Defending Horrors to Build Bridges

Disclaimer: What I blog on my personal site does not reflect the views and opinions of the Secular Student Alliance, just me.

Oh, Chris Stedman.  I caught a tweet of his the other day that made me chuckle.

ChrisDStedman: Childish, vulgar, dehumanizing comments by @AmericanAtheist prez. MT @MrAtheistPants: I’ll defame #Islam if I want to.. fb.me/HEH66rNB

He was referring to Dave Silverman saying…

Never give up a right without a fight. I will defame Islam if I want to. It doesn’t mean I hate Muslims. It means Islam is a shitty religion that worships a pedophile as morally perfect.

Vulgar?  Sure.  Who gives a shit?

As far as childish and dehumanizing, how so?  Islam is a shitty religion (more shitty than most, and try me if you don’t think we can defend that statement) and Muhammad was a pedophile, which has resulted in several Muslims continuing the practice.  If Chris doesn’t like the word “shitty”, I wonder what adjective he would suggest.  Horrible?  Morally repugnant?  Should we greet the anti-science, morally fucked up religion of Islam with an, “Oh shucks, that is pretty anti-humanity and doesn’t make much sense now does it?”  How softly would be enough to get Stedman to relinquish his iron-clad grip on his pearls?  Frankly, to call Islam shitty is like calling the surface of the sun warm.

You want to know what’s dehumanizing?  Marrying a pre-pubescent woman or treating that like it’s ok.  Aisha was 6 or 7 when she became engaged to Muhammad.  He consummated the marriage when she was nine.  Nine!  That’s pretty damn sick.  And to call it childish or dehumanizing when someone points that out is pretty fucking dehumanizing.  It places a care of offending those who place the pedophile on a pedestal over rebuking the practice.  It places political correctness (or at least a very messed up idea of political correctness) over human suffering, and I take far more offense to Stedman insisting that some wonky sense of propriety should trump anybody’s willingness to call a spade a spade than I take to anything Silverman said.

Or maybe Chris would prefer that we remain silent, making nice with the Muslims who are closer to being functional atheists while letting the monsters slide unopposed?  Or shall we just let the fundamentalists be and hope that our tacit endorsement prompts them to abandon their fundamentalism on their own?  If that’s the case, I can only give a resounding NO!  If that’s not the case, at what point would it be acceptable to tell them they’re wrong?  How fiercely should we condemn some of their faith’s anti-human ideas (burka, gays, Koran’s policy on apostates…I could go on)?  And since when does Chris Stedman get to appoint himself as the one to make that call?

Jesus Christ, I can’t stand when people try to sell themselves on how nice they are and how eager they are to build bridges by complaining about those who criticize irrationality and its fruits.  It gives the worst qualities of humanity as well as the irrationality demanded by faith a pass.  I’m not ok with that.  Chris is, of course, not the only person who does this.  But in this case, stepping in and defending the worship of a pedophile by suggesting it’s not dehumanizing is not nice, it’s fucked up to the extreme.  One may build a bridge with moderate Muslims by catering to their fantasies and by failing to point out the glaring moral shortcomings of the Islamic faith (or by just not criticizing it in general), but they’ve burned the bridge with anybody who gives a damn about honesty or the truth in the process, and that includes any bridges remaining with me.

Here’s the deal.  Religion does not win by having the best arguments.  One of the ways it does win is by convincing the world that it’s obliged to respect religion.  By calling Islam, or Christianity, or whatever religion precisely what it is, we take that away.  Is it off-putting?  Yes.  But so are billboards that say atheists can be good people.  What is accomplished by this is forcing religion to pull itself up by its boot straps and at least try another tactic.  That’s a good thing, and don’t pretend that it’s not.  And let’s also not pretend like Dave, myself, Ophelia, or anybody stops at calling them shitty.  We spend a tremendous amount of time factually criticizing these faiths.  If we’re wrong about Islam being false or about Islam having some anti-human ideas, tell us why, but don’t act like we’re being “dehumanizing” by pointing them out.

