Blame the Individual, Not the Faith

Last year, I spoke on a panel called “Charting the Future” at a conference of the American Jewish Committee. I … Continued

Last year, I spoke on a panel called “Charting the Future” at a conference of the American Jewish Committee. I met with my fellow panelists, who included a young woman from Rwanda named Yvette, the evening before to compare notes. I said that I was going to talk about the growing interfaith youth movement, and its goal of building relationships of understanding and cooperation between people from different backgrounds.

“What religion are you?” asked Yvette.

I told her I was a Muslim.

She nodded slowly, then looked down, then put her hand on my shoulder, bit her lip, and said “Thank you.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.

She looked puzzled for a moment, as if I should have known what she was referring to. Finally, she said, “The Muslims saved us.”

It took some time, but I drew the story out of her. Rwanda’s small Muslim minority risked their lives to save the Tutsi’s of Rwanda as they sought refuge from the murderous, machete-wielding thugs of the interhamwe. Muslims hid people in the back of their mosques, on the rooftops of their homes, in the basements of their businesses.

When the men with machetes came demanding access to their prey, the Muslims organized small bands of people to drive them away.

I am sure violence was involved. That is a type of force that I – who can barely stand to see blood in movies – support. I believe it is Islamic. I believe it is one form of jihad.

What happened in Rwanda – one group trying to annihilate another – is not drastically different than the situation the Prophet Muhammad faced in the early 7th Century: effectively, extermination.

God, through revelation, told the Prophet that it was appropriate to fight back, to save not only the fledgling Muslim community, but the other marginalized groups of the time. And when the opportunity arose, he was to struggle creatively for peace, even if it meant a loss of status and face. That is jihad also.

Saleh Habimana, the head mufti of Rwanda, is waging this type of jihad right now: “Our jihad is to start respecting each other and living as Rwandans and as Muslims” he told the Washington Post in 2002.

My Rwandan friend told me that Muslims were unique amongst religious communities in Rwanda. The people who sought refuge in churches too often found priests and nuns who aided and abetted the interhamwe. In one particularly heinous example, a priest named Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka is blamed for colluding with the killers. He went so far as to take off his priest’s robe and don a flak jacket and carry a gun.

“Some members of the Church failed in their mission, they contradicted what they stood for,” Father Antoine Kambanda, director of the charity Caritas admitted to the BBC. “But,” he continued, “the Pope says the members who went against their mission are to answer for it. The Church cannot answer for them.”

I consider Catholicism a tradition of peace that only sanctions violence when necessary for survival or the greater good. Many of my greatest heroes are Catholic figures of social justice, Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement front and center amongst them. Clearly, some of the Catholics of Rwanda failed to live up to that ethic. But, as the Pope said, I do not hold Catholicism, its one billion members or even its organized leadership responsible for their sins and crimes.

If only people would apply that same logic to the relationship between, say, the 9/11 terrorists and the tradition of Islam.

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  • Norrie Hoyt

    “I consider Catholicism a tradition of peace that only sanctions violence when necessary for survival or the greater good.”AS IN THE INQUISITION, THE CRUSADES, AND THE EXTERMINATION OF THE CATHAR PEOPLE?

  • Mr Mark

    Yes, we all understand that when it comes to religion, one can never blame the religion.Funny how when it comes to the ills of democracy, communism, socialism, capitalism, Democrat-ism, Republican-ism or whatever else you wish to speak of, we’re ENCOURAGED to blame the system. If the individual has a problem, it’s because he’s bought into the wrong system.When it comes to religion, the system gets a pass and the individual is to blame. Yep, it’s always man’s fault, not god’s. But then, maybe you’re right. Maybe the blame should go to men, ie: men who individually and collectively created religions in the first place.

  • CURIOUS CAT

    I am not trying to be a pest posting the same question on every forum, but I really am curious about this. Someone has sort of answered this question on another forum, but I want to ask the same thing (and a few other questions) to Mr Eboo Patel. So here goes:Why are non-muslims not permitted to enter the holy cities of Mecca and Medina? Is it that they are NEVER permitte to eneter these cities or is it only during pilgirmage? Is there any exceptions? Can anyone enter the Kabba?

  • Gandalf

    Swami Vivekanand was a prominent and respected spiritual leader of the philosophies in India. This is an excerpt of his talk delievered at the World’s Parilament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago. I thought this would be an appropriate place to “copy-paste” this part of his talk, considering all the fighting and vitriol being hurled at “other” religions.”Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity…() But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu or Buddhist? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth…()This is what Swami Vivekanand had to say over a hundred years ago and it cannot be any more appropriate than in today’s world. TOLERANCE is the need of the hour for everyone. Possibly there are flaws in every religion, but only AS IT IS FOLLOWED TODAY. Does it mean that that was what the religion was really about? Was what we see today THE CENTRAL TENET of the religion when it originated? Maybe not! If there appears to be a disconnect, could it not mean mis-interpretation by a select few, over-interpretation (sometimes deliberate) by some opportunistic few?

  • Betty

    ROSS!!!What on earth gives you the idea that anyhone wants to read (or even scroll through)It is a self indulgent antisocial act to post such lengthy things.

  • Henry James

    Very Fuzzy “Thinking”, Mr PatelWhen humans, over and over, through centuries, commit awful acts in the name of an ideology, whether it is Communism or Christianity,it makes NO sense to say that the ideology has no causal relationship with, and therefore blame for, the terrible actions.Islam is far from unique among religions for these kinds of effects. But to deny them is fatuous.

  • halozcel

    Blame individual? or Faith encourge violence??Not equal are those believers who sit(at home) and those who fight in the cause of Allah(jihad) and Allah hath granted a grade higher and unto each Allah hath promised good 4.95 that means Allah loves ‘jihadist’.The Religion before Allah is islam(only islam) 3.19If only the people of Book had believed(islam) and been righteous(muslim) we(Allah) should remit their sin from them 5.65 that means christians and jews(and all non-muslim) are sinners.Allah curses those who reject Faith(that means only islam) 2.161Allah hates non-muslims 8.12 and says to choose not friends from non-muslim and kill them wherever you find them 4.89So,if I sum up,Is it ‘Blame Individual’??

  • Andrea

    Mr Mark,Good point.

  • Robert Landbeck

    All monthesim is, has been, or will be subject to extremism and violence for a very simple reason. While attempting to hold the highest of apirational ideals, tradition has failed to provide the means to realize those expectations. The result is the rationalizing of conduct completely contrary to their own moral and ethical religious standards. Often called hypocrisy. That failure raises big questions about the efficacy of faith? What God would leave his true servants without the non violent means to achieve His ends? Which can only be a greater peace and justice then political process can offer!

  • Henry James

    Greetings Victoria, My QueenYou exude the spirit of peace and of energy. Salut.I believe that you would admit that most scriptural traditions, whether Christian, Islamic, or Judaic, have texts that are rich in meaning.When a text is rich in meaning, it is also rich in ambiguity.Such a text allows people to interpret it to their own desires.Thus, many Muslims interpret the Quran as justifying unjustifiable violence against other humans, as do Christians and Jews with their scripture (just take the Crusades as an example).To give those fallible humans a little excuse, many passages in most scriptural traditions DO have clear exhortations to violence contained in them. We can say we must understand the context, but humans are notoriously fallible in understanding context.SO, we need people like you who Preach Peace as the first message, the most important message, amidst the Babel of conflicting human tendencies and fears and hatreds.Keep the FaithHenry

  • BigD

    Norrie, Mr Mark, Henry –Your seeming hatred for religion continues to amaze me. Mr Patel makes an accurate assessment and you all resort to nope its religions fault not the people. This is an epidemic in our society of no personal responsibility for anything. If I go out drinking tonight and kill someone in a drunk driving accident. Is it my fault or is it the fault of the driver’s education system or the state law manual? Do you want to make the claim that no, in those cases it clearly says not to drink and drive? Well it’s legal to drive up until between 0.08 and .1 BAC so what if I get impaired before then? Who is at fault?This is obviously just a simple example and I won’t go into more. I think it is Henry that likes to always make the point about the Bible having references to kill people as a counter to many arguments. You can do this with anything. As an individual I can take something out of context from the Bible, Koran, My Physics Text book, Microbiology, etc. and justify or act in almost any way imaginable.You can not condemn a system religious or otherwise (even including the ones you added Mr Mark) UNLESS (now here is where I would put the big IF) the leaders or whatever leadership exists of that system do not condemn actions that are in fact against the beliefs of that system. If the system promotes and encourages such actions regularly then okay blame the system (DEMOCRATS – just kidding on that one, I don’t actually think that – but you could make that type of case against many forms of communism). If they don’t actively help correct the problem then blame the system as partially at fault. But most of the blame has to go to the individual.BUT if you want to say the system is the problem then how does the system also create such good results. Because any good that is done then would also have to be attributed to the system and not the people. I don’t think any of you would argue that there has been some amazing good done by many Catholics and Muslims.

