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Old 08-11-2007, 09:20 PM   #1
Achilles
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Christianity is a religion of tolerance and other assorted myths

I was browsing Fundies Say the Darndest Things! the other day, when I came upon a quote/story that exemplified for me how christian moderates shield fundamentalists from criticism and why religion is so dangerous.

Quote:
"Just recently my son Bobby came out to me. I had been worried for awhile. His teachers said most of his grades were slipping and he seemed depressed and withdrawn.

Bobby said he'd been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him. I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations. I told him how being gay would mean he would live a shorter life, and that if he couldnt change his orientation he could be celibate like most the ex-gays are. He started crying saying something along the lines of "I knew you wouldnt understand! You're just like everyone else!" before running to his room and slamming the door.

What did I do wrong? I dont want to lose my son, but I fear I already have. I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I've dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he's the one who's feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its 'ok' to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem 'cool' and 'hip' and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth.

Am I too late? Or is it possible to save my son
The last line is an administrator note telling us that her son ended up committing suicide, along with a link to the freejesus.net forum where she decided to share this with her community. Link

I think that when theists (and christians in particular) hear atheists talking about the damage religion does, they tend to think of far off and long ago things like the Crusades or the Inquisition. Or they think of extreme examples like those provided by Pastor Fred Phelps and his ilk. The truth is that this isn't always the case.

Thanks for reading everyone.
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Old 08-12-2007, 06:09 AM   #2
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Much like I refuse to believe good muslims will blow themselves up in the name of Islam, I refuse to believe good christians will do absolute dumb bull**** like this because they are "christian".

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Old 08-12-2007, 01:11 PM   #3
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And she, like some muslims, has removed all doubt by articulating that this is exactly why she does it:
Quote:
I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations.
And, of course, we have all that scripture that supports this too. So I'm not sure how you view christianity as beyond reproach here. Did you even view any of the posts in the 2nd link provided?
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:09 PM   #4
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OK, I've been accused (I think - the person didn't name names) of being too rough in the 'Corner, so I'll try to restrain myself here.

OK, so there are really two sides in me. I know many moderates who are peaceful, loving, lovable persons. I accept that using mythology as a crutch helps many with their problems and that believing in an afterlife eases the grief process by making death less of a taboo subject. And goddness's sake, most Christians and Jews and Muslims are nice people. I get all that, and for those reasons I don't want religion to go away overnight, without people getting a chance to adjust. Religion is a big part of many peoples' lives, and organized religion even more so.

On the other hand, religion by definition is the belief without any sort of evidence, which is not a good thing. Organized religion, with its scriptures advocating this belief and turning it into a dogma is even less so. Think about it for a minute - in any other setting, be it politics, love or schooling, a lack of evidence for any given thing is a sign you should not adhere to it. That religion has somehow recast it as a good thing is nothing less than incredible.

As an illustration, let me give you three examples here. What if I believe, without any evidence at all...
  • ...that there were WMDs in Iraq when Bush started campaigning for invasion? Then I'm naïve.
  • ...that my crush loves me? Then I'm exceptionally arrogant.
  • ...that there is an afterlife and/or one or more gods? Then I'm virtuous.
If I go around talking about how Girl X is in love with me, and give as a rationale that while I have no evidence she does, believing it gives my life meaning, I'd not exactly come across as virtuous.

And that's a girl I know exists. To take it a step further, what if I said that over in a distant country there's a girl who's somehow learned of me and gotten my picture and some info on my personality and achievements and now deeply loves me, and that this belief, this faith, gives my life a lot of meaning? What if I walk around and not only strongly believe this, but let the faith in it dictate how I act in life (I don't eat meat because Girl Y in Burma doesn't like it when I do)? Or worse yet - what if Girl Y commands me to pack a homemade bomb and blow up a bus?

The bottom line here is that while religion does a lot of good for people, it is inherently irrational and is directly responsible for a lot of violence in the world. It comforts millions of grieving and sick and lonely and saves untold numbers of lives, and at the same time hurts and kills millions with its homophobia, holy lands, and other dogmas. A double-egged sword, as it were.

As for the specific story, this is a prime example of why it's so dangerous of well-meaning moderates to respect the beliefs of more fundamentalist believers. If a certain person dislikes gays or non-Christians or eating and writing with your left hand because of his or her religion, that's not something to respect, even though it's religious. I'm tired of talking about Catholics fighting condom use, churches attacking gays, and other instances of immaturity, and getting in reply that religious people shouldn't be forced to act in a way that ran contrary to their beliefs.

PS: FSTDT rules.


Last edited by Dagobahn Eagle; 08-12-2007 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:28 AM   #5
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I don't think ANYTHING, especially religion or politics, can be used to legitimize the use of force, be it emotional (threats, etc) or physical.

By the way, the intolerance some of the people expressed in that second link, in a pious an offhand manner, almost made me vomit. I'm not even kidding.