The problem here is that a lot of people want to coexist by acting like our intellectual differences don’t exist. But the thing is, the people who insist women wear burkas, the ones saying gays don’t get equal rights, etc….those opinions are produced by belief in god. The only way to get them away from it is to either convince them that that’s not what god really wants, or to convince them that god doesn’t exist.

In neither case is pretending like we can get along while that belief lives tenable, and in one of the cases it’s an outright lie.

Build bridges, but not by assuming people need to be lied to or that evil must be tacitly endorsed (or treated like it’s not shitty).


Got a tweet from Chris.

Inaccurate, #Islamophobic, and pretty vile overall… RT @jteberhard: Defending horrors to build bridges @ChrisDStedman bit.ly/vEC0bR

Of course, Chris can’t be bothered to say where it’s inaccurate.  And the guy who thinks defaming the worship of a pedophile is “dehumanizing” calls me vile.  That’s adorable, if not silly.

  • Katie Van Adzin

    YOUR READ MY MIND! Could not have said it better, JT, you’re absolutely spot-on here. Chris’s comments are exactly the reason why I see interfaith work as a weakening influence on atheists. One is forced to make nice with worldviews and beliefs that are fundamentally indefensible. And props to Dave Silverman as well for the straight talk. We need more of it.

    • Katie Van Adzin

      *I meant “you”, not “your”…damn typos

  • johnwilson

    Islam is a shitty religion (more shitty than most, and try me if you don’t think we can defend that statement)

    Yeah, I think I’d rather like you to defend that statement, in particular “more shitty than most”. I’ve seen similar comments in the past from the usually excellent Jerry Coyne, and it’s a stupid thing to say (I discussed it a long time ago over here)

    Your argument basically seems to be that Islam is shitty because the historical figure of Mohammed was a sack of shit. Whilst I agree that Mohammed was a nasty piece of work, what would your position on the relative shittyness of religions be if historical records were uncovered that showed that Jesus was also shitty? I mean, when it comes to Christianity we are, after all talking about a religion who this time every year celebrates the rape of Mary by God (If you read Luke, Mary is never asked if she wants to conceive the god-child, she’s just told that she will. Worse, if you read Mathew, she’s not even told).

    And if the issue is around peadophiles, this issue is hardly limited to Islam. I’m sure you can recall some fine upstanding priests of the catholic church being caught being a bit shitty, and having it covered up by the guy who, in the Catholic religion, is directly appointed by God – the Pope. That’s pretty shitty.

    Anti-science? Morally fucked up? Sure. But who on Earth is that any different from anti-science, morally fucked up Christianity? Or anti-science, morally fucked up Judaism?

    Yeah, Islam is a religion, and like most, if not all, religions it’s pretty shitty at its core. And like most religions its adherents vary from fucked-up fundamentalists to functionally-indistinguishable-from-atheists. But why hold those Muslims in the latter category to a different standard from Christians in the latter category? The central core to both religions is equally repugnant.

    So, yeah. I’d like to hear you defend “most shitty”.

    • Richard

      Islam and christianity are only two shitty religious groups among many shitty religious groups. He wasn’t saying islam was the worst, he was saying it was near the top of his shit list, which is probably much much longer than mine.

      Though, I would be interested in knowing JT’s ranking of shittastic religions based on shittastisity, or by irrationality and/or immorality.

      Back on topic, defend your error johnwilson, that you made a claim not supported by the text. If you live in a world where christianity and islam are the only two religious groups, then maybe your argument holds weight, but not really even then. You twisted “more shitty than most” into “most shitty”, significant difference.

      • Richard

        Furthermore, you shit a brick over islam supposedly topping christianty in the shit charts. I’m undecided which is worse personally, but why such a big deal over this one tiny detail? They’re both shit, we all agree on that, but seriously why piss on JT’s door on a shitting pissing contest?

    • Patrick

      Gotta say, its kinda nice to read a post by you that I agree with almost completely.

      As far as Islam being worse than Christianity…wow I don’t even know where to start. Oh I know, how about terrorism!
      Christian terrorists = Westboro Baptist Church
      Islamic terrorists = the deaths of millions of people!