  • Mr Mark

    Big D writes:”If I go out drinking tonight and kill someone in a drunk driving accident. Is it my fault or is it the fault of the driver’s education system or the state law manual? Do you want to make the claim that no, in those cases it clearly says not to drink and drive? Well it’s legal to drive up until between 0.08 and .1 BAC so what if I get impaired before then? Who is at fault?”According to most state laws, you would be at fault. In some states, the bartender who over-served you and assited you in getting drunk could be liable as well.Of course, there could be mitigating circumstances: say the person you hit was a pedestrian who deliberately threw himself in front of your car. Suppose during the investigation the police find a note stating the pedestrain’s intention to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a car. Even if you were legally drunk, the court may not throw the book at you for the death of the pedestrian. In fact, they could legally cite for DUI while not attributing the death to you.But your analogy really misses the point of what I was saying. Using your car analogy, let me posit the following: suppose I am driving my 6-moth-old car, when suddenly the brakes give out, I can’t stop at a traffic light…and I strike dead a pedestrian. The following week, the car manufacturer issues a recall on my car as they knew the brakes were faulty. In fact, they knew they were faulty a year ago, but the corporate lawyers needed time to come up with a defense before they let the public know that the cars they manufactured and sold were a hazard.In such a case, who is to blame for the death of the pedestrian? The individual driver, or “the system,” ie: the people who manufactured the car I was driving?This analogy better suits my post, wouldn’t you say?

  • BigD

    Mr Mark -Sure if you think everything is one big conspiracy. You can make an analogy to back up your point but that doesn’t make your point correct. I read your post to say that it is the fault of religion.The point of my post (in such my analogy) is simple. If the Muslim world (or any other system) is out there promoting the violence, telling their followers that yes this is what you are to do, and not coming out and saying that those actions are not an accurate understanding of the faith and that the followers should not be doing that then it is the system. I am not Muslim but I give the benefit of the doubt and am starting to see many of them come out and say that this is not right. I don’t think that the vast majority of them, that do understand their faith, are in some conspiracy trying to take over the world by force and just not telling us about it until they do.

  • BigD

    Mr Mark – You make an interesting point in the analogy: “In some states, the bartender who over-served you and assited you in getting drunk could be liable as well.”Who is the bartender on the religous side? When does the bartender in the real world actually get held liable? I believe it’s typically only when he is grossly negligent but I am not sure on that so please correct me if I am wrong. This might be the best analogy to work through to see both sides of our argument.

  • BigD

    Candide – really when? Who? The Catholic Church has everything it believes pretty much written down in a nice book called the Catechism (if you don’t want to buy it you can find it all on the vatican website) – can you show me where it says to hate outsiders?

  • Mr Mark

    Big D -Thanks for the responses.I didn’t say that it was always the fault of religion. I said that the system that is religion seems to be given a pass, most notably by columnists on this blog. It’s always mankind’s fault or the individual’s wrong-headed, free-will based decision. It’s never something wrong with the ridiculous, irreversible, god-bestowed dogma of the religion. (NB: there’s always the exception. Religions can sometimes alter their ridiculous dogma. Why, just today, the RC church did away with their dogma of limbo! How sweet of them! So, does that mean that the centuries of limbo were all imaginary, or did newlyborns who died actually go to limbo for all those centuries, but today, they go straight to heaven? Ah…the wonders and mysteries of god’s dogma…)All I am asking – and believe me, on this particular thread, it is ALL that I’m asking – is that we stop giving religion a pass that we would not give to any other system we use to arrange our lives. Let’s admit that just as surely as one can read any good or evil into religion that they wish, their doing so is exacerbated by all religions condoning some pretty bad stuff while simultaneously offering themselves their universal “get out of jail free” cards (the chief of which is “god is good, man is bad”).

  • BigD

    Mr Mark – First the so called dogma of limbo was not a dogma. There was no official teaching on the theory of limbo in the Catholic faith. Dogma is something that does not change. Nothing changed in the teaching of the Church on this issue – but don’t worry many others made the same mistake on that. We could get in to the nuiansances of this and why its a common perception but I think that is for another conversation.I believe it is all your asking and I don’t think any religion or system of any kind should be given a pass. But while you are correct any given Individual can use religion for Good or for Evil, Good religions do not condone “bad stuff” or offer universal get out of jail cards. Some might, but not most – at least not as I sense you portray it. God is the source of all Good, Man is created in God’s image and is therefore also good. Human nature can turn man into something “bad” though. (A common and still occuring false (in my opinion) religion is that which states Man and all creation is bad. God created everything and it is good – very good – just like it says in the Bible.)

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Betty,Good evening!I saw that you are on this (sub?-)forum too, according to your post of 3:23 p.m.I hope that you read my two posts (i) answer to your question “When is a Muslim allowed to kill another person?'; and (ii) what is truth?You would read and make an effort to understand them if you are sincere in seeking to understand; however, you would not bother if these exchanges are just for fun or a combination of fun and scoring points.All the very best to you!

  • Viejita del oeste

    Curious C

  • frank collins

    nice story. islam is still a religion that not only demands violence and death, islamics practice that in accord with the mandates in the koran.

  • Betty

    Dear MohamedForgive me. I did read your response, and I thought I had thanked you for it.I thought what you said made perfect sense, as I remember, not having it right in front of me.And I do remember that you satisfied my curiosity about what you had been referring to.Sorry again.I will look at it once more and be more specific but the above is an accurate summary

  • santo

    to c kat

  • santo

    to c kat

  • frank collins

    to be a good islamic you must follow the koran. the koran demands hate and murder of anyone not islamic. so for an islamic – hating and murder make them a good islamic.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    BIGD,”Your seeming hatred for religion continues to amaze me.”I don’t hate the adherents of any religion.What I do hate are religious ORGANIZATIONS (creations of men) that act intolerantly and cruelly.Witness the extermination of the Cathars and the hideous tortures of the Holy Inquisition.The torturers would not have committed their crimes against nature and humanity but for the direction and command of the Church’s authorized officers and agents, starting with the Pope himself.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Norrie HoytSince I’m a Catholic (although I belong to a denomination called Syro-Malabar Catholic which had nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church and came under it only four hundred years ago with permission to retain the Syrian Rite – a long winded explanation for,’my Christian church has nothing to do with the atrocities you repeatedly mention in connection to Christianity’)I wish to clarify yet again,Whatever wrong might have been done by Christians down the centuries (the repeated reference made to the Catholic Church), when some of them gained political power, it has NOTHING to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ or the example he set through His life. Read the New Testament to verify the teachings of Jesus, not the Old Testament which describes the time before the birth of Jesus. I do NOT condone any wrong doing by Christians/Catholics. But I will repeat that it is not fair to blame the religion for the way human beings have misused their free will.It would be the same if all the wrongs done by Buddhists were blamed on Buddha and his teachings, which as you know did not teach violence.Atheists in the Soviet Union and other countries have also done atrocious things. Nobody says for that reason that atheism is inherently violent or teaches violence. Atheists and religious alike have a free will which can be used for good or evil. Belief in a God or a particular religious belief does not rob anyone of free will. In fact the first chapter of the Bible refers to the free will of man, as God’s gift to man as proof of his love. God did not create puppets. He created us in His image and likeness with the power to create or destroy with our free will, to love or to hate. What is being attempted here is to sort out if the tenets of any religion teaches violence or hatred. As a Christian I can say an emphatic NO! Please don’t quote the Old Testament because Jesus Christ who is the founder of Christianity was born 2000 years ago. Of course I can’t stop you from referring to the crusades over and over again, in spite of knowing that Jesus Christ taught no such thing.

  • Russell D.

    The Pope’s not the brightest tool in the shed either.Hola Norrie!

  • VICTORIA

    i would like to make note that i just finished my afternoon prayer- so that is my state of mind in this composition-also this happens 5 times a day, so at least 5 times a day i have this reasonable attitude(however i am inclined to believe the reason overlaps from prayer to prayer)Muslims comprise the most diverse population of any grouping on the planet, yet people still persist in believing fox news perceptions-id say the proof is in the pudding-witness the very apparent examples on these boards-where do you see angry and abusive muslims here?do you see muslims name calling and castigating others?id say there is a disproportionate amount of reasonable response to overt aggression here-and yet it doesnt strike anyone as indicative of islamic manners and behavior?while i see a preponderance of verbal violence against muslims-is this verbal violence and abuse answered back in reciprocal manner?there are even those who mislead others by using arabic names, and then propagating outright hatred and vitriol-has anyone seen a corollary malice in return?or even anger?if islam is filled with out of control emotional and anger filled adherents, why dont we see any evidence of it here?people respond with outright irrational emotions controlling their every word- but the muslims remain reasoned.it is a phenomenon that certainly deserves mention and attention.peace all

  • Fate

    How many Catholics do you think adhere to the “no contraception use” rule, or check out which movies the church says not to watch? Many catholics listen to the pope but they are not stupid. But I’m wondering about all those people who went to hell because the ate meat on Fridays before Vatican II. Must be tough, sitting in hell for an eternity watching those who are today eating meat on Fridays going to heaven. One has to wonder why God would take people to heaven or send them to hell based on what the pope and his committees decide. Sort of gives the pope God-like powers with God as the executioner of the pope’s will. It shows me that man is in charge of all religions and the gods just do what they are told to do.

