD if you are interested in your own religion whatever you believe in or even for Anti-Theists who want to understand religion and why some people believe what they do.

    Karen Armstrong is very good, Elaine Pagels, and others I don’t bring to mind right now.

  194. October 15, 2008 at 19:34

    Steve,

    once again, thanks for informing me of my motive for belief. To answer your question directly:

    1. I don’t fear death. Life is wonderful, but death can come any moment and I’m completely cool with that.

    2. We mourn the death of others because we are humans living in human time, and we will miss their presence with us, despite any of our various views about a better place or about reuniting with them. We derive joy from being with them, the removal of this joy for whatever period of time is pain. Therefore we grieve. Your question is almost as esoteric as asking someone to scientifically quantify why they love someone. As a hardcore empiricist, you may believe this too is a valid question. I don’t think it is fundamentally an answerable one.

  195. October 15, 2008 at 19:35

    But wait Steve, now you’re saying Jesus of Nazareth did or might have existed, but maybe just wasn’t as powerful?

    Sure, that’s possible.

  196. 196 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:37

    @ Keith

    So I take it you don’t use any form of medication or see the doctor right? Why would you do that if you don’t fear death? I take it you have no fear of heights as well?

    If you truly believed in God, and believed in an afterlife, you wouldn’t have the need to mourn. The reason you mourn is becuase you know they are dead and gone, and will never think, breath, or live again..

    Please, tell us how heaven works. Say if I want to spend eternity with some woman that hates my guts? How does that work out? Is heaven segregated? There are some people that dislike other races. Are there whites only areas there? Black only areas?

    Say if God decides to change his mind again, and everyone who doesn’t believe in the new change goes to hell? Do the people already in heaven stay there or do they go to hell?

  197. 197 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:38

    @ Keith

    If there was a Jesus, which I highly doubt, he was a normal human being. No divine father, just a normal person who made some pretty huge claims that would have landed him institutionalized had he done it today.

  198. 198 L Jackman, Gdansk
    October 15, 2008 at 19:39

    I must admit, as an atheist I don’t care much for people trying to push their religion on me. There again, if I absolutely believed that I held the way to eternal bliss and salvation whilst those around me would burn in hell-well, I guess I would be generous enough to try and let people know about the error of their ways. I don’t think the hard selling of a religion particularly says much for the strength of a religion in an area but there again extremism could be viewed as a reaction to a threat, perceived or otherwise.

  199. 199 Tom D Ford
    October 15, 2008 at 19:43

    To paraphrase Clausewitz:

    “Religion is politics by another means”.

    The original from Clausewitz was:

    “War is politics by another means”

  200. 200 amol
    October 15, 2008 at 19:43

    christianity is a way of life.i am a christian,have read the entire bible more than 5 times,i am a youth,so i know it.its not about being tough.jesus himself says that the people who believe in him will be persecuted and the people killing them will think they are doing the greatest service ever known,but vengeance is not anyone else’s but his(god’s).its not a set of rules to be followed,its not a complex enigma.its you and god.the bible has not been disproved till date,no matter how intelligent the disproving is.in fact the majority of the 2nd part of the bible has been written by someone who hated christians and killed them( paul).if the world really wants to have a say in this matter,its not possible as long as they dont understand true christianity because to be like christ is to be a christian.to quote from the bible-“god is love”.to answer someone comment-there is a verse in the bible that says that god was disgusted with practices of primitive cultures such as child sacrifice.so why not let your reason be cleared by what the bible has to say about it.let the book have its say.i am sure if you allow that then the book has already won.goodbye for now
    and
    “grace be to you and peace from our lord jesus christ”

  201. 201 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 19:47

    @ Steve,
    I can not answer for all but here I go.
    1. I do not fear death. I fear the process of pain that goes along with death. Most people do not want to feel pain. Even you can agree you do not like pain!

    2. I mourn for two reasons. I mourn for people who do not know God and I will not see in heaven, For those that believe in God and heaven I mourn because I have a loss at the present time.

    3. The huge pharmaceutical industry makes drugs to help ease pain and suffering her on earth. If I have a broken bone I want pain killing drugs. No drug will save a life if it is not Gods will.

    4. People freak out because of the pain that comes with some diagnosis from a doctor. They may also freak out because they have more work as parents and to help their family. They know that a long, expensive illness will cost a lot of money.

    5. As far as seeking medical treatment, there has been medical doctors in history even in Jesus day. Luke, one to the writers of the Bible, was a doctor.

    Sure, heaven is a better place then earth, but I have a mission from God to go out into all the world to preach and teach His word.

  202. October 15, 2008 at 19:47

    Steve, I said I don’t fear death, I didn’t say I want to die. I don’t fear work each day, but it doesn’t mean I look forward to it, or show up an hour early. I have a family and to be irresponsible with my health would hurt them in this life. But, truth be told, I have a reckless streak that if I were single without people that care about me, I’d probably be a skydiving, thrill-seeking fool. That doesn’t prove anything, I’m just trying to explain my attitude toward’s death.

    I don’t have the faintest clue about heaven. I believe it will be good. I’m not concerned with heaven. I am concerned with today, with how I live and what I do today. Sure there is all kinds of uncertainty beyond the grave and that adds to the unsettling and harsh nature of losing a loved one.

    You said,
    “The reason you mourn is becuase you know they are dead and gone, and will never think, breath, or live again..”

    Again, please don’t tell me what or why I feel, think, or behave. I answered your question as to why I mourn the dead. You responded by informing me of why I REALLY mourn the dead. What kind of conversation is that?

    No matter how many stabs in the dark you make, you are not going nail my beliefs to the wall without knowing me. I’m not an automaton that fits into some categories you have sussed out.

    again, what you say about Jesus could be true. I allow that.

  203. 203 Lauren
    October 15, 2008 at 19:48

    Steve

    How does wanting to stay healthy and live discredit a persons belief in an afterlife? Does that mean a person who accepts their death without a fight credits the afterlife argument?

    I would also like for you to stop generalizing peoples feelings. If you mourn someone because you think there is no afterlife and that their just gone that’s your business. I mourn the people I’ve lost because I miss them– even if they’re in a better place, I still miss them and mourn my loss.

  204. 204 Psydney
    October 15, 2008 at 19:48

    I have been receiving e-mails from friends in northern India detailing, day by day, the violence against Christians and asking for letters to officials and prayers for the sufferers. There cannot be any “forced conversions” in a country which is overwhelmingly Hindu. Forced conversions took place when Christianity was the majority or invading (as in Spanish in Mexico and Peru). Christianity is a missionary religion. And what is wrong with feeding the poor? Clothing the naked? Educating the ignorant? The persecutions consist of burning churches and homes, physically beating, and sometimes killing and mutilating, and raping nuns. Excusable? I think not. My missionary friends are not Westerners, they are Indians.

  205. 205 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:52

    @ Keith and Lauren

    If you personally believed in God, if I were convinced of God, then I would be convinced of an afterlife, so I would have absolutely no fear of death. I can’t see how people who believe in God, and an afterlife, could possibly fear death. The only thing to fear about death is nothingness, which is also an irrational fear, because you have nothing to fear of nothingness, becuase it would be that, nothing.

    I can’t think of why people who think there’s a heaven could fear death. I guess maybe you’ll miss things? Say you like ramen noodles, you might miss them? Where that to me is irrational, becuase I know I’m dead and gone, and in nothingness, you can’t miss anything.

  206. 206 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 19:56

    @ Thea

    I’ve never understood this, why does it matter how much pain you have or how long it takes to die if the end result is you’re still dead? You can’t takt the pain and duration with you. It doesn’t matter how you die, you’re still dead at the end. If anything, the pain and suffereing would probably make one look forward to dying, whereas a person who realized they would be dead very quickly would be upset and resentful and angry, whereas the slow, painful dying person looks forward to dying.

  207. 207 Dan
    October 15, 2008 at 19:57

    @Steve
    “There are plenty of peple in the Hispanic community named Jesus, that doesn’t mean that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God, existed.”

    There are plenty of Muslims named Muhammad. Maybe he never existed either. Hey….maybe you are on to something.

  208. 208 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 19:58

    @ Steve
    A question for you. Do you fear death? Do you go see a doctor? Do you use any drugs from the doctor? If you don’t fear death explain to us Christians way you do what you do to stop pain, or fear of death. We may have the same answers.

    It is not a question of if we believe it is a question of our motives for life. As I stated, I do not fear death. I would love for Jesus to come back and take His church back. I am ready! But there is more work for us Christians to do and we have to get to work.

