Islam is evil, Part ∞

Note I didn’t say Muslims, I said Islam. Don’t lecture me about all the nice Muslims. I used to live in Dubai and met more of them than you ever will. But any religion whose extremism is capable of the following has no place in a modern, civilized world, full stop.

The suspect, who is unshaven and appears to be in his 20s or 30s, was arrested by Iraq security forces after they retook most of Basra in April.

CNN was shown what authorities say was his first confession. On it are the names of 15 girls whom he admitted kidnapping, raping and killing. The youngest girl on the list was just 9 years old….

Women bore the brunt of the [Shiite] militias’ extremist ideologies. The militants spray-painted threats on walls across Basra, warning women to wear headscarves and not to wear make-up. Women were sometimes executed for the vague charge of doing something “un-Islamic.”

In the wasteland on the outskirts of Basra, dotted with rundown homes, the stench of death mixes with the sewage. Local residents told the Iraqi Army that executions often take place in the area, particularly for women, sometimes killed for something as seemingly inocuous as wearing jeans.

A truly tragic meltdown

Matthew Murray, the poor messed up kid who shot up his church in Colorado back in December, had a lot wrong with him. Beyond his ADHD, there were overwhelming feelings of rejection, and not belonging. With his brain chemistry so badly screwed up (he was taking medication, but it’s impossible to tell if he was on it at the time of his rampage), it’s hard to say what could have prevented him from doing what he did.

God didn’t, of course, but that’s because there isn’t one, so you can’t exactly be bitter about that. But not only didn’t Christianity provide the path to peace and healing Murray needed, but it may well have exacerbated his situation. An angry letter from Matthew written to God has come to light. In it, Matthew rails against the hypocrisy he sees all around him in the Christian community.

“The more I read your stupid book, the more I pray, the more I reach out to Christians for help the more hurt and abused I get,” he wrote.

“I’ve heard good things about what Jesus can do, yet everywhere I go in Christianity, all the Christians I see or meet are miserable, angry, selfish, hypocritical, proud, power hungry, abusive, uncaring, confused, lustful, greedy, unsure of their doctrine and mean-spirited … Am I too lost to be saved? My soul cries for deliverance. I’m dieing (sp), praying, bleeding and screaming. Will I be denied???”

This stuff is just heartbreaking. And revealing in the way so much of his anger and bitterness is directed at the religious beliefs in which he’d been raised, setting an ideal for which he never believed he was good enough, while all around him, he saw people who had been accepted, loved and successful within the church (like Ted Haggard, whose sex scandal was especially appalling to him), revealed as hypocrites and liars.

I’m sure his family tried to help as his mental chaos overtook him, but his suffering was beyond them. It would have been so nice if there really was a God for guys like Matthew, who could hear a guy like Matthew’s pleas and reach down from whatever otherworldly, higher realm it lives in and simply, magically take the pain away. But that God’s just not there, for him, his victims, you, me or anyone. We’re the ones who have to look after and care for one another. You don’t heal the problems of someone like Matthew Murray by filling his head with ideas about heaven and hell and being a horrible sinner who must please a jealous God if he wishes to “be saved.” Build up a person’s life, help him realize that he has value and worth here and now. Because this is the only shot at life any of us gets. And it’s tragic to see anyone’s life go down in flames — especially when it takes others with it — the way Matthew’s did.

Oh no, not again

Today in the news:

A mother who is suspected of killing her four children, whose decomposing bodies were found in her home, appeared in court Thursday.

Banita Jacks, 33…told police that her daughters were possessed by demons and that each died in her sleep during a seven- to 10-day period, court documents said. Aja died first, she told police, then N’kiah, Tatianna and Brittany.

Okay, I know it’s simplistic simply to blame religion in situations like this. You can make the same post hoc fallacy people make when they blame violent video games for school shootings, or porno magazines for rape. In the case of the wacko who killed and cooked his girlfriend a few days ago, and then told the cops God ordered him to do it, it’s obvious he was trying to appear as crazy as possible so as to cop a sanity plea when his case goes to trial. There are cases of clearly religiously inspired violence, such as 9/11, gay-bashing incidents, the killing of abortion providers, excessive corporal punishment of children bordering on child abuse, the ongoing Arab/Israeli conflict, tribal violence in Kenya and the Sudan, Catholic/Protestant violence in Northern Ireland, and more.