  • Fate

    —people respond with outright irrational emotions controlling their every word- but the muslims remain reasoned.—I think you are generalizing a bit, don’t you think? I was on another board a few weeks ago with a muslim who was lying, calling me names, saying that Islam would crush the west, you name it. I tried reason with no result. I think, if you look hard enough, you’ll find people are pretty much the same everywhere. They love good food, they love their children, they want peace and justice, and they love a good argument.

  • BigD

    FATE – You have a very poor understanding of the role of the Pope in the Catholic Church. Please show me where the Church or the Pope said anyone was going to hell for eating meat on Friday or any other day of the week for that matter? I am not really sure what point you were trying to make in the first few lines but I would make the case that if people claim to be Catholic then not listening to the Pope is what would be stupid.

  • Bobster

    Mr. Patel, Excellent article. You some very good points. You would have to give the God and religious haters something else to blame for all the evil that we as humans are capable of inflicting on our fellow humans. Hitler and Stalin both knew psychology 101 in how to direct and channel the need of some people to hate something or someone.My point is that its me who decides on what I am going to hate today. Or the opposite, what I will love and respect today. One of those two emotions will influence my thinking and behaviors toward anything, and or anyone. And sometimes being a fallible human I have conflicting emotions between the two. But I am still responsible for my actions and my thinking. And changing my thinking as well.

  • colleen

    It was man who created religion, man who decided on the rules of the religion and who was going to be allowed into the religion. God, Allah, Great Spirt or whatever has nothing to with it.

  • frank collins

    - – – people respond with outright irrational emotions controlling their every word- but the muslims remain reasoned.- – -if by refusing to respond to the points and ignoring contrary facts you mean reasoned – well you must be right.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Homer. Now we have the real reasons for the rise of Islam and the justification for the violence in it. According to you:1. Islam was a reaction to Christianity.2. Mo was using violence for survival from Christians, who were his enemies. 3. Christians were using violence as a justifiable means to convert people, so Mo did the same. 4. The Muslims were beating Christians at their own imperialistic game. SO,1. The goal of Islam was to provide an alternative for Christianity?2. Mo considered Christians to be his enemies and felt justified in using violence to deal with them?3. Mo followed the example of Christianity in using violence to convert people?4. Christians were playing an imperiliastic game, so Mo would show them that he was better at it by beating them at it?WHAT IF,1. The whole idea to create a new religion was merely part of Mo’s imperialistic plans?2. Mo found Christianity a threat and a hindrance to creating an empire of his own?3. Mo used violence to eliminate the threat that Christianity posed?4. Mo advocated use of violence to convert people to Islam, his empire, because they wouldn’t do it any other way?5. Declaring himself a prophet was the best way to gain the greatest power and obedience from the people and create a truly global empire with undying loyalty? 6. Explaining the violence Mo initiated as defence against Christianity was the rationalisation he needed to proceed with his imperialistic plans unhindered with immediate effect?

  • Anonymous

    The first Crusade began in 1095… 460 years after the first Christian city was overrun by Muslim armies, 457 years after Jerusalem was conquered by Muslim armies, 453 years after Egypt was taken by Muslim armies, 443 after Muslims first plundered Italy, 427 years after Muslim armies first laid siege to the Christian capital of Constantinople, 380 years after Spain was conquered by Muslim armies, 363 years after France was first attacked by Muslim armies, 249 years after Rome itself was sacked by a Muslim army, and only after centuries of church burnings, killings, enslavement and forced conversions of Christians.—- Info provided by Frank Collins

  • Henry James

    I try not to be “anti-catholic”BUT=I stongly abhor the Catholic stance on Homosexuality. I also abhor the Mormon stance, and a number of others (I am an ex-Mormon, what they call an “anti-Mormon.”)- I think the work of the church to supress Condom Distribution is scandalous, contributing greatly to what is in effect a genocide.There is a pretty well substantiated story that the Vatican spread rumors of pin-holes in African Condoms, to scare people away from using them, for instance (google this).= Many of us in Boston, Catholic and non Catholic alike, were scandalized by the Church’s reaction to the Abuse Scandals.As I have noted many times, the Church does many very good things as well, and all of my Catholic friends are great people, who are often pained by these actions of their church as well.I don’t want to destroy the Catholic Church. I want them to change these actions.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Continuation of the cleansing of the Koran.”6. To believe that Allah Most High has knowledge of everything from before-hand and that only that which He sanctions or wishes will occur.”This is invalidated by the natural/inherent/God-given gifts/attributes of the human race i.e. Free Will and Future.As per the theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, We must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman “Nothing is determined in advance: in “7. To believe that Resurrection will definitely occur.”The spiritual resurrection occurs at each death. There will be no physical resurrection from common sense considerations i.e. Heaven is a spirit state i.e. no bodies to include those of Jesus, Mary, Moses etc. can reside there.”8. To believe in the existence of Heaven.”Acceptable but it exists only as a spirit state.”9. To believe in the existence of Hell.”Maybe, maybe not. Some say if one dies is significant sin, that person’s soul will simply no longer exist since God/Allah does not tolerate imperfection in the Kingdom. “10. To have love for Allah Most High.”Of course, just like there is love of all creatures, spiritual and living. Again there has to be an all-inclusive statement for Allah, i..e. aka God, Yahweh, Mother Nature, Jehovah, etc.

  • Henry James

    BigDthank you for your response.i agree with you that it is consistent for the Catholic Church to have a different position than I do onThe Church clearly has a right to those positions, just as I and others have a right to disagree.My point is that there are significant moral issues that the Catholic Church can be strongly disagreed with on. Many of my Catholic friends also disagree with the church both on ondoms and on homosexuality as well.They are very smart people, and choose to remain Catholics while having these disagreements with their own church.More general point one final time: one can disagree with certain positions of the church without being “anti-catholic”, and it seems that you agree with that statement.Doesn’t necessariloy mean that I am right, though since I always am right, I must be in this case.

  • Ralph

    All religions are violent. That’s part of what makes a religion so powerful. It can so move and motivate people that they will kill others over disagreements on religious belief.That’s also what makes Evolutionism the world’s most dangerous religion. It is a religion that refuses to call itself a religion. It demands that its beliefs be taught as truth to children who are even too young to join the military. And what are its truths? That mights makes right. That the pack attacks are normal. That deception is natural. That some humans are less human. And that the weak have no right to live.

  • Fate

    Ralph wrote:No, all people are by nature violent and their religions embody the violence in one way or another. Muslims spell it out, attack muslims and be met by violence. So does Judiasm. Christianity actually says to turn the other cheek, but as a nun once told me, that was only one cheek to be turned. All religions allow violence. I do not hear many christians using Jesus’ teaching to tell Bush to stop the killing in Iraq, nor was it used to stop the butchary of the American Indians 150 years ago. So blaming religions for any violence, even violence where the religion is named as the reason, is wrong. Its human to be violent. Religion is only an excuse, not the cause. It will occur whether any religion is present or not.

  • Russell D.

    Ralph:I think you are missing the point in regards to Evolution my friend. Totally off the mark.

  • BigD

    Norrie -Your response doesn’t seem harsh to me. If its what you believe that is fine. I am quite solid in my faith and not above being questioned on it.In response to some of your specific’s I quoted John Paul II above. I did not see his response or in any of the links making any justification of the actions that people took during these times. They all admitted that the actions were not approrpriate responses. Further they were not perscribed by the Pope. The Pope’s fault was that he did not stop them and yes he gave the approval to the beginning of many of them. He screwed up. We all can.As far as YOUR SENSE of the Catholic Church please realize your sense maybe way off. As a Catholic I do not feel the Church is in anyway authoritarian or opposed to liberty and freedom. Take Henry’s examples of Catholics who are still Catholic and yet don’t believe everything the Chruch teaches. Many faiths would ride them out of the Church. In fact some would argue the Church allows too much freedom.As far as its intolerence and imposing beliefs. I would invite you to find out what institution does more to help the poor and less fortunate than any other institution in the world (regardless of their faith or belief). Finally, as far as the beliefs go I think a lot of the one billion Catholics are enlightened people, many a great deal more than you or I. I left the Church for sometime when I thought I had become enlightened in college. But you know what when I got serious about trying to find out the truth about all of this it led me back to the Church. I have an extensive education and looked into a lot of belief systems. My conclusion after the research was that the Catholic Church was right and that its beliefs fully reconcile with science and reason. You might not agree with my beliefs but you can’t make a good case that the Catholic beliefs are not enlightened.

  • BigD

    Henry -Thank you for your response. I completley agree (except of course with you always being right – I thought we agreed that was me :) ).

