Bring It On!

Fighting for Ideas

July 3rd, 2007 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

Blogs Against TheocracyAfter last week’s car bombing in Glasgow, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed a radical Islamic doctor who advocates Islamic law - or Sharia. What made this interview surprising wasn’t that a radical Muslim would advocate Sharia, but that he called for its total imposition worldwide. He believes that everyone should completely renounce other religions, abolish all national laws, and subjugate themselves only to the law of Islam. “Sharia,” he said, “is God’s law…the only law.”

As evidenced by Afghanistan under the Taliban, people fare poorly under theocracies. They are weak institutions that hold sway by stamping out any trace of the individuality that is the foundation of the human spirit. In theocracies, people must not question. They must not think. They must only follow and give up the power to do for themselves to a junta of clerics who make the narrow interpretations that govern everyday life.

They Think God is on Their Side

Without the practice of everyday critical thinking, creativity and inventiveness decline and the theocratic society begins to fall apart. The normal give and take of religions and social institutions that existed before theocracy withers and the society is radically divided into two groups - believers and non-believers. There is no middle ground, but there is plenty of battling and bloodshed. Religious wars are the most virulent form of war. Nothing makes warriors fight harder than the certain belief that God is on their side - whether it’s true or not.

Many in the US think of theocracies only as a product of Islam run amok. They look at the Middle East and think, it could never happen here. They fail to see the few small steps between, say, banning homosexuality to stoning a woman who is raped. They see few parallels between a car bomb at an Iraqi mosque and a letter bomb at an abortion clinic. Theocrats always view themselves as the sole proprietors of what is true and never stop to see that often there is more than one truth. The only difference between the Islamic doctor and James Dobson is the book they base their utopian fantasies on.

Fighting for Ideas
Battling theocracy is not about fighting “islamofacist terrorists”. It’s not about forcing people to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. It isn’t about squelching all traces of religion, nor agitating for every religious theory be given the same credence as verifiable science.

Fighting against theocracy is about fighting for ideas. It’s about fighting for the right to believe as you wish. It’s about accepting people, religions, and societal attitudes for what they are - simply manifestations of the infinite variety and inventiveness of mankind.

If you’re religious, it’s about trusting your God for having the wisdom to make humans sentient, thinking beings capable of tolerance and wisdom. If you’re irreligious, it’s about understanding the same things about your fellow man. But regardless of which side of the ecclesiastical fence you sit, it’s an important battle none of us can afford to lose.

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  1. 20 Responses to “Fighting for Ideas”

  2. By SteveIL on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Slander is not a good way to present a message:

    The only difference between the Islamic doctor and James Dobson is the book they base their utopian fantasies on.

    The fact that Dobson doesn’t have his minions commit murder is another difference.

    I get that nanny-state “liberals” seem to think if somebody believes in a god, then the believer will murder for that god or impose their own dogma on anybody else.  And considering the number of Islamofascist terrorists loose in the world trying to do just that, who can blame them.  Except that there is no proof of the widespread slaughter of “God’s enemies” by the likes of Dobson or a Jerry Falwell.  There’s no denying some murder has been done by some religious nuts in this country, but all have been denounced by the Dobsons and Falwells and Robertsons, as well as every other law-abiding, God-fearing person.  And by comparison to what the Islamists are doing to everybody, including their own people, it’s nothing.  Add that it is slanderous to accuse someone of murder when there’s been no indication or evidence that people like Dobson are in any way responsible for the death of anybody.

    I would also like to note that it was a non-religious atheist who was responsible for more murders than even the Islamofascists: one Josef Stalin.  His “theocratic” state (with Stalin as some sort of “god”) murdered around 40 million of his own people and millions more in subjugated states in order to maintain his personal power in a hell referred to as a “worker’s paradise”, the ultimate nanny-state.  I would take the word of responsible American religious leaders and rely on the American people to help avoid the creation of a real theocracy in this country, than the word of neo-Stalinist nanny-state slugs who are seeking to impose their own “values” through control of free speech and thought through an (Un)Fairness Doctrine or Hillary-care.

