Monday, July 9, 2012

That Old Time Religion

The video out of Afghanistan was brutal and simple. A woman who was crouched in front of about 150 cheering onlookers was shot multiple times in the back and back of the head. She had been accused of adultery. In the tape, obtained by Reuters, the enthusiastic onlookers continually called the shooter and his pals mujaheddin. The Taliban denied it was their doing, but no one is buying that bull shit. Especially not your average Afghan who had to put up with these beasts for too many years.

Since the bearded ones were kicked out of power Afghan women have made strides in education and employment, both of which were banned by the Taliban regime. They also have the right to vote now, which much drive those goofs into frothing fits. Although, to be quite honest, it is hard to think of any situation that doesn't drive them into frothing fits. Frothing fits seem to be a permanent emotional and mental state for them.

Beyond the murder itself the other shock is that it happened only a few kilometers outside of Kabul. The act has sent a terrible chill right into the heart of those, who after being forced to live in 6th century tribal slavery for years, are finally starting to see the light of day. It also highlights a slow downplay of women's rights as a priority of the Kabul government. Indeed, there are more than a few women in Afghanistan afraid that the regime of Hamid Karzai is willing to sell them out in order to obtain peace with the Taliban.

Else where in the laugh a minute world of Islamic fundamentalism militants in Mali have destroyed a number of 15th century shrines dedicated to Islamic saints. The group, Ansar Dine has taken over the ancient crossroads city of Timbuktu and gone about destroying mausoleums it considers idolatrous. The U.N. and World Court have condemned the destruction of what it considers priceless historical sites, even going so far as to calling the acts war crimes. Ansar Dine spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha issued a statement saying that his group didn't recognize either the U.N. or the World Court. Ansar Dine, he said,  is only answerable to the divine court of Shariah.. Ansar Dine translates into English as, what else, defenders of the faith.

It isn't like it is the first time Muslims have gone out and destroyed or co-opted another religion's relics, or holy sites. More than a couple of the mosques in Istanbul were once orthodox Christian churches. The Dome of the Rock sits on the site of the great Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In March 2001 the Taliban blew up 6th century statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Ask any Hindu living near the border with Pakistan how much fun these guys are.

Of course, as with anything, it is dangerous to condemn an entire culture or faith for the acts of a few. There are millions and millions of Muslims who, like the rest of us, are just trying to get through the day while treating others with the decency they expect in return.

Besides, here in the U.S. we have our own crowd of fanatics who claim religion is on their side. On August 6th, 2011 Texas governor Rick Perry held a rally called The Response Prayer Event. He was getting ready to run for president of the United States. Several of the clergy involved were apostles of one C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation movement. Brother Wagner has repeatedly written that true believers need to burn, smash, and or flush down the toilet profane and idolatrous religious texts or symbols. These would include the Books of Mormon, statues of Roman Catholic saints, Buddha and Hindu gods. He also sees the need to rid ourselves of African tribal masks, Hopi Kachina dolls and totem polls.

I suppose all this rock 'em sock 'em fervor works for these guys, no matter what their faith. Obviously it doesn't for the vast majority of the rest of us. Murder, mayhem and crude vandalism are pretty much what they are, no matter what the excuse.

As a friend of mine said, "once people are convinced God is on their side, they are capable of anything."

It would seem he was right.

God save us from all these holy men, for they are a deadly lot. And they are certainly not worthy of a Supreme Being. At least not one that I know.


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