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Old 08-13-2007, 01:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
I know many moderates who are peaceful, loving, lovable persons.
Agreed. There are many people that have chosen only to accept the finest parts of the bible and religious doctrine. My contention with religious thinking that we should, for some reason, expect these people to behave in a completely different manner without their belief. Religion claims to exclusive access to absolute truths and this is not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
I accept that using mythology as a crutch helps many with their problems and that believing in an afterlife eases the grief process by making death less of a taboo subject.
If this was all the religion provided then there probably won't be much of a problem. However, these are clearly questionable "benefits" at best because they are based entirely upon self-deception. Compounded by the fact that religious doctrine is frequently saddled with instructions on who to hate and when to kill. If you are compliant you get to bask in eternal salvation and if you are not then you spend eternity being punished (if you're christian or muslim. Judaism has no concept of hell).

No doubt we all need a little help getting through tough times, but I know for a fact there are better alternatives than this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
And goddness's sake, most Christians and Jews and Muslims are nice people. I get all that, and for those reasons I don't want religion to go away overnight, without people getting a chance to adjust. Religion is a big part of many peoples' lives, and organized religion even more so.
*Shrugs*
Indeed people do need to adjust on their own timelines. Not sure how biting our tongues and continuing this terrible tradition of cowed silence will help though. A lot of times people are afraid to come forward because there is no message to rally around. Sometimes all someone needs is a little help with that first step.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
On the other hand, religion by definition is the belief without any sort of evidence, which is not a good thing. Organized religion, with its scriptures advocating this belief and turning it into a dogma is even less so. Think about it for a minute - in any other setting, be it politics, love or schooling, a lack of evidence for any given thing is a sign you should not adhere to it. That religion has somehow recast it as a good thing is nothing less than incredible.
Indeed. There is no other arena in which respect for nonsence is demanded and then given. No one says "you have to respect my beliefs about politics" and expects it to actually be given. Yet somehow this has been the status quo for religion for centuries.

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Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
The bottom line here is that while religion does a lot of good for people, it is inherently irrational and is directly responsible for a lot of violence in the world. It comforts millions of grieving and sick and lonely and saves untold numbers of lives, and at the same time hurts and kills millions with its homophobia, holy lands, and other dogmas. A double-egged sword, as it were.
If religion were the best source we had for morality, I would tend to agree that we have a conundrum. However, religion is a rather poor source for morality, therefore I cannot understand why this is even a consideration. None of us would drive a car that occationally burst into flames, instantly killing everyone inside. Yet somehow more than half the worlds population is willing to adopt a set of beliefs that occationally results in war, famine, genocide, infancide, prejudice, hate-crimes, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
As for the specific story, this is a prime example of why it's so dangerous of well-meaning moderates to respect the beliefs of more fundamentalist believers. If a certain person dislikes gays or non-Christians or eating and writing with your left hand because of his or her religion, that's not something to respect, even though it's religious. I'm tired of talking about Catholics fighting condom use, churches attacking gays, and other instances of immaturity, and getting in reply that religious people shouldn't be forced to act in a way that ran contrary to their beliefs.
I'm not sure how much press this gets overseas, but have you heard about the Westboro Baptist Church here in the U.S.? These people are picketing funerals to spread there message abouts God's hatred of homosexuals (Link). Make note of the url/banner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt
By the way, the intolerance some of the people expressed in that second link, in a pious an offhand manner, almost made me vomit. I'm not even kidding.
My physical reaction wasn't quite that extreme but I can definitely empathize.
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt
I don't think ANYTHING, especially religion or politics, can be used to legitimize the use of force, be it emotional (threats, etc) or physical.

By the way, the intolerance some of the people expressed in that second link, in a pious an offhand manner, almost made me vomit. I'm not even kidding.
Accepting abuse 'because the Bible says the wife should submit to her husband' has to be the most misused passage. Too many women are brainwashed, be it with religion or not, into thinking that it's somehow their fault that their SO beat the snot out of them. Never mind the fact that she didn't grab her husband's fist and use it to hit herself with. Ugh.

I was likewise disturbed by the story of the woman and her son, not only for the fact that her theology was incorrect (which is a separate topic itself), but because it was just an incredibly inept and (probably unintentionally) destructive way to deal with her son's sexual identity confusion, any reasons why he may have had that confusion (I wouldn't be surprised if abuse was involved), and his obvious depression over all of it.

About the Westboro people--I lived in Topeka so I saw them out a lot. It's a relatively small church run by a defrocked and disbarred 'minister'/lawyer who allegedly has a history of abuse (both receiving and giving), and according to a Topeka newspaper expose may have a problem with severe depression. Many of the members havel gotten law degrees so they can argue their cases in court for 'first amendment rights' (though Phelps has had his law license revoked), and to some extent they've been successful. There are about 4 or 5 large extended families in that church.
The Baptists have disavowed him (which is why they yanked his ordained minister status). The only reason he gets so much attention is because his abject hatred of homosexuality is so rabid it gets him a lot of press. Since he thrives on public attention, the best thing to do is to ignore him entirely in the same vein in MacBeth: "'tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing." He's never going to change, and engaging him in debate just allows him to spew more hatred. The Topeka police department is finally getting the cajones to prosecute church members for physical abuse (they were hesitant in the past due to church members filing frequent lawsuits, usually frivolous, but it still takes time and money to fight). Most people in Topeka completely ignore him and consider his activities (usually picketing on a particular corner with obnoxious signs) to be a blight on an otherwise terrific community.