Then there are cases where a lunatic does something loony, and, surprise, is found to have kooky religious beliefs as well. Kooky religious beliefs and kooks do go together well.

A case like this leans toward the latter, but still, I don’t think religion can get off the hook entirely. Religion is the only thing out there that encourages people to believe in absurdities like demonic possession. It’s bad enough that literally millions of people have their critical thinking faculties short circuited by the teachings of religion, and thus fail to know how to protect themselves from religious hucksters selling their snake oil. But add religion into an environment where mental illness is latent, and it’s a recipe for unmitigated catastrophe. While the mental illness is ultimately the cause of this woman’s actions, religion only enhanced its severity, rather than helping her to overcome it.

Science, on the other hand, has made great strides in treating mental illness. There’s nothing in the article to indicate Banita Jacks was on any medication for any psychological disorder. But clearly she should have been. Had she been, this might not have happened. But by putting her faith in her religion, what happened? She believed her babies were possessed by demons, and butchered them. Religion can’t always be blamed for the bad things people do. But I see precious few examples of its actually doing anything to help or prevent such tragedies either.

Christian Love™ brings people together!

I can’t resist hilarious stories like this. Seems two different groups (gangs?) of priests — one Greek Orthodox, the other Armenian Apostolic — were cleaning up inside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity when some careless fellow set foot in the other group’s section, setting off a bloody turf war. About 80 men of the cloth whaled away at one another with brooms until the police were called in to break up the rumble. Just amazing. Apparently there were “long-standing rivalries” between the two groups. You’d think if there were a God, he’d step in to clear that sort of thing up. Mediate, you know? After all, how can they expect to fend off the evil atheist secularist liberal Darwinist scourge if they can’t even get along with each other?

Irrationalism hasn’t got a leg to stand on

None of you is likely to forgive me for the bad joke in the headline when you read this article. But still, I think this little event shows up the practical risks of embracing irrational beliefs in magic and the occult. So the next time some wide-eyed individual calls me a closed-minded old grumpus because I can’t see the “beauty” in the act of confusing fantasy with reality, I’ll just reply that I’d rather have a closed mind than a bloody severed limb. Skepticism: the life and limb you save may be your own.

Lunatic shoots up Ted Haggard’s old church

This is a developing story out of Colorado, so we’ll be keeping up with it. It would be too easy to throw in some snark about the obvious (God didn’t pop up to save these people), but there is a time and place for that and it isn’t when people are really being hurt. I suspect there’s something to the fact that this occurred at the megachurch formerly run by the disgraced Ted Haggard, that the guman had some real issues there. We’ll see what an investigation into his background reveals. It doesn’t appear anyone was killed (we’re unsure whether the gunman himself is alive or dead), so that’s good news.

Apparently earlier today two guys were killed at a missionary training center about 70 miles away. We’ll see if it was the same shooter.


Latest update is that the gunman killed one person at the church before himself being taken out by a quick-thinking security guard.

Punishing the Victim

This is a sick, twisted world that clearly needs to change:

The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs. The seven rapists, who abducted the pair and raped both, received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison.

The victim’s attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, contested the rapists’ sentence, contending there is a fatwa, or edict under Islamic law, that considers such crimes Hiraba (sinful violent crime) and the punishment should be death.

“After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants,” al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. “However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim’s sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes.”

The judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media,” according to a source quoted by Arab News, an English-language Middle Eastern daily newspaper.

Judge Saad al-Muhanna from the Qatif General Court also barred al-Lahim from defending his client and revoked his law license, al-Lahim said. The attorney has been ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Justice next month.

So many things are wrong with this situation that one doesn’t know where to begin fuming, or whether to end.

On the other hand, consider the implications of punishing victims with infinite torture in Hell. Think about it: the basic tenets of Christianity are infinitely worse than the barbaric actions described in the article.

This also needs to change.