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SUNDAY REVELATIONS: Why Bertrand Russell was wrong about atheism

I wish folks like Bertrand Russell would stop blaming all religion for the bad things about Christianity and Islam.

Religions are a lot more divers than Americans seem to understand and, I suspect, no better and no worse than any of the other aspects of organized human behavior.

What is bad is evangelical religion. In our own history the ethnic cleansing of native peoples was done in the names of Jesus just as the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arabia was done by Mohammed himself. That same evangelical belief, far more than nationalism, drives Muslims today to want Israel to be clean of Jews. I do not know of any comparable behavior by Buddhists, Confucianism, African, Japanese, Norse, or other religions.

The huge size of the evangelical religions .. Christianity and Islam .. reflects their histories of spreading the faith not by example (as is the norm for Judaism, Mormonism, and pre-Christian Roman religion, but by force. The symbolism of the cross as a long sword and the scimitar as a crescent should not be taken lightly.

My non-Jewish friends will say, “What about Israel?”  Usually they conflate today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the book of Joshua.  As ugly as that book was, the story is not different than any story of tribal conquest.  The victor always honors his (or even her) God for the victory.  That is entirely different from the forces of Omar, the first Caliph, liberating North Africa and imposing Islam as the ruling religion.  The analogy between Islam and the Christian conquests of Africa and the Americas is frighteningly similar to the efforts by Stalin, an evangelist in his own right, to enforce his religion on Eastern Europe.

America would be a far better place if the atheism and deism of the founding fathers had not been overrun by the evangelism of Jackson and his successors.


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