  209. 209 roebert
    October 15, 2008 at 20:00

    Jens, you have mentioned some of the appalling aspects of Christian history, and there are others even more appalling than those you have enumerated. Nothing of this can be excused. But why not also mention the works of the Christian saints, the relief of poverty, the preservation and dissemination of education, the Benedictine reform of medieval agricultural methods, the Christian contribution to the arts, to democracy, to the judiciary, and, in short, to most of the factors that make up our civilization? Why not mention the great Christian humanists: Ficino, Erasmus, Thomas More, and a host of others, who rediscovered the classical learning, and led humankind forward through the renaissance and to the enlightenment? All the horrors of religion, like the horrors of anti-religion, are caused by fundamentalism. Religion and fundamentalism are not the same thing at all. And this; why do you maintain that the holocaust was brought about by religion? Don’t you know that it was actually envisaged as the outcome of a pseudo-scientific (fundamentalist) vision that was based on a theory of racial purity and superiority misguidedly based on Darwinism?

    Keith: I admire your tenacity, and hope that you won’t be driven from the blog by the sheer weight of anti-religion that predominates here. As a Buddhist, I am not a believer in deity, but I see no reason why such belief should be thought any more incredible than the idea of a universe coming into existence ex nihilo, which atheists are quite happy to reconcile to their system of logic.

  210. 210 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 20:01

    @ Thea

    Yes, I fear death. I go to see a doctor, I use drugs if necessary, becuase there are things in life I enjoy doing and want to do them for as long as possible, and I will not be able to do so when I’m dead. I don’t know how many of you have been in total cardiac arrest before, but I have. There is NOTHING going on you are gone. Like in surgery. You dont’ exist until you get resucitated. You cease to be sentient. I hate to be the messenger of bad news, but there’s no afterlife, so it’s just nothingness. Now the real question is whether fearing nothingness is a rational fear.

  211. 211 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 20:02

    @ Keith

    You are welcome. I think this blog is very representative of the sentiments express in the real world. It shows that there are definitely preconceived ideas regarding Christians. Religion is only as positive or negative as the person who interprets it and makes it a part of their life. Sure, some religious people do bad things buts so do some atheists. To say that all of anything is one way is inaccurate because it leaves no room for persons to be unique. There is no discussion or respect for differences; it’s all about pre-judgment.

    Living like Mad Max doesn’t really appeal to me but it might have a silver lining. We will have to see how it all shakes out! It could definitely be positive.

    Peace 😀
    —————-
    “People don’t care where Jesus is from. People look for reasons to dislike other people.”

    Yes, and if you happen to be religious you are at the top of those people’s list for that very reason.

  212. October 15, 2008 at 20:05

    Steve, you just asked if I fear death and I said no. You attacked this answer as implausible and I clarified. Then you respond saying how could I fear death if, etc…? I just said I don’t fear death….you are continuing to prove my point that you are much less interested in listening to anyone else than you are throwing out “gotcha” lines. Why?

    I’m also trying to make it clear to you that while I have a belief and a practice in life that is based on this, I allow room for doubt, uncertainty and questions. I am not a biblical literalist, I am not a blind follower, I am not “convinced” of everything. I don’t expect that to make sense to you, but I would ask for a little more civility in tone.

  213. 213 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 20:07

    @ Steve,
    Well, let see if I can take a new line here.
    Pain again is a part of death in some cases but not all. My mom had a very painful death. It is was very hard for those around her to see. If I had my way I would die at all. I have a hope that Jesus will come for His church before that. However, if my death will bring Glory to God I will take what ever he give me. I pray pain will not be a part of it but if that is his will.

  214. 214 L Jackman, Gdansk
    October 15, 2008 at 20:09

    I don’t believe in God or an afterlife and the thought of death doesn’t particularly scare me, though I can’t say 20 years of great pain would be an option I would choose to look forward to death. If death is nothingness then death must be neutral. I like my life and so it is better and a positive. In the same regard, because I like my life and hope that it brings a more generally positive influence to the world, it is in my interest to try and extend it by what I see as necessary trips to the doctor and so on. You don’t have to be scared of death to want to live a little longer than tomorrow.

  215. October 15, 2008 at 20:09

    One other point raised on the broadcast was the issue of “forced” conversions to Christianity in India.

    But a recent study found only three complaints of “forced” conversions over the past 10 years in the state of Gujarat. So the idea that Christians are forcing thousands and thousands of Hindus to change their faith is wrong.

    You can read more here: http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news&idelement=5475&lang=en&length=short&backpage=archives&critere=anti%20conversion&countryname=&rowcur=0

  216. 216 mark in england.
    October 15, 2008 at 20:10

    Nick name garvey says, it is time that the world wake up to the truths of ( ISLAM ) those who (DO NOT) understand the concept of LIGHT, in all religions, or LET THEIR BE LIGHT, as spoken by (GOD) THEY totally miss the point of THRUTH, ONE must know first of all that (DARKNESS EQUALS IGNORANCE OR LACK OF UNDERSTANDING, OR TOTAL WORSHIP OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEINGS EGO, OPINIONS, FATWAS, FOR EXAMPLE, BIN LADEN WHICH REPRESENTS AL-QAEDA, HAMAS LEADERS, HEZBOLLAH LEADERS, IRANIA0N LEADERS, TO NAME BUT A-FEW, WHICH ALL, REPRESENTS A RELEGION OF CHANGE BY BLOODSHED, WITH-OUT A DOUBT. ONE SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE TRUTH FOR ONES’ SELF. LISTEN CHANGE BY BLOOD-SHED IS NOT THE WAY, THEIR IS NO SUCH THING AS A SUICIDE BOMBER BECOMING A MARTYR, IT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST LIES EVER-TOLD BY THE WORKERS OF SHATAN TO MUSLIM’S CHANGE BY PEACEFUL MEANS IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD FOR THE HUMAN RACE, ALL TERRORIST WILL BE LEFT BEHIND BY ( ALL THAT IS GOD) UNDERSTAND. THAT IS THE TRUE TEACHING OF ALL THAT IS GOD.

  217. October 15, 2008 at 20:12

    Well, I’ve got to get some work done, but as always Steve the invitation for further discussion is open. my email address is saintnarcissus@gmail.com

    -Keith

  218. 218 Tom D Ford
    October 15, 2008 at 20:17

    Missionaries are attackers, and the people that they are trying to convert have every right to defend themselves.

  219. 219 L Jackman, Gdansk
    October 15, 2008 at 20:18

    Actually one thing I am interested in. Are those commenting here of faith scared by the thought of judgement? Do you seriously believe that, despite your faith, there is a genuine risk of your being judged negatively and not enjoying the fruits of heaven? Not admitting to any guilt about my life or anything like that but a comprehensive investigation into all of my past actions with judgement and an eternal sentence of either bliss or torture would unnerve me a bit.

  220. October 15, 2008 at 20:21

    Tom D Ford – To misuse (yet appropriately) Clausewitz:

    “Religion is politics by another means”.

    The original from Clausewitz was:

    “War is politics by another means”.

    Though a Christian – I fear that you are right. I enjoy the principles of the Christian DOCTRINE and always have done, yet many among us think that we are the custodians of truth and that unfortunately flies in the face of the core story of Christ who was a servant and not a ruler of men, a peace offerer and not DEFENDER, principally. (I suggest that was more for the book that wasn’t written post-messiah). In essence we (whoever) should let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. (Even in the face of human hate).

    I am of the feeling that power and might by whatever means are part of human design which has some origins in the base fears of death (kill or be killed) (similar to the attitudes expressed and shown by pre-emptive Israel, among others). We all seem to fall under the spell of power seeking at sometime, I reckon – yet I believe the meaning of life can be answered in one word – generosity.

    Good luck to you and may the power of personal peace be with you and yours, matey.

    Best wishes,

    Mick

  221. 221 selena in Canada
    October 15, 2008 at 20:24

    I am not a believer in deity, but I see no reason why such belief should be thought any more incredible than the idea of a universe coming into existence ex nihilo, which atheists are quite happy to reconcile to their system of logic.

    I am neither a believer nor a non believer for the reason you state above. It is all too incredible for me to formulate a position for which I could reasonably argue.

    Listening to the people who argue forcibly for positions which can only be proved by faith, whether is is faith in God or faith in science, leaves me speechless and in awe.

    My ego is very big yet I could never bring myself to believe that my answers for how the universe came into being are true enough to fight others over it.

  222. October 15, 2008 at 20:28

    I agree Selena,

    It is for that reason that I try very hard to simply pose questions and have dialogue on here, but I too am amazed at the surety that some have in light of the massive mysteries that surround us at a cellular/atomic level and at a cosmic level. thank for your artfully stated agnosticism :).

