Monday, December 8, 2014

Religious tolerance

It may be that my title is an oxymoron: it is difficult if not impossible for religions to show tolerance.

Fundamental to all the abrahamic religions is an intolerance of all who do not follow their specific creeds.  I can't quote the Sura, but the Koran includes specific injunctions in how to treat, that is kill, heretics, those who do not conform.  It is even harder on those who renounce their faith in Islam.  The Bible similarly includes extreme punishment for those outside the faith (Jeremiah...).  While this is technically included in the Old Testament, it is never the less very much part of the canon of the Christian church.

Central to all the major world faiths is intolerance of the infidel.  How then can we ever get out of the spiralling catastrophe we face?  There is no other way to see the wars of the Middle East but as a fight between religions.  Christian against moslem, moslem against jew.

Yet all these same religions claim to be compassionate and peaceful.  If this is truly to be the case, then they need to expunge from their texts references to barbaric behaviour towards their neighbours. It happened once before with the creation of the Apocrypha; more books need to be declared apocryphal.

They also need to find a way to bury the hatchet, to reach a consensus that continued killing of each other is no civilized way to behave.  The governments of the western world, the US in particular, claiming to be (Christian) god loving, need to show this in their approach to the islamic world.  The islamic world similarly needs to show compassion towards (not only its own people but also) the infidel western world.

Ecumenical efforts need to be promoted.  These need not only to involve Christian churches, the papacy and the anglican communions, but also the islamic faiths, both sunni and shia.

In fact, given the miserable presence of the churches in the public debate on our actions in Iraq and Syria, I call on all of them to create a coalition to call for a peaceful approach.  It appears to be well recognized that the Islamic State is neither islamic or a state.  Yet we are encouraging them by giving them this name.  And our religious leaders say not a public word, make no concerted public effort at denial of intolerance!

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