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October 10, 2005

Comments

I came across your article and was deeply disturbed. Of course you are absolutely entitled to your opinion, but your generalization about Christians if untrue. You give examples of men who claim to practice christianity and yet beat their wives and children and about a prominant christian figure molesting women. These are horrible examples of isolated incidents. I do not doubt that these things happen, and it is horrible...however, a REAL christian, one who follows the bible, does not believe that a man can treat his wife any way he wants or that he has a right to meolest women. It goes against everything we believe. Similarly it is like generalizing all those who practice Islam, a religion based on peace, as terrorists. Not all christians are deviants and you might not agree with religion, but it is not all bad for society. It is those who abuse trust in the name of the religion that mess it up for the rest of us. I thank you for giving me the oppurtunity to voice my opinion, and I hope you consider it, as I have considered yours.

Rebecca Spadaccini wrote:

"....Islam, a religion based on peace..."

This statement is simply incorrect. Perhaps Ms. Spadaccini should become a bit more informed and educated about the real beginning chapters in the history of Islam.

The fact of the matter is this: In the beginning, as the prophet Muhammad gathered more converts into Islam, those people who objected or refused to surrender and become Moslems, were threatened, subdued, and/or killed. This movement and clash eventually came to a head in a terrible battle against those who resisted converting to Islam. The newly formed Moslems eventually won the conflict and the rest is history. Actually, the movement of Islam then gained increasing strength and went on to spread outward from Arabia, both eastward and westward, subduing and conquering all in its path by force.

Therefore, it is clearly false to assert that Islam is "a religion based on peace". As was just pointed out, Islam was not "based" in peace. Islam was forged in conflict. And it conquered through conflict. The only "peace" that came about, was for those who surrendered and converted to the faith of Islam. There was no "peace" for those who resisted Islam. The Christian crusades were similar in some ways as well.

So let's not act as if these religious movements are all soft and fuzzy, and peace and love. The truth is that religion has not been, and is not now, a peaceful force in society. Religion, especially some of the followers of Christianity (not necessarily Jesus himself) and Islam (not necessarily Muhammad himself), have caused a great deal of conflict, suffering, and death all across the globe.

Just because some Christians or some Moslems are relatively peaceful, does not make up for the over-all assault and oppression which the followers of some religions have foisted upon various and numerous peoples around the world, for more than a thousand years.

The nature of God is peace, but religion is potential cause for conflict and war.

History proves that religion has indeed been "bad for societal health" ... and it still is to this day.

Well hello again. When I was speaking about how Islam is "based on peace" I should have been more clear and I apologize. If you were to actually read the bible or the Koran you would realize what I am talking about. I do not support or condone violence in any shape or form and I especially do not support forcing others to believe what you believe . I do not agree with how Islam was spread. Religious movements werent soft and fuzzy and I never intentionally said that they were. When I spoke about being "based on peace" I was speaking about the teachings, not how it was spread. if you would like and again i appreciate you allowing me to voice my opinion. I apologize for those who have given Christianity or religion in general a bad name and there is nothing I can do about that. But I can simply try to open your eyes to the fact that there are some of us out there who do follow the true teachings of the bible. Here are some examples of what I was talking about...thanks again for letting me voice my opinion:
Psalm 34:14-Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it
Hosea 2:19-I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion
1John 4:16-And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. And whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.

I would be willing to assent to what the article says. I do believe that it's facts can be misconstrued to say that Christianity is wrong and does not offer anything for society to flourish. Rather, the problem is in a Christianity divided since 1520. The result has been such a diverse group of opinions about Scriptures that it becomes absurd. The problem is in Christians who snear at the Catholic faith's long tradition of clear teaching and go off and make up their own Christ. They believe by sheer faith without reason. Atheists then criticize this, and society is polarized. Catholics stand in the middle if they are educated in what Scriptures actually say and what the Church teaches. Atheists in the country are fueling the polarity as well.

All in all the L.A. Times article which you reference seems to come to a conclusion based on little evidence and more of biased assumption. Correlation never means causation. So many other variables play roles in the function of a society that are not even addressed. The article seems to imply that America is the largest "Christian" nation and some might argue the only Christian nation left in the world, with over 70 percent of its citizens proclaiming to have belief in some form of Christianity. America also has high crime rates, abortions, etc. So obviously Christianity is the problem. Lets not take into account America's poor education system. The fact that it is the worlds melting pot of numerous peoples and cultures. That unlike other countries, in America, at the distress of many religious groups, abortion is a business and billion dollar industry. That actual religious participation in America has been on a steady decline for the past century. Statistically, Europe has a higher rate of STD contraction than the United States. Etc. Etc.
Rather than looking at a self-labeled Christians behavior to determine what Christianity is, perhaps, as Ms. Spadaccini stated, you should look to the doctrine itself. Nowhere in the Bible does it condone fornication, murder, or any other sin. Although many people can stake claim to a religion or faith, you will never know a persons motivations or if they even know and understand the doctrine they prescribe to. I think Jesus Christ summed it up the best when he stated:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Rebecca, the study is not disputing that there are numerous individual exceptions to the general rule: that Christianity is generally bad for societies as a whole.

You make the error of deciding, AFTER the fact, who is a "real" Christian and who is not. It is illogical to dismiss someone as "fake" immediately they are found to have failed to perform the way people with these beliefs are supposed to behave. That the equivalent of the deeply dishonest practice of throwing out all people who got pregnant while participating in a study of the efficacy of a Catholic method of birth control on the grounds that they were obviously not correctly following the rules!! All participants in this kind of study, regardless of their personal defects, should be included, just as they are in more honest studies of artificial birth control methods. The failure of a method to work as advertised must include its failure to prevent the effects of human imperfection.

The same argument applies to studies of the effects of Christianity on the behavior of its adherents and on the quality of life available to those living in areas where it dominates society and public policy.

While there will be numerous examples of people who appear to helped or simply not-harmed by the doctrines and practices of a religion, there will be those who are harmed by it and its influence. As with the smoking-cancer link, not everyone has to be badly affected for their to be a clear link between the condition and the negative outcome.

In the case of Christianity, it is clear that those who simply live in areas where it predominates, are worse off, on a per capita basis, than those who live in areas where it is less prevalent and less powerful.

"Bad" examples of those who claim to be practicing Christians are an indication that the claims of Christianity do not work as advertised; attempts to practice the religion do NOT result in more people behaving well or in less corrupt governments. The religion does not cancel or transcend normal human imperfections and, in fact, seems to actually increase their occurrence.

Ergo, regardless of anecdotal success stories, Christianity, like Catholic birth control methods, does not work nearly as well in the moral and human rights areas as secular counterparts.

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