    I said I was signing off for now. now I really am!

  223. 223 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 20:42

    @ L. Jackman

    Someone would have to do some pretty bad things to be scared of judgment. There are things I have done I am not proud of. I don’t think God expects people to be perfect.

    I am not scared of the process of dying (pain it might involve) or the fact that my life will be over. I am scared of loosing those close to me by my death or theirs. It is a solace to believe that there is an afterlife and that people who pass away will go there. However, when you grieve for someone’s life, you miss them in your everyday routine so it’s of little consequence. It’s not until later in the grief process that you can be alright with the fact that someone is no longer there with you physically. Then, it is that belief in the religion and the afterlife that helps you feel connected to that person spiritually even though they are not there with you anymore.

  224. 224 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 20:43

    Hi L Jackman,
    You have some good questions. I hope I make my points here because you have stated questions asked my all Christan at one time or another.
    My faith is on the gift that God gave us. Man is separated from God by sin. No works or good deeds will get you their. You an be the best person in the world and still not go to heaven. It is only though the grace of God. That grace come from the shed blood of Jesus. Jesus (God as a person) paid the price for my and your sin so we can been seen sinless. This is not to say I will not sin again. I have sinned, and will sin. I am human and have the old nature which at time has more influence on me than I would like. When I sin I can go and repent from my sin. Repent is not only asking for forgiveness but a turning away from the sin. If I do that I restore my relationship with God again.
    You ask if I fear being judgment? No! In the book of Revolution we are told that believers will be written the the Book Of Life and our sins are no longer seen by God. The Judgment you ask about is the judgment of the non-believers. No true believer will be judged in that way.
    The question you may be thinking about is what about the people who say they are Christians and do bad thing. Well one of three things are going on.
    1. They have backslidden and will eventually repent.
    2. They have not seen their sin yet and will repent when God reveals the sin to them.
    3. They are not truly believers.

  225. October 15, 2008 at 20:46

    Anyone who listened to this…

    The Oldest Bible
    6 October 2008
    Monday 6 October 2008 11:00-11:30 (Radio 4 FM)

    ‘Roger Bolton tells the story of the Codex Sinaiticus bible, found in 1844 in a monastery in the Sinai Desert and then split between Egypt, Russia, Switzerland and the British Library. It is soon to be digitised for world-wide viewing, and poses a significant challenge to the Bible as we know it.’

    … would have enjoyed a real treat. Very informative and offered a big chunk of realism for the thinking Christian. I thought the programme was great and I would appeal to the BBC to permanently place it within their educational online audio archive. I predict that this subject will become a central debate for Christians within a few months.

    Best wishes,

    Mick McNeill – Vienna.

  226. 226 roebert
    October 15, 2008 at 20:48

    Selena: I agree that the agnostic position is safest, but it also means being content with a question mark where some sort of answer might be found. I have my own answer, which I find in the Buddhist Dharma, but I insist that this answer is mine and mine alone. I can’t force it onto others, and I would not be inclined to discuss it with others unless asked to do so. The last thing I’d want to do is fight over it. Fighting and gasping to uphold a religious-philosophical point of view is actually very, very funny, and the more you think about it the funnier it gets. When it actually happens, though, it is the most stupid and miserable of all tragedies.

  227. 227 Jens
    October 15, 2008 at 20:54

    @ keith,

    what did you not fully understand?

  228. 228 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 20:55

    @ Keith,

    Thanks (above)! Had to run out and have only just returned.

    @ Thea,

    Indeed! (in relation to the point about ‘God’s glory’ above).

    The only challenge is that, in a world gone made with puffed up, self aggrandisement there is never any emphasis of God in what we do, most times – do first and reflect later! That is rather unfortunate and is, perhaps, in part responsible for many of the problems we find ourselves in.

  229. 229 L Jackman, Gdansk
    October 15, 2008 at 21:03

    Thank you for the replies given. I guess that being judged would hold some fear because although I do not practise Christianity or any other religion, I understand that I could be wrong. I maintain that I am an atheist because I do believe that there is not a God and that death brings a rather abrupt end to my being. However, I live a good life (not perfect, mind) and fear that through my belief that I would be subjected to eternal hell or at least purgatory of some form. Whilst understanding the faith in a good God, punishment based upon a belief such as mine or one who grew up in an non-Christian environment would seem unfair. Do you consider the death of a person such as myself to end in heaven? If so, where would be worth in the worshipping of God and Jesus? Surely living by decent moral standards would be sufficient.

  230. 230 Bert
    October 15, 2008 at 21:27

    People in general have a right to defend themselves. Seems to me that religion is used as an excuse to create mayhem, especially by those who are still mired in medieval-era superstitious beliefs.

    Yes, I do belive that western societies nowadays pander to Islam. Makes those who do feel they are being oh-so-virtuously-openminded. It’s time all pandering to all religions stop. Live and let live.

    As to the meaning of the death of Jesus, that’s very complicated. And it depends to some extent on which Christian sect you ask. Those steeped in “salvation theology” believe it was an atonement, to God (I know, it’s difficult), for our own sins. So that does NOT necessarily mean that every Christian must become a martyr. If Christ already died “to atone for our sins,” presumably we don’t need to martyr ourselves again.

    I don’t mean to devlove this into a religious debate. Just to make the point that it’s not correct to state that Christians should die (prematurely) to prove they are Christians.

  231. 231 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 21:33

    @ Jackman,
    The very unfortunate side of your questions is that you will not end up in heaven. I would like to challenge you. If you have a christian church close by you maybe you can go one Sunday just to see. I recommend a smaller church. You may also find the pastor will take some time to answer your questions better then I can. Just try it once. If you want to email me more please let me know. I will give that to you if you are interested.

  232. 232 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 21:45

    @ L. Jackman

    I believe that ultimately it is God who judges so personal opinions are not relevant. However, I personally feel that a person who lived a morally decent life and etc, but never attended church or etc. just lived, they would be better off than someone who refuted God’s existence altogether. Maybe that person would go to purgatory.

    I believe that God would consider everything when making judgments; including if someone grew up in a non-religious environment, if they separated themselves from their religion for a period of time, or anything like that.

  233. 233 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 21:47

    @ jennifer

    Why would God be that insecure that he absolutely needs your obedience and worship? God created us so we could worship him? Would you want to know or let alone be friends with someone who demanded you worship them? I don’t know if I could be around someone so narcissistic and lacking of self esteem. hence, why I don’t think God exists, because there are too many human characteristics. Some all powerful being wouldn’t be insecure like that and lack self esteem.

  234. 234 steve
    October 15, 2008 at 21:50

    I’m so right, and you’re so wrong, that I get to go to heaven when I die, and everyone else who believes differently than me goes to hell. Heck of a way to try to win an argument. Isn’t it a bit, i don’t even know the right word, to think that you are right, and everyone else is wrong, and that they also get to go to hell for it? Even if someone out there were actually right, what kind of a God is that lets all this different beliefs exist, and only reward one belief, while having given all these other conflicting beliefs? What kind of a God would do that? A sick and twisted one? perhaps one not worthy of being worshipped? The fact remains, IF there is a God, and IF there is an afterlife, only ONE group has the right belief. That’s pretty darn cruel of God.

    And all the people who died before Jesus? All in hell? That’s some God, where do I sign up to worship that SOB?

  235. 235 Bert
    October 15, 2008 at 21:56

    It is EXACTLY what Steve is saying that convinces me it’s time to quit pandering to religions.

    The “I’m so right and you’re so wrong” mentality is where the evil begins. Whether it’s to say “you’re going to hell because you don’t believe what I believe,” or whether it’s to expedite that person’s trip to this hell, the difference is only in degree.

    Frankly, after 9/11 and the hateful religious rhetoric that accompanied it, it seems very odd that so many people keep right on trucking with the same formulaic phrases.

  236. 236 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 21:58

    @ Bert,

    As I had mentioned the point in relation to Christ and death above, allow me an opportunity to respond to your comments. I find it especially interesting your claims about a Christianity steeped in ‘medievial theology’. While, I am not sure what you mean by that, I can say that the Bible does, in fact, speak to the act of dying for one’s faith as taught by Jesus.

    Now, please do not ask me to quote scriptures, other than to say that, if the Bible, as the Christian book of instruction and it says this then it would seem to me that whether one is ‘steeped in medievial theology’ or not is actually not the point. Nor, is the point about martyrdom so much as it is about the quality of life one leads. If such a ‘quality’ leads one to feel that this is the most appropriate course of action and the best means of demonstrating one’s committment to his/ her faith, who am I to tell them otherwise?