  3. By Paul Watson on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    SteveIL,

    Slnder is indeed not a good way to present your message, but given your repeated slander of people who disagree with you, somethng you reeat in the very post above, it’s quite hard to take you seriously on the subject. How about you refrain from slander or libel for a bit and try again?

  4. By tos on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Paul with all due respect to OP this post comes off as slanderous because it’s comparing Christianity to extreme Islam. The difference between the two is that killing for any reason is against our laws and is punishable to the full extent of the law whereas Islam under Sharia law makes it okay to honor kill or some other wierd belief in the name of Allah.

    Christians may be anti-gay but they can’t be executed for it . Big difference between the 2 religions. You can’t tell me you actually believe they are one in the same.

  5. By Paul Watson on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Lisa,

    You are correct. They aren’t the same. Extreme Islamisists will kill you, but extreme Christians will merely make you illegal. So much nicer. It’s the same bigoted attitude to those who don’t believe, just a different level of violence.

    And my point was not agreeing or disagreeing with the Omnipoitent One, mereointing out that as SteveIL regularengages in the behaviour e villifies, he is hardly a credible critic of it. It would be like Bill Clinton attacking adultery.

  6. By SteveIL on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Which ones did I slander, Paul?  Where am I wrong? 

    Did not Omnipotent Poohbah just equate the non-murdering James Dobson with the murdering (and murderous) Islamofascist terrorists?  Yes. 

    Aren’t there nanny-state “liberals” who equate religion with murder?  Yes, although I did not get into details, which would include many on this blog, although I would include OP in that mix based on his words.

    Was Josef Stalin a non-religious atheist?  To be truthful, I don’t know; but, I believe he was.  He did put in policies that outlawed sanctioned religious services, at least until and during WWII (after, he went back to his policy of atheism), when the Soviet Union was in real trouble.  And he did have tens of millions of people murdered.

    And, there are those who would implement a nanny-state, neo-Stalinist “worker’s paradise”, complete with Social Security, Hillary-care, and the (Un)Fairness Doctrine in place to keep out free speech, thus violating the 1st Amendment.  This isn’t slander, it’s fact.

    Tell me where I committed this egregious slander.

  7. By tos on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Paul actually I think you guys have more to worry about than we do. I’d rather be illegal than dead. But what is illegal? GAY marriage? Abortion? They want to blame Bush for the Gay Marriage issue yet where were all these activists in the 90’s? It’s like they are doing it on purpose just so they cantrhow somehting else at Bush.Like if we had a democrat president all of a sudden it would be legalized? We have a democrat congress now. If it was so pressing let them at least put through legislation. We’ll see if they put their money where their mouth is in ‘08 if they get the presidency.

  8. By Paul Watson on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    The neo-Stalinist would be the main one. But obviously, that’s a fact that everyone to the left of you is akin to a mass murdreing psychopath.

  9. By Froenx on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    It would be the same over here except for two things:  Seperation of Church and State, and unanimously agreed-upon laws.

  10. By SteveIL on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Paul Watson said:

    The neo-Stalinist would be the main one. But obviously, that’s a fact that everyone to the left of you is akin to a mass murdreing psychopath.

    Of course, there’s a general consensus in many circlesthat everyone to the right of Stalin…ok, maybe to the right of Dennis Kucinich…is like Osama bin Laden, a mass murdering psychopathic theocrat.

  11. By BYSHOP on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    It seems Christians just no longer have the balls to back the conviction, either that or they do not revere thier god as much as they would have you believe.  I am sure god would not be happy about cherry-picking from the bible, the literal word of god.

    Leviticus 20:9

    If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

    20:10

    If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

    20:13

    If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death.

    Deuteronomy 22:20-1

    If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house.

    Exodus 35:2

    For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

    Deuteronomy 7:1-2

    When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations . . . then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

    20:10-17

    When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. . . . This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
         However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Did not Omnipotent Poohbah just equate the non-murderin g James Dobson with the murdering (and murderous) Islamofascis t terrorists?  Yes. 

