Am I supposed to believe religion is a force for morality, when I see so many examples of it more being a force for mindless obedience to arbitrary rules? This story out of Pakistan is disturbing in many ways.
Zilla Huma Usman, the minister for social welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was killed as she was about to deliver a speech to dozens of party activists, by a “fanatic”, who believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics, officials said today.
Ms Usman, 35, was wearing the shalwar kameez worn by many professional women in Pakistan, but did not cover her head.
Executed for not having a piece of cloth on top of her head; what god looks down on our world from his cosmic perspective and thinks that is an important concern for humanity? Allah, apparently; I can find commandments in the Bible that make similar demands.
Mr Sarwar appeared relaxed and calm when he told a television channel that he had carried out God’s order to kill women who sinned. “I have no regrets. I just obeyed Allah’s commandment,” he said, adding that Islam did not allow women to hold positions of leadership. “I will kill all those women who do not follow the right path, if I am freed again,” he said.
I’m sure religion’s defenders will shout long and loud that this guy Sarwar is simply an isolated lunatic, and that if he’d been an atheist he would still have been a monster. True enough; one asshole might be an exception, and godlessness is no guarantee of goodness, but a series of incidents is a pattern, and we have to look at who is inciting it.
General Musharraf, whose support for the US-led war on terror has caused consternation among Pakistan’s hardline elements, has promised to address women’s rights as part of his more moderate agenda.
But analysts said that the murder of the female minister highlighted the failure of his government in curbing Islamic extremism. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a recent report said that violence against women had increased alarmingly, with some of the incidents incited by Mullahs opposed to women’s emancipation.
Face it, everyone. Religion is not a source of moral behavior. It’s a source of tribalism and obedience to authority, which sometimes coincides with respectable morality, but isn’t necessarily associated with it. We have to find our virtue in one true thing, our common humanity, and these ancient superstitions actually interfere with instruction in how to be good by encrusting it with nonsense.