  237. 237 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 15, 2008 at 22:02

    @ Steve,
    If I had my way all who live correctly regardless of their believes in other religions would go to heaven. Anyone who did wrong would not. That is why I am not God. People how died before Jesus were under the Jews law and they had to follow the Law of Mosses. If they followed it then they are in heaven, if not hell. Your next question will be what about people who do not know about Jesus or little children. Maybe even people how may not have the mental capacity to follow our conversations. There is an age of accountability. That age differes from person to person. People in that condition will be going to heaven.

  238. 238 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 22:08

    I surely am not suggesting being a jihadist (?) in the politicised sense in which we understand Islam in the modern West. Hardly! I am actually referring to the fact that we do live lives outside of the glare of the political media landscape which may force us to consider our personal committment to Christ in these very dramatic ways.

    Think for example, of the husband and soon-to-be father who has to make a choice between whether his wife has an abortion, if carrying the child to term means her death, and her life. God forbid, consider the woman if she is aware that such a choice is the only course available to her; that is, if she has a complicated pregnancy.

    In either event, if such a couple believes as the Catholics do that abortions are wrong, then, there is the likely dilemma of choosing between one’s life and the virtues/ theology of the Faith. I see these as other ways in which we are forced to consider Christ’s recommendation to his followers that some may have to die in order for others to live.

  239. 239 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 22:16

    As for Heaven and Hell, I defer to the experts on this matter. However, if we are to return to the question at hand, people, regardless of their religious persuasions (or the lack thereof), have every right to defend themselves against attack. This is especially the case where such actions are, largely, unjustified and have no legitimate or moral basis for their designs. In such cases, representations to the government/ leaders in the cases of India and Iraq above are a necessary part of that defense strategies which are to be enacted. There can be no getting around this.

    States in the modern world must accept that, they often house (?) within their borders diverse communities and cultures which do not adhere to homogeneous logic of a previous era. State machinery must become aware of these realities and leaders must act effectively in bringing an end to any kind of violence against people, whether on the basis of race, class, gender, religious and or sexual persuasion. It is wrong – plain and simple! This is no more the case for Christians than it is for non-Christians.

  240. 240 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 22:22

    @ Thea,

    I learned, as part of my Cathechism, that the notion of a universal Hell reserved for all non-Christians is actually not what the Church teaches, at least if I am to believe my Catholic teachers. There is acceptance that there are those who have never come in contact with the Word, or even the name Jesus, who are nonetheless good people regardless of faith. In those cases, Heaven – as the final destination for the human spirit, in its unending evolution of consciousness, is the home of all that is truly good and right – the best of the human family. The reverse might well be true – Hell, as the final destination of all that is truly the opposite!

    I do not get hung up on what people call themselves, or even on what they believe so much as whether they are fundamentally good people. The Church believes, in other words, that the ‘Natural Law’ has been written in the hearts of men since the dawn of time. All are constantly choosing how they wish to live. In my book, it is sufficient that we can exist in peace and harmony, as much as that is humanly possible.

  241. 241 Bert
    October 15, 2008 at 22:24

    Rawpolitics, no, if anything, I’d say that Christian doctrine has more or less evolved since the middle ages, depending on sect. So I certainly did not mean to single out Christians as being stuck in the middle ages. Not by a long shot.

    That said, we saw on this very blog how some give precise formulae for what it takes to make it to heaven. And yet, even in the NT, Matthew says that faith without works is an empty faith. So hmmm, perhaps those who do good works do have some sort of “faith” that good is still good, even if they can’t mouth the acceprtable verbiage to make their point?

    So as you can see, all manner of interpretation is readily available to foment hate and discontent, no matter the religion. It’s not a matter of “my God is good and your God is evil.” It’s instead, all manner of fairy tales have been devised to explain what we don’t know. Let’s just agree that they are all, ultimately, fairy tales, and that the most likely TRUTH is that we are all wrong on that score.

  242. 242 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 15, 2008 at 22:39

    @ Bert,

    It seems we have spoken past each other. I surely do not believe my faith a question of fairytale. Far from it! What I do accept, however, is that there are lots of people walking around half cocked talking about things they prefer not to really find out about. After all, to really make an effort means to extend or stretch the self and we might discover that we do not agree with most of what we think we do, or did. (Christ did say I have come to turn nations and peoples against each other, at some other point in the Gospels. These ideas (which he promulgated) are so radical that even things we once thought were sacred will require reconsideration in a serious way! The most radical thing I think, is to love our neighbours as ourselves! That is a real challenge! Trust me!)

    That being said, I am actually referring to the Bible where Christ implores his followers to basically forget mom, dad and all else to follow him, as well as to be prepared to face death because of such a choice. Whether we wish to use that as a literal interpretation or not is really not my point. Rather, I am saying that, these are not the concoctions of ‘medieval theology’ or some curious sect seeking legitimacy by claiming to have ‘the truth’.

    I have enjoyed becoming Catholic precisely for the reason that we are afforded the opportunity to think outside of some of these very fundamentalist interpretations of faith. That, I believe is what has to be reisted at all costs – fundamentalist ideas which put us in boxes and freeze frame us there. Beyond that, to each his own!

  243. 243 Syed Hasan Turab
    October 15, 2008 at 23:18

    BBC is trying to revive ROMAN WAR time, dont forget we are educated enough to understand basic human rights, all these little events are reaction of action.
    Infact concept of justice need more clarifaction with projection/commitment.

  244. 244 Jennifer
    October 15, 2008 at 23:34

    @ Rawpolitics

    “I have enjoyed becoming Catholic precisely for the reason that we are afforded the opportunity to think outside of some of these very fundamentalist interpretations of faith.”

    I agree with your statement!
    ________________

    God does not force people to believe in him. People have free will to do as they choose. There are many different conflicting beliefs because people are not forced to believe only one way. God does not “need” my obedience and worship but I do believe that he wants me to make the best choices. These are not choices that lavish him with praise but they are also beneficial to me. Noone has ever forced me to practice a religion I did not actively seek out myself.

    It all comes back to each individual person. Some people are confident in their beliefs. They don’t need to convert everyone they meet and they do not even need to speak about God to everyone; he is just simply a part of their life and who they are without “practice”. The same goes for me saying “I am right and you are wrong. I am going to heaven and you are going to he!!.” I think that would be very arrogant. Not all people who practice a religion feel the need to set themselves apart because they are religious.

  245. October 15, 2008 at 23:48

    According to the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ as recorded in the holy Bible, christians have to pursue peace with all men and always leave vengance for God. Therefore christians do not have to bother about defending them selves but rather put their trust in God to defend them.

    From> Anambra State, Nigeria

  246. October 16, 2008 at 00:21

    If anyone has interested since this discussion is dying down anyway, I posted this response on the rightwingchicky and think it is relevant to the discussion:

    First I wanted to thank John D. Augustine for his powerful, poignant, and dare I say prophetic post. I just want to add, after having been vigorously engaged on the WHYS blog (I was on standby to be a call-in guest as well), that this is all a matter of fractured context.

    If Fox News is your context than the idea that you might be verbally persecuted is a joke, as Fox news is a sham and people like Hannity ought not be considered journalists as they embarrass anyone who considers themselves a Christian by shouting down guests with whom they disagree and then mock Obama for not participating in the circus.

    If an international intellectual forum like WHYS is the forum, then as a Christian you have to be ready to really stand up and speak well for your faith, while hopefully maintaining civility and dignity (as opposed to say….yelling terrorist! off with his head!). I think the twisted thing here that gets it all mixed up is…according to half the country someone like Obama is not allowed to be a Believer. He just isn’t. According to James Dobson and many others you just can’t be a democrat and care about all the other Jesus issues he doesn’t address in his docket.

    Conversely, the postmodern atheist/humanist set will paint anyone who believes anything to do with Jesus as a looney tune. I hate that I turn on my conservative Christian station with preachers that I love to hear….and hear bile spewed suggesting that Obama is some wolf in sheep’s clothing looking to deceive us and turn us into communist muslim s (which is it? they can’t all be true!) along with the tacit support of anything with the republican label that gives only insulting lipservice to Jesus’ beloved “least of these.” (ie. let the freemarket do it’s thing, let the rich get rich, stretch that needle’s eye wide for them, and local church programs and trickle down economics will fix all those poor folk we don’t want to talk about)

    ….but…I also hate blogging on a BBC program (whose moderators and organizers I must applaud for their attempts at balance) and being attacked by rabid atheist attack dogs who don’t even want a real conversation, who smell religion of any sort and start frothing at the mouth, who absolutely refuse intelligent dialogs and insist on simply spouting pop-atheist talking points much as Sarah Palin spouts memorized and misleading inflammatory rhetoric (which WILL if she doesn’t quit, cause violence).