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Old 08-13-2007, 01:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Accepting abuse 'because the Bible says the wife should submit to her husband' has to be the most misused passage. Too many women are brainwashed, be it with religion or not, into thinking that it's somehow their fault that their SO beat the snot out of them. Never mind the fact that she didn't grab her husband's fist and use it to hit herself with. Ugh.
Women are systematically subjugated in the bible. That scripture has been interpreted as justification for spousal abuse should surprise no one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I was likewise disturbed, not only for the fact that her theology was incorrect
No question that it was "wrong". Unfortunately, whether or not it was "incorrect" is only a matter of opinion. Perhaps if god's word were not to open to interpretation we could allow ourselves the luxury of objective examination of the doctrine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
but because it was just an incredibly inept and (probably unintentionally) destructive way to deal with her son's sexual identity confusion, any reasons why he may have had that confusion (I wouldn't be surprised if abuse was involved), and his obvious depression over all of it.
It appears that here peer group felt that she handled it correctly.
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
That scripture has been interpreted as justification for spousal abuse should surprise no one....No question that it was "wrong". Unfortunately, whether or not it was "incorrect" is only a matter of opinion. Perhaps if god's word were not to open to interpretation we could allow ourselves the luxury of objective examination of the doctrine....It appears that here peer group felt that she handled it correctly.
Just offering a perspective on that particular issue from an evangelical and female point of view--not trying to turn this into another theism vs. atheism debate.

See above on Westboro folks--the worst thing any of us can do is to give these people any more press than they've already gained.


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Old 08-13-2007, 02:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Just offering a perspective on that particular issue from an evangelical and female point of view--not trying to turn this into another theism vs. atheism debate.
Considering that she was both evangelical and female (as were a few of the contributors in the subsequent thread), I would say that we already have a female evangelical point of view. But yours differs, therefore we are left to wonder which one is the more accurate of the two. It would seem that we need some criteria separate from those already provided to decide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
See above on Westboro folks--the worst thing any of us can do is to give these people any more press than they've already gained.
On the contrary, I think that such behavior shouldn't be sheltered from scrutiny. This is exactly what I meant earlier by religious moderates acting as a shield for religious extremists. "Oh that's not real christianity" is what allows this kind of behavior to continue.
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Old 08-13-2007, 02:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Considering that she was both evangelical and female (as were a few of the contributors in the subsequent thread), I would say that we already have a female evangelical point of view. But yours differs, therefore we are left to wonder which one is the more accurate of the two. It would seem that we need some criteria separate from those already provided to decide.
Actually, she's fundamentalist (given the title of the site it came from....). There's a difference. Either that or I actually _read_ my Bible instead of depending on someone to tell me what it says to do, but that's straying off the topic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
On the contrary, I think that such behavior shouldn't be sheltered from scrutiny. This is exactly what I meant earlier by religious moderates acting as a shield for religious extremists. "Oh that's not real christianity" is what allows this kind of behavior to continue.
Normally I would agree with you, and I assure you it's not because I think 'that's not real Christianity'. It's because he _wants_ the scrutiny so that he has yet more public voice to spread his hate. He and his daughter love it when they get on national television for picketing funerals of people they think might be gay. They don't discuss their reasoning for the pickets when they're on TV, they shout about how everyone except their chosen little band are all going to hell for not being believers in their brand of hate. They love the limelight, and it just makes them worse when they get it. Choking off their access to attention will help decrease some of their crap. I don't object to people discussing gay-bashing as a topic, I just prefer not to give this group any more ammo.


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Old 08-13-2007, 02:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Actually, she's fundamentalist (given the title of the site it came from....).
Fair enough (I didn't look at the title of the site ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Either that or I actually _read_ my Bible instead of depending on someone to tell me what it says to do, but that's straying off the topic.
There also a difference between reading a book and critically analyzing it too, but as you point out, that's straying off topic.

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Normally I would agree with you, and I assure you it's not because I think 'that's not real Christianity'. It's because he _wants_ the scrutiny so that he has yet more public voice to spread his hate. He and his daughter love it when they get on national television for picketing funerals of people they think might be gay.
Ooo, I think we might be on divergent paths here. I'm not saying "give the man more airtime". I'm simply stating that he should not be ignored and left to do whatever he wants without anyone keeping an eye on him.
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Old 08-13-2007, 03:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I'm not saying "give the man more airtime". I'm simply stating that he should not be ignored and left to do whatever he wants without anyone keeping an eye on him.
How do you propose to do that? Short of giving him more airtime, even if only indirectly, how would you go about doing such a thing? There's probably a government dossier on him somewhere already anyway.


