Posted by Dan | Posted in Religion | Posted on 13-04-2012
While I’m sure my constant ranting is just as annoying as being woken up on your day off by someone at your door wanting to talk about Jesus, days like today serve as a good reminder of why I can’t just shut up and mind my own business when it comes to religion.
The first thing I saw when I checked the news today was this parody of the Stonewall “Some people are gay, get over it” bus ad campaign. While I had mixed feelings about the original campaign [Patrick Neylan gives a good critique of Stonewall's marketing campaign here] I can safely say I prefer it to this poster, which was scheduled to go up on buses around London next week. The posters are funded by two conservative Christian groups that both support the idea of a “cure” for homosexuality.
This caused me to sigh a little, but I’m not hugely concerned about this: I’m a free speech advocate, and think these banners are little more than shouting matches between two sides. They’re annoying, but not hatred-inducing. And by this evening the international outcry surrounding this poster prompted London mayor Boris Johnson to announce he’s going to stop it going up. No doubt this will lead those who believe in its cause to feel suppressed and so strengthen their belief — perhaps creating a few homophobes in the process — but at least it’ll give the rest of us less of a headache.
But the next item I read raised my blood temperature a little bit closer to boiling… Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Dan | Posted in Religion | Posted on 04-07-2011
A question from my Formspring, and my response. Discussion encouraged below.
“If I believe in a peaceful version of my religion, and it’s not hurting anyone, so then why do you still think that’s bad?”
Put it another way: let’s say you believe in a peaceful interpretation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. You follow the ‘good’ bits and ignore the ‘bad’ bits. You would never dream of harming another human being or anything like that, and regard all those who do as “extremists” and people who have “taken Hitler’s writing out of context”. Thus, you proudly wear your Swastika, state your political allegiance as “Nazi Party” on the census and live a perfectly good and moral life.
You raise your children with the same beliefs and values you follow, and they too grow up to be nice, moral Nazis who assert that anyone who gases Jews is a dangerous extremist who gives your political party a bad name, and that it is wrong to judge all Nazis just on the behaviour of a few fundamentalists.
A few years down the line, a large percentage of the country regard themselves as Nazis. The vast majority of those would never dream of condoning anything bad, and if questioned on the specifics of their belief will say something along the lines of: “Oh, well I believe that to be a good Nazi you just have to be nice to people and go to the local Third Reich meetings once in a while.”
The result of this is that the Nazi Party hold serious political weight. It would be a disastrous move for a politician to publicly state that he disagrees with the Nazis. If he attempts to point out that there are some very horrible ideas in Mein Kampf and there is clear evidence that teaching people that this book is a fine example of moral fibre increases the number of those who commit atrocities directly attributable to its teachings, he is told: “Oh that’s just the extremists – MOST of us would never dream of doing that.”
So it is generally accepted that Nazism is fine, morally admirable and generally a great thing because a lot of the people who bear the flag are at heart nice people. Nazi charities are set up, and they give millions to charity. Copies of Mein Kampf are placed in every hotel room in the country, and children are raised to believe that they are ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ if they question the teachings of Hitler.
Do you see what’s wrong with this picture?
The moderates are the dangerous ones, because they make unacceptable ideas appear acceptable.