    The question is for Christians like yourself, and myself….will we meet each other in the middle and embrace as brothers and sisters in Christ, or will we sneak behind one of the ramparts because it provides identification and strength in numbers? Obviously, I lean one way and you lean the other but if we both claim Christ as Lord of our lives, what business do we have occupying “wings” that divide us?

  247. 247 Bert
    October 16, 2008 at 00:34

    Obinna, one thing is that we should not seek revenge. Another is to say we can’t defend ourselves. You make a leap of logic that does not work.

    It would be hard to point to something in the NT that tells us we must become martyrs. Although the church does revere martyrs, it does not direct everyone to become one.

    But this does show how quickly these discussions devolve into specific interpretations of what is ultimately the unknown. Seems pretty clear to me that everyone creates his own nuanced interpretations. People seem to emphasize whatever verses suit their personal tastes, and de-emphasize those they can’t fit smoothly into their thinking.

    Fine, as long as we don’t take ourselves too seriously. No human has the monopoly on truth. Whatever you or I think must be true is, with virtual certainty, not exact.

  248. 248 roebert
    October 16, 2008 at 00:44

    Keith, Now, more than at any other time in history, people of all religions should get together to discover what they hold in common, and leave off insisting on what divides them. The starting point for all religious debate is the strong and empathetic recognition of our common humanity. This millennium has begun with dangerous tendencies to global warfare, while the planet deteriorates because of irresponsible human practices, and greed leaves most people in the world destitute. Religion has a real role to play in bringing about change, but it can only be effective if it acts in concord. I’m not near suggesting a one-world-religion (which, in the face of ineradicable diversity is a ludicrous proposition anyway), but a recognition by all religions that the role of religion should be positive, intelligent and, above all, conciliatory.

    It’s not only about Christianity. It’s about humanity learning to transcend ‘self’ and ‘selfishness’ in all its forms. That pursuit, after all, is at the heart of the authentic teachings of all religion.

  249. October 16, 2008 at 01:21

    Thanks Roebert,

    I agree completely with your broad vision. My comments were directly aimed at a fellow Christian regarding the division that has become so a weapon in the hands of the Christian right in this election season. I absolutely agree with you 100% and very much value your conciliatory and intelligent perspective here on the blog. Imagine this: a discussion that actually leads to GREATER understanding among us! Amazing. Seriously, though, I mean that.

    Peace to all of you.

    Keith

  250. 250 L. Walker
    October 16, 2008 at 01:23

    i’m laughing… the bloody irony… religions can’t take the stuff they hand out… they want ultimate protection from criticism but only for themselves. Christians pick on Muslims and Muslims pick on Christians, etc etc.

    they all just need to chill out. we don’t care about the little imaginary people you pray to.

    Christians and Muslims are some of the most intolerant people in the world, to gays and anyone not JUST like them. as a victim of this (being pagan, i know all too well)

    A word of the wise:
    if you can’t take the intolerance…. then don’t dish it out.

    i am not required to accept your views. get over it.

    thank you to the caller who said we have science to explain the world! there IS a rational person in this world!! it’s sad that people these days, religious people who actually WANT to be ignorant. :/

  251. 251 Tom D Ford
    October 16, 2008 at 01:27

    Mick McNeill October 15, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    “Tom D Ford – To misuse (yet appropriately) Clausewitz:”

    We all seem to fall under the spell of power seeking at sometime, I reckon – yet I believe the meaning of life can be answered in one word – generosity.

    Good luck to you and may the power of personal peace be with you and yours, matey.

    Best wishes,

    Mick”

    By Jove I think you’ve got it!

    Best wishes back atcha.

  252. 252 Tom D Ford
    October 16, 2008 at 01:44

    roebert October 16, 2008 at 12:44 am

    “Keith, Now, more than at any other time in history, people of all religions should get together to discover what they hold in common, and leave off insisting on what divides them. The starting point for all religious debate is the strong and empathetic recognition of our common humanity.”

    The worst irony is probably that the followers of the Abraham “One God” religion are so divided and at war with each other. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all versions of the same religion, worshiping the same God and they are some of the most vicious people on the planet!

    One God, many versions! How does that makes sense?

    …it doesn’t!

  253. 253 Tom D Ford
    October 16, 2008 at 01:50

    When you strip it all down to the only core difference between believers and non-believers all you have left is that one side believes that a supernatural being exists.

    Everything else is common to all of humanity, ideas of justice, morality, beauty, love, everything. and that’s where we ought to discuss with each other.

  254. October 16, 2008 at 02:17

    I’m fine with that, Tom.

    But people on both sides seem all to eager to throw religion or their derision for it, see L. Walker’s all to representative post, into such conversations.

    Why is it, that at least in a forum like this, for every respectful thoughtful religious person who reasons things out and attempts some basic civility there are about five people like Steve and L. Walker who seem to think there is some kind of moral responsibility to simply behave like a complete a-hole.

    L. Walker, I’m happy to take what’s dished out, but what’s the chip on your shoulder that makes you have to dish it out so rudely, with so little respect on a really basic human to human level. Are you really THAT much smarter than me? My guess is that your reflexive answer is “probably.” Well, I’d challenge that in any forum you can dream up. I can take thoughtful criticism and debate but I’m getting pretty damn tired of the broad swipes that folks like you are levelling in an all too easy in and out forum like a blog.

  255. 255 primal convoy in Japan
    October 16, 2008 at 02:22

    Religion is always a difficult thing to talk about or even listen to being talked about. Here is a thumbnail for you:

    I’m a Christian myself. Not a good one, or even one close to following the Bible even by my own faith or beliefs, but one nonetheless. Ive talked about my faith to in gay bars, amongst atheists and people of other religions. Ive said in gay bars that I believe the Bible and thus God doesnt agree with aspects of homosexuality, Ive told other religions that, in essence, their religions are “false”, etc. Basically all the usual things to get me a good, fair thrashing from the offended parties concerned.

    The thing is, most of the people I talked to were NOT offended, or at least, didn’t call me out as a “fundamentalists” or other term (Im sure there are much better responses and terms for people who walk into gay bars and start lambasting the punters, but these terms are not suitable for this discussion!)

    The reason why they didn’t was more to do with other people’s tolerance of other views rather than my God-inspired diatribe and sensitivity to other’s feelings (please not the irony in this) but also because I merely stated what I believed and not trying to show that I was somehow better than others. Although the people I were talking to disagreed, they understood the point of view where I was coming from.

    Sometimes, it is all about the agenda. If you speak clearly, honestly without agenda, sometimes that is the best way.

    Id say there are many people willing to be more open minded and welcoming to new ideas, even if perhaps the Christian view, from a other points of view, seems not so.

  256. 256 David
    October 16, 2008 at 03:22

    I believe the British government would prefer to say that the Christains are too sensitive and we should do nothing, when in fact the government should be defending the rights of Christains, for far too long the British government has closed it’s eyes and ears to the British public stopped the study of Christainity in state schools in fear of upsetting the immigrates who’ve taken Britain as their home but don’t want our way of life and traditions, the government should change the social damage which has been done to our country, by first banning violent, bad lauguage and behaviour films and tTV productions being shown. 2. Re-enstate the church of England as the religion of Britain and Christain studies in all schools, promote family values by MP’s displacing good behaviour in public ging to church on Sundays, stop late night drinking, raise the age of buying drink to 21, getting the government to support the British Christain people.

  257. October 16, 2008 at 04:17

    @ Jennifer,

    Thanks for your most insightful commentary above, in relation to my earlier post. A welcomed companion piece! LOL!

    @ Keith,

    Thanks also for your very insightful post above! Very much on point!

    @ Bert,

    There is a diference between taking out specific elements of the ‘NT’, as you call it, and doing what it says. You seem bent on preaching the tired logic, with respect, that there are those Christians who seem much more interested in doing a selective reading of the Faith than honouring it in all its parts.

    I disagree with this position which I think is, frankly, very divisive. Faith, simply put, is something that we grow in. Where I start out (today) is not where I end. I able to embody, in other words, specific virtues and continue to work on myself, through prayer, meditation and constant reflection on the Word, to see how best I might be able to attain those other aspects which elude me at present. Does that mean you have to believe or even do everything you are told, as per religious instruction, etc.? No it does not! However, you are allowed to examine your own conscience in relation to what you are taught.

