The trouble I have with religion was illustrated very clearly by an article I read in the Guardian Newspaper regarding the Yazidi girls. These are Christian, which in the eyes of Islamic fundamentalists means they are infidel unbelievers. When ISIS captured the Yazidi people they were instructed very clearly from their scriptures what was required. Allah wanted them to behead non-believers or convert them to Islam. Allah wanted these grown men to bind the young girls of ten or eleven, gag them and rape them. They could be used as sex slaves.
Now in our civilised world we would consider any grown men who tied up a young terrified girl of ten, gagged her and gang-raped her as being a depraved animals. If they used the excuse in court that they were merely carrying out the wishes of Allah that would be inexcusable. They would be rightly locked up for a long time as disgusting paedophile rapists and their actions considered more vile than anything Jimmy Saville had done.
Yet according to the Koran these things are permissible. Allah sanctions the beheadings, the terrorism and maiming of innocent people, the rape of young girls, the torture, the horrendous deaths, the cutting off of limbs, the destruction of pre-Islamic artifacts and the persecution of all non-believers. These are not perversions of Islam. They are contained in the scriptures.
The Koran is not unique. The Bible has similar gruesome and barbaric practices – particularly the Old Testament. There are instructions and sanctions for dashing babies heads against rocks, taking an eye for an eye and worse. Throughout history fundamentalists have focussed on the parts they wish to emphasise to sanction inquisitions, pogroms, crusades and the torture and burning alive of innocent people who simple disagreed.
Of course in the modern age where it is not considered polite to smash your next door neighbours baby’s brains out because they follow a different faith there has been a tendency for religious instruction to follow the ‘nicer’ texts. We are taught to love our neighbour, share our fish and turn the other cheek.
The hypocrisy, contradiction, blood, fire and intolerance is glossed over. But it is there.
These religious texts come from primitive cultures where misogyny, violence and retribution were the order of the day. They are seeped in it. It permeates the doctrine. When ever an extreme fundamental cult comes along they unearth the texts that support their doctrine and apply the dogma.
In Europe we had to fight for the enlightenment. It brought an end to centuries of religious tyranny with all its viciousness and augured a new age of science. We threw off the shackles of theocracy and separated politics from religion. It enabled a flourishing of science that has created all the wonders of the modern world from electricity to space exploration.
Without the enlightenment we would still be in the Dark Ages. Our women would be walking around in veils and we’d likely be riding about on horses. Now perhaps there is something to be said for that kind of society we see vestiges of in America with the Amish culture. They live happily without electricity, cars and modern conveniences. They wear quaint medieval costume.
Personally I’d prefer the choice and like my car, electricity and music.
ISIS, and other religious fundamentalist groups of all religions, are merely feeding off the sections of their doctrine that sanction their actions and justify their desires. They really wish to take the whole world back to the time of Mohamed, Jesus or Krishna and force everyone to live in that medieval culture described in those texts.
The problem as I see it lies in the basis of those religions. They were devised by men in a culture that was primitive and unpleasant. I do not subscribe to those values. I consider them flawed.
I wish to live in a world that has equality, tolerance, peace, freedom, respect, responsibility, justice, love and friendliness as its core values. I place caring, compassion and empathy as higher values, not just for people but all life and the planet. I value debate, differences and argument and deplore violence, hatred and cruelty.
That is why, without entering into any esoteric discussion regarding god, I reject all religion. As far as I am concerned all religions are outmoded, flawed and supporting a culture I despise.
The world has moved on and human beings, while still showing a great propensity for hatred, violence and callous cruelty, are a lot more civilised than we used to be. I would hate to see religion undo that.