If there's one thing that religious zealots aren't, it's humble.
Well, actually there's many other things that they aren't also. Like, in touch with reality; thoughtful; reasonable; open-minded; respectful of truth.
But a lack of humility stood out in a quote I came across in an article in the February 27 issue of The New Yorker, Minister of Chaos: Itamar Ben-Gvir and the politics of reaction.
It's about one of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet members. Ben-Gvir is a right-wing extremist who was named the national security minister.
The quote came from Dov Morell.
Morell used to embrace the views of Ben-Gvir and those like him who don't believe that Muslims should have any place in what they'd like to be a completely Jewish Israel, and are fine with killing Palestinians who protest draconian Israeli policies in the West Bank.
Morell now says he is "firmly in the left," having seen the error of his previous ways. The article says:
As part of his religious activism, Morell came to know Ayala Ben-Gvir. He described her and Ben-Gvir as "amazing people who want to do terrible things."
Those on the far right did not consider themselves extremists, Morell said: "When you believe that the world came with manufacturer's instructions, then you have to follow those instructions."
Not only do Ben-Gvir and his wife, Ayala, believe that their Jewish God created the world, they also believe that cherry-picked passages in the Old Testament and other Jewish scriptures reflect the instructions of God as regards Israel and the so-called Holy Land.
Which isn't holy enough to encompass love and respect for the Palestinians whose territory Israel has occupied since the 1967 war enabled Israel to take the West Bank, and thereafter commence the building of Jewish settlements on land that was supposed to be part of a two-state solution.
Currently Israel is being torn apart by the division between Israelis who want their country to respect the rights of Palestinians and be a nation of largely secular laws, and Israelis who embrace right-wing religious authoritarianism aimed at making non-Jews second-class citizens in their country.
Usually politics is marked by compromise and negotiating.
But as Morell noted, Ben-Gvir and his allies view themselves as being God's agents -- which doesn't leave room for flexibility in interpreting the "manufacturer's instructions." Such is the danger of religious extremism.
It makes people with passionate political views unwilling to compromise. Political extremism is bad enough. When combined with religious extremism, we get a holier-than-thou sanctimoniousness that sees no limits to what should be done to bring about God's will on Earth.
Of course, no one has any demonstrable proof that God even exists, much less what God's will is. However, that doesn't stop religious zealots from believing that they're acting in accord with a divine decree.