Blasphemy in Denmark — and here

Last September, some cartoons about Islam published in a Danish newspaper caused serious offense to Muslims. (To see the cartoons, go here and scroll about halfway down.) A few days ago the paper apologized, but apparently not enough -- the apology was for offending the feelings of Muslims but not for actually publishing the cartoons -- leading to more protests and boycotts, as well as threats of violence.

The media in Muslim countries have weighed in. According to the Christian Science Monitor:

The Arab News of Saudi Arabia calls upon Denmark to legally ban religious hate speech.

Meanwhile, some European newspapers have reprinted the cartoons as a way of striking a blow for freedom of expression.

Under the headline "Yes, we have the right to caricature God", France Soir ran a front page cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud.

It shows the Christian deity saying: "Don't complain, Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here."

The full set of Danish drawings, some of which depict the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist, were printed on the inside pages.

The paper said it had decided to republish them "because no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society."

Or can it? Unfortunately, France Soir's demonstration of the value of free speech ended in a fiasco: the paper published an apology and sacked its managing editor.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Christian paper Magazinet, which also published the cartoons, then took them off its website because of threats. According to The Brussels Journal:

Magazinet also interviewed two leading Norwegian cartoonists: Finn Graff and Morten M. Kristiansen. Graff, who was known in the 1960s and '70s for his satirical drawings of Jesus Christ, said that he does not draw pictures mocking Muhammad. He does so out of fear for Muslims, and also "out of respect." Muslims, he said, are very sensitive about their religion and their prophet, which is something one has to take into account and one has to respect. Kristiansen said he had received many protest letters in the past whenever he mocked Christ. The same applies to cartoons about Muhammad, but lately the protest letters from Muslims had increasingly become threats, including death threats in e-mails from places such as Iran. Unlike Graff, Kristiansen said he will not change his behaviour because of these threats because it is important to defend the right to freedom of expression.

All this prompts Pieter Dorsmann to compare this to the "Piss Christ" controversy and Glenn Reynolds to comment:

The lesson is that if you want your religion not to be mocked, it helps to have a reputation for senseless violence. Is this the incentive structure we want?

That observation is, of course, quite correct. Christians who protest blasphemy generally do not threaten a violent response (though there were some bomb threats in response to a planned production of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi a few years ago). But I would note that the "blasphemy as hate speech" meme is shared by quite a few conservative Christians as well; and, in some cases, this translates into sympathy for even violent Muslim backlash against perceived anti-Muslim blasphemy. Here, for instance, a Christian blogger condemns the cartoons about Islam on the grounds of disrespect:

The cartoons are clearly offensive attacks on the faith of all Muslims and it is not surprising that people are upset (if similar cartoons were drawn about Christians there would be considerable protest and outrage). Thus, it was sad to learn that one of the newspapers that published the cartoons was an evangelical Christian paper in Norway. The editor said he had received death threats and hate letters.

What did he expect? He published hate cartoons and thus should not be surprised to receive hate mail. How does this guy think he can reach out to the Muslims in Norway with the Gospel if he so grossly mocks their faith? Why must Christian newspapers publish tabloid trash? It is time for Norway's Christians to demand the editor leave or to cancel their subscriptions.

And Pat Buchanan recently had this to offer:

When Bush speaks of freedom as God's gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish The Satanic Verses, a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith? If the Islamic world rejects this notion of freedom, why is it our duty to change their thinking? Why are they wrong?

The "hate speech," "bigotry," and "Christian-bashing" label was slapped on the NBC show "The Book of Daniel" (canceled due to protests and boycotts), which featured an Episcopal priest with a dysfunctional family and a Jesus who urged him to be tolerant of human frailties.

I agree that cheap religion-baiting, and particularly Christian-baiting, has long been in vogue among the liberal intelligentsia, and that it can be very juvenile and tiresome. But there is something dangerous, in my view, about the idea that certain beliefs are beyond criticism, even disrespectful criticism (or irreverent reinterpretation).

Once, in illiberal and authoritarian times, blasphemy was outlawed as an offense to God and the authority of churches. Now, we are hearing calls to outlaw blasphemy as an offense to human sensibilities based on group identity.

In attacking "The Book of Daniel," Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition urged the entertainment industry to treat Christians with the same respect it treats Muslims and Jews. I don't know about Jews; but if the Danish cartoons saga is an example, the way Western societies today treat speech deemed offensive to Muslims is precisely the wrong way to approach speech about religion.

(Cross-posted at The Y-Files.)