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Old 08-13-2007, 09:41 PM   #14
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I don't think religion or atheism makes someone a bad person, I have seen people who do the right and wrong thing when it has nothing to do with it.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I was likewise disturbed by the story of the woman and her son, not only for the fact that her theology was incorrect
What is incorrect about it? That she thought it wasn't ok to be gay or that his salvation was in danger if he didn't resist his "unnatural temptations?" Her interpretation sounds like the most common one. Can you clarify?

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
but because it was just an incredibly inept and (probably unintentionally) destructive way to deal with her son's sexual identity confusion
What's he confused about? It sounds like he was confused about how to express himself to certain people, not about his sexuality.

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Old 08-14-2007, 12:41 AM   #16
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Dagobahn, I appreciate the fact that you are taking softer tone on religion than what i've seen before . I want to point out that although most Christians build rationale around their faith that has been passed down instead of rationally arriving at their faith, for me it was an experience and sort of evidence that initiated it. The event would take too long to describe on here, unless someone really wants to read a looong post.


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Old 08-14-2007, 10:58 AM   #17
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I am definitely interested, if you have the time.


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Old 08-14-2007, 03:09 PM   #18
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The night I accepted Christ (after VBS), Christ spoke to me in a dream. Now in this dream there were numerous symbols all representing something in Christianity or my life all tied together with a coherent plot. One could argue that my subconscious could come up with a dream like that, but I doubt it first because of the coherence and second because this was when I was young before I had taken any literature or any other sort of class that taught about metaphors and symbols. This was one of the realest dreams I've had and almost all my others dreams were just jumblings of nonsense. Ofcourse there were other small miracles and such later on that helped me that could be explained away by deviant coincidences, but if you are still interested in me expanding the above bit further I'll be happy to do so . Right now honestly I can tell you that other than Christ being one of the most loving and wise religious founders, I still don't see much that makes Christianity that special. If it weren't for the dream I would probably be agnostic right now.


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Old 08-14-2007, 03:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Right now honestly I can tell you that other than Christ being one of the most loving and wise religious founders, I still don't see much that makes Christianity that special. If it weren't for the dream I would probably be agnostic right now.
Hi Tinny,
Thank you for sharing your story. It seems that you're willing to acknowledge the possibility that your dream was simply a product of your mind, so I won't comment on that further. However, I do think that this acceptance compounded by the fact that we have no evidence for the existence of jesus christ, let alone his divinity, and that his story very closely relates to other myths from the era and region, makes a very poor case for the rationality of christian faith.
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:00 PM   #20
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What is incorrect about it? That she thought it wasn't ok to be gay or that his salvation was in danger if he didn't resist his "unnatural temptations?" Her interpretation sounds like the most common one. Can you clarify?
Her interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, since Christ never says 'you're going to hell if you're gay'. His salvation is not in danger from what he does, his salvation, assuming you accept the Christian faith, is determined by his belief that Christ died for his sins. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
It says nothing like "that whosoever believes in Him, and is a straight Republican fundamentalist literal creationist WASP shall not perish".

Where in the world did you get the idea that I'm anti-gay? My discussion on why I think the prohibition was placed in the Bible (based on several medical studies on the increased risk of colorectal problems associated with male/male sex) doesn't make me anti-gay. One of my dearest and closest friends ever was gay and died of AIDS 10 years ago. I miss him to this very day. My sister-in-law is gay and I have other friends who happen to be gay. I really don't care that they're gay, to be honest.

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What's he confused about? It sounds like he was confused about how to express himself to certain people, not about his sexuality.
Actually, I think he was confused about both his sexuality (since he apparently said he thinks he might be gay if I read that right) and how to express himself. There's no way to know for certain without far more information about what he actually said versus what mom reported.

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How do you propose to do that? Short of giving him more airtime, even if only indirectly, how would you go about doing such a thing? There's probably a government dossier on him somewhere already anyway.
He certainly has the attention of the Topeka Police Department and the State of Kansas, given all his crazy lawsuits.


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Old 08-17-2007, 01:03 PM   #21
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Her interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, since Christ never says 'you're going to hell if you're gay'.
Technically, jesus never says anything in the bible. No one ever sees him except Paul in a vision. The rest of these stories are told 3rd person via (mostly) anonymous authors more than 40 years after his death. They're narratives.

What Paul (the church founder) says though, is quite clear:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 1:26-27, 31-32
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

<snip stuff about other people god deems worthy of death>

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
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Originally Posted by 1 Corinthians 6:9
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
I purposely did not reference anything from the old testament in deference to your interpretation that it no longer applies.

Therefore, there is some foundation for her interpretation just as you show that there is some foundation for yours. I don't think it's fair to dismiss her interpretation out of hand because the verses that she would (most likely) cite contradict the ones that you would.

