Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Condemning Religious Violence

A religious gathering in Naples brought together leaders from all the world's big religions in an ecumenical 'peace summit'. The theme of the summit was "A World Without Violence: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue."

Last year the Pope did not attend the event, sending a letter instead, but this year he did attend in person, which surprised some people since it is the official policy of the Vatican that all other religions are imperfect in one or another when compared to Roman Catholicism, and therefore it would be better for a Pope to send a letter than to attend to interfaith conferences in person since it might suggest that all religious leaders are pretty much the same if a Pope attends, whereas if a Pope stays home and sends a letter it reminds everyone that they are not.

The theme of this years summit was to condemn any violence in the name of religion, since violence in the name of God is 'blasphemy'. In statements released by the religious leaders we were reminded that 'all the world's religions teach peace'

According to Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople the only worthwhile battle for a religious believer is the battle against their own passionate sexual lusts. "Because violence is an anti-value, it cannot be used to defend values......war in the name of religion is war against religion...Violence will cease when each of us cultivates a holy and blessed vendetta against ourselves and our own passions," he stated.

The Pope stated that, 'Never, evoking the name of God can one justify evil and violence'."

At the luncheon table, a feud then broke out between the Jewish rabbi and the Muslim cleric attending the event.

Rabbi Metzger "said a few things -- I did not start it -- and the cardinal of Naples (Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe) said the questions cannot be resolved in the time we have for lunch so it is better to focus on peace," Ibrahim noted.

"I got the feeling that a conversation of that kind was not welcome at the Pope's table and the cardinal was very wise" to ask the other guests to change the subject, he said.

Ibrahim, Cardinal Sepe and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury all told reporters they did not think the pope heard the discussion since there were 10 people at the table and several conversations were going on simultaneously.

What I find so peculiar about this affair is that religion does not teach peace, but rather if you actually take even a short cursory look at religion, you will see that religion teaches violence. The Hindu Gita is a narrative of a bloody war god and the bloody wars fought out at the command of this war god by the religious followers of the war god. The Koran urges that unbelievers be put to the sword if they do not accept Islam, and also encourages Muslims to saw their heads off, which is where Muslims get the idea from in the first place. And of course both Christians and Jewish books preach violence and hatred, and so therefore one can only assume that it is hypocritical for Pope's to call upon people to study 'holy scripture' one week and then appear to condemn religious violence the next week, for to study 'scripture' is to be on the receiving end of the constant spewing of hatred and calls for violence. I mean it is not like violence is an aberration that is somehow strangely foreign to religion, as though it was some unwelcome intruder, but rather all sorts of cruelty is endemic in religion, and therefore if religious leaders were really sincere in calling for no more religious violence they would of course be encouraging people not to read any more of those damnable scriptures and they would be teaching people such doctrines as that 'the Bible is certainly not the Word of God, but rather is some cooked up forgery and a fraud.' This would be the responsible course of action for our peace loving religious leaders to take.

"The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave." Mark Twain

Since Bible reading has gone out of fashion, and even though Pope's and countless preachers of all stripes and variations continue to urge that people take up Bible reading as a daily practice, even though no one ever does, I thought it might be good to familiarize people who don't read Bibles with the religious violence that is taught in Bibles. This will mean that you may never 'draw a clean sweet breath again' but it seems to me that this is a small price to pay to become better educated on these matters.

There is this endless quarrel that goes on between American Liberals and the religious right, with the religious right insisting that America was a nation founded by Christians and based upon the Bible, while liberals insist this is not true. On this issue I am afraid that I must take the side of the religious right, for as you can tell by remembering the massacres that happened to the Native Americans, who were wiped out from coast to coast, and then you compare what Bible believing Christians were told to do the natives of the land, you can easily see that America was indeed founded by Bible believing Christians.

"When the lord your god has led you into the land you are entering to make your own, nations will fall before you. You must lay them under solemn ban and show them no pity." "The lord your god has given you this land as your own. All your fighting men must take up arms and march." Deut. 3:18 "You must drive all the natives of the land before you. If you do not drive the natives of the country before you then those who remain will become disgusting to your eyes and a thorn in your side. They will harass you in the land where you live, and I will deal with you as I meant to deal with them." Num. 33:51 "Devour the nations the lord your god delivers over to you. Show them no pity." Deut. 7:16

"The land you are invading is foul because of the filthiness of the natives. Their land is filled with filth from end to end because of the foulness of the natives. So you must not marry them or be concerned with their prosperity, so that yourselves may grow strong and eat the best of what the country produces yourself, and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.'" Ezra 9:10
"You must keep all the commandments I give you so that you will have the strength to conquer the land you are to enter and make your own." Deut. 11:8 "Annihilate the nations you are dispossessing and make your home in their country." Deut. 12:29 "Put the inhabitants to the slaughter without giving any quarter and burn their town down. In this way the lord might turn from his fierce anger and show you compassion." Deut. 13:15

"god, you gave over these nations and these peoples and allotted these as our regions. They occupied the land. You multiplied their sons and daughters and led them to the land you had told them to possess. Their sons invaded and conquered the land and humbled the natives when you gave into their hands the natives of the land to be treated just as they pleased." Neh 9
"Put the men to the sword, but the women and all the spoil you may take as booty. This is how you are to deal with far away lands. But in the lands that nearby you must not spare a living soul." Deut. 20:10

"They waged war as god had commanded them and killed every male. But they kept the women as captives and took their wealth as spoil. Moses was enraged. 'So you spared the women? Kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse but keep the virgins for yourself. Divide them up evenly.'" Num. 31:7, 14

"Keep your word to march as the lord's vanguard, until the land is subdued before him. This region shall be yours!" Num. 32:20 "Drive out all the natives before you. You shall take possession of the land and settle it, for I, the Lord, have given it to you as your property. Divide it up among your clans." Num. 33:52

"Slaves you may possess, but make sure they are foreigners. You may also make slaves of the natives who dwell among you and from their children who are born and reared in your land. You may own them as chattels and leave them to your sons as their heriditary property, making them slaves forever. But you should not lord it over your own countryman, your own kinsmen." Lev. 25:44

Numbers 21:2 "And Israel vowed a vow to the LORD, and said, "If thou wilt indeed give this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities." And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and gave over the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities."

Deuteronomy 2:1 "When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you ... and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must completely destroy them; you shall make no peace treaties with them, and show no mercy to them."

Deuteronomy 7:16 "And you shall destroy all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you, you will who them no pity ... If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them ... until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed."

Deuteronomy 20:15 "In the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them."

Deuteronomy 31:3 "The LORD your God himself will go over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall take their land .. And the LORD will destroy them. And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandment which I have commanded you."

Deuteronomy 33:27 "Destroy. So Israel dwelt in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and wine; yea, his heavens drop down dew. 29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you? ... Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their heads."

Joshua 9:24 "The LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you."

Judges 21:11 "This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall utterly destroy." And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan."

1 Samuel 15:18 "And the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’"

Joshua 8:24 "When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword."

1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’"