    In the Catholic Church, we rely on the teachings/ interpretations of the Majesterium which we are also taught is the combined and refined intellect of the Church, as ordained by the Holy Spirit. This guides our readings of scripture. It is for this reason, among others, why we have Vatican Two and other important meetings of Church leaders to ensure that the faithful are being taught the Word as taught to Peter and the other disciples at the moments of their conversion by Christ.

    Let us remember, however, that the Word is Love! Plain and simple! That is perhaps the most difficult lesson of all and according to Christ, the ‘new commandment’ that He left his disciples/ apostles upon his return to the Father. What greater Love than this than a man who lays down his life for his friend? Christ is all of our friends!

  258. October 16, 2008 at 04:30

    To me, preaching separatism and exclusion is counter to the goals of Love and Brotherhood. Is that the same as saying one is not entitled to defend onself against an attack, however it is perceived? Certainly, not! However, it does imply that we have to make our own judgements, hopefully based on a very considered set of decisions, on our likeliest course of action.

    I object to any notion that Christians should not defend themselves because the Faith teaches peace, love and brotherhood. That almost suggests that one is to sit and purposefully accept abuse in the name of Christianity. What nonsense – with respect! For surely, a woman in an abusive relationship is not expected to sit and allow a man to kill her because she has been advised to ‘love’ all people? Nor, do we expect that where a family has to engage with a gay daughter or son, at the very least one who does not fit neatly into the sanctioned heterosexual matrix, that they are to rebuff them and treat them as outcasts because their sexuality/ identity does not sit well with our notion of Faith! Where is the love in that?

    Let us recall, love is all encompassing. According to Scripture, it endureth all things, etc. This is not some simple, mushy emotion that school girls get when they hear the latest boy band on the radio! It is looking deep inside ourselves and making important decisions about how we would like to be treated and acting accordingly, were the situations reverse! It is about empathy and kindness, even if we do not feel up to the task or capable of the responsibility. So, no Faith is not fairytale and limited readings about martyrdom also miss the point.

  259. 259 crikeycooperative
    October 16, 2008 at 05:47

    Tom D Ford:

    “By Jove I think you’ve got it!

    Best wishes back atcha.”

    Thanks matey. I need all the encouragement I can get professor.

    Ps. Are we talking Jahovah – “Jove”…possibly?

    Slainte! Or as they say in backwoods dark Lurgan – “Keep ‘er in the trunks!”

    Mick McNeill of Crikey Coop

  260. 260 Jennifer
    October 16, 2008 at 05:49

    @ Raw

    Your welcome! I just winged it. 😉 Top part to you and the bottom just some thoughts that were important to address.

  261. October 16, 2008 at 06:11

    rawpoliticsjamaicanstyle~

    I can’t think of one place in the NT that Jesus says to fight back. I’m pretty sure the first Christians didn’t fight. Christians didn’t enforce and punish until they had political power.

    Jesus said, and Im not quoting, that if you are struck on one cheek, then to turn the other. Another I recall is not going to sleep before you have reconciled with you brother.

  262. 262 Peter
    October 16, 2008 at 08:34

    Way I understand the poser in this blog is this: should Christians begin to respond to all the bad press they’ve been receiving in the west(and maybe worldwide),and should they defend themselves when assaulted as they now are in India,Egypt and so on.

    Yes siree,they should,and on all counts,please.

    One cant exactly face this poser without making reference to the treatment Muslims insist they deserve.They’ve flooded the west mostly from the middle-east where freedom of speech was never a forte and come over to the west to systematically dismantle the bedrock of western liberties:freedom of speech.They protested(very violently)a cartoon,burnt down half of Europe over a comment the Pope made and the like,and everyone stepped back hand clamped over mouth in awe of Muslims,all this in a world that watched with glee “Jesus Christ Superstar” a movie that portrayed Christ in every unsavoury light.There’ve been a string of such and more thereafter.There was the nativity scene painted in cow-dung in New York city.To none of which Christians stabbed,clubbed nor bombed anyone.

    Then,it has almost been like a seasonal sport for instance in Indonesia to hear of Christians being killed just for the fun of it.The current spate of attacks are spawning themselves almost everywhere,even in India with their religions that claim to be the most peaceful;and there they are – chopping off heads just for a lark.

    And that brings me back to Islam who set the example: kill, bomb romp through Paris with torches and still claim to be a religion of peace.The other faiths are learning to proselyte the same way.Christianity is meanwhile blamed for all the world’s woes,and I really can’t fathom why.

    Conclusion:it is high time Christians lashed back – but dare I say,with words.Its the least they can do.But as for defending themselves against hatchet carrying maniacs in India,Indonesia or wherever else,by jove,they should arm themselves to the teeth in turn and hit back for all they’re worth.Surely no one is suggesting they lean over meekly and guide the knives down onto their jugulars just to prove theirs is the better faith!!!

  263. 263 Bryan
    October 16, 2008 at 08:43

    This is a really strange question. It is long past time for Christians to defend themselves. But how do small minority groups of Christians defend themselves against the Muslim hordes in Islamic dictatorships across the planet who are intent on attacking them, destroying their churches and breaking up their communities?

    The left wing journalists of the MSM could do something to assist here by publicising these attacks and revealing their true nature rather than going out of their way to obfuscate, minimise and omit the grim facts of Islamic intolerance and terrorising of Christian communities. The BBC is especially complicit in this regard. The type of factual and informative report on the Hindu violence against Christians in the BBC report at the link above seldom sees the light of day when Muslims are the aggressors, the main tactic being to omit all reference to Islam in the report. This is especially true of the World Service. I listened yesterday to the report on the Hindu violence. Such a factual and informative report on religious violence is never aired on the World Service when Muslims initiate the violence.

    And we see the BBC going out of its way to avoid offending Muslims while showing total disrespect to Christians:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1077816/The-BBC-tackle-Islam-differently-Christianity-admits-Director-General.html#

    Yes, Christians certainly do need to defend themselves. As a matter of urgency, they should defend themselves against the left wing media, particularly the BBC.

  264. 264 Bryan
    October 16, 2008 at 09:54

    S.W. from Portland (OR), USA October 15, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I nearly fell off my chair reading your comment. You may have a point regarding Iraq, but you know nothing about Israel if you can lump it together with Sudan as a country engaging in “sectarian violence against peaceful minority communities that include ancient Christian cultures.”

    Here’s some unpalatable truths for you about Sudan:

    Backed by Muslim clerics, the National Islamic Front regime in the Arab and Muslim north declared a jihad, or holy war, on the [Christian] south in 1989. Since 1983, an estimated 2 million people have died from war and related famine. About 4.5 million have become refugees.

    And this:

    …Sudan’s military continues to decorate and promote known war criminals such as Commander Taib Musba, who in the mid-1980s killed an estimated 15,000 unarmed, civilian, ethnic Uduk Christians.

    Israel, meanwhile, has total freedom of religion for all and the humanitarian Israelis even go so far as to accept Sudanese refugees, many of them Muslims desperate to escape the latest round of slaughter initiated by the genocidal regime in Khartoum.

    Not much is made of the attacks on Palestinian Christian communities in the occupied territories by Israeli settlers ….

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26672

    That is an extraordinary fantasy, totally divorced from reality. Israelis are not attacking Christian Palestinians. Muslim Palestinians are attacking the Christians.

    Where do you get your news?

  265. 265 Bryan
    October 16, 2008 at 10:51

    Here’s a true story for the atheists. I’m a bit hazy on some of the details, but the essentials of the story are correct:

    At 4 am a miner in Britain was woken by a powerful dream of an impending accident at his mine. The dream had specific details, including how many miners would be involved. He was so disturbed by the dream that he got dressed and rushed to the mine to warn the others. He was just in time to see the foreman about to pull the lever that would send a lift cage of miners down into the depths. He yelled at the foreman to stop, saying he had had a dream and there would be a terrible accident. The miners in the lift started to joke with him about it but the foreman turned to him and asked him how many men were in the lift in his dream. He replied that there were twenty-two. The foreman counted the men. There were nineteen, but just then three latecomers arrived and got into the lift. The foreman took the precaution of attaching a safety chain to the lift and pulled the lever. The lift cable snapped and the lift began to plummets downwards but the safety chain held and the men were saved.

    The miner asked the foreman why he had not doubted his warning. Turned out that the foreman had had the exact same dream. Not only that, he had dreamed it at exactly the same time – 4 am.

    I’d be interested to hear an explanation from the atheists for this occurrence. Ain’t no doubt at all that there are worlds beyond the physical world and yes, there is a God, despite the fact that people fight and kill one another and squabble over God and the details of the Godly message to mankind.