      Those darn Christians are so terrible, operating within the bounds of the law and all…

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        Only if you’re comparing the worst of the worst followers. Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists (though I think a disturbingly high number of them are sympathetic to terrorists) and not all Christians are WBC worthy (thought I think a disturbingly high number of them share a lot of the same values with Fred Phelps).

        I’m talking about the faiths at their cores. I think Islam is one of the shittiest, most dehumanizing ideas on the planet.

        JT

        • johnwilson

          though I think a disturbingly high number of them are sympathetic to terrorists

          [Citation Needed]

          My wife happened to be working in Dubai when the 9/11 attack happened. The muslims that she worked with both before and after those attacks might take issue with that statement.

          • julian

            I can’t find the link but I do recall the NY Times writing an article on a poll that found that something like 70% of Muslims would support violence when it used to defend Islam. From what I remember they also found that Muslims were similar to other groups when it came to violence in General. They had just carved out a special place for Islam in their minds.

      • johnwilson

        Oh I know, how about terrorism!
        Christian terrorists = Westboro Baptist Church

        Do you really believe that modern Christian terrorism is limited to the Westboro Baptist Church picketing funerals? I suggest you study modern and recent terrorism a little more. You can start by looking in to a little thing known as The Troubles. (small thing, only happened over several decades with continuing sectarian abuse occurring along religious lines). Of course, the standard retort is that the Troubles in Northern Ireland aren’t religious, but politics. But that’s trying to wriggle out of the fact that to most observers it *is* religious terrorism.

        Don’t for one minute make the mistake that because most of the Christians you meet act within the law that Christians therefore do not act outside the law and refuse to engage in terrorism.

      • sqlrob

        Considering Iraq was invaded by Bush because God told him to, doesn’t that make the Christianity terrorism toll pretty damn high?

      • Gregory

        Islam is today about where Christianity was back in the 14th century. During the Crusades, the Inquisition and conflicts related to the Reformation, such as the Hundred Years War, Christianity was just as brutal, just as bloodthirsty, just as violently obscene as Islam is now. If they had had weapons of mass destruction back then, you can bet that central France would be a radioactive crater, the Netherlands wiped from the Earth and Rome a still smoking pile of rubble.

        It isn’t an accurate comparison between modern Islam and modern Christianity, any more than it is an accurate comparison between modern Christianity and late medieval Christianity.

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    For the sake of accuracy, I believe Stedman was referring to Ernest Perce’s original rant on the AA Facebook page and the fact that Silverman defended it. Stedman has not specifically stated that he thinks Silverman’s remarks about Islam are incorrect.

  • http://templeofthefuture.net James Croft

    I think the challenge with this is that Silverman’s comments recently are just some in a long string of blatantly prejudiced comments coming from other leaders related to American Atheists, Inc. The collective impression given is that it is not just an organization which seeks to criticize religion strongly (which is entirely legitimate), but an organization which is happy to defame and demean Muslims in general (which, it should go without saying, is not). What we’re seeing here is an established pattern of behavior (with the Perce comment, Stefanelli’s support of it and his own diatribes on his blog, and now this from Silverman) that is unpleasant – increasingly so.

    In a culture where hate crime and discrimination against Muslims is a grave reality for many American citizens, this sort of language is extremely dangerous.

    • julian

      In a culture where hate crime and discrimination against Muslims is a grave reality for many American citizens, this sort of language is extremely dangerous.

      Except that the quoted bit is entirely accurate. Many adherents of Islam (rightly) point out that the Qu’ran does not oppose child marriage and that sexual relations between an adult man and a young girl is something the Prophet implicitly endorses.

      I understand Muslims are a discriminated against minority here and in the rest of the Western World. I understand much of this has to do with their skin color and the people’s natural inclination to stereotype outside groups.

      But Islam is an abhorrent religion. There’s no way around it. While enough of Christianity has been forgotten that slavery and side lining women for being women are frowned upon by mainstream Christian churches and groups (though that aspect of the religion is still very much alive in certain groups) you can’t make the same argument for Islam. That part of the canon is alive, often quoted and wildly respected by the Muslim community.

