Some religions appear to be sacred. However, as soon as they are criticized, verbal wood is collected for execution pyres. An article of mine on the topic of homophobia in Islam was barely a few hours online when the first torches were lit:
„By denouncing a religion or a culture with blanket propaganda and exploitation of victims, you’re insinuating that an entire population is prone to terrorism. Bravo, Gerd Buurmann, another two or three such essays and you may gain Donald Trump’s attention and you’ll soon be part of his campaign team.“
Of course, whoever criticizes a religion must certainly be a Donald Trump supporter. Voltaire, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bill Maher and Thomas Jefferson are all presumably in the same boat.
Anyone who criticizes a person because of skin color is a racist. Those who criticize a person on grounds of sexual orientation or identity are sexist. However, if you criticize a person for his beliefs and ideologies, then that’s simply criticism! Criticism is a tool of enlightenment. Those who want to suppress criticism are anti-enlightenment bullies!
Religions are ideologies. Many people cannot pick and choose what religion they’re brought up with, but as soon as they’re adults, they can use reason to decide upon and modify their religious beliefs.
„Why I’m Not a Christian“ by Bertrand Russell was published in 1927. In that invaluable essay, Russell strongly criticizes Christianity. It’s understandable why the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1950s.
I was raised Catholic. I was an altar boy and received the major Church sacraments: baptism, confession, communion, confirmation, abuse. I celebrate Christmas; make the sign of the Cross when I enter churches and often light chapel candles. Nevertheless, there are moments when I criticize Christianity and announce openly why I’m not a Christian, especially whenever crimes are committed in the name of Christianity and Bible references are cited in support of crimes. Bertrand Russell wrote:
„You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.“
He’s right! The same applies to Islam. Whenever crimes are committed in the name of Islam, Muslims, who hold Ramadan sacred and pray regularly in mosques, need to ask themselves in the face of such crimes: „Why I’m not a Muslim“.
No enlightened person should feel offended just because a personally associated religion is criticized. Islam must be shoved through the shredder of enlightenment as Christianity once was. Tapfer im Nirgendwo presents a few of the many fierce polemics that were fired against Christianity:
„The Christian faith from the beginning is sacrifice, the sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of spirit; it is at the same time subjection, self-derision, and self-mutilation.“
„Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.“
„It was Christianity which first painted the devil on the world’s wall; It was Christianity which first brought sin into the world. Belief in the cure which it offered has now been shaken to it’s deepest roots; but belief in the sickness which it taught and propagated continues to exist‘.“
„I condemn Christianity; I raise against the Christian church the most terrible of all accusations that has ever taken in prosecutor in his mouth. It is me the highest of all conceivable corruptions. She has made every value, worthless, of every truth a lie, from any righteousness a Soul infamy.“
„Christianity is the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough – I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race.“
„The Christian conception of God—God as a God of the sick, God as spider, God as spirit—is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God arrived at on earth.“
“My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.”
“The worst feature of the Christian religion, however, is its attitude towards sex — an attitude so morbid and so unnatural that it can be understood only when taken in relation to sickness of the civilized world at the time when the Roman Empire was decaying.“
“For religions grow old like trees unless reformed from time to time. Christianity of the existing kinds has had its day. We want a new form in accordance with science and yet helpful to a good life.“
“You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world.”
„I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out.”
“Christianity has been distinguished from other religions by its greater readiness for persecution.”
“The assertion that Christianity has an uplifting effect on the morale, can only be maintained if you ignore all the historical evidence or falsify it.”
“The Christians assure us that their religion is a religion of love, but the adoption of Christianity by Constantine did nothing to reduce war, and in our day, many of the most fanatic warmongers are Christians.”
“German Catholicism is lousy and dirty in appearance, stupid and brazen in its methods.”
“If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. If your right arm offends you, cut it off. And if reason offends you, become a Catholic.”
„Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
„Morality exists. Immoral is Christianity.”
“Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a régime. True Christians are made to be slaves.”
Are Heine, Böll, Nietzsche, Jefferson, Rousseau and Camus all sitting in the same boat as Donald Trump? They were all quite clear in their assessment of Christianity, suing words like „depraved“ to „bad and dirty“. Nevertheless, these people are considered beacons of the enlightenment.
I have many Christian friends. When I ask them what they think of the homophobic and misogynistic passages in the Bible, they tell me that the Bible is just a book and those passages can’t be taken literally, and that there is indeed a lot silly stuff in the Bible. Some of my studied Christian friends recommend a „historical-critical exegesis“ approach to understanding the Bible.