  • Fate

    Ralph ponders that evolution is a religion and:—That the pack attacks are normal.—In some species. Humans do not form packs but form societies small and large. Its a little different than a pack which is usually limited to related individuals. But humans are territioral and will fight to protect the society and its land, and will attack other unrelated societies for profit. History shows this has happened under all religions and all societies over a long period of time. Pack attack is the wrong term. But to wage war is human. Evolution is not what explains this. You’ll need to talk to the Sociologists.—That deception is natural.—Humans have this ability thanks to our unique intelligence. However its not inate, meaning that it is not a reflex reaction but a conscious choice that is usually learned. Again, not an evolutionary explained trait but one defined by Sociologists.—That some humans are less human.—Evolution PROVES this is not true. Religions however teach it to be true. Sociologists study this self deceptive behavior.—And that the weak have no right to live.—No. Evolution is explained by the weak dying and thus removing their genes they carry from the genepool causing the genepool to change over time allowing the species to adapt as the environment changes. This is an observation. It is not considered to be “good” or “bad”. In fact, evolution has no moral teachings within it as no science has moral teachings. My guess is you have learned this from a religious person to reinforce the religion. More intellectual justifying through deception by intelligent humans.Many, including the Nazis, have used evolutionary biology to justify human misdeeds. Using evolution, or any science, in this way is not a reflection on the science but a reflection on us humans who seem to have an uncanny ability to justify the unjustifiable. I have yet to see a religion stop a war.

  • FRANK COLLINS

    fate you miss the point about religion and violence. the koran demands violence. the koran demands hate. so what do you get when you meld humans, which are by nature violent, with a religion that demands violents? you get an islamic.”4.90″: Except those who reach a people between whom and you there is an alliance, or who come to you, their hearts shrinking from fighting you or fighting their own people; and if Allah had pleased, He would have given them power over you, so that they should have certainly fought you; therefore if they withdraw from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not given you a way against them. “4.91”: You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    You know, BIGD, while I enjoy debates, I really don’t like religious arguments. They make me too emotional and distressed. And they don’t solve anything.Actually, I’ve never, in writing or in person, ever tried to change anyone’s religious belief – a difficult to impossible task anyway. I simply don’t care what anyone believes religiously.My beef is with the Catholic Church as a political force, trying to enact its beliefs into law to the detriment of non-Catholics.I understand from posts here that in traditional Islam, Islamic law did not apply to non-Islamic communities that were subject to the Islamic state. For example, Christians were allowed to drink alcohol. That practice prevails in some parts of the Middle East today. There’s no civil marriage in Israel – you have to be married within a religious community.It’s a fantasy project, but I might not mind an imagined United States where civil law barred Catholics from obtaining conrtraceptives but not Protestants or nonbelievers.Again, my problem is with the Catholic Church’s insistence on obtaining laws that enforce its beliefs on non-Catholics who don’t share them.Why can’t the Church focus on trying to persuade its Catholic flock to follow its dictates and leave the rest of us alone?

  • john smith

    You have been had dude. Your lies and those of other islamics are known. Even if its the smiling face of a big eyed girl under a veil, or a handsom man in western garb, it cannot turn the vile message of hate and murder that is the koran and islam, into peace and love.

  • Fate

    Frank Collins wrote:But so does the bible. Much of it is in the old testament (slavery, eye for an eye, sacking cities that do not accept God’s rule, etc) but the new testament has it as well. Here, in Mark 7-10 Christ calls for the death of children who do not obey God’s fifth commandment:7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.Now, today, we do not put children to death when they curse their parents, (thank God!), but Christ calls for it and those who wish to justify beating children will certainly find it ok in the bible. You see, the bible, the koran, etc, can all be used to justify violence for they all contain violent acts. Guess why? Because it was written about human beings. Sorry to inform you but humans are violent animals, but, like many animals, are not violent to what they perceive to be their own kind. Violence in anything written by people is expected to contain violence. Its in our nature. Controlling it is imperitive now that we have such destructive weapons. Religions will not do it since they reinforce the differentiation of people into US and THEM. 32 people die in one day by violence in VA and all of America morns and hold vigils. 140 Iraqis die in one day by violence and its a headline Americans ignore. US and them. We need people using whatever tools necessary to bring down the us/them walls. Ghandi did it. King did it. But I see no one today making an impact as they did. Today those who would build the walls are talking and being listened to. Both the warmakers and the peacemakers use religion to justify their beliefs and actions. History shows this is not new.

  • BigD

    Norrie – I am not trying to distress you or cause an argument. I am trying to correct false impressions that you and many others have about the Catholic faith. I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with the Church’s teachings. I am not trying to convince you to become Catholic. I do want you to know exactly what the Church teaches though before you disagree with it or claim it is not enlightened.As far as polital force goes — what beliefs is the Catholic Church trying to enact on you? I would say the Catholic Church is a realtively poor political force. Many of its influential people in political office disavow many of the teachings of the Church – not a good idea in a politcal arena. Please give me some examples of where the Church is trying to force its beliefs on you.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Hello, again, Soja John Thaikattil,You must have read my post of 11:53 PM last, because your post to me was next after it, but I have the feeling you didn’t comprehend what I’d written, so here I go again:I don’t hate the adherents of any religion. I do hate religious ORGANIZATIONS (basically corporations created by men) who act in an intolerant and cruel way.I’m quite familiar with the New Testament, having attended Christian sunday school throughout my youth. I’ve never written anything against Christ or his teachings. I wish that humanity had and would adopt and practice the essence of His teachings.You seem to object to my “repeated mention” of Christian atrocities. If the Nazi regime were still in existence would it bother you if I kept bringing up the Holocaust? And, yes, I know about the Christian doctrine of Jesus’s dying to redeem our sins, but other cosmic views hold that a horrible deed continues to exist eternally, which would make it worthy of repeated mention. “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”You say that “it is not fair to blame the religion for the way human beings have misused their free will”.What I blame is the corporate religion on earth, not the religion’s enlightened teachings. The Pope is said to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth, with the power to loose and bind. When a Pope commands the religion’s adherents to commit genocide (the Cathars) or torture innocents (the Inquisition) I blame the religion in its earthly, organizational form. Does not the Pope speak authoritatively for the Catholic religion?

  • Fate

    Well, now that you bring up the three criteria lets look at them:How does eating meat on Friday, a Canon Law, meet the first criteria? I was taught and all the references to this subject I can find say it is a mortal sin. Yet I see no way eating meat on Friday, which is never mentioned in the bible, can be a mortal sin.And I understand the non-universality of the eating meat law. The Spanish never observed it from what I read. How can it be a serious matter if only some people are held to this law?You wrote:So you “believe” God would hold the same opinion. But that’s not what the church says. They say that Church Law IS God’s law. On earth as it is in heaven BIGD.

  • BigD

    Norrie -I did not respond to all the things you disagree with the Church on because I am not trying to change your opinion on specific beliefs of the Church.You have asserted in several posts that you think the Catholic Church is a violent organization, that does not have the right to express its opinions in the public forum. I have simply tried to counter what I believe are false assertions. We can debate each of your grievances with the Church if you like — but that is a seperate debate.The Catholic Church isn’t out to take away any fundamental freedoms. To use FATE’s example its not trying to make everyone not eat meat on Friday. But in matters that the Church believes are not freedoms but in fact serious offenses against humanity (i.e. Abortion) of course its going to stand up and make its voice known. What kind of faith would it be if it believed something was murder yet stood by and did nothing about it?If you want to debate the merits of the euthanasia argument we can do that seperately and I am happy to – I don’t know if this is the place for it though.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    BIGD,You raise a good question. Actually, most of my concern has to do with the Church’s attempts to prevent freedoms rather than enforcing some required positive action on my part:** Opposition to gay marriage and civil unions (not personally applicable but is discriminatory and denies a freedom to many in society).** Opposition to allowing physicians to provide the means of ending one’s life in terminal illness (considering my age this is likely to become applicable before too long); this is now being debated in our legislature. If I feel the need to end my life I’d like to have a pill. Otherwise I might endanger someone: jumping from a height, tossing an appliance in a bathtub; driving into a bridge abutment at 80 mph, etc. One Catholic physician testified here a week ago that such people should starve themselves to death because that was morally acceptable while taking a pill wasn’t! I’d like a little comfort at the end.** Terry Schiavo situations and the right to die; my late aunt, dying of cancer, prevailed on her doctors to end her life by increasing the morphine dose; the Catholic nurses complained – who made them the moral arbiters of my nonbelieving aunt’s distress?** Preventing useful stem cell research.** Banning adoptions by gays (again, not personally applicable but hurts both gays and potential adoptees).** Support for the federal law that lets churches override local zoning decisions. I don’t really want a megachurch cum parking lot the size of Yankee Stadium suddenly sprouting next door in our rural residential zone.** The Church might conceivably try again to ban contraceptives for everyone. The Vatican still constantly inveighs against their use. Pardon my prejudice, but the new Catholic majority on the Supreme Court seems perfectly capable of reversing Griswold v. Connecticut.** Attempts to ban access to pornography and other materials for adults. Is the index librorum prohibitum going to be resurrected?** Attempts to ban all abortions or restrict them until nothing is left of Roe v. Wade. The aforementioned Catholic majority took a big step toward that a few days ago. I find it significant that the five Catholic Justices voted one way and the four non-Catholics voted the other way. The Catholic Justices seem to be voting as dutiful altar boys. Most law professors agree that they tossed aside recent S.C. precedents despite the testimony of Roberts and Alito that they would respect the doctrine of stare decisis.** Attempts by some prelates to basically nullify the immigrations laws along the border with Mexico.** The successful attempt by the Knights of Columbus in the 1950’s to add “Under God” to the Pledge of Alleigance, thereby preventing me from expressing that patriotic sentiment in a non-religious way. Result: haven’t said the Pledge in fifty years.These are some items that spring immediately to mind but there are undoubtedly others.You have to understand my conditioning. I apologize if you’ve read this on one of my earlier posts:I attended public elementary school in Massachusetts at a time when every class was required to recite The Lord’s Prayer every morning. One year our Catholic teacher every day loudly banged down a ruler on her desk when we reached the end of the Catholic version of the prayer, in order to prevent the Protestant kids from completing their version. This had the salutary effect of turning me against everything Catholic for life. As the Jesuits said, “If you get them by age five you’ve got them for life.”Best wishes.