      And that respect leads to all sorts of human rights violations, conflicts with existing law and a tolerance for bigotry within the community.

      Who are we helping by censoring this sort of speech? It isn’t maligning Muslims. It isn’t declaring all the Hajis and ragheads to be savages not fit to be part of our superior Western world. It’s a statement of defiance against some of the more repulsive aspects of the religion. Shouldn’t we want more speech like that?

      • jflcroft

        Who are we helping by censoring this sort of speech? It isn’t maligning Muslims. It isn’t declaring all the Hajis and ragheads to be savages not fit to be part of our superior Western world.

        Firstly, no one is arguing for censorship. We are expressing disagreement and distaste in an open forum, as we are entitled to do. No one questions the right of Perce, Stefanelli and Silverman to say what they say – we just question the moral legitimacy of it.

        As for the rest, I don’t agree. When I read Perce’s comment, I took it to be precisely the sort of inflammatory language you say it isn’t. I don’t think you can say “I will not be silent with my disdain and disgust for your culture or your terroristic ways”, referring to all of Muslim culture, and not get hit with charges of overt bigotry.

        I’m surprised anyone would defend it.

        • julian

          Sorry. I keep forgetting most people reserve censorship for only gross limitations of Free Speech. For me using societal pressure to discourage hateful rhetoric is censorship (censorship I see nothing wrong with.)

          I’m surprised anyone would defend it.

          If I were to say ‘I am an American liberal and I will not apologize for my disdain and disgust for your culture or your imperialistic ways’ in reference to the U.S. would you assume I meant that of all the U.S. or just certain parts of it?

          What if it was in reference to Saudi Arabia?

          I see the three as essentially the same.

          And if we’re going to take in context don’t forget that we’re coming out of a season of Militant Islamist attacks (although the only one in the West I can readily think of is that Charlie Hebdo office being firebombed.)

          • jflcroft

            I do think reserving the term “censorship” for actual attempts to silence other people through law or force is important. Clarity in speech is essential when discussing important moral questions, and it doesn’t help to confuse persuasion with censorship – they are not remotely the same. Censorship involves, ultimately, the use of force to prevent some form of speech. Persuasion, like I and Stedman are engaged in, does not. It is therefore in an entirely different category. Conflating the two serves to make your argument seem stronger at the cost of mischaracterizing mine and misleading readers, which is why I push back.

            As for your good question regarding the difference between attacking nation states and cultures, no, they are not at all the same (I actually would object to the crass generalization involved in talking about liberals or countries in that way, too – I am consistent on this point – but I’ll put that objection aside to focus on the differences.

            There is a critical difference between criticizing “the USA”, “liberals”, and criticising “All of Islamic culture”. The difference is that Muslims are a maligned and oppressed group in US culture, and national governments (with perhaps a couple of exceptions) are not in a similar position of disempowerment.

            If someone said to me (I’m gay) “I will not be silent with my disdain and disgust for gay culture or your hedonistic ways”, I would take that as a slur and an attack. I would be right to do so. I think if the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship were to post that comment on their facebook page, they would be inundated – absolutely HAMMERED – with comments from people on this blog. PZ and JT would be all over it. You would probably be there posting. You would NOT do this distasteful dance of saying “Well, the evangelical doesn’t mean ALL gays, and after all many gays ARE hedonistic after all”.

            Say essentially the same to Muslim culture, and we love it.

            That is a moral failing. I object to it.

          • julian

            Like I said, I apologize for using censorship. I did not mean to discredit your argument or case by accusing you of forcing others to not voice their opinions. My bad.

            The difference is that Muslims are a maligned and oppressed group in US culture, and national governments (with perhaps a couple of exceptions) are not in a similar position of disempowerment.

            In general I would agree. But there’s two aspects of Islam that put it (in my mind, anyway) in fair game territory. (1)Criticism of it is seen as a slight against God throughout much of Islam and (2)it does a great deal of harm (because of how much of the sacred texts is adhered to and how many bigoted views are seen as being inline with God’s law) to people and society.

            You would NOT do this distasteful dance of saying “Well, the evangelical doesn’t mean ALL gays, and after all many gays ARE hedonistic after all”.

