Sunday, June 19, 2016

Religion and hatred

I don't hold many absolute beliefs. I'm temperamentally unable to avoid seeing the other person's point of view, most of the time.

I do, though, have one absolute belief that is particularly relevant right now:

No true religion teaches that it's okay to hate whole groups of people.
Looking at the wide swath of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, most of these faiths' adherents would deny that hatred is at the heart of their religion. However, each of these faiths has numerous sects that do make hatred a core principle. Some hate non-adherents, some hate taboo violators, aka "sinners". Such hatred isn't merely accepted, it's considered virtuous. Such hatred can even be a justification for violence.

These sects are an abomination.

Religion is supposed to be a guide to ethical living. How is it ethical to hate whole groups of people you don't know? How is it ethical to classify whole groups of people you don't know as, essentially, sub-human?

The Orlando mass murderer has gotten many commentators tangled up in the confused but toxic stew of his supposed religious beliefs and personal prejudices. One thing is tragically clear, though: he got it into his messed-up head that his religion was eminently okay with his hating gay people.

The Orlando mass murderer was very likely mentally ill. That doesn't let his religion, or religion in general, off the hook, though.

The message "God hates gays" is a depressingly prevalent one, espoused by hundreds if not thousands of religious leaders at the local and national level. It's a trope that transcends the Christian/Muslim divide, and for all I know is present in fundamentalist Jewish and Hindu sects, too. This message of hatred, broadcast by a thousand voices from all sides (including his father's), sank into the Orlando mass murderer's unstable mind. Eventually he acted on it.

The thing is, he wasn't the first and he won't be the last deeply troubled person to glom onto hatred as an organizing principle for his life.

It's long past time for you so-called religious leaders who spew this garbage to own up to your role in creating men like the Orlando mass murderer. You have a moral responsibility for the fallout of your relentless drumbeat of hatred.

A religion that promotes hatred of others as a virtue isn't a religion: it's heresy. People who spread such heresy incite time bombs like the Orlando mass murderer. The incitement, the drumbeat of hatred, has to stop.

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