I don’t write rebuttals to my blogger colleagues on Patheos, but this post from Hemant Mehta was impossible to resist. Hemant Mehta, the ‘Friendly Atheist’ blogger on the Nonreligious channel at Patheos published a post today titled, “What’s the Main Source of Global Conflict? Survey Says: “Religious Beliefs”.
I could not disagree with Hemant more- at various fronts.
Hemant quotes a survey conducted by US News and World News.
… but a new survey from U.S. News & World Report says that 30% of people believe “religious beliefs” are the primary source of global conflict, more than any other option.
Hemant also wondered why “Fake News” was a separate category.
On a side note, I have no idea why “fake news” is a separate category. That should really be combined with the “religious beliefs” bar.
More on my take on the ‘fake news’ at the end of this post.
Hemant’s post, as well as the report on the survey by US News and World Report goes on to quote Sam Harris, the undisputedly impartial and fair-minded atheist:
“Religion often becomes the master variable,” Harris says. “It provides a unique reward structure. If you believe that the thoughts you harbor in this life and the doctrines you adhere to spell the difference between an eternity spent in fire or one spent on the right hand of God, that raises the stakes beyond any other reward structure on earth.
The US News report itself kinda declares it’s not-so occult intentions in its opening paragraph:
Raised as a conservative, Sunni Muslim girl in Canada, Yasmine Mohammed said she was taught to always be in fight mode. “The first thing Islam teaches you is to not question, but follow,” she says. And what she had to follow was a “Muslim supremacy ideology” that called for violence against anyone who fell out of line and full armies prepared to join the fight when the caliphate was to rise. 
Of course they were interviewing someone who left Islam. The “experts” interviewed were of course objective people like Sam Harris, and ex-Muslims.
OK fine, I am being sarcastic here.
I did not see any comments by people of faith.
I did not see any quotes from among a very large number of people who accepted Islam when they were so attracted to its peaceful message.
I did not see any interviews by experts on religion such as Karen Armstrong, who is not “religious” per se, but has written many books on religion, including a bestseller on this very topic!
In her book, “Fields of Blood-Religion and the History of Violence”, she discusses how religion are often blamed for violence and conflict but digging deeper, it becomes clear what has led to violence even in the so-called religious wars.
In short, it is not religion that goes to war.
Hemant, the reporting is the very essence of fake news.
- First of all, this survey is an opinion of people surveyed, not a scientific or historical fact.
- Secondly, even though 30% of people thought religion was the basis for conflict, 70% did not feel so.
OK, 70% did not say that religion is not the basis, but at the least they did not think it is.
- Thirdly, and this is the fake news part: The survey, the report on US News and Hemant’s post fail to show all the good that religion has to offer and has offered- for centuries.
All of them failed to reflect on the goodness of the religious people.
- How about showing the work of people such as Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, philanthropists such as Abdul Sattar Edhi of Pakistan?
- How about showing the charitable work of organizations like Islamic Relief that’s working to help the needy in the war torn areas, and areas hit by disaster?
- How about showing the work of religious-based hospitals such as St. Francis, Mt.Zion, and Mt. Sinai?
- How about showing the work of Catholic Charities- part of the international social welfare organization that works regardless of religious or ethnic background of those they help?
- How about showing the good work of the Roman Catholic Church- the provider of the largest non-government healthcare services in the world? It has 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals, with 65 percent of them located in developing countries.
- How about showing that the catholic hospitals in the USA dominate the top 100 hospitals in the USA?
- How about highlighting the fact that the non violence movement by Gandhi and Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, and the humanitarian work by Abdul Sattar Edhi of Pakistan was religiously motivated?
Moreover, “India Today’ in April of 2015 published a piece on the 5 most deadly wars in history.
- World War II: The Second World War is the deadliest conflict in history, with over 70 million fatalities.
- Mongol Conquests:The Mongol conquests in Europe are one of the most hostile in history. Starting in the early 13th century. The death toll during these conquests was 60 to 70 million.
- World War I: First World War was fought from 1914 to 1918, claiming 17 million lives.
- The Manchu Conquest of China:The Qing dynasty conquest over the Ming dynasty was fought for over 60 years in the 17th century. China saw the loss of about 25 million lives.
- Napoleonic Wars:The Napoleonic Wars, provoked by the French Revolution of 1789, were a series of wars declared against Napoleon’s French empire by opposing forces in Europe, taking 6.5 million lives.
Which one of these “global conflicts” was fueled by “religious beliefs”?
I know you may quote some “violent” verses from the Scriptures, but the peaceful/peace-loving people of faith will show you these, and numerous other similar passages.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9
Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a
..whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. The Qur’an 5:32
“All creatures are [like] a family of God: and He loves most those who are kindest to His family.”
(Narrated by Anas. Mishkat al-Masabih, 3:1392; quoted from Bukhari.)
Those who are kind and considerate to God’s creatures, God bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that God may be kind to you. Hadith of prophet Muhammad
So are there religious people who misuse the religion, or do bad things in the name of religion?
Are their atheists who are working to help humanity?
Back to my take on the fake news.
- To show only the “bad side” of religion, while completely ignoring the good side is fake news.
- Not pointing out the worst global conflicts that were actually not religiously based, is fake news.
- Quoting a survey- an opinion of a minority of people, to give the impression that it is based on facts is fake news.
- Quoting ex-Muslims, while leaving those who embraced Islam for the beauty they saw is fake news.
- Interviewing fundamentalist atheists such as Sam Harris, while leaving a true expert on religion such as Karen Armstrong is fake news.
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 Robert Calderisi; Earthly Mission – The Catholic Church and World Development; TJ International Ltd; 2013; p.40