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His salvation is not in danger from what he does, his salvation, assuming you accept the Christian faith, is determined by his belief that Christ died for his sins.
Which flavor of christian faith are you referring to? There are many.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
Doesn't matter unless you accept the holy spirit as well (Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10). Seems that John saw a great many things differently than the synoptic authors.

cue triune debate

It would seem that there is some contradiction between 1 Corinthians and John. Paul provides us a list of 10 groups of people that will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, but John tells us (one hundred years later) something different. Since Paul allegedly saw jesus, but John never did, shouldn't we take Paul's word over John's? Whatever conclusion we arrive at, it seems that we will need more mental gymnastics to get us there.

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Old 08-18-2007, 10:12 AM   #22
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John never saw Jesus? John lived with Jesus for a good three years! If it was the same John as the one at Patmos, he also saw a large vision much probably much bigger than what Paul saw. The earliest recorded manuscripts we have of the gospels come from around 70 AD, but it doesn't mean it had to be handed down orally (even if it did it would not have morphed much at all from the original disciples narration), it could just as well mean earlier ones were lost or destroyed.


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Old 08-18-2007, 02:21 PM   #23
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Hi Tinny,

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John never saw Jesus? John lived with Jesus for a good three years!
There is some dispute over whether or not John the Apostle is also the author of the gospel of John. While this means that we cannot rule out the possibility that they are one in the same, it also means that we cannot blindly assume that they are.

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If it was the same John as the one at Patmos, he also saw a large vision much probably much bigger than what Paul saw.
John's vision gave us Revelations. Paul's vision gave us christianity.

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Originally Posted by Tinny
The earliest recorded manuscripts we have of the gospels come from around 70 AD,
A correction, if I may: I think you may be confusing our earliest manuscript, John (via P52) with our earliest gospel, Mark. P52 is dated to approximately 125 AD. Biblical scholars place Mark (a completely different gospel) at at least 70 AD because it makes clear reference to the destruction of the temple.

And for what it's worth, the earliest work that we do have is incredibly small.

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but it doesn't mean it had to be handed down orally (even if it did it would not have morphed much at all from the original disciples narration),
You've obviously never played the telephone game

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Originally Posted by Tinny
it could just as well mean earlier ones were lost or destroyed.
Indeed. However there is no reason to think that these hypothetical earlier editions were any less prone to scribal errors and textual alterations than their progeny.
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Old 08-18-2007, 05:21 PM   #24
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Ah prophecy, so must be pushed later :P. There are quite a number of scholars that do push it to an earlier date (they believe that Jesus really did predict Jerusalem's fall). I do concur though that I made quite a few assumptions above. You made a valid point with the telephone game, but I want to point out when passing religious texts or oral tradition within just a few generations, there would be quite a few witnesses to make sure that the details were as accurate as possible. One of the best examples I can think of are the Dead Sea scrolls which when discovered rather recently proved to be faithful to the next oldest manuscripts that were dated to be much younger.


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Old 08-18-2007, 07:46 PM   #25
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Ah prophecy, so must be pushed later :P.
I'm not sure that I follow.

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There are quite a number of scholars that do push it to an earlier date (they believe that Jesus really did predict Jerusalem's fall).
Then why did you yourself say, "The earliest recorded manuscripts we have of the gospels come from around 70 AD"? The earliest recorded manuscript that we have is from ~125 AD, as far as I know (and it is a 3.5 x 2.5 scrap of papyrus, not an complete writing). If you would like to set me straight on this, I more than welcome the correction.

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I do concur though that I made quite a few assumptions above. You made a valid point with the telephone game, but I want to point out when passing religious texts or oral tradition within just a few generations, there would be quite a few witnesses to make sure that the details were as accurate as possible.
But there was no complete New Testament until several hundred years after the church's founding. First we had Paul's letters which were sent to isolated places, not a centralized church (Thessalonia, Galacia, Corinth, etc were places). Each of these groups of followers put Paul's message into their own context. Second, you seem to be ignoring apocrypha. Third, you also seem to be forgetting that early christianity was a floundering cult which took some time to build up. Fourth, there were no multitudes of witnesses to keep the details accurate (because those alleged witness were dead and/or hundreds of miles away). Fifth, most early christians were illiterate. Copies that were produced were done, by hand, by individuals within the communities, not within scriptoria. This means that texts were sometimes copied character-by-character by someone that couldn't read or write. If forced to hand-copy the 1 corinthians in kione greek, what degree of accuracy do you think you would be able to guarantee?

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One of the best examples I can think of are the Dead Sea scrolls which when discovered rather recently proved to be faithful to the next oldest manuscripts that were dated to be much younger.
Forgive my ignorance with regards to the dead sea scrolls, but weren't the findings almost exclusively old testament? The old testament was the purview of the jews, for which there as a strong tradition of literacy via the pharisees. That there was not much difference should not be surprising as their order had been established for some time. No such tradition or order existed within the early christian church.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:09 PM   #26
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I'm sorry, I should have differentiated between our earliest recorded manuscripts and when the gospels were first written. I was giving dates as to when secular scholars place the writing of the first gospels, many others place them earlier. Yes, the Dead Sea scrolls were OT, but that wasn't the point. I was giving an example as to how religious texts wouldn't change that much, especially within a generation. Our earliest manuscript does date to about 150 AD, although there are other controversial manuscripts which date even further back.


