Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rabid Dogma, Christian and Muslim

Muslim Dogma billboardThis billboard has appeared in Madison, Wisconsin. It's a timely warning, and quite ecumenical. It doesn't say Christian dogma. It's tuned, or rather YOU are- you resonate in tune with your beliefs when plucked by a sign like this. It's a nice contrast to billboards for the opposing point of view, brought to us by the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are unfortunately silent about current NON- Christian religious transgressions.

Since 1988 we've seen Christian-themed billboards along the road (We need to talk. Don't make Me come down there. You think it's hot here? One nation under Me.) “signed” by God. The billboards' sponsors believe strongly enough that they're speaking for god to sign his name without power of attorney.

The anonymous donor who paid for the original three-month run did, anyway. Then the Outdoor Advertising Association of America used the sayings in a national public service campaign. Catchy one-liners appeared on ten thousand billboards. The OAAA valued donated space at $15 million, and no doubt took tax deductions for this... “gift to the community. It is a positive way to get people thinking about spirituality and increase the numbers of those who are going to church. It makes you believe in divine intervention.”

The cynical are more inclined to believe in the intervention of marketing execs and accountants chasing write-offs. Let's give them a pass on their estimates of effectiveness. We don't know whether more people attended church as a result. We don't even know if those who began thinking spiritually outnumbered those who were merely annoyed.

Let's say simply that the FFRF is more correct than the OAAA, or at least not as driven by advertising revenues. Dogma IS bad for you, simply because it's a seductive substitute for reason. Bertrand Russel said:

...the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.

...every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.

Bertrand Russell lived and died in an overwhelmingly Christian world and never knew the barbarian chaos that is Islamic dogma. We have a new and unfortunate familiarity with the youngest of the three middle-eastern monotheistic religions. This is partly because its dogmatic insistence on jihad found believers with the cash to follow through, and partly because articulate critics of that religion who have experienced its dogma as believers have survived to tell the tale. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has this to say in a recent interview with Reason magazine:

Reason: But do you feel at all uncomfortable with that heavy emphasis on religion in American public life?

Hirsi Ali: Yes. And the good thing is—and that’s what I’ve tried to tell all my European friends—I’m allowed to say so.

I think that it’s a great mistake for this country to reject a very good atheist. I mean, when you have two candidates, and one is an atheist and the other is a religious person and the atheist would make the better public official, it’s a great loss not to elect him. Anyway, atheists here can forward their agenda and fight back safely without risking violence.

I accept that there are multitudes seeking God, seeking meaning, and so on... where I come from, in Islam, the only concept of God is you submit to Him and you obey His commands, no quarreling allowed. Quarreling or even asking questions means you raise yourself to the same level as Him, and in Islam that’s the worst sin you can commit.

The FFRF needs to re-tune their instrument to more than one pitch. I couldn't find a reference to any religion but Christianity on their website. I believe that sponsoring any religion, not just the one to which FRFF reacts, threatens our secular freedoms. I agree that monuments to the ten commandments in a county courthouse, Christian ministries in public schools, and subsidies for religious schools all deserve challenge. Why not challenge similar trespasses on the part of Islam?

The adhan, five-times-daily calls to prayer, are broadcast over loudspeakers from mosques in the United States, formerly if not currently in Dearborn, MI, Hamtramck, MI, and Michigan City, IN. This isn't the same as ringing church bells. It praises one god as the only god - I bear witness there is no deity but Allah - and can only do so with the approval of local city councils. Does their sanction of this declaration of faith violate the separation of church and state? Does FFRF know, or care? Do they consider the encroachment of Islam into American public life a threat? Hirsi Ali does:

In a tribal mind-set, if I’m allowed to take something and get away with it, I’ll come back and take some more. In fact, I’ll come and take the whole place, especially since it’s my holy obligation to spread Islam to the outskirts of the earth and I know I’ll be rewarded in heaven.

That's some pit-bull-class dogma. Beware of the Dogma, indeed, especially if he bites, has bitten, and states his intention to bite again.