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  • ||

    Will this finally, finally, (ah slowly, toward the light,) get Europeans to recognize the danger that Islam poses to freedom, generally?

  • ||

    I wonder if Pat Buchanan lets his wife leave the house with her head uncovered?

    Islam only poses a danger to freedom in the West if we let it. The notion that we could ever mollify people who threaten violence over cartoons is beyond silly.

  • J sud D||

    My response to religious fanatics (fools?) is "Fuck You if you can't take a joke!"

  • ||

    To see the cartoons... Thanks! Been looking for 'em.

    Those were pretty mild cartoons, and somebody sounds a bit defensive; probably because they know that their religion is basically silly.

    As a legally Ordained Minister (true!), I wish more people would make fun of Our Saviour, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, so we wouldn't have to do it ourselves.

  • ||

    Buchanan's point was not to damn the 1st Amendment, but to look at the global democracy crusade through Muslim eyes -- a radical idea, I know, and one that puts him in league with the 9/11 hijackers. Remember that many of the most ardent supporters of Bush's foreign policy are the very same people who scream bloody murder about Larry Flynt, "Piss Christ," the war on Christmas, etc. Buchanan's piece was a challenge to those folks.

  • ||

    I actually kind of liked it.

  • ||

    "(canceled due to protests and boycotts)"

    I'm sure that was part of it, but the terrible reviews, even among people who were inclined to like the basic premise of the series, probably were the crucial factor

    The networks seem to have itchy trigger fingers this year; see the Heather Graham fiasco

  • amazingdrx||

    These cartoons are not even funny, where is the king of cartoons to fix this whole mess?

  • ||

    "Fuck You if you can't take a joke!"
    Hey, that's our Official Church Slogan (but with "them" instead of "you"). I hearby issue one of them Fat-wahs on "J sud D" until he pays his $30.

  • ||

    "Will this finally, finally, (ah slowly, toward the light,) get Europeans to recognize the danger that Islam poses to freedom, generally?"

    I doubt it.

    Will this finally get Americans to recongnize the danger that religions in general pose to freedom?

    No.

  • ||

    I saw The Book of Daniel and although it wasn't great, it had some potential. It seemed to me like Desperate Housewives with a religious twist (although I must admit I've never seen Desperate Housewives).

    At the same time, I wondered 1) how in the hell it even got made/aired 2) how long it would last.

    The answer to #2 is "not very damn long".

    Too bad, really, because like I said, it had some potential.

  • ||

    FWIW, I work in the same building where "The Book of Daniel" had its stages and production offices, and they were cancelled before a single review or episode went to air. So don't take the Traditional Values Coalition too seriously - they were packing their wardrobe up before the first review went to press.

  • Ed||

    I am offended by Garfield.
    Who can I murder for this grievous insult to Ed?

  • Rodney Anonymous||

    Call me "Mr. Modesty", but I still like my Mohammed comix better:

    http://www.rodneyanonymous.com/2006/01/lovey_nookey_good_1.html

  • ||

    Ed: Who can't you murder with the Garfield defense? It's the Twinkie of the 21st century.

  • ||

    i'm with lowdog. book of daniel had some serious potential.

    in fact, i'm disappointed that it didn't get to the point where jesus gets down on his luck and moves is with daniel. imagine the type of roomate jesus would be...eating other peoples' food in the fridge, never helping out with the chores, and sitting around watching tv all day with one of those beercan hats.

  • ||

    a:

    I would be inclined to agree with you about Puke-anan if it weren't for the fact that he's usually one of those same people "who scream bloody murder about Larry Flynt, "Piss Christ," the war on Christmas, etc." Remember his "culture war" speech at the Republican National Convention in 92?

    Given that track record, I think that we can take Puke-anan literally here. Like most right-wingers, the only free speech he respects is mumbling prayers to his nonexistent God and jokes about "niggers," "kikes," "spics," and "fags."

  • ||

    What, in the name of the flying speghitti monster, makes people think they have a right to deprive other people of freedom of expression merely because those expressions hurt their feelings?

  • Warren||

    Jesus fucking Christ. The whole point of having a right to free speech/press is to offend people. Non offensive speech doesn't need protection.

    What a bunch of wankers.

  • Stephen Macklin||

    The editor of the French paper that published the cartoons was fired and the publisher issued a groveling apology.

    I wonder if we will see the cartoons reproduced under the banner that reads "Free Minds and Free Markets"

  • ||

    Memo to the Islamic world:

    Lighten up Francis.