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Old 08-18-2007, 08:25 PM   #27
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I'm sorry, I should have differentiated between our earlier recorded manuscripts and when the gospels were first written. I was giving dates as to when secular scholars place the writing of the first gospels, many others place them earlier.
Ok. It seems as though we're on the same page then: our first gospel is G.Mark and is presumed to have been written around 70 AD, although no firm year of authorship has been assigned. Sound about right?

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Yes, the Dead Sea scrolls were OT, but that wasn't the point. I was giving an example as to why religious texts wouldn't change that much, especially within a generation.
On the contrary, I think that OT vs NT is key to the argument for the reasons that I provided in the rebuttal above.

Just to recap: Judaism = established textual tradition. Early christianity = no established textual tradition.

This is very relevant to the topic, which was "how it is nearly impossible to lay claim to any one 'correct' interpretation of the bible, specifically jesus' alleged message in the NT".

I hope this helps to clarify my argument. Thanks for reading.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:50 PM   #28
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That sounds about right on the first point . I see where you are coming from, I just figured that even though there were no strict guidelines among the early church like there was in Judaism, the church authorities in Judea, Antioch and elsewhere would form some sort of informal consensus and guideline for the tradition decided by the higher ups in the hierarchy of the Church of the time.


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Old 08-18-2007, 09:20 PM   #29
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A tradition was established over time, however the canonical NT took hundreds of years to finalize.

From my perspective, it seems rather odd to boast one 'correct' interpretation over another when you consider:

1) We have no original texts.
2) We have multiple variants of each canonical text.
3) The oldest texts that we have are written in dead languages (classical hebrew, kione greek, latin, etc).
4) Scribal abbreviations make translation difficult.
5) Schisms within textual criticism have influenced which translations were used during different periods (i.e. Lectio difficilior potior vs Lectio brevior praeferenda, and so on).
6) We have missing texts (i.e. Q)
7) In many cases, we have no attributable authors.
8) We have stories passing from oral tradition to written tradition.
9) We have political and cultural influences in the versioning.
10) We have contradictions in the text.
11) We have evidence of multiple textual changes (both intentional and unintentional).
...etc, etc.

So when I think about all that, I have to stop and wonder, "why bother?".

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Old 08-19-2007, 09:09 PM   #30
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You make some interesting points Achilles. As a Christian by practice and family tradition, I have to say my experience are on a 'personal level'. When it comes to using my 'personal experiences' to prove god's existance, I will no doubt loose the war in trying to convince people. I guess its all about the personal level. People are drawn to the Bible, for it talks about moralistic values. If you do something wrong to fellow man, expect a lesson in humility. Unfortunately the Bible is tainted by several translations and public relations chages. Mankind and history have done their damage to the original translation. If there was a more credible way to make an argument, I'm sure it would change the way we all approach Christianity.

'Personal Connections With God" vrs. "Historical and Literary Facts" is a harsh debate to be involved with. Its all about a personal perspective, which the individual makes with religion. I don't agree with forcing religion down anyone's throught. I guess the question is: "What do you want to believe in?"



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Old 08-19-2007, 10:42 PM   #31
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Her interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, since Christ never says 'you're going to hell if you're gay'. His salvation is not in danger from what he does, his salvation, assuming you accept the Christian faith, is determined by his belief that Christ died for his sins.
Fair enough. But I took it that the overall point was that the mother thought that either being gay or participating in homosexual acts was wrong. She certainly has many reasons to believe this, as is evidenced by the responses on the link above, as well as recent comments by the Pope about it being evil. But I'm sure you will agree that it would be hard for many Christians to agree with you that there is nothing wrong with being gay, when the majority of what they are told by the "religious authorities" indicates that it is evil and wrong. Plus, as others have pointed out, there are many scriptures that can easily be interpreted as condemning it.

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Where in the world did you get the idea that I'm anti-gay?
I didn't mean to imply that. I was confused by your comment.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Actually, I think he was confused about both his sexuality (since he apparently said he thinks he might be gay if I read that right) and how to express himself.
From this line: "Bobby said he'd been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him." I assumed that he wasn't confused about being gay (since knew for a while), only how to break the horrible news to his mother.