     Actaully, SteveIL, no, I don’t think that he did. I think he compared a Muslim Doctor who believes that Islam is the only true religion and sharia the only proper law to Dr. Dobson, who, I feel confident in asserting, believes that Christianity is the only true religion and that the biblical injunctions (at least as he reads them) should be considered the only proper law. I don’t see where Omni equates Dobson with murdering and murderous Islamic jihadists. When he does compare violent extremist Islamists, he does so to violent extremist Christians who are murdering and murderous.

  13. By SteveIL on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    One other thing.  The idea that an Islamist calling for the worldwide imposition of sharia should be no surprise anyone except those who aren’t interested in the war against the Islamofascist terrorists (and the governments that support them) as it takes away from other “pet” issues.

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    It seems Christians just no longer have the balls to back the conviction, either that or they do not revere thier god as much as they would have you believe.  I am sure god would not be happy about cherry-picki ng from the bible, the literal word of god.

    Actually, there is an alternate explanation. They read the Gospels as presenting a Jesus who has, at several points, softened the more blood-thirsty parts of the Old Testament. For example, the woman caught in adultery, whom he refused to condemn; the prostitute whom he praised for her service to him in anointing his feet with her tears; his rejection of eye for eye and tooth for tooth; his willing suffering of arrest and unjust punishment while uttering “Father, forgive them…”; turn the other cheek; love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you, and so forth. You see, they see in Jesus, God incarnate. I guess that, if anyone has the right to decide that his people, forgiven sinners that they are, should soften their attitude toward other sinners, it is God.

  15. By SteveIL on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    I don’t think so Craig.  The difference between the Islamist doctor and Dobson is that the Islamist is willing to commit mass murder to impose sharia, whereas I’ve never seen Dobson advocate any such thing.  OP pointed this out in the first paragraph, and then later attributed this also to Dobson.

  16. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Well, SteveIL, I don’t see any evidence here that the Islamist Doctor is willing to commit mass murder to impose sharia. Maybe I missed where he called for sharia to be imposed upon all the world at the point of a literal sword rather than through the spread of the Islamic faith but, indeed, I did miss it.

    Paragraph 1:

    After last week’s car bombing in Glasgow, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed a radical Islamic doctor who advocates Islamic law - or Sharia. What made this interview surprising wasn’t that a radical Muslim would advocate Sharia, but that he called for its total imposition worldwide. He believes that everyone should completely renounce other religions, abolish all national laws, and subjugate themselves only to the law of Islam. “Sharia,” he said, “is God’s law…the only law.”

    I suppose you would point to the phrase “total imposition worldwide” in support of the contention that the Doctor favors imposition via murderous violence but that’s hardly the only interpretation. After all, the Supreme Court imposed the right of a woman to choose abortion at all stages of pregnancy so long as she could find a doctor to agree that carrying longer was could pose an impairment of life or health but I don’t think you think that the Supreme Court called upon jihadists to murder anyone who thought otherwise. I, again, feel confident in asserting that Dr. Dobson believes everyone should completely renounce religions other than Christianity and that the biblical injunctions (as he reads them) should be everywhere followed. I know that Dr. Dobson would have his vision or the sanctity of life from conception imposed (preferably through the political process, to be sure) within the United States, that a universal rejection of same sex marriage be imposed through a constitutional amendment.

    What you have failed to show is that this Islamic Doctor is anymore disposed to murderous violence than Dr. Dobson is or that Omni has said otherwise.

    Sorry, but I just don’t see it. Where, later, did Omni attribute to Dr. Dobson the willingness to commit mass murder to impose his vision of the Bible? Maybe I’m just dense today.

  17. By Omnipotent Poobah on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    It seems some of you have been working overtime on the red herring fishing boat, so let me tag a few of the fish for you.

    This post isn’t about comparing christians and muslims, it’s about the dangers of theocracies (of any religous stripe). Whether you consider it slander or not is OK by me, although I don’t believe you’d be right.

    These are the salient points:

    – Religious zealots of nearly all religions have killed in the name of their causes and they would do so again if handed the keys to a theocracy. The reason this will happen has nothing to do with their religion, but everything to do with their zealous intolerance and hatred for anyone’s position than their own.