            Of course I wouldn’t because the accusation would not only be false, it’d be hateful slander against a community already heavily discriminated against and (often) denied equal rights. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I fully recognize it might be my disdain for religion predisposing me to take a position and then rationalize why I came to it.)

            Islam is a different animal. Accusations of using terrorism to enforce Islam and silence criticism of it are fair criticisms. Ditto for accusations of human rights ambivalence (The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights is a joke). The level of disregard for life often displayed attempting to ‘defend’ Islam should be viewed as repugnant.

          • http://Templeofthefuture.net James Croft

            I think, again, this is a case of mistaking the nature of the criticism I am making. I am not against criticism of Islam and aspects of Islamkc culture, belief or practice. Do it all the time. I am against this specific INSTANCE of criticism, because of its inflammatory rhetoric, its over-generalizing, and its use of language straight out of the racial-hatred book of slurs and bigotry,

            IF Perce had said something like this: “the throwing of acid into the faces of young girls on their way to school is grotesque and abominable, an act of craven wickedness that can only be understood in lit of the malicious teachings of the Taliban and sections in the Koran which demean women. All freedom-loving people should stand with me against this profound evil, which Muslim clerics have done far too little to prevent.” I would have been cheering from the rafters. He didn’t. He said what he said. Let’s not lose sight of the real issue here – its not “those willing to criticize Islam” vs. “those unwilling or afraid to criticize Islam”, but rather “those who wish to criticize aspects of Islam that are harmful while not harming Muslims unnecessarily” vs. “those who use language in a way akin to the religious right to denigrate whole cultures in language that is strikingly similar to that used by white supremacists”.

          • julian

            Yeah, we’re not going to see eye to eye on this. I don’t see any difference between what you view as appropriate and what you view as unnecessarily inflammatory. May I ask where you see the difference?

          • http://Templeofthefuture.net James Croft

            Sure! I appreciate the question. It will take me a bit to think through all the differences I think are salient. I’ll respond ASAP.

  • http://themidwestatheist.blogspot.com Leo Buzalsky

    I have an idea of what Stedman might find inaccurate: don’t Muslim apologists claim that Aisha was actually a teenager or even older when the marriage was consumated? (As if that’s somehow significantly better.)
    Otherwise, I don’t really see any claims about Islam here that could even be called out for inaccuracy.

  • julian

    Chris Stedman is a joke. No idea why anyone would listen to him.

    Islam is a violent, oppressive, sexist, totalitarian and, well fuck, just think of anything that a liberal should be concerned about gaining dominance in a society and that’s Islam. Even imperialism.

    Why anyone with an ounce of integrity and respect for others would want to defend it is beyond me. Why Mr. Stedman wants to though, is perfectly clear.

    He’s a whiny little gnat who’s soul reason for existence is to dismiss the evil and harm done by religious groups. This is just keeping with his general approach to civil liberties. (Say you’re for them. Never do anything to defend them.)

    • jflcroft

      This is just keeping with [Stedman's] general approach to civil liberties. (Say you’re for them. Never do anything to defend them.)

      Just out of interest, when was the last time you helped organize a large event in favor of gay rights for World AIDS day, worked in favor of freedom of religion and nonreligion, spoke out for atheists in a prominent interfaith setting, or organized the packing of around 30,000 meals for food insecure children?

      Frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I get very disappointed when communities ostensibly committed to rationalism argue away without any respect for the facts. It demonstrates a serious case of tribal mentality – “We must defend anything our heroes do and say with inaccurate, personal attacks on people who disagree with us!”

      I would expect free thinkers to think more, and more independently.

      • julian

        sigh

        I had a long rant written out which boiled down ‘I don’t exactly have the same opportunities as Mr. Stedman, my superiors already hate my guts and blahblahblah’

        Anyway, I apologize for dismissing the good work Chris Stedman has done and the courage it takes to put yourself out there the way he has.

        He’s still an Aunt Sally.