  • BigD

    FATE -If I profess to being Catholic and claim to believe what the Catholic Church teaches and I know that it teaches to not eat meat on Friday as one of its very, very few set rules. Don’t you think that if I will fully disobey it – that it is then serious? What makes it serious is willfully disobeying what you profess to believe.Church Law, God Law – I thought that was the point I made. If the Church is the Church of Jesus (you can debate that) then wouldn’t it make sense that the Church Law is God’s Law?

  • Fate

    Well, as I was taught, “serious” meant it went against God’s/Christ’s teachings. God/Jesus never taught to abstaine from eating meat or doing penetance on Friday. This is all made up by the church, with some reasoning I admit. But still, a MORTAL sin?But a mortal sin it is, not because it meets any criteria but because it is so ordained by the pope and his bishops in the US (at least back in the 60s). And, of course, the pope is infallible in this even though other catholics in other places are not covered by the law. In fact, you can go to Spain and eat meat on Friday. But what other sin can you commit in other locations on the planet? But regardless, why do people in hell for eating meat on a Friday before 1966 have to watch those eating meat on Friday today going to heaven? Extra punishment? Did the pope change his mind? Did God change his mind? Or my theory, the pope changed God’s mind and those poor souls will be left to burn in hell. I agree, the church defines its laws as God’s laws. I just wonder how they can change them and God complies. Just who is in control here, man or God? I think you know my answer.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    BIGD,Please show me where I ever posted that, as you say, I think the Catholic Church “does not have the right to express its opinions in the public forum.”Thanks.

  • BigD

    Fate -I guess there is no reasoning with you. I have already explained all of these points. Unless someone else wants me to I am not going to just keep giving you all the information and you just keep ignoting them and posting your same response.Of course I am sure you will take this as avoiding your question and we can start all over again.

  • BigD

    NORRIE – Quotes from you:”My beef is with the Catholic Church as a political force, trying to enact its beliefs into law to the detriment of non-Catholics.””Actually, most of my concern has to do with the Church’s attempts to prevent freedoms””This isn’t about “Catholic hatred” or license to do whatever I please. It’s about keeping the Church from taking away fundamental human freedoms from those who don’t share its doctrines.”In your last post on your issues against the Church you posted a series of your beliefs that you disagreed with the Church on. Then you asserted that they were trying to force their beliefs on you through politics. See the first quote above. These are just from this thread.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    BIGD,I’m afraid your latest post at 2:48 pm isn’t responsive to mine of 2:16.My quotes do not say that I think the Catholic Church “does not have the right to express its opinions in the public forum.”I said I object to the Church’s trying to take non-believers’ freedoms away. There’s a big difference.A tolerant religion would allow other religious communities to do things their ways, rather than trying to enforce its beliefs on all citizens.I noted earlier that in classic Islam, Islamic states allowed religious communities within the states to legislate for themselves on religiously sensitive matters, such the drinking of alcohol.So it would seem that Islam centuries ago was more tolerant than the Catholic Church is today on allowing non-believers to follow their own consciences on social issues.

  • BigD

    Norrie -Well I am not sure how they are trying to take your freedoms away if not in the public political forum.As I detailed the only issues they are trying to make non-believers listen to are where they see a grave injustice – in their eyes murder. Not whether or not you drink alcohol.The Church does speak out and seek to outlaw actions it views as murder and I don’t see how that is wrong or trying to take away your freedom. I wouldn’t call it tolerance if a religion that believes something is murder didn’t speak out against. Murder is still against the civil law not just the religous law.

  • Fate

    BIGD,You have not answered all the questions. The main one now is why eating meat is a mortal sin in one country but not in another. You say the bishops make local practice decisions, but if those practices have mortal sin as a result of not observing the practice, then I have a problem with the church’s cannon law which should apply equally to all men. Its these types of things that used to get the nun to swat the ruler on my knuckles. I dared bring out the obvious inconsistencies or outright contradictions in canon law or the bible when all I wanted was an inconsistency cleared up. I quickly realized that God had little to do with anything associated with the church. I agree, there is no point in banging our heads against a wall, but its not a wall I made. I enjoyed being a catholic when I was one. Its not the religion so much as the people who, for lack of a better term, ENFORCE it and its rules, which when pointed out as being arbitrary in some cases was met with violence. No religion should use or condone violence in anyway.

  • BigD

    Fate -This is the Canon Law:Canon 1251US Bishops (the Episcopal Conference) – adjusted the US observence to only Friday’s of lent with other penance being acceptable the rest of the year.As I stated the mortal sin is NOT from eating meat. It is for willfully disobeying the teaching of the Church without good reason. The Church teaches you should not eat meat on Friday’s if you know this and do it anyway without good reason then its a mortal sin.

  • Fate

    …unless you’re in Spain. God’s law is not applied equally around the globe or through time. Again, what should the poor soul in hell think when his mortal sin is no longer a sin?

  • BigD

    Fate – I am not sure we are going to get anywhere but…Let me try another example. You seemed to agree with the idea that penance is a valid idea in the Church. I assume you also know that the Church only has 5 Precepts that it asks believers to follow, one of which is this fasting. So there are only 5 rules the Church asks you to do on a regular basis – pretty simple.So I also assume you know the reason for doing penenance and would agree that doing penance is supposed to be at least a small challenge.So if in Spain they do not follow this penance but instead have another maybe its because not eating meat isn’t much of a penance there since their diet is heavily fish orientated what penance would it be to eat fish on Friday? This is the reason it can change by country. To better suit the intended purpose of penance to a particular culture.And through time the Church has asked for this to be one of the precepts. While the observence might have changed slightly I can commit a mortal sin against it just as easily today as anyone throughout history has — so it does apply equally around the globe – through time. It is still a sin to break the precept.

  • frank collins

    how did the islamics turn this into an anti catholic board. that was a good trick.

  • Fate

    Norrie wrote:Yea, I grew up in catholic school in the 60s. Those rulers certainly turned me away from the loving catholic church. They were not being banged on a desk but on my neck, hand, back, and forehead. Such a loving religion that treats children worse than animals. I guess when you believe you have the power of God behind you, nothing is wrong…

  • BigD

    Norrie -Wow Frank’s right I guess this is mostly about Catholic hatred. I won’t try and correct or change your opinion on any of your issues. In my opinion many are way off base and if you understood why the Church was gainst many of them I think you would see a different view. Some, like zoning, are pretty pointless.What many of them boil down to though is this. You believe Freedom is the ability to do anything and everything you want at anytime so long as it doesn’t directly violate or injur another person. This is actual License. Some examples from your list. Porn – why do we have obscenity laws and let them be clearly violated when the local corner store will let almost anyone walk in and buy obviously obscene (defined by the government material)? Immigration – the Church has only been fighting to make sure it is not illegal to help illegal immigrants. Sorry but the Church thinks it should help anyone in need even if they have screwed up and not legal immigrated. Abortion – Obviously a very devisive issue. But the Catholic Church believes life begins at conception. Even a majority of scientists are acknowldging this fact. In every definition we use to define life. After conception there is a new life. You can disagree with this if you like. But if the Church believes this how can it condone abortion which would be murder. Of course its going to speak up against it and it has every right to do so. You don’t hear the Church complaining that you are out picketing for the opposite view point and saying down with whatever you are.I could go on but I won’t. All I ask is that before you write off the Church for its views you actually understand why it has its views. After that of course you can disagree its America. You and the Church both have the right to state your opinioins and try to persuade the legal system that you are right. The solution isn’t to try and eliminate each other.

  • BigD

    FATE -Wow you had discipline in your school, how awful. I can’t imagine how many permanent scars you have from it.Definately much better the way it is today. Nothing like my mother-in-law being scared for her job as a 2nd grade teacher because she lightly swatted a kids hand to prevent him from getting injured. Yes much better. After all we really shouldn’t ever discipline – it might cause poor self-esteem.