    (Further evidence of the need for a crash program to develop offworld colonies for religious nuts).

  • ||

    Remember his "culture war" speech at the Republican National Convention in 92?

    Do I ever. That was probably the last time anything interesting happened at a national convention.

    Anyway, as a long-time ordained minister in the Universal Life Church of Modesto California, I would like to publically lend my support to Ed in his war against the abomination that is Garfield. I would also like to declare a Fatwa against Cathy and warn all blasphemers not to touch Gil Thorp.

  • ||

    Akira:

    But the fact that Buchanan is among those people only bolsters the assertion that he was challenging them, given that their parting of ways is on the war. Is it not legitimate for one social conservative to challenge another social conservative's view on an issue by referencing their shared views on other issues? And wouldn't it have been wise for the rest of us to consider Buchanan's point -- that socially conservative people, who comprise a very large portion of the Muslim world -- were not going to sit back and accept having Western "decadent" culture shoved down their throats by the US military?

  • ||

    Free speech is fine and dandy. But, guess what? It is restricted in most (many) European countries. Didn't France ban Al-Manar TV for ? Didn't they charge Garaudy with Holocaust denial and racial defamation? It is either free for all or not. What is good for the goose ...

  • ||

    I don't know. I am all about freedom of Speech and all. But what if a newspaper here printed a bunch of racial stuff about black people after Katrina? That wouldn't really be cool.

    The government would be wrong to intervine. But that isn't to say that there wouldn't be repercussions from private citizens.

    On the other hand, the cartoons don't seem to be that offensive to me. And the whole thing about people getting upset over a Koran getting flushed seemed stupid to me.

  • ||

    What is good for the goose ...

    ... is sometimes called slander.

  • ||

    a
    good point. I also think that the religios right gets strong here when atheism is shoved down their throats. That someone had a piss christ is part of the insult. The real insult is that they were forced to pay for it. The same with ID and evolution and all that. I don't think that the midwestern nutjob has a problem with how people in San Francisco teach their kids but when the same people in San Francisco or wherever try to decide the how the midwestern family educates their kid then they have the problem.

    I understand that the way I put it is way oversimplified and that it may be someone from a big city in the same midwestern state instead of (SanFran) and that there are plenty of counter arguments about the religios forcing their beliefs and yada yada yada.

    And again tell me why it is OK for it to be against the law in a European country to deny the holocaust, but it is not ok to be against the law to insult another religion or ethnicity?

  • ||

    Stephen:

    I wonder if we will see the cartoons reproduced under the banner that reads "Free Minds and Free Markets"

    Personally, I'd like to see that too. Nick, Julian, Jacob? Let's post them here at H&R, or better yet in the next issue.

  • ||

    I declare a Jihad on MK and Ed. As a follower of "His One True and Virtuous, Furry Savior" I am bound by oath to protect his good name. You shall not have any other gods than Garfield on penalty of death in piping hot lasagna.

  • ||

    Why do we even waste our time discussing an intolerant, inyellectually inconsistent ultra- maroon (thanks, bugs) like Pat Buchanan anyway?

  • ||

    There is no God but Charlie Brown (Peace Be Upon Him) and Linus is his prophet.

  • ||

    I also think that the religios right gets strong here when atheism is shoved down their throats.

    Oh dear... that would be horrible if it were really happening. Wait a minute... IT ISN'T!
    However, we can't say the same for the other side though.

    That someone had a piss christ is part of the insult. The real insult is that they were forced to pay for it.

    Oh please! You're fooling yourself if you think that the NEA funding issue were just about the government forcing us to pay for art via taxes. If it was, the Ed Meeses and the Pat Robertsons of America would have just focused on the funding rather than the content of the "controversial artwork."

    The same with ID and evolution and all that.

    Yeah, because we wouldn't want our schools to teach facts, would we? That might offend the bigoted and the stupid.

    I understand that the way I put it is way oversimplified and that it may be someone from a big city in the same midwestern state instead of (SanFran) and that there are plenty of counter arguments about the religios forcing their beliefs and yada yada yada.

    I'm from Wisconsin. Does that count?

  • ||

    ... the NBC show "The Book of Daniel" (canceled due to protests and boycotts), which featured an Episcopal priest with a dysfunctional family and a Jesus who urged him to be tolerant of human frailties.

    Isn't this just a dramatization of Pat Robertson's life? Cause he speaks directly to Jesus, right?

  • Timothy||

    Jesus was way cool. He turned water into wine, and if he'd wanted to, he could've turned wheat into marijuana, sugar into cocaine, and vitamin pills into methamphetamines. Jesus was way cool.