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Old 08-22-2007, 12:15 PM   #32
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Fair enough. But I took it that the overall point was that the mother thought that either being gay or participating in homosexual acts was wrong. She certainly has many reasons to believe this, as is evidenced by the responses on the link above, as well as recent comments by the Pope about it being evil.
From my point of view this is the problem with religion - that it tries to impose values into a person's personal life and belief. This would be ok if anywhere in the bible it said "Being Gay is wrong" but it doesn't. In fact the bible is such a loosely worded book that from one quote people can take many different interpretations. This is the same with all religions - in islam the Koran says that women should "dress modestly". To some this means long sleeves and long skirts, to others that all their skin must be covered. This means many different beliefs can exist under one religion as we see in the fact that the Pope believes being gay and wearing condoms is evil. This isn't stated anywhere in the Bible - simply how the Pope interprets the teachings made 2000 years ago (when there were no condoms so no-one could possibly set in stone the official view of the church).

And then theres the fact that people cant see outside of their religion and let other people lead their own lives as in the original post in the thread which is a sad story. The fact is I know more tolerant drug users than the woman in the story as they never pressure others into using drugs. When we bear in mind that the christian does what she does because of her morals this then puts a wierd slant on things and leads us to the question,

"Who has the better morals - the drug user or the extreme christian?"


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Old 08-23-2007, 06:28 PM   #33
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Quote:
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From my point of view this is the problem with religion - that it tries to impose values into a person's personal life and belief. This would be ok if anywhere in the bible it said "Being Gay is wrong" but it doesn't. In fact the bible is such a loosely worded book that from one quote people can take many different interpretations. This is the same with all religions - in islam the Koran says that women should "dress modestly". To some this means long sleeves and long skirts, to others that all their skin must be covered. This means many different beliefs can exist under one religion as we see in the fact that the Pope believes being gay and wearing condoms is evil. This isn't stated anywhere in the Bible - simply how the Pope interprets the teachings made 2000 years ago (when there were no condoms so no-one could possibly set in stone the official view of the church).

And then theres the fact that people cant see outside of their religion and let other people lead their own lives as in the original post in the thread which is a sad story. The fact is I know more tolerant drug users than the woman in the story as they never pressure others into using drugs. When we bear in mind that the christian does what she does because of her morals this then puts a wierd slant on things and leads us to the question,

"Who has the better morals - the drug user or the extreme christian?"
Actually, there are a few problems with your post. The Pope doesn't say that being of homosexual orientation makes someone evil (we are more than the sum of our sexual experiences). The sexual practices are condemned, but heteros are only "good" that way w/in the confines marriage. As to the drug user, I've known equally tolerant drug users and others who tried to pressure me to use the substance. Also, your examples only deal with an isolated instance, thus leading to a false choice as to who is more moral. Is the state immoral for coercing you to obey the law, the key word here being coercing? Just remember, not all religious people seek to turn you into a drone (afterall, if God/god doesn't force you to abandon your free will in "obeying Him", it's not their place to do so either). If I'm reading you right, however, I'd agree with your underlying sentiment and no more wish to see people of any faith imposing their restrictions on my daily life. We have enough of that with the government as it is.


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Old 08-24-2007, 06:23 AM   #34
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Also, your examples only deal with an isolated instance, thus leading to a false choice as to who is more moral...
...Just remember, not all religious people seek to turn you into a drone (afterall, if God/god doesn't force you to abandon your free will in "obeying Him", it's not their place to do so either).
Ahh but one isolated instance in the first post of this thread lead to the death of her son. I know that not all religious people seek to turn you to a drone - I am friends with many religious people - but an if an isolated instance is all that is needed to cause a death then, as said in the first post, the moderate religious leaders should be made to express their views carefully and a whole religion should, in part, be blamed for any loss of life caused because of a belief in their religion - the leaders should clarify to the extremists what their stance is on such matters and how they should be resolved.

Also we shouldn't forget the fact that the views of a few "isolated instances" of extremism caused suicide bombings that caused hundreds of deaths (9-11, 7-7). In my view religion has spent too long defending the fact that its only extremists that carry out these bombings. If many other organisation carried such attacks out then the leaders of the organisation would be held resposible aswell as the perpetrators whereas religious groups seem to have the power to move the blame away from themselves by saying "It's not us, its the extremists". If they wished to look better to the rest of the public they would help stop such beliefs being nurtured.

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If I'm reading you right, however, I'd agree with your underlying sentiment and no more wish to see people of any faith imposing their restrictions on my daily life. We have enough of that with the government as it is.
Personally I dont mind people telling me how to live my life (we all need a laugh) but its when they take action on these things and it affects peoples lives it kinda p***es me off. We proberably have different governments (guessing ur USA coz most people are here) but mines totally corrupt and crazy so not much change.


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Old 08-24-2007, 08:18 AM   #35
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I know that not all religious people seek to turn you to a drone - I am friends with many religious people - but an if an isolated instance is all that is needed to cause a death then, as said in the first post, the moderate religious leaders should be made to express their views carefully and a whole religion should, in part, be blamed for any loss of life caused because of a belief in their religion - the leaders should clarify to the extremists what their stance is on such matters and how they should be resolved.
The same should also apply outside of religion. I know people think that fluffy pink bunny rabbits will bound through ever expanding green fields if people stopped believing, but people have to know the diffirence between being critical of religion and being antitheist; hostile to those who believe in or practice it.
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:12 AM   #36
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Ahh but one isolated instance in the first post of this thread lead to the death of her son. I know that not all religious people seek to turn you to a drone - I am friends with many religious people - but an if an isolated instance is all that is needed to cause a death then, as said in the first post, the moderate religious leaders should be made to express their views carefully and a whole religion should, in part, be blamed for any loss of life caused because of a belief in their religion - the leaders should clarify to the extremists what their stance is on such matters and how they should be resolved.