  266. 266 Bryan
    October 16, 2008 at 11:00

    Keith October 16, 2008 at 12:21 am,

    You can’t be serious. As a Christian you denigrate Sarah Palin and support Obama? Haven’t you heard of the kind of “church” Obama attended for twenty years? Or the fact that he is supported and endorsed by the most radical of anti-white and anti-American Muslim subvervises?

    Looks like your devotion to the Democrats has blinded you to reality.

  267. 267 roebert
    October 16, 2008 at 11:33

    Tom D Ford: No, people don’t only differ on the question of the supernatural. There are big differences in the way they view those things which you claim they hold in common: morality, justice, and so forth. What all people have in common is the desire to escape suffering and find happiness, or ease of mind. It’s at that level that both religious and non-religious people can encounter one another,with a mindset disposed to minimizing harm. Religion is far from being the mere belief in fairy tales, or in a supernatural being. At best it is an inner journey, full of honesty and authenticity, which seeks to answer the question: who and what am I? ‘Gnothe seauton’, said the old Greeks: Know Thyself.When this question is authentically answered, as much by logic and analysis as by faith, many new possibilities for harmlessness arise. That should be the basic religious view, I think.

    Bryan: How can you expect the BBC to defend Christianity when all of British Christendom is governed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Atkinson?

  268. 268 RSingh
    October 16, 2008 at 11:52

    Who will be the ultimate gainer, whether Russia fights america, hindus kill christians or the christians fight among themselves?
    MOHAMMED.
    ISLAM EXPLAINED:
    I=INTOLERANCE
    S=SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENT (LAHORE, RAWALPINDI, 1947)
    L= LOOT
    A=ASSASSICATIONS
    M=MOLESTATION OF WOMEN.
    WORLD DOMINATION.
    SO IT IS UP TO US, THE SURVIVORS, THERE ARE ALREADY 52 ISLAMIC REPUBLICS INCLUDING PAKISTAN AND KOSOVO WHERE THE SECULAR, THE TOLERANT, THE LIBERAL AND DIGNITY OF WOMEN HAVE PERISHED.
    EVEN ANCIENT STATUES OF BUDDHA IN bAMYAN, aFGHANISTAN, AND THE TWO WTC TOWERS IN NEW YORK, FELL VICTIM.
    R. SINGH

  269. 269 Remesh
    October 16, 2008 at 12:36

    I don’t think anyone who has his head stuck up the dank pages of any scripture to the exclusion of all else is qualified to talk about reality.

    You shouldn’t be voting for someone because of who he or she worships. A decent, kind, intelligent, loving Atheist beats a hypocritical, Church-going, 5-times-a-day praying, mantra reciting person of “faith” hands-down.

    I’m not saying that every devout believer (of whatever faith) is lost. Many are not. Perhaps even most. But you sheep that think being a fundamental Muslim is bad news – here’s a news flash. Being on the equally extreme end of Christianity is ALSO bad news. Sorry to quote the Buddha to make the point – but “all things in moderation” is a good rule of thumb. It should include religion. ANY religion.

    And sorry, you can’t use the “ah, sure they were believers of (fill in your religion here) but they were not good believers.” That’s like a “Get Out of Jail FREE” card. It is ridiculous.

    In fact all this talk about whose faith is better sickens me. THAT, for anyone who is listening and who still has his or her faculties intact, is the problem. Everyone’s pushing their own “candidate.” Do you realize how many “only way to salvation” belief systems there are? No one religion can be the panacea to what ails our planet and humanity. But the narrow-minded people on narrow-minded streets prevail. How sad.

    Isn’t there enough in this world that divides us?

    It is especially annoying to see those religions that profess the bounty of unconditional love, the first to lay out their hypocritical conditions.

    Perhaps anyone who choses to believe there is a Creator, should consider being spiritual rather than religious. Of course, if you can be a faithful devotee of your religion without feeling the need to denigrate someone else’s faith, or position yours’ as the “better faith”….more power to you.

    Othewise….God good. Religion Bad.

    Can’t we just play nice kids?

  270. 270 roebert
    October 16, 2008 at 13:28

    Remesh, in your own way, you have put it very nicely.

  271. October 16, 2008 at 13:34

    I need to respond to several things, but since Bryan addressed me directly I’ll start there.

    Bryan, I have never had nor do I have now a “devotion to the democrats.” I am firmly independent. The things you are referring to are propaganda, and I’m sorry you buy into it. As I mentioned before, as a Christian, I am primarily looking at which candidate will be most likely to address the needs of the least able to help themselves, the poor, the single mom, etc. You’ll note that Jesus spent an aweful lot more time discussing the morality of helping these people than about a “culture war.” We have lost the culture war and must accept it and move on. Christ did not preach that we ought to seek to work through the machinations of government to establish moral law. Give to Ceasar’s what is Ceasar’s. I’m sorry Bryan, but I can gather by your tone that there is very little hope you will give an honest listen to my position, let alone agree.

    Peace,

    Keith

  272. October 16, 2008 at 13:51

    @ Portlandmike,

    It seems that you either missed the point of what I said or are purposefully misunderstanding it. I am surely not advocating war and, certainly, not suggesting that we cannot be Christians and endorse Obama, as said by another blogger above. That would be too presumptious on my part. I am saying, however, that it does not makes practical sense that Christians are expected to embody and, then, walk around like the flower children of the 50’s ‘in love’ with everything and everyone. (I believe that my definition of love above says clearly what I think the charge was to each of us, by Christ.)

    I also said earlier that, defense is also an act of love – however you choose to see that. ‘Defenses’ do not have to be physical and, certainly, are not about war. Implicit in this question is an suggestion that Christianity is at odds with itself because there are those amongst the group who would preach division and war, even hate. A legitimate criticism if ever there was one. However, one of my earlier points was that there can be no escaping the fact that we are making two separate points as per the question and the examples used – the geopolitical implications of Christianity in the East is not the same as in the West where Christians are in the majority, particularly in (stronger) states with what appears to be a longer committment to defending ‘diversity’.

    There is a clear question of Christians as a political minority in states which clearly need to become more empowered in their recognition that, within the modern ethos the notion of the state as a homogeneous construct is very much being revised. Politicians need to ensure that they protect and defend the rights of all peoples within their borders, as a result. Christians in these places like Mosul and Orissa state must contribute to and participate in those solutions. This may be read as a form of ‘defense’ insofar as living out the obligations of a Faith that even Peter advised we were to adhere to the rules of the country that we find ourselves resident in.

  273. 273 Jennifer
    October 16, 2008 at 13:54

    @ Keith

    I am curious as to what you mean by “culture war”.

    Do you mean race?

  274. October 16, 2008 at 13:56

    To the extent that Christianity teaches sacrifice of self in the name of Christ, each member of the faith has to determine for him or herself what that actually means. Insofar as interpretations go, I did say that the Catholic Church relies on the teachings of the Majesterium as the final (?) point of interpretation (?) of Scriptures. Does that mean we always are in agreement with the teachings of the Majesterium/ Church?

    No! But it does imply that there is room for us to examine our own consciences in order to decide/ determine how we feel about that which is being taught to us by 2000 years of Church history (which we can only hope is influenced by the power of the Holy Spirit!).

    To suggest that peace, love and brotherhood, as well as the charge to lay down one’s life for the Master (Christ) must follow a set in stone method, however, is to miss the point. In fact, to suggest that Christians are not to defend themselves against persecutions, attack and hatred is to also miss the point.

    After all, I did say that there is no one set response (preordained, perhaps?) to what these could mean. Each individual has to examine his conscience in the context of what his or her religion means to him/ her and act accordingly. I believe, however, that when it is all said and done – the goal of any human existence, which is ultimately the message of Christ, is for all of us to live in love and peace with each other. Those are perhaps two of the hardest lessons for us to learn – the world over!

    So, there is a difference between Christianity as political culture and Christianity as personal faith. The question above does not appear to make these distinctions, in terms of its implications that all Christians are the same and that the same response is, therefore, to be given in all instances by all who go by that name. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both the as well as the examples given, therefore, a potentially misleading if not properly (?) unpacked, I think.

  275. October 16, 2008 at 13:58

    Convoy, excellent point, and thanks for making it.

    Raw Politics – thank you for clarifying and the reminder of the focus on love. I’ll come back to that in a second.

