Monday, July 5, 2010

Religious Freedom?

At least once a week, sometimes once a day, I receive an e-mail from a well-meaning friend warning me of the imminent loss of freedom I will experience if we continue to allow immigration in Canada. I am constantly being told by Christians to hate the Muslims. In fact, I recently had to back off from an argument with an old friend over Islam because I felt that friendship was being threatened by his beliefs and my assertion that his beliefs were misguided.

All religions it seems have a history of being the only ones who are “right.” As a pre-schooler, I received the standard teachings of Christianity; the old testament, based on Judaism, made references to the Gentiles who we were led to believe were “wrong” and therefore evil while the Jews were “right.” Beyond that, nothing was said of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Mother Earth.

Once Jesus was born, the emphasis switched from Judaism to Christianity, but again there was little discussion of the non-Christians or the non-Jews; the Jews who were now also “wrong” because they held to their traditions that all through the old Testament had been “right.”

During the Crusades, Christians and Jews declared war on the “Mohammedans” who in turn waged war back. The killing of Jews and Christians by each other for the time being had been put on hold it seems in favour of wiping out the common enemy. In recent years, former U.S. President George W. Bush likened a war against “Islamic terrorists” to a modern-day Crusade.

Religion it seems has always found ways to justify killing others who believe something other than what that religion teaches, even though all religious texts clearly state that to kill another is a sin resulting in a direct one-way trip to the most abominable of hells.

The genocide of indigenous peoples around the world by the Priests and Ministers of various Christian churches is, to me, incomprehensible. The ten commandments clearly state “Thou Shalt not Kill...” And yet the killing continues.

A great strategy of the settlers to North America and various other continents was to turn peaceful nations... known in the vernacular as “tribes”... against one another. When the British and French were fighting for control of “The Americas,” they involved the Natives as well. During the early 1700s, a bounty was placed on Mi’Kmaq scalps by William Shirley of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Mi’Kmaq were allied to the French and the easiest way to conquer the French was to eliminate their allies. It almost worked.

Today, with North America, Africa, India, and most of Asia stripped of their culture by European invaders, the target is now Islam. I am being repeatedly told to hate the Muslims, even though their religion is one of peace. When I remind people of this, I am asked to explain Osama Bin Laden’s Jihad to which I reply that he represents Islam about as well as Adolph Hitler represented Catholicism.

I refuse to believe that war and killing is the only solution. I cannot believe it when both the old and new testaments of the Christian Bible, the Koran, the Dammapada and so many other great books teach us of love and tolerance.

How can we refuse to see that we have so much more to gain from mutual respect and tolerance than from exclusion and hatred?

~Still Wandering…

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