    – I did not say that Dobson killed anyone or advocated killing anyone. However, I think he’s a zealot and given an unrestricted theocracy, I believe that it isn’t completely beyond question that he might move that way. Zealots of any kind are susceptible to that behavior because theocracies only repeat what the zealots want to hear ad infinitum. That’s the point about theocracies, they get carried away with themselves, that’s why muslim theocracies kill in the name of the Koran and why christian theocracies have killed in the name of the Bible.

    I fully support everyone being able to practice or not practice a religion as they so choose, so long as religious law (particularly of a particular brand) isn’t applied to everyone. I have fought that fight before and I will do it again, even for Dobson, despite the fact I happen to be atheist.

    So here’s a litmus test to see what this post is really about - if muslims were the majority religion in the US and by virtue of their majority, made Shiria the law of the land (i.e., a theocracy), would you think that was OK? Conversely, can you see how a muslim, atheist, or Buddist would object to a Christian theocracy?

    Theocracies are bad for everyone. They are inefficient, corrupt, and promote intolerance. My opinion is that there’s quite enough of that in the world and we could do without more.

    Feel free to dine on some red herring now.

  18. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    So here’s a litmus test to see what this post is really about - if muslims were the majority religion in the US and by virtue of their majority, made Shiria the law of the land (i.e., a theocracy), would you think that was OK? Conversely, can you see how a muslim, atheist, or Buddist would object to a Christian theocracy?

    If Muslims were a majority and wished to do what you ask, it would require a constitutional amendment, at least, so they would have to be more than a simple majority, they would have to be a sufficient majority to clear the hurdles set for amending the Constitution. If they were anywhere like that strong a majority, I’d be on a flight elsewhere because there would be no stopping them. I would definitely not think that that’s okay, even without imposing it with violence or the threat thereof. I would certainly see how anyone could object to a Christian theocracy. However, minority Christians do in fact live within Islamic theocracies so, if, in fact, Muslims became a sufficient majority throughout the world such that there were no where for me to go to escape an Islamic theocracy, I guess I would pick the theocracy where minority religion adherents were accorded the greatest liberty to live.

    I much prefer (classical) liberal, democratic republics to the thought of living in someone else’s idea of heaven on earth.

  19. By Omnipotent Poobah on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Craig,

    I was using that example as a hypothetcial (minus the government machinations, etc.) but you get my drift. It’s true that some religious minorities successfully live intermixed with religions majorities, but it’s a less than optimal - and sometimes very dangerous - situation.

    I’m with you though, I’ll choose or not choose my own idea of heaven myself thanks.

    You’re a good man with a good mind. God has a good servant in you.

     

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 3, 2007 | Reply

    Omni,

    God has a good servant in you.

    Coming from the Omnipotent one, that’s a real compliment.  :^)

  21. By SteveIL on Jul 4, 2007 | Reply

    Craig,

    The imposition of abortion by the Supreme Court and the imposition of one religion or denomination on a mass of people are not the same thing.  How do you think that imposition takes place?  It implies some kind of forceful act, which could be violent or non-violent, but usually is violent.

    Omnipotent Poobah said: 

    – I did not say that Dobson killed anyone or advocated killing anyone. However, I think he’s a zealot and given an unrestricted theocracy, I believe that it isn’t completely beyond question that he might move that way.

    Based on historical context where government is only provided by people of a particular religion or faith, you could be correct.  But if one looks at it in context, how many religions are practiced in this country?  And regarding Christianity, how many denominations?  Considering how there are really no isolated locations anymore as, say, Utah was 150 years ago when the Mormons moved there, it just happens that people of different faiths live in the same communities, all more worried about making a living or raising a family than making sure the neighbor is converted to the same religion.  Add that the 1st Amendment is a major part of our culture.  These are the kinds of things a Dobson and most other well-known Christian ministers have to work with in this country (along with all other Christian ministers); they cannot impose their faiths, nor do they try (attempting to convert is not the same as attempting to impose).  In other words, an unrestricted Christian theocracy cannot occur in this country.

    The Islamist, however, has real theocracies in today’s world with which to draw context from, along with how to get that theocracy established.  And culturally, these theocracies are established where strong-man governmental systems are the norm, not the exception, as is the case in this country.

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