  • ||

    How does this guy think he can reach out to the Muslims in Norway with the Gospel if he so grossly mocks their faith?

    Mohammed cartoons are insulting - but telling Muslims they're headed for eternal damnation if they don't convert to Christianity isn't?

  • ||

    Tempest in a turban or prelude to worldwide holy war? I ask all defenders of freedom and satire to please purchase a box of Danish cookies on your way home tonight. Thank you.

  • ||

    While the current muslim religious leadership is worse, I think the problem is religious fanaticism used to justify all manner of mayhem and violence. Remember Eric Rudolph and Randal Terry? How many Christian blowhards stood up and condemed killing doctors or detonating bombs?

    It is imperative that the "West" not cave to whining from any religious camp, particulary the current violently evangelical islam. While Pat Robertson may offend our sensibilities, he's not packing up the station wagon with a ton of C4. Socially and religiously it would appear the islamic world is where europe was in the middle ages, with an all-powerful Vatican burning heretics who dared step out of line.

  • ||

    Hey, that's our Official Church Slogan (but with "them" instead of "you")

    Let me guess, Unitarian, right?

    James Feldman-It wasn't actually cancelled; the series was only intended to last for 13 episodes. They finished those, so there wasn't much reason to keep the offices open, given the fact that this whole cancellation thing was sort of expected. That's one of the things that upset me; I was hoping that this would prompt networks to consider creating series with set endpoints in mind from the outset, which tends to lead to better TV. Now nobody will learn anything from it.

  • ||

    Such mocking cartoons have been common in the French press since the 19th century, though they have been directed at the Catholic Church and were anti-clerical in nature. That they are now directed against Muslims seems like at an attempt at "balance" to me. :)

  • ||

    I heard the interview with Jack Kenney, the creator and executive producer of The Book of Daniel on Fresh Air last month (Jan. 19). He said that he wanted to create a series that examined a priest and his family because he didn't know of any shows that were doing that. I guess that he never saw or heard of 7th Heaven on the WB. He also said he was genuinely surprised about the negative reaction to the show.

  • ||

    Will this finally get Americans to recongnize the danger that religions in general pose to freedom?

    therefore we should outlaw religion becouse it threatens freedom...HA

    Anyway the concept of freedom and equality sprang from the judao-christian tradition and in fact most libral democracies in the world are prodominatly christian or have a long tradition of being christian...these facts put a big whole in your theory.

  • ||

    The reaction also demonstrates a certain immaturity and super sensitivity one should expect from insecure cultures and societies.

  • ||

    I didn't think that the Book of Daniel was particularly insulting to Christians. I just thought it was a bad show. There are plenty of shows that various groups object to that thrive because they are good shows with an audience. Look if it were up to the people at the Democratic Underground, I am sure the FCC would have shut down Bill O'Reilly years ago, but he seems to do quite well because he has a following. The same can be said for Pat Robertson and shows like Desparate Housewives or South Park, yet those shows go merely on. I think the entertainment industry plays the various victim groups very well. Offending some victim group or nutcase religous group is a great way to get publicity and a little extra ratings for a TV show. Look at Ellen. That show was ready to be canceled until she came out as being gay on it and got the right wing folks up and arms. The publicity alone bought a dying show a couple of extra years on the air.

    As far as Islam goes, we have got to stop treating Islamics like children and indulging them in their worst behaviors. If they can't deal with criticism of their religion without resorting to threats of violence, then they have no place in Western society. We cannnot have a free society while allowing one group to be a sacred cow above criticism.

  • ||

    Joshua Corning,

    Buzz. Wrong answer. No, the concept of freedom from sin and equality in relationship to other believers come from those religions, but the modern concepts of individual freedom and political equality derive from the secular experiments of the Enlightenment. Furthermore, the concept of freedom itself - be it in civic or personal version - is the creation of the pre-Christian Greeks.

    Honestly, how anyone compares the various unfreedoms in a secular sense that comes with historical Christianity (e.g., butchering Jews, Protestants, Catholics, etc. in the name of Christ) with the post-Enlightenment secular ideal of freedom and tries to find a correlation is beyond me. At best what one has is a constrasting of these two as a means to define secular freedom - Christian freedom is secular freedom's "other" in other words.

  • dhex||

    "Anyway the concept of freedom and equality sprang from the judao-christian tradition"

    mostly by being cut right out of its chest.

  • ||

    John,

    One can never tell what will offend a Christian. They do enjoy bloody displays (on film at least) of the torturing of human flesh though.

