Religious fanatics

Occupy Grand Rapids Poster for April 14th Rall...

Occupy Grand Rapids Poster for April 14th Rally and Really Really Free Market (Photo credit: OpenSourcerer)

We have the misfortune to be living our lives in a time of religious fanaticism, and I am not just referring to Muslim terrorists. Here in the US, we live with fanaticism of the religious Right as well as the fanaticism of free market capitalists. Now I think that it is obvious that free markets can do some things better than government, but it is also true that government can do some things better than private enterprise, especially those activities that promote the common good. Our problem is that there are too many millionaires in Congress and not enough representatives of everyman and woman. Those touting privatization believe that the free market is better because it pays THEM better than government service after they leave government. Bar them from working in the private sector after government service and then see their opinions change.

 

We won (sort of)

Afghanistan

Afghanistan (Photo credit: Ricymar Photography(Thanks Everyone!!!!))

In the contest called Afghanistan, the US has won (sort of). We outlasted the USSR in Afghanistan. Their war lasted 9 years while we are still fighting after 10+ years. The Soviet effort bankrupted the USSR and led to the dissolution of the country. The Afghan war has not bankrupted the US yet, but it is past time to declare victory and get out before we bankrupt ourselves. Forget about invading Iran or Syria. We can’t afford more wars now in our time of sequestration.

The real victors in the Afghan war are the people of Afghanistan. They are undefeated against Alexander the Great, the British, the Soviets and now the Americans. The only outside victor in Afghanistan was an idea, Islam. If we believe that Afghanistan should adopt democracy and gender equality, then we must be patient and permit the Afghans to decide for themselves if and when they are ready for change. In the meantime, I suggest that we withdraw and then replace our military aid with humanitarian assistance. In the long run, that will provide a better solution for Afghanistan and for the US.

Charity

Anatol Lieven GPF2010

Anatol Lieven GPF2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charity (zakaat) is one of the five pillars of Islam. Good Muslims are required to give 2.5% of their income to charity as good Mormons are required to give 10%. In Pakistan, A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven I was surprised to learn that pakistan has one of the highest rates of charitable giving, 5% of GDP, of any country in the world.

Jihad

The "black flag of jihad" as used by...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a quotation from Blood on the Lens by Jim Burroughs. The book is mostly about Afghanistan, but this quotation is from a conversation with a mullah at a religious gathering, Ijtema, held every December in Bangladesh which is designed to cleanse the faith of lies and fictions.

“He leaned forward and spoke in a gentle voice, ‘The lies of killing innocents and of killing oneself for Allah.’
‘But doesn’t the Qur’an say that jihad must be waged against unbelievers?’
‘Jihad must first be waged against oneself,’ he said. ‘It is an internal striving, a struggle of the soul with the mind and the body.’
But then why is the term jihad used to mean ‘war‘?’
‘That is not the translation. It means to strive for God, with prayer,  fasting, good deeds, and, yes, war, if war becomes necessary after you have struggled without war. But jihad is not war.’
‘And suicide bombers?’ I asked.
‘The Qur’an is very clear: to kill oneself is to take God’s right upon oneself. Hell awaits him who takes that right from God,'”

True believers

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Islam

There is one division in the Muslim religion that splits believers into two groups, Sunnis and Shiites. Shiites are the majority in Iran and Iraq and are sizable minorities in several other nations. Shiites are considered to be heretics by some Sunnis. There also are many other beliefs under the Muslim umbrella, how many I do not presently know.

Christianity
Christianity has three divisions, protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox. Protestantism has numerous denominations, churches and sects. No one is capable or authorized by a Higher Power to determine whether a church or a belief is better, more correct, than another. That is not for us to decide; it is reserved for God and He has not authorized any person to speak for Him.
But that does not stop some people from trying. Before the US was founded and established freedom of religion, citizens in a country were often required to adhere to the king’s religion. If they did not, it was frequently considered treason and could be punished by a gruesome death.

The US Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a state religion. That does not stop some religious leaders and politicians from injecting religion into politics. There is no religious test for elective office; all religions are equal under the law. And some leaders claim that their religion is more equal than another.