    Bryan – you are absolutely right on Sudan. There is no comparison. While I have serious issues regarding the justness and the human-rights in the palestinian occupation, the scope, scale, and brutality in Sudan are not even on the same planet. They shouldn’t be made analogous to make any kind of point, least of all one about religion. Oh, and Bryan – here’s a verse the we whacky lefty Christians take pretty seriously – James 1:27 – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

    Finally, Roebert thank you for your email (certainly not an intrusion of any sort!), and for you excellent thoughts. It is sometimes remarkable to me how things I am reading and experiencing and discussing sometimes run together in one stream unexepectedly. Regarding “Know Thyself” and the overall importance of love. I read this great quote in a highly philosophical novel just a few minutes ago on the bus,

    “the best maxim towards that knowledge was yet not the ‘Know thyself’ of the Greek so much as the ‘Know love’ of the Christian, though both in the end were one. It was not possible for man to know himself and the world, except first after some mode of knowledge, some art of discovery. The most perfect, since the most intimate and intelligent, art was pure love…to love anything but fact was not love. Love was even more more mathematical than poetry; it was the pure mathematics of the spirit. It was applied also and active; it was the means as it was the end. The end lived everlastingly in the means; the means eternally in the end.”

    For those of us who attempt to grapple with these mysteries, accepting that many will scoff at them as worthless nonsense, I hope we’ll be able to find something there that can make this whole place a little easier to live in.

    I don’t mind the ridicule, so long as it is intelligent, defensible, with a willingness to discuss. I would welcome that attitude in these discussions any time.

    Thanks all.

  276. October 16, 2008 at 14:33

    @ Jennifer,

    No! Certainly not. Sorry if that seemed to be the case. Culture War is a term that has been used by many conservatives, most notably James Dobson to couch the right/left split and why the right is the Christian wing at “war” with all the atheists, heathens, communists, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, etc, etc, etc, They see Christians as being in an all out war to save our culture from it’s downard moral spiral.

    I, for one, think this entirely unbiblical or extrabiblical. the world will do what’s it’s going to do morally speaking and we are called to live as we are called to live despite this, not to impose morality on those who don’t share our beliefs. I think it is an incredibly divisive doctrine and LOTS of people buy into whole heartedly.

  277. 277 Jennifer
    October 16, 2008 at 15:30

    @ Keith

    I find that very interesting.

    With regards to conservatives being at “war” with atheists, etc. I would say that it is hard to find a total anything. Just because someone votes one way does not mean they do not have ideals that are the opposite as well.

    In this election more than any, we need to put aside our voter cards and think. I went from reasons why I think Hillary is best to reasons why I think McCain is best. My reasons for supporting McCain have nothing to do with being at “war” with people who have no or different religious beliefs. They have to do with experience and leadership with regards to our economy, foreign affairs, bipartisanship, etc. and were in no way a reflection of the fact that I am religious.

  278. October 16, 2008 at 16:02

    Hi Jennifer,

    Glad to hear that. I didn’t have any idea which way you might be leaning, so I hope you didn’t think I was directing anything one way or the other at you personally. I was just trying to explain the context I was speaking about. I have friends and family members who recieve a steady supply of propaganda emails about Obama with crazy stuff that isn’t true, just meant to frighten and stoke that kind of culture war – the idea that a vote for any democrat is a vote towards the moral downward spiral, etc. It’s all just so unhelpful. I agree, people need to think. For God’s sake, literally, let us think! argh. It’s enough to wear a body out.

  279. 279 rightwingchicky
    October 16, 2008 at 17:02

    Well, there has certainly been a lot of conversation here.
    A couple things I would like to add.

    In my blog i was making no comparisons of actual physical persecution to what I consider to be social attacks. There is no comparison. I do feel that the social attacks may ultimately lead to more persecution though. I hope i am wrong, but that is what my concern is.

    I am very secure and comfortable with my faith. It guides me in my decisions and the things i value and feel are important. It is just one component that shapes my political choices. I only mention politics here since it is such a hot topic at the moment with the upcoming election (which frankly I wish were already over, partisanship on both sides is wearing me out) Your world view will shape how you feel that many of the social concerns should be handled. I can agree to disagree without belittling you. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am.

    As I read all the comments posted here it did illustrate well what my original point was – the lack of tolerance for those who are Christians. As Keith pointed out for every one comment attempting to illustrate for Christians there were at least five to jump in and tell them they were wrong, often calling into question the intelligence of Christians.I don’t find personal attacks and generalizations to be very effective at all.

    Like I said everyone believes in something, even if what you have chosen to believe is nothing. That is still what you believe so it is something. I would just appreciate when I am asked to share my view and I do it instead of telling me – You are just wrong, or questioning my intelligence why not just agree to disagree and give me the right to believe what I choose. I do not force my beliefs upon anyone, anyone that is who is not interested in hearing them.

  280. 280 Bryan
    October 16, 2008 at 21:06

    Roebert, yes if Rowan Atkinson insists on handing Christianity over to its enemies while endorsing Islam, it makes it difficult for those who are largely divorced from Christianity, like the BBC, to defend it.

    Keith, I appreciate your comments re Sudan and Israel but you are wrong about Obama. Yes, there are obviously attempts to influence voters against him, and I have no doubt a lot of what is said about him is exaggerated, but he has had long and close associations with some very disturbing people indeed.

  281. 281 John LaGrua/New York
    October 16, 2008 at 21:25

    There is no more egregious example of persecution Chistians than that by the Jews in Palestine.National Geographic artiicle 12/07 lays out the brutal suppression of Christians in Bethlehem.The most sacred of Christian sites has been barricaded by a wall and the Christians as well as Muslims deprived of access to their fields or any travel.Ethnic cleansing by Isreal has been ongoing ,demonststrated by their contempt for decency.Isreal was founded by criminal gangs ,Stern gang ,Irgun and Hagganah who used all the methods of the SS in the 3rd Reich to destroy the Palestinians.Having personally witnessed the vicious treatment of Christians and Muslims,I protested to the Secretary of State James Baker but the US continued to fund this criminal enterprise .It is an indictment of the US politicians venal and corrupted by the Isreal Lobby and the ignorance of the people.that allows these crimies to go on.Only the Roman Catholic Church has the global position to condemn this barbarism but they have failed to act..The honor of the US has been horribly stained by a minority who place the interest of Isreal above their oblgations as US citizens and the Muslim world has been aroused to vengance .Evil succeeds when good men remain silent1

  282. 282 mark
    October 17, 2008 at 01:42

    Religion itself is illogical, irrational and largely based on fear and dogma.

    Is anybody who understands this rally ever surprised at this kind of illogical, irrational behavior?

    come on people.

  283. 283 mark
    October 17, 2008 at 01:43

    rally = really

    so sorry.

  284. 284 Remesh
    October 17, 2008 at 06:36

    Mr RSingh.

    Your derogatory explanation of the word “ISLAM” is NOT helping. Why stoop so low?

    Name a religion and you’ll find someone with way too much time on his hands and far too much hatred in his heart to create something insulting and seditious. Yes, even your own faith can suffer the same fate!

    I hate some of the horrific acts carried out in the name of God. But your immature response is EXACTLY what we don’t need.

    Be part of the solution, not the problem.

  285. 285 Alexis Massey-Ryan
    October 17, 2008 at 08:46

    Is it time for religions to explain to all why we actually need them since they can’t ratify their beliefs in any sort of prolonged debate without resorting to violence…

  286. 286 Bob in Queensland
    October 17, 2008 at 09:04

    @ Alexis Massey-Ryan

    At the risk of starting an argument with some of the regulars in here, I have to agree with you.

    Religion is, by definition, a belief in something that cannot be proven.

    If somebody believes in voices in the head telling them to kill people, they are rightly considered a serial killer not a prophet. Why is it any more acceptable to believe in a deity that expects you to convert or kill non-believers?

  287. 287 andrena
    October 17, 2008 at 13:53

    check out http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/3179465/Hanged-for-being-a -Christian-in-Iran

    i think this true story should make wise people hush and reconsider

  288. 288 Emile Barre
    October 18, 2008 at 13:54

    I ask myself why the use of ‘time’ in this question? Self defense is intelligence anytime.

  289. 289 Freedom
    October 18, 2008 at 20:59

    I really do not know why christians fel threatened by us Muslims. I for one, have a great respect for christians. In fact, there has been times when I have seriously considdered becoming a Christian. Some of the punishments that we Muslims dish out, in the name of Allah. Are very distressing to watch. But I do not see any such nasty punishments attached to the Christian faith. Living with Christians, has made me think, the muslim way of life is not at all a, loving, caring, kind religion.

    There has been a recent increase in Muslims turning to Christianity.
    Whe can really blame them. With so many terrorist act’s carried out by Muslims around the world. My son and daughter recently asked my view on – becoming a Christian. I have said to them – This is a free country, with freedom to coose whatever religion you wish. They are now seeking ways of joining the Christian faith.


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