        • http://Templeofthefuture.net James Croft

          I appreciate that :)

          P.S. “Aunt Sally”? Never heard that before. Wikipedia informs me that “The term is often used metaphorically to mean something that is a target for criticism. In particular, referring to the fairground origins, an Aunt Sally would be “set up” deliberately to be subsequently “knocked down”, usually by the same person who set the person up.” This seems, from my perspective, surprisingly apt, but not perhaps what you were going for!

  • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

    JT – Your characterization (a generously broad stroke that I disagree with) of Muslims as people who worship Muhammad as a morally perfect being is wrong in two directions. One – they don’t worship Muhammad. That kinda stuff is expressly forbidden since he’s not god. Two – do they think that he’s morally perfect? Yeah, the guy was a swell, compassionate political/military/economic leader. Muslims don’t excuse the troublesome parts (you spend a lot of time focused on the age of his wife), they just promote the parts that are good, which is most of it.

    Other commenters have taken issue with your characterization of Islam as the shittiest of religions (all of which are shitty, of course). I’ll play a card and go ahead with: I’ve known, and there exist historically, quite a few shitty atheists, too. Something something splinter in your neighbor’s eye, plank in your own something blah.

    A whiny article like this does nothing to further the discourse, and only serves to reinforce the idea (already too popular in American culture) that atheists are shitty, mean-spirited people. They’re not.

    Except when they are.

    • julian

      Muslims don’t excuse the troublesome parts (you spend a lot of time focused on the age of his wife), they just promote the parts that are good, which is most of it.

      Oh, bullshit.

      The marriage to Aisha is used to defend child marriage (all of which are arranged) because Mohammed (him being ‘The Prophet’ and all) is viewed as God’s chosen here on Earth. Like in Judaism or Christianity, the moral stances and positions of those closest to God carry a great deal of weight. The closer to God the more morally right you are.

      • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

        Yeah dude.

  • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

    Do any of you folks actually hang out with Muslims? You should go find some and chit-chat about these concerns. I’m sure that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    Like many religious people, some of the most informed critics of Islam that I’ve had the fortune to meet are, you guessed it, Muslims.

    Go find some. Muslims, that is. Go find them and have some coffee or something.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

      The most informed critics of Islam that I know are ex-Muslims.

      • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

        The only Ophelia that I’m familiar with is this Ophelia.

        • satan augustine

          Tim, I don’t quite understand your reply. Are you saying you are familiar with Ophelia Benson or were you meaning another, fictional Ophelia?

    • julian

      Great, so you can extrapolate from a very small group what the rest of the community believes but I get to stay the ‘bigoted’ one. Lovely.

      • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

        And y’all are extrapolating from one dude who lived almost one and a half millennia ago! Back then, we thought that disease was caused by goblins in the blood and all kinds of crazy shit.

        We each have precisely one leg to stand on, and bopping back and forth on the web about it isn’t helping anybody except the voices of division in our world.

        And to bring it full-circle, JT referred to me as a Stedman “fan” earlier on Twitter. That’s fine. I’m a fan of what he’s trying to do, which is build bridges. Not by defending horrors, like this article title suggests, but through earnest dialogue and hanging out and having pizza or whatever.

        I’m on that team.

        • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

          Hahahahah italics bomb, yo. Gotta close those tags!

        • julian

          And y’all are extrapolating from one dude who lived almost one and a half millennia ago!

          No. We’re listening to the justifications used by Imans and Mullahs throughout Islam.

          If you’d like to redirect your criticism to them, by all means.

          Back then, we thought that disease was caused by goblins in the blood and all kinds of crazy shit.

          Actually that’s still a strong belief amongst many non Western believers (and many Western believers as well.) My mother, a Catholic out of the Dominican Republic, would often berate me for not being ‘good’ enough. Proof I had strayed was readily available in the form of the terrible acne I had.

          but through earnest dialogue and hanging out and having pizza or whatever.

          And never breathing a word of criticism.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    So, Tim, what I’m hearing you say is that pointing out that many Muslims use their faith and their prophet to justify child marriage and rape is worse than many Muslims using their faith and their prophet to justify child marriage and rape because we’re burning bridges. Care to comment on that directly instead of throwing out vaguely snarky irrelevancies?

