Frances Widdowson’s post, on her blog, regarding the BBC debate on the supposed social benefits of the Catholic Church, accurately sums up the inappropriateness of evaluating religion in terms of social benefit rather than rational credibility. The panel comprised two robust “public intellectuals” who easily exposed the moribundity of religious influence when an audience survey showed a huge swing over to their views, and two weak Catholic defenders – a female politician and an African bishop, who wilted under the weight of rational thought and practical reality.
Catholicism is an easy target; its beliefs of virgin birth, resurrection and miracles, expressed in cannibalistic rituals and unhealthy sexual abstinance supply plenty of fodder for the athiest argument, and the resulting perverse activities of its clergy underline the material result of its existance. So, Christopher Hitchens and actor/filmmaker, Stephen Fry come out swinging at this flimsy straw man, underlining the church’s ineffectual efforts to convince Africans to practice abstention rather than condom use in combatting AIDS, and its dipiction of homosexuality as a sin. Catholicism cannot advocate any kind of sexual activity that avoids pregnancy; childbirth is, after all, God’s reason for giving us this powerful and exciting impulse. And it says right there in the bible, that homosexuality is wrong. You don’t buy that? Well, nobody is forcing you to be a Catholic, either – simply reject this absurd belief system.
Why did the BBC choose to specify Catholicism for its foray into the question of the role of religion? Why are the two other “great religions” exempt from this scrutiny? While the dictates of Catholicism weight on no one but those who choose to follow it, Muslims, by comparison, consider Islam a cultural inheretance, and those who would abandon it apostates, an indiscretion punishable by death according to the Koran. Conversely, Judaism determines its adherents through maternal bloodline; if your mother was a Jew, you’re a Jew – like it or not. Islamic teachings are at the root of the mindless slaughters of innocent people by suicide bombers who expect a reward in paradise with the accompanying harem of virgins. Jews have uprooted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians because the land they lived on for millennia was given to certain tribes of Jews chosen by God. The Zionist rationale for this act of overt colonialism, is not, of course, the biblical argument, but the holocaust. Nobody wants to oppose the victims of that autrocity, so the state of Israel is unquestionably accepted. Murder is the primary threat of Islam against those to whom Muslims choose to take offence. Confronting Israel or Jewish religion will surely bring the powerful Jewish lobby into action; accusations of hate crime and the inevitable anathema, anti-Semitism will silence all but the most daring or foolhardy. The fatwa against Salman Rushdi, the murder of Theo Van Gogh, and the despicable cartoon riots explicate any apprehension of criticizing Islam. But Judaism enjoys immunity on a far more subtle and ubiquitous level.
In the debate’s question period, as Frances mentions, Hitchens was asked precisely whether he opposes all religions, or just Catholicism, wherepon he hypocritically reinterprets the question into that of being opposed to all Christian religions, which he then declared were equal in his distain. Thus, Hitchens avoided negatively referencing both Islam and Judaism, but in his book, god is not Great, vigourously trashes Muslims while characterizing Jews as victims of other religious oppressions, so it’s really Judaism that was exempted. This is an important factor in the ongoing discussion of religion in books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as well as Hitchens. All robustly attack the irrationality and social distress of Islam and Christianity as well as some of the easier and even more inane, lunatic-fringe targets like Mormonism and Janism, but all tread lightly on Judaism.
Both Hitchens and Harris have Jewish mothers, which justifies nothing, but can be an explainable factor. (I wish to point out here that the noted anti-religionist of an earlier generation, Bertrand Russell, was also silent on the Jewish question while railing against Christianity.) However, none can justify their reference to Jews simply as victims while evading a scientific analysis of the effects of Judaism on the broader society. Both Christianity and Islam seek to convert the unbelievers, but Judaism is an exclusive religion with rules for dealing with the goyem, but not for converting them. Real Jews are the descendants of the twelve tribes chosen for a higher moral order, and are expected to be perpetually separate from all others. Might this be a contributing factor to the, apparently perpetual, social conflict and “prejudice” against Jews?
Through the most effective public relations campaign ever initiated, Jews have rationalized positions of profit-taking, privilege, disproportunate political influence and exclusivity, into a brand of victimization. Laws are altered and exercised according to the pressures on governments by the many Jewish organizations that operate as one-client PR firms in favour of maintaining Jewish exclusivity and in the acceptance of Israel. Jewish organizations initiated the odious concept of Hate Crime which, under the guise of anti-racism advocacy, protects Israel and Judaism from rational opposition. This amazing brainwashing process has made Judaism immune to the criticism levelled at other religions and cultures; it is beyond imagination that it remains exempt from serious analysis, even by self-identifying iconoclasts, like Hitchens et al.
Notably, the most unrestrained exploration of the Jewish question has come from Jews. Both Marx and Trotsky called for Jews to simply stop being Jews, advocating eventual assimilation. Daniel Freeman-Maloy, the student who was suspended from York University for his role in a demonstration around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, explained that while Jews are too small in population (2%) to influence political parties through votes, their money is the factor that allows such influence on policy. Currently, Israeli academic Shlomo Sand has challenged the tribal identity that lies at the root of Jewish exclusivity.
It’s time for everyone to take a rational approach to the effects of religion on our lives – and no religion should be exempt from that truth-seeking endeavour.
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