Also we shouldn't forget the fact that the views of a few "isolated instances" of extremism caused suicide bombings that caused hundreds of deaths (9-11, 7-7). In my view religion has spent too long defending the fact that its only extremists that carry out these bombings. If many other organisation carried such attacks out then the leaders of the organisation would be held resposible aswell as the perpetrators whereas religious groups seem to have the power to move the blame away from themselves by saying "It's not us, its the extremists". If they wished to look better to the rest of the public they would help stop such beliefs being nurtured.

Not really sure how you hold them accountable. Do you punish the Pope for the sins of a Baptist? How do you propose to hold someone accountable for the actions of an individual (lest of course you can prove conspiracy)? Three of the world's major faiths are splintered. So, who do you punish or hold accountable if a methodist bombs an abortion clinic? Besides, all groups and governments have a certain amount of culpable deniability when it comes to the individual actions of their members. I'm not so sure about your claim about organizations being held accountable. There have been many reported cases of looting, rape and cannabalism tied to UN forces, but no one ever really seems to be held too accountable for that. Unaware of any Secretary General that's been deposed for such misconduct (let alone been held legally responsible). Outside of condemnation, Hamas and company have killed many people, but no one's really been held accountable (in a meaningful way) there either.

But it also raises a question, what actions are you expecting from these religions? PSAs against violence? Most people, as you've noticed, are not extremists. So, what else does a faith need to do? How exactly, from your perspective, are they nurturing these people in the first place? Don't recall any priests telling me to go out and stone adulturers or blow up clinics when I was in school.

Quote:
Personally I dont mind people telling me how to live my life (we all need a laugh) but its when they take action on these things and it affects peoples lives it kinda p***es me off. We proberably have different governments (guessing ur USA coz most people are here) but mines totally corrupt and crazy so not much change.
Yeah, it's the imposing part (talk is cheap afterall) that rankles most. Can't speak for you, but 80 lashes in public seems extreme for getting drunk and committing adultry (Iran). What country are you from?


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Old 08-25-2007, 08:37 AM   #37
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But it also raises a question, what actions are you expecting from these religions? PSAs against violence? Most people, as you've noticed, are not extremists. So, what else does a faith need to do? How exactly, from your perspective, are they nurturing these people in the first place? Don't recall any priests telling me to go out and stone adulturers or blow up clinics when I was in school.
Unfortunetly there is the belief that this is how people who follow religion should act, that they are not being true to their faith unless they are killing.
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Old 08-25-2007, 10:37 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Totenkopf
Not really sure how you hold them accountable. Do you punish the Pope for the sins of a Baptist? How do you propose to hold someone accountable for the actions of an individual (lest of course you can prove conspiracy)?
I'm from England. Recently our tv channel 4 was accused by the police of editing a video to put its content out of context. It was footage of an islamic religious meeting in a mosque and the leader was saying how in an ideal muslim society homosexuals would be thrown off cliffs. As you can see this is clearly promoting extremism but also leaving insurance that he never said they should in Britain as he said "in an ideal muslim society".

You would think this is extremism but he isn't saying "go out and kill homosexuals" so apparently he is still a moderate. He may well only mean for the image to deter his congregation but it isn't clear. This means one person may think that he is saying "don't be a homosexual" whereas another person may think it means "go out and kill homosexuals".

If this was filmed and then one of the congregation went out and killed a homosexual then he would definitely be to blame.

The fact is if someone kills in the name of a religion the religion is thought of in a bad light - the religious leaders should make a statement to condemn the action not say "its not us it's the extremists".


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Old 08-25-2007, 05:15 PM   #39
Totenkopf
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Well, good luck getting that in Islam these days, as I think the "moderates" in many cases are either somewhat sympathetic to the goal of the extremists or are scared to death of them. Fear does seem to paralyze people. In fairness, over here at least, there are muslims who will go on tv and in print to condemn these actions. But mostly it seems like a ghetto/omerta type of thing where you're not supposed to "snitch" on those in your group that commit crimes. I would agree that in your example (probably a Wahhabist mosque, I think most foreign ones tend to be these days) that the imam is likely guilty of conspiracy or at least inciting inflamed passions in others who would likely take the "suggestion" as direction. So, what type of accountability are you proposing?


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Old 08-26-2007, 08:45 AM   #40
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Banned from preaching? Deported? Taken out of a position of religious power so they can't affect people. Especially when you've got as much evidence as a recording of him making his claims it seems an open and shut case of defending public safety.


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