Anyone who takes each word in the Bible literally, can’t be for gay rights and women’s equality! In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul writes:
”But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.“ – 1 Corinthians 11:5–7
Worldwide there are about 2.3 billion Christians, which is one in three inhabitants of the earth! Most Christians do not abide by all the laws of the Gospel! They are good Christians because they do not blindly follow the Gospel. Worldwide there are 1.6 billion Muslims. What’s their take on the Koran?
It’s often claimed that terrorist attacks in Orlando, Paris and Brussels have nothing to do with Islam. That’s utter nonsense! Of course, the attacks have something to do with Islam, just like the Crusades had something to do with Christianity and Nazism with Germany. The Islamic State (IS) rules like the NSDAP had ruled in the German Reich! In all of the seven countries where homosexuality is punishable by death, we find Islamic governments: Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria.
Freedom of religion is a human right! Human rights are inalienable! Even the most despicable crimes may not cause a person to be denied human rights. Religious freedom includes the right to define one’s own beliefs freely. This right may not be denied anyone, not even a terrorist! During their attacks, Islamists shout: „Allah is great!“ That means they murder in the name of the Koran.
The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the conquistadors who murdered in South America, the pogroms in Europe, the Jew-hating Martin Luther, all that has something to do with Christianity. And of course, the attacks in France, Belgium and in the United States have something to do with Islam!
I’ve read both the Koran and the Bible. After all, almost every second Earthling is either a Christian or a Muslim; I want to know my neighbors. Jesus appears in both books, but He doesn’t die on the cross in Islam. The Gospel is a conglomeration of texts written by various authors and these often contradict each other. The Koran, however, has only one author with a clear intention. That author was a military commander!
The main character in the Gospels was a carpenter who hung out with prostitutes, sinners, and alcoholics. He’s often providing people with wine. Jesus is a hippie who refuses to intervene in secular politics. The main character in the Koran is a warrior with a penchant for wives under ten years of age. He intervened with pronounced violence in world affairs and declared in the name of God that it’s best for followers to submit entirely. In the Gospel, Jesus died miserably on the cross, but a well-contented Mohammad ascended from a distant city up to heaven. I think it makes a difference whether the main character of a book is a poor carpenter who miserably dies at the end, or a military commander who is satisfied after successful battles.
So if Christians can creatively derive a warlike religion from the life and deeds of a poor carpenter, then what can Muslims make out of a successful warrior?
The terrorists of the Islamic State claim that their deeds were inspired by Mohammed. That’s not a contradiction if you’ve read the Koran. The Islamic State does nothing what Mohammed had not done.
People who want to sell us Islam as a religion of peace usually quote the following passage in the fifth sura in the Koran:
„And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”
It bears witness to a high degree of audacity to cite precisely this passage as evidence of an alleged peaceful intent in the Koran. The quoted verse put back in its context is anything but peaceful:
”Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.”
According to the Koran, this commandment applies to the „Children of Israel“, i.e. only to the Jews. This small fact shouldn’t be neglected, especially because in the following lines, Mohammad’s followers are instructed to commit brutal massacres. The Koran continues with:
„Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.“
Mohammed ordered that Jews may not kill. But Mohammad’s followers are allowed excessive brutality towards any troublemakers!
The term „troublemakers“ is perhaps rather vague, open to interpretation. The Koran is less vague when it describes exactly what’s to be done with those troublemakers: expulsion, crucifixion or alternately cutting off hands and feet, depending on the mood and prevailing local traditions.
Those are passages which are quoted to prove Islam means peace. Peace is indeed a very elastic concept! If that is Islamic peace, then what is Islamic war?
If an ideology can’t be criticized, then it’s totalitarian. Whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or communism, the right to criticize and laugh at beliefs ensures they remain human. Whoever says that the soldier Mohammed, who lived about one and a half thousand years ago, shouldn’t be caricatured, but is silent when a baker in Mecca is executed because he converted to Christianity, is truly a fundamentalist fanatic and deserves criticism.
A Muslim, who accepts the Koran literally and orients his life after a murderous general of yesteryear, is at least as ignorant as a Christian who takes the Bible literally.
It is time that the self-aggrandizing in Islam stopped as with Christianity. That will only be possible through education and criticism, with mockery and scorn! What the world needs are more caricatures of Mohammed, as Voltaire’s cartoons provoked the Christian world. We need mental hammers to crush Islam, as Nietzsche once pounded Christianity. Was that Islamophobic? Was the Enlightenment christophobe?
(Translation: William Wires)