  • Fate

    BIGD, I watched a nun who lost it try to strangle a 6th grader. Once we pulled her off him she grabbed a stapler and stapled him in the neck. His offense? Talking. She then looked at me and I tried to figure out how to get out of the room, but she got a grip and dismissed class. We all ran out. She was gone the next day.The culture of violence in my 1960s catholic classroom was the norm then. I’m convinced allowing corporal punishment lead this woman to use it to extremes. Had it not been allwed, the incident may never have happened. And yes, I have a scar in my knuckle.Today corporal punishment is not allowed in the catholic school I went to. Funny how the infallible church used violence to teach back then but gave it up as American culture recognized the harm it does. Infallible indeed. Enjoy your meat on Friday’s BIGD. I tried to post about that but was blocked, three times. Maybe God’s hand in that. Just google “meat on Friday” and “canon law”. It was a mortal sin to eat meat on any Friday before 1966 but today only during lent. But when you’re infallible and you have the power of God, nothing is wrong, right?

  • BigD

    FATE – What is sad is that you went to Catholic school and don’t know what the infallibility means or applies to.While the one scene you describe is deplorable – obviously it was corrected and recognized as such. I am pretty certain you do not know enough about the person who did it to judge what lead her to do it. Of course your parent’s had the choice to send you to a Catholic school – they didn’t have to.Now on infallability — the Church only teaches that:891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals…. “This has no bearing on the arguments you make which are simply practices of the Church.

  • BigD

    Norrie -I should have made a much shorter reply. In re-reading your posts it really seems as though you believe that people who think differently then you, should just shut up and keep to themselves. At least that is the impression I am getting. I thought this was America.

  • BigD

    Fate -By sad i am not saying its your fault. I would assume they didn’t teach you. I will agree with you that the Catholic school system is far from perfect today and in the past.

  • Fate

    BIGD, you only need to look at the Canon Law and liturgy and infallibility of the pope as defined before Vatican I, during Vatican I and now during Vatican II to understand that the chruch wants to be infallible but understands that nothing is infallible when it comes to things people do. The church understands that some past popes were heritics but were considered infallible. This has been reconsiled as the pope’s word is infallible while his actions may not be. This is a little bit of weaseling and if you read it historically it comes from the church facing up to the obvious, just as it has with scientific findings of a non-centric earth, the sun not being proof of god and even evolution. Now, with respect to eating meat on Friday, it was deemed a mortal sin (go directly to hell) during Vatican I except during certain feasts which were defined. That was changed in Vatican II to refraining from eating meat on Fridays during lent (a mortal sin still) with some other form of penantence on other Fridays. Canon Law, today, is not considered infallible. That’s ok. My question is whether those in hell who ate meat on Fridays outside lent before 1966 got to go to heaven when the Canon Law was changed. And, since only God can send people to heaven or hell, does the pope’s decision become God’s decision? Does the tail wag the dog?

  • czrpb

    BigD,I really do not understand how you (and others) can keep suggesting that everyone misunderstands Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, and/or the Church: You wrote: “All I ask is that before youWhy is it that you or the references you site are the “real” deal?And this is of course the problem with “religion”: They are interpretive and hence you, and your info, are not the official version, nor can you (reasonably) dismiss everyone else’s interpretations as wrong. So, your (and other’s) protestations that religion is whatever (non-violent, non-exclusionary, peaceful, etc.) hold as much weight as the guy holding a sign declaring the coming of the Rapture on the overpass.

  • BigD

    CZRPB – My point is that many people say the Catholic Church believes this or that (such as the infallibility issue FATE is trying to make) when in fact that is not what the Church teaches. The Catholic Church has a very definitive source for virtually everything: the Catechism. So that reference is the “real” deal of what the Church teaches – not what the evening news necessarily says.In some religions yes it is highly interprative. One of the big problems I had with most forms of Protestantism when I was searching for the truth was how do I know who is correctly interpretting this stuff? With Catholicsm that is not an issue there is a definitive teaching source – that you, I and everyone can look at. Now of course many people proclaim to be Catholic and don’t agree with some of its teachings. Personally I would make the argument that is not actually being Catholic but that is a whole seperate debate.There in lies my point – you can disagree with the views of the Church, especially if you are not Catholic. No problem there this is America and we are all free. The reason I started this conversation was because NORRIE kept posting things I consider to be inaccurate or at best half-truths in reference to Catholics.

  • BigD

    Fate – I won’t keep arguing back and forth with you. I gave you the teaching of the Church and the very limited aspect that it believes in any sort of infallibility. It has always asserted that all people, even the Pope, are capable of making errors or sin.In regards to eating meat. This could be a long discussion. I will try to make this a short response.A Mortal Sin requires 3 specific criteria. So just because someone ate meat does not mean it was a mortal sin – but yes it could be. If you want me to explain this further I can but I’ll let you decide.The change in the observation of this actually is only a US change. The rest of the world (as far as I am aware) still follows this practice. Each country under the directions of its Bishops can make changes to practices of the faith – not to the faith itself. You are correct obviously only God decides who goes to heaven or hell. But if you believe the Bible and understand it the way the Catholic church does Jesus specifically told the disciples that whatever sins they forgave on earth would be forgiven in heaven and whatever sins they held bound on earth would be bound in heaven. So no the Pope does not dictate what God does, but IF the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus established — then if its followers willfully disobey a teaching of the Church without just reason then yes it can be a mortal sin and I believe God would hold the same opinion.This is all contingent on your beliefs of course — you very well may not believe most or any of this and that is fine. But if you understand it the way the Church does then it makes sense.

  • Anonymous

    Norrie HoytYour claim that Islam may have been more tolerant may be a bit biased. Remember Islam as a religion has political goals. Once they gain political power to rule the land (achieved through violence and forced conversions in many cases), then it is mission accomplished to a great extent. At that point, a ruler may choose to be lenient with people of other faiths, depending on his whim. Non-Muslims only need to pay tax, so it is good for the state koffer.

  • Anonymous

    Norrie HoytOf course I was not referring to the goal of Islam today but of the times you mentioned in your post.

  • ross

    Mr. Patel,Who should we blame for the destruction and death of the jews of medina, Mohammad or Islam ?

  • Fate

    BIDG wrote:Yes, but you must consider that while all other mortal sins are pretty well defined this one is not. Penance is a general term. It can mean fasting any day. It can mean working in a soup kitchen instead of going to a ball game. Its something I admire the church for encouraging. But encouragement is different from making eating meat on a specified day a mortal sin. There are three problems:1) Specifying an absolute penance.What other penance does the church require which if broken results in a mortal sin? I’m sorry BIGD, I just do not understand why what should be an encouragement to be pious is on an equal level with one of God’s ten commandments. And only in certain countries, at certain times of the year, can be waved by special dispensation, and it changes over time. Look, I understand that the church is fallible and you seem to accept it makes mistakes. I think the church screwed up this canon law by making it a mortal sin, and once done, could not undo it. I don’t know nor care, but having grown up catholic it is one of the main curiousities I came across and helped me understand that the church is a very human organization but those humans believe they are infallible and will use their power to maintain that image. I don’t think they need to be so rigid and disciplined. I mean, is the communion host ACTUALLY transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ? You can believe this but my understanding of the Last Supper was that Christ used the bread and wine as a metaphor, equating his soon to be death with the sacrifice of a lamb whose meat is shared to seal a compact. Christ may well have said to “do this in rememberance of me” but he never said to do it because my body and blood will be present when you do it. As usual, my questions on this in catholic school were met with violence. I think if you look at the catholic church’s history you will find it would have died out had Constantine not spread it as Rome’s national religion through war and conquering others. It was then maintained through strict controls, cherry picking the gospels, and eventually through the Inquisition. Today it is a relatively benevolent religion. It has matured. Maybe Islam is going through what Christianity did during its darker days, I don’t know, but when you step back and look at christianity as a whole, with all its claims, its about as easy to believe as believing in the easter bunny, which by the way you cannot prove does not exist. I guess, in the end, my main problem is that if the church said black is white there is no way anyone could argue with a catholic that this is not correct. The requirement for strict belief with horrible consequences for even questioning the doctrine reminds one of a cult. I do not think the catholic church is a cult, but the level of control is very tight.

