All posts filed under: Religion

In Defence of Christians

On July 26th, jihadists stormed into a church in Normandy and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel, an 86-year-old priest who had been giving mass inside. This came at the end of a month in which dozens had been slaughtered in attacks on France and Germany but still shocked Europeans, who began to post #JeSuisPretre — “I am a priest” — on Twitter. This was an awful attack, but it was predictable. Jihadists hate our freedoms, says common wisdom. They do, of course, but they also hate our traditions. Militant Islamists harbour an age-old resentment towards Christianity, and express it through violence and oppression. Across the Middle East and Asia, Christians have died in their hundreds. In Iraq, the Christian population has plummeted after such attacks as the 2013 Christmas bombing, where 38 men, women and children were killed. In Pakistan, this year, 70 people died when jihadists attacked Christians on Easter. In Lebanon, just last month, a Christian village was hit by multiple suicide bombings that killed five people. Along with Ahmadis, Christians in Muslim …

Why Isn’t Sexual Slavery a Feminist Priority?

That Nadia Murad’s #StandforYazidiWomen campaign hasn’t captured the attention of Western feminists is an appalling oversight. Some of the most popular feminist topics on Twitter last year included equality for public nudity, sexism in the tech industry, and racial diversity for Oscar nominations. Yet the topic of global sexual slavery brings a scarcely believable absence of attention. The Yazidis, viewed as devil worshippers by their captors, were overrun by ISIS in north-western Iraq in August 2014 in the beginning of what is now being recognised as a genocide. Most of the men and older women were instantly slaughtered. Thousands of younger women and girls were taken to the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’, where they were traded among Jihadists as sex slaves. Nadia is a survivor of this mass sexual enslavement, and now a human rights advocate. Regarding her fight, Nadia said “I am continuing to do this, with resiliency, because millions of women and girls have no rights. Their lives were destroyed, and their lives will remain destroyed if we don’t say anything. To bring back …

Free Speech and Islam — In Defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

True progressives really should get around to constructing a Doric-columned Hall of Shame to memorialize, for all to revile, the imbecilities, curios of casual hypocrisy, and artifacts of outright intellectual and moral treason the benighted diehards of the regressive left choose to display as a matter of pride these days when the subject is Islam and former Muslims, especially former female Muslims.  The contrast between the lofty liberal ideals espoused by such leftists and their sordid output should concern us all, though, of whatever political persuasion.  They have largely succeeded in squelching forthright, reasoned discourse about Islam and Islamist terrorism, which jeopardizes national security and the lives of some of some of the most vulnerable, including women who have left the faith, or who, rightfully or wrongfully, are accused of disrespecting it.  For in de facto alliance with regressive leftist denouncers of “Islamophobia” — a semantic swindle of a noun equating criticism of Islam with bigotry against Muslims as people — stand assassins, as the late Elsa Cayat of Charlie Hebdo, the late Farkhunda Malikzada of Afghanistan, …

The Josiah Effect: How Moderate Religion Fuels Fundamentalism

For years, my response to the most vocal critics of religion was to say, “By all means, rail against the extremists, but leave the moderates alone. They haven’t done any harm.” I was unconvinced that moderate religion gave shelter to fundamentalism, and I could find no justification for criticizing those familiar, comforting forms of the Abrahamic faiths that play a prominent role in the lives of even the most peaceful citizens of modern society. But then I looked in the mirror. It was after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. A pair of brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had stormed the magazine’s offices and executed unarmed cartoonists, shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” The incident reminded me of another pair of brothers: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing. In each case, I saw myself in the younger sibling. Cherif and Said Kouachi While the rest of the world was holding up signs saying, “I am Charlie,” I was thinking, I am Cherif. I was not, nor had I ever been, a terrorist. But I saw …

Straight Talk about Religion: Reza Aslan Peddles False Wares to Influential Dupes

“I’m not a Muslim because I think Islam is more right” (than other religions), the media personality and scholar of religions Reza Aslan told Oprah on a recent episode of Super Soul Sunday, her television channel’s weekly spiritual chat show.  “It’s not.  I don’t think Islam is more true.  It’s not.” Why, then, does he call himself a Muslim? [F]or me, it’s about recognizing that the language of Islam, the language that it uses, the symbols and metaphors that it uses to define the relationship between human beings and God — that language appeals to me in a way that other languages do not.             By “languages” Aslan meant religions, he pointed out.  He also fessed up to not praying five times a day. A “profession of faith” such as Aslan’s — that Islam is just one “language” of many, neither necessarily more nor less valid than any other — has nothing in common with the message of the Shahada, the unmistakably clear, concise declaration of monotheism that is the first of five …

Free Speech and Islam — The Left Betrays the Most Vulnerable

When surveying the ill-informed, shoddy work that at times passes as in-depth journalism regarding Islam these days, a rationalist may well be tempted to slip into a secular simulacrum of John Bunyan’s Slough of Despond.  In reputable press outlets, articles regularly appear in which the author proceeds from an erroneous premise through a fallacious argument to a fatuous conclusion.  Compound all this — especially in the main case I’m about to discuss, that of the British former Islamist turned reformer, Maajid Nawaz — with the apparent intent to defame or cast aspersions, and you get worthless artifacts of journalistic malfeasance that should be dismissed out of hand, but that, given the seriousness of the subject, nevertheless merit attention. For starters, a few words about premises and some necessary background.  Those who deploy the “stupid term” (see Christopher Hitchens) “Islamophobia” to silence critics of the faith hold, in essence, that Muslims deserve to be approached as a race apart, and not as equals, not as individual adults capable of rational choice, but as lifelong members of an immutable, …

In Their Rush To Blame Religion, New Atheists Overlook Evil

Two schools of thought exist on the question of how best to criticize religion if you’re a nontheist. The first belongs to rationalists who believe in the value of strongly criticizing religion, even if that means upsetting or offending religious believers. By being open and honest about the severity of the problems that religion faces, rationalists aim to jar believers free from its grip. This doesn’t tend to make rationalists very popular with believers, of course, but rationalists see virtue in accepting the truth even when it is unpleasant or ugly. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, it is better to throw open the shutters to the cold light of day, even if the fresh air makes us shiver at first, than to dwell in the warm but false confines of humanizing mythologies. Pragmatists differ from rationalists by viewing unfiltered criticism of religion as a painfully counterproductive way to proceed. As they may note, people do not merely believe in religions — they are personally invested in their truth and anchor large parts of their identities around …