    • http://timbrauhn.com Tim Brauhn

      No Stephanie. That’s not what I meant.

      I was suggesting that instead of promoting the divisive and vitriolic state of inter-religious dialogue in America a la Westboro Baptist Church, the GOP, et al., you actually join up with the people who are trying to get this country better at talking about its diverse traditions.

      • julian

        What the fuck are you even talking about?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

    I’m rather confused about whether this is a separate thing or a continuation of the mini-controversy/discussion/confusion over the Facebook post by Ernest Perce V, the PA state director of American Atheists. I agree with Dave Silverman’s statement, though I thought EPV was walking the line between criticizing an ideology and making accusations against an entire group of people, due to the way he wrote his statement.

    On the issue itself, I tend to agree, of course, with being critical of Islam, especially considering the great amount of harm it does due to the teachings that are described in the Qur’an. Even though many Muslims conveniently ignore some or many of the teachings, that doesn’t stop them from being there, and it doesn’t stop other Muslims from actually taking the Qur’an at it’s word when it says that it’s from God.

    On the topic of “worshiping Mohammad”: Muslims aren’t supposed Mohammad. In fact, it’s considered wrong to elevate anyone to the status of God. (This is part of the reason for why people were upset about the Mohammad cartoons — not that I think they were right to be upset. The people who were upset were wrong.) However, there’s a certain irony here. By being so adamant about enforcing the rule about now drawing Mohammad, certain Muslim groups act as though they have elevated Mohammad to a higher status than others, since they don’t get upset about drawings of Adam, Moses, Jesus, etc. (even though these figures are also Prophets who should not be drawn, either, according to some Muslims). There are people who cite Mohammad’s actions as a reason why they should do something (or should be allowed to do something) — everything from the horrendous (like marrying little girls) to the just odd (random stuff like when to cut your nails).

    I’m not joking about that last one. A very religious uncle of mine once came up to a couple of my cousins and myself when we were talking at a family party and started telling us about this.

    • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

      That should be “Muslims aren’t supposed *to worship* Mohammad.”

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

      A lot of Muslims missed the memo about that, Ani, wouldn’t you agree? A lot of the “defense” of the outrage about the Motoons for instance took the form “you non-Muslims just don’t understand what the Prophet (PBUH) means to us: he is more than our fathers, our families, anyone, he is the only perfect human being,” etc etc etc. Not literal worship in the sense of bowing or praying to, but very heightened emotion.

  • Pingback: Criticizing Islam and Citing Mohammad: a comment « The Eternal Bookshelf

  • Julien Rousseau

    That accomodationist does not seem to be very accomodating with you.

    • julian

      why would he? Mr. Eberhard isn’t part of the majority so Mr. Stedman has no reason to care for his views or opinions and every reason to malign him.

      • Julien Rousseau

        Just pointing out the hypocrisy of their position.

  • Hibernia86

    I agree that it is disturbing that Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl, but apparently taking young brides and having sex with them was encouraged and quite common during that time period so perhaps it was society rather than Muhammad himself that was sick.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aisha#Age_at_marriage

    • Julien Rousseau

      And if mohammed was any average human being you might have a point but he was the claimed recipient of an unchanging moral code so if almost everybody today can see that having sex with a 9 years old is immoral then thanks to his unique insight as said recipient he should have seen it for the immoral act it was.

      In other word, if Islam is an unchanging moral code then what was considered moral then (having sex with a 9 years old) should still be moral now but if having sex with a 9 years old now is immoral then so was it then and thus Mohammed should have known it.

      I generally encounter such excuses from christians and slavery, where they say that the bible did not condemn slavery because of the culture of the time, but if the bible is the word of god (or inspired by god) then such an important issue should be front and center in it, like believing in Jesus to be saved is front and center.

      That slavery is not condemned by the bible and that mohammed did not see any moral problem with having sex with a 9 years old are clear refutations of their respective religion’s claims of moral superiority.

  • alex

    Lol. Thanks for sharing this post. Check out a gay version of the “Shit Girls Say” video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWzJ88G5neI&feature=colike

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