  • Nicholas Price

    Brother Eboo,I have been reading many peoples’ posts on this and other threads and a constant question keeps coming up: “If God is so great and loving, why does He allow all of these terrible incidents to happen?” The most basic and foundational answer is, “Because He allows us to choose.”One thing that countless people fail to realize is that the three Abrahamic faith traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all share an understanding that human being are meant to be in relationship with God. Now an honest treatment of those three faith traditions will show that the forms that this relationship takes are different, but the foundational notion of a human and divine relationship is present.It is for this reason that God gives us the ability to choose, for no relationship would be truly genuine without the ability to choose. For example, if I created a computer that, whenever I turned it on, said, “I love you Nick” I would still be left feeling empty, knowing that the computer had no choice. It loves me because I forced it to do so. It has no other option. Such an interaction is not a relationship, but rather, a hollow gesture.My relationship with my fiancee, on the other hand, illustrates a very different kind of relationship. Recently I had a conversation with her in which I revealed some parts of myself and my past that I am not proud of. At the end of it, she paused and said something that I will never forget: “I love seeing your naked heart and I love and accept you, warts and all”. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me, knowing that she chooses to love me, even in spite of my mistakes. I think that this is the kind of relationship that God desires to have with us.In my own faith tradition, Jesus tells us that, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). God already knows all of our faults and chooses to love us in spite of them. However, He will not force that relationship on anyone. We must, in turn, choose Him. In the end, God gives us exactly what we want in this regard: either life with Him or without Him. That choice is up to us.What is clear is that there are those who choose a life without Him, even if they profess otherwise. There are countless actions by people of faith who are saying that they can fulfill this relationship with God by killing those who, according to them, are not. So the issue is not God, the issue is the choice of human beings. So the question we need to be asking ourselves is, “How am I going to choose to live for God today and how can I grow in my relationship with Him?” People of faith need to be reminded to put God first above their own agendas, because the failure to do so leads to the kinds of devastation that we see in Darfur, Iraq, and countless other places around the world. We need to know who we are in relationship with and live lives that reflect the nature of that relationship.May God’s hand of healing be upon each of us.Sincerely,Nicholas Price

  • BigD

    Fate – I have explained this several ways that I think most people can understand and find logical. You don’t agree and that is fine – but it doesn’t seem like you want to accept any of the legitamte arguments as you keep asserting things that simply aren’t believed.Yes it is transubstantiated and I believe there is more evidence for this in the Bible and in the early Church history then any other view. Quite certain I won’t be able to change your mind though so I am not going to argue with you.I think the Church would have died out after Jesus’s death – if it wasn’t true. Just me though.I think you are unfortunately mis informed and you seem to be basing your beliefs on an elementary school education – just from your references that you keep referring to.I wish you the best – I hope you actually look into the facts with an open mind and heart some day.

  • victoria

    FATE- that IS the churches position- it falls under appetites, and its a venial sin- ive heard countless arguments on this inane topic- over the years-its really not one of the big issues in the church.

  • victoria

    FATE- theres mortal sin and venial sin- qickly, mortal is contrary to the ultimate achievement of the end(gods divine law and our placement thereof)and there are many varying degrees- i.e. sins of omission, intention etc- venial- It does not avert us from our true last end, it does not destroy charity, the principle of union with God, nor deprive the soul of sanctifying grace, and it is intrinsically reparable. It is pardonable; in itself meriting, not eternal, but temporal punishment. While dbig? stated that dogma is unchanging- actually limbo is pretty widely recognized as coming into popularity, and crystallizing into dogma from dantes purgatorio- so it really wasnt a dogma before that, was for hundreds of years, and apparently is fallen out of favor. as for transubstantiation- theres a church called lorenzo in spain, that has a piece of flesh and some blood, miracles that occured i forget when- validated by the church as such and considered proof positive- most catholics approach this (IMHO) more symbollically- i never took such a hard stance against the OT- i felt Jesus(ata) was a practicing jew- and the OT was certainly his heritage and scripture- he didnt denounce any past wars or violence, but he certainly reinterpreted his own scripture in a most lenient way, and called to account those hardhearted who “pracriced the letter of the law, while missing it’s spirit” he was definitely an esoteric jew.ps- frank- islamic is an adjective and i,personally have a more noun-like nature

  • Ken Tabar

    Why blame anyone. Just be happy and ejoy what you did today to make it a better world.

  • Fate

    Victoria wrote:Yes, and catholics learn that mortal sin, not absolved, is a straight ticket to hell. Eating meat on a Friday I don’t think meets you definition of a mortal sin but the church made it one. You can read my arguments about this with bigd, who is defending the faith, above. My passion for this and other religion topics is driven by the bigd’s of the world who take their religious human institutions and consider them perfect because they represent the faith and tout themselves perfect. A perfect human is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

  • Fate

    Victoria, Eating meat on Friday (during lent these days) is a mortal sin if you know your doing it (i.e., you didn’t forget the rule or that it was Friday). Look it up.And I understand its not a burning issue in the church. I never said it was. My whole point has been that it is a canon law, a law made up by the church, not by God via biblical writings, and this law made by the church changes over time. It did not start with early christians or even when the church was formalized. When it was adopted it was EVERY Friday. Since 1966 it is now only during lent, in the US, with some countries not required to observe it at all. I started out this thread by asking what a guy in hell for eating meat on Friday thought about all the catholics enjoying meat on Friday these days. The point, since I need to spell it out, is that the church makes up canon law and modifies it over time and applies it differently from place to place. That may be fine for stuff that would be considered venial sins, but mortal sin, well, thats a serious ticket to hell. If the church can impose its laws willy-nilly and in doing so send some people, but not all, to hell, it just seems like maybe a lot of what the church is doing is made up. In other words, the church, which represents the perfect God on earth, seems far from perfect, and can, on its own via modification of canon law or creating canon laws out of thin air, send people to hell. And God seems to have little to say about it and goes along with what the church decides, not because He says so, but because the people in charge of the church say so. So I ask, who is in charge of God’s laws? It seems God is just a cop who enforces church law fater you die. The tail wagging the dog if I ever saw one.

  • Fate

    Victoria,I remember in 5th grade a priest came into my catholic school class to answer any question we had. This was very unusual and I now understand that this was some sort of outreach the priests were ordered to do. Anyway I was interested in geology then. I used to buy those rock kits shown on TV. So I asked the priest where the Appalachian mountains came from. I knew the Rockies were due to the volcanos (a few years later they discovered plate techtonics). But there was no explanation I had heard of about how the appalachians formed. His answer startled me. He said “rocks grow”. “EH?” I responded. Yes he insisted rocks grew, they just grow slow. You see, everything is “alive”. I decided not to start a debate (you never won a debate with a priest or nun :). But it was a turning point for me. It showed me that these people, who demanded respect and claimed complete knowledge and morality were, in this case, not just uneducated, but he did not know just how uneducated he was. For the first time a priest appeared human to me. Once I saw that I started seeing it in everyone else. Nuns, other priests. My questioning began then and has not stopped. The type of response I heard from BIGD is typical. No real debate other than the bible says so and God is perfect so the church is perfect. It gets old but I haven’t stopped the questions hoping that, one day, people like BIGD may realize that everyday people are running what he considers the most perfect religion which produces the most perfect law, rules, and way to heaven.

  • victoria

    oh- good points fate- i was about 7 or so when vatican II kicked in- the doily veils came off the heads and lain was out (supposedly- it tooks years for many churches to comply) i was an adult and was telling a priest about hearing mass in latin at this church in the early 70s. ive heard this point before and its well taken.

  • victoria

    that is a strange world view indeed- im form pittsburgh (which is on the appalachians) and mydad is retired and a rock hound- i guess by the reaoning of the priest, eventually the whole world will eventually be all mountains- i may be sitting on a baby mountain right now and not even know it- it LOOKS like a level street, but who knows what baby mountain nature lies inherent in it? i can understand impausible explanations from mother church- and kids have l0ong memories, look how it impacted you. im a muslim and certainly dont know everything about islam- but its congruous ith science at least- possibly everything is alive in some esoteric as yet undiscovered electo-magnetic sense- but that is a stretch by any menas-

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    I feel really sad that those who have shared on this thread have had no good experience with Catholics. However I wish to assure you all that there are over one billion Catholics in the world. It is a pity that you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet some of the loving, and most intellectual and radical ones who represent Catholicism too.I have been very fortunate to meet some really fantastic (Jesuit and others) priests, Benedicitine monks and great nuns. One gets an idea of what the word Catholicism means only when one gets to meet some of the best Catholics. One would be shocked at the sort of ideas that are considered perfectly acceptable by the Catholic church. So a narrow minded view of Catholicism comes only from not having met some of the best Catholic minds.If you had known Dom Bede Griffiths, for instance, you would have difficulty believing that he was Catholic – his vision was so universal. There are many Catholics with a great vision and intellectual and spiritual depth, that one would think many times before stamping the Catholic church with the labels that those who have shared their experiences on this thread has. I can only repeat that I feel sad that those who have shared on this thread have had bad experiences. But that is not the end of the Catholic Church, considering there are over one billion members of the church worldwide. I consider myself a Catholic who represents the Catholic church too. I don’t feel hemmed in and restricted and bound up with all sorts of rules and regulations. I think it is wonderful that I could walk into any Catholic Church in the world and feel at home because the liturgy is the same. It is a comfort to know that I have many things in common with one billion believers in the world, although I may not practise or believe every little thing as taught by the Church. I still feel sufficiently Catholic all the same. May all who have shared on this thread meet some good Catholics in your life. That is my heartfelt wish.

  • Fate

    Soja,You may want to attend a Lutheran church. The liturgy is the same as Catholic liturgy. The only differences I’ve found is that there is no transsubstantiation (its just bread and wine being eaten in rememberance as Jesus asked) and after the service the pastor goes to his wife and kisses her, something that any catholic would take a second look at since they wear the same robes. Oh yea, and you don’t go to hell for missing a service. As I have heard it said, Lutherans are just Catholics without the guilt. :-)

  • victoria

    who are you referring to soja? i think if you look at it again, you wont feel sad at all- i know some absolutely stellar catholics in my life.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    FateThanks for that suggestion. I am going to pop into a Lutheran church one of these days to check out what you said. Anyway I consider all Christians a part of the same body of Christ you know. There aren’t that many Lutheran Churches as Catholic ones, so I couldn’t go to any part of the world and attend a similar service – that is one great advantage of being a Catholic over being a Lutheran! In Germany I was quite amazed to find that the Lutheran Churches looked almost exactly like the Catholic ones (I didn’t attend any service though). I suppose it is because the Churches belong to the time of Luther.Thanks for the info on the ritual of the Lutheran pastor kissing his wife at the end of the service, of which I was not aware (I will check that out too!). I think it is beautiful. It makes perfect sense for priests to marry, at least to be given a choice. It is my guess that the overemphasis on celibacy for the religious is one of the reasons Catholicism is unpopular. I think the emphasis should rather be that sex is beautiful and sacred in a committed lifelong relationship rather than putting the act of fighting legitimate biological needs on a higher pedestal than it deserves. Only strictly contemplative convents and monasteries should have mandatory celibacy, just as celibacy was willingly chosen only by Hindu sannyasis who left society to live in forests, out of reach of normal society, while the ordinary temple priest always married. To be exposed to all the worldly temptations on a day to day basis, have so little time to devote to personal prayer due to work committments, and yet be expected to achieve the almost impossible task of remaining celibate – any wonder that most people have trouble understanding the magnitude of the challenge, and the real merit of taking on such a challenge? Even the Hindu sannyasis who spent all day in deep meditation would agree how unrealistic such an expectation is. I have untold respect for those who genuinely achieve that level of transformation of the sexual energies as a Catholic while being exposed to the temptations of the world on a day to day basis, and yet I don’t think of it as the highest ideal. Even as a Catholic I am convinced that to be a truly loving and faithful husband/wife, a caring father/mother to one’s children, and to serve Jesus in the world through one’s work that one does for a living and otherwise, is really the greatest challenge and the highest ideal. The world sorely needs more Holy Families!

  • Anonymous

    Ralph,You said: “That’s also what makes Evolutionism the world’s most dangerous religion. It is a religion that refuses to call itself a religion.”The difference is this. To believe in something without evidence is called faith. To believe in something (such as electricity) for which you have evidence is called science.The difference between religion and science is EVIDENCE. Science now harnesses evolution in the same way that it harnesses electricity. You can study applied evolution at university and get a job using evolution to create new products.Evolution is considered a law of nature, not ‘just a theory’ because it has already been harnessed to create new products. To deny evolution today is like denying the existance of electricity, and calling evolution a religion is like calling electricity a religion. You make yourself look silly with such comments.

  • victoria

    what are the products produced by evolution?

  • Deb Chatterjee

    Soja wrote:”I think the emphasis should rather be that sex is beautiful …… just as celibacy was willingly chosen only by Hindu sannyasis who left society to live in forests, out of reach of normal society, while the ordinary temple priest always married.”I agree wholeheartedly. That many are turning away from Catholicism (and probably Christianity), is that it considers sex as sinful. If this trend continues, then Jesus Christ – upon his second coming – shall overrule the Vatican and have him plutoed to do menial jobs like driving cab in Baghdad, Iraq. Why ? Because I am sure that Christ would not allow his faith to flourish only within a small numerical minority who have obscurantist views about the flow of life that God gave us. And BTW, many Hindu “rishis” (sages) also married and sired kids. Hey these rishis lived in forests too ! Some had good rockin’ (consensual) relationships with local tribal women. So what ? Is that a crime ?

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    DebMy understanding is that a rishi is a ‘seer of mantras,’ (hence by definition is not required to be celibate) but a sannyasi is one who has forsaken the world to attain God realisation. I don’t know if you are referring to married ‘rishis’ or married sannyasis. If a sannyasi married or had consensual sex with tribal women, I can’t think of it as being part of sannyasa. I’m sure you will agree that Ramayana, the love story and lifelong monogamous relationship and fidelity of Rama and Sita, is considered the marriage ideal for Indian society (and is even stricter than Christianity in that it does not even allow remarriage for a Hindu widow), NOT what one or the other sannayasi/rishi might or might not have done while living in the forest, out of reach of the rules and regulation of the normal Indian society. The main theme of Ramayana is about marital fidelity. I have found the psychological significance of Lakshman Rekha in Ramayana, that protects a marriage quite fascinating – that no one from outside can break into a marriage by crossing the Lakshman Rekha; the one within the marriage must step out of the protective Lakshman Rekha.There is nothing, as far as I know, in mainstream Hindu Scripture to suggest taking sannyasa and then indulging in sex was what sannyasa was about. The Bhagavad Gita was after all written as the answer to such a dilemma, in enable the householder to attain God realisation. If the idea was to live in the forest and have a family like everyone else, or follow the morals of the Indian tribals, then the sannyasis might as well have remained in the world and lived a normal life or lived among the tribals like one of them. (Tribals as you are fully aware to this day do NOT belong to the Hindu fold at all and follow the same sexual morals as they always have, namely neither the men nor the women in their communities are any different from the hippies of the 1960s. I find it interesting that there are no double moral standards among the tribals, and the women are as liberated in their sexuality as the men.) But if the rishi/sannyasi married and lived in a monogamous relationship, after he had achieved God realisation, then it is equivalent to the Zen concept of “returning to the market place.” But in my opinion it goes without saying that neither becoming ‘sex mad’ nor living like tribals is considered a heightened state of spirituality in Hinduism, at least not in mainstream Hinduism. If you are under the notion that tribal sexual morality is a high place to be, I must share with you what I learnt when I visited a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh. When the Catholic nuns went to set up a mission station there, among other things they found the “glorious state” of sexual “liberation”. The tribals, most of them extremely poor, lived in one room huts and the whole family slept together. When some young girls came pregnant to the mission hospital set up by the nuns, it was impossible to know who the father of the child was – it could have been the father, brother, or after her marriage, apart from her husband, the brother/father-in-law, any male that shared the same hut! Since the tribals had no concept of sexual morals, they thought nothing about it. Would you ask the same question, “So what? Is that a crime?” If not, why not?

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Errata: Hippies of course did not consider incestual sex to be right!

  • Deb Chatterjee

    Soja wrote:”…and is even stricter than Christianity in that it does not even allow remarriage for a Hindu widow…”Soja, this is where I disagree. Widow re-marriage was always a part of Hindu society (samaj). Manusmriti has ample evidences and strictures regarding when a woman can take another man besides her legally wedded husband, and lists those circumstances. Some of them are: (a) male impotence in giving birth (b) desertion by the husband, (c) if the woman is a widow and childless then remarriage is permitted … Societies where polyandry was practiced also found favor with Manu. The Hindu society, was recognized as evolving and dynamic and the rules were meant to accomodative. “But in my opinion it goes without saying that neither becoming ‘sex mad’ nor living like tribals is considered a heightened state of spirituality in Hinduism, at least not in mainstream Hinduism.” Sex was recognized as conduit to respond to bodily needs. Just as one eats, sleeps, voids so also sex was considered as a bodily function. Kamasutra describes sex a pleasure primarily/conventionally between man and woman. (The Kamasutra also recognizes homosexuality.) But, the Kamasutra is not at the same rank as Upanishads, Brahmasutras, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, as many non-Hindus have erroneously thought. Thus, sex is not a part of spirituality of “mainstream Hinduism”. The Bhagavad Gita (chapter 6, lines 15-17) states that moderation in enjoyment, maintaining regularity in meditation, enjoyment, food, sleep, etc., leads to spiritual emancipation. Someone who may overdo anyone of these shall not meet the golas and objectives. In summary, mostly you are right except on the aspect of Hindu widow remarriage.

  • victoria

    NOW you consider manu law as valid deb?

  • MKhan

    I just watched the republican debate on CNN. I am worried that most of the republican party is bent on making islam the boogey man.

  • Anonymous

    It’s the zionist Jews we should all be afriad of.Those who John warned us about,THey say they are Jews but are actually mongoloid Asiatics.

  • Dave

    Much as I would like to agree with Mr. Patel, the fact is when enough number of people from any group or religion take up violence, it maligns the entire group. To say that we should blame the individual, not the religion, is too simplistic. The violence spawned by Islam calls for reform. Today, there is a news item about pakistan. Bombs are going off in video stores because Islamic radicals believe videos are corrupting the minds of young people. No matter if some people are killed in the process. They are not worried about corrupting the image of Islam but they are worried that their idea of morality is not adopted by the whole world. Now, can Eboo Patel call a spade a spade and say this needs to stop. Blame the individual not the religion is a stretch. Why does Islam encourage the imposition of some idiots’ idea of morality (by violence) on the rest of the world? Mr. Patel needs to wake up as does many of his Muslim brothers I am afraid. It’s not fair but that’s the way it is unfortunately. Muslims

  • Kaffir

    Why does everyone always attack Islam? You know Al-Qaeda wouldn’t have taken action on Sep 11 if it wasn’t for the imperialistic US government, it was an act of self-defense.

  • Robert Stone

    Thank God for the beauty of kindness, living, working together of peoples no matter what religion.