  • ||

    dhex,

    Christians tend to confuse the Christian concept of freedom with the secular one and thus tend to argue that they are synonymous, when in fact they are not. They also fail to acknowledge that the concept of freedom precedes Christianity as well as any Jewish influence on Greek society. Freedom, even though only honored haphazardly and in a discriminating way, was a concept well known to the Greeks, even to the pre-Socratics.

  • ||

    John-They're not Islamics. They're Muslims. Calling them Islamics is like calling Christians Jesusians.

    He said that he wanted to create a series that examined a priest and his family because he didn't know of any shows that were doing that. I guess that he never saw or heard of 7th Heaven on the WB

    I don't think 7th Heaven is a good example of anything other than just how completely some TV executives can drive a premise into the ground. The Camden household certainly isn't like any ministerial family I've seen, and I grew up in one.

  • ||

    Shem, Jesusians are called that.

    Christ-ians.

    It was originally a derogatory term for people who followed Jesus of Nazareth. It's just that the name stuck and, eventually, Christians started calling themselves that.

    As recently as Churchill, followers of Islam were called "Mohammedans".

  • ||

    Shem,

    You're probably right, but I just thought it odd that Kenney wouldn't even mention it. Is it still even on? I haven't seen it for at least five (or maybe seven) years, so I don't know. And I don't care enough to check.

  • ||

    Oh please! You're fooling yourself if you think that the NEA funding issue were just about the government forcing us to pay for art via taxes

    It was the issue for me!

    Like I said, I know there are some issues where people complain about the religious dudes trying to push their values on others. But the religous dudes would have a lot less of a leg to stand on if it werent the other way around also.

  • ||

    I thought the reason Book of Daniel was cancelled was that Burlington Coat Factory was the only corporation that would buy ad time and the show was losing 2 million dollars per episode.

  • ||

    Like I said, I know there are some issues where people complain about the religious dudes trying to push their values on others. But the religous dudes would have a lot less of a leg to stand on if it werent the other way around also.

    Kwais, I agree with you that NEA funding should be done away with (not because anything is offensive, but because the government shouldn't be in the habit of subsidizing artists), but how exactly are "non-religious values" being shoved down religious people's throats? Earlier you mentioned the evolution vs. intelligent design debate, but that's not a matter of "values," but a matter of "scientific evidence or the lack thereof." If a medieval Catholic stepped through a time machine and landed in the modern world he'd have similar complaints about those damn teachers who insist that the Earth revolves around the Sun rather than vice-versa.

    Don't confuse "values" with "evidence that goes against one's beliefs".

  • ||

    As recently as Churchill, followers of Islam were called "Mohammedans"

    True, but they were only called that by westerners. Muslims found that term insulting because it seemed to intimate that Muslims held Mohammed in the same way that Christians held Christ, as divine. That doesn't exactly jibe with their whole "There is no god but Allah" thing.

    And yet they will hold Mohammed in such high esteem that they are willing to travel halfway around the world to attack someone who drew a picture of him. Hmmm. I won't even try to figure that one out.
    I do know that Islam has never embraced iconography in the way that the Orthodox Church did, But threatening non-believers on the point seems like a new development.

  • ||

    And yet they will hold Mohammed in such high esteem that they are willing to travel halfway around the world to attack someone who drew a picture of him.

    I don't think it is just the picture of him that angered the majority of them. I think it is the bomb in the turban thing.

  • ||

    "And yet they will hold Mohammed in such high esteem that they are willing to travel halfway around the world to attack someone who drew a picture of him. Hmmm. I won't even try to figure that one out."

    People who are looking for something to be offended about will generally find it.

    At least, that's what Muhammad told me last night while giving me a hummer.

  • ||

    Well, a whole lot of Muslims sure seem pissed off. Some masses of people have gathered to protest. Some militants have threatened violence. Some governments have issued statements and adopted postures.

    There's gotta be some way to respond constructively. When your girlfriend acts this way, you back off. Maybe there's a principle you might want to uphold, but if you want to keep your squeeze, you let things cool down, take it on the chin, and try a different approach next time.

    Muslims are a set of overlapping communities, rather than a single woman, so maybe the analogy is poor. And the relationship they have with that other great set of overlapping communities, the West, might be characterized differently. I dunno though. There's a lot of oil sitting under a lot of Muslims.

    In any case, if you want trouble, you go right back to doing whatever pissed off your girlfriend.

  • ||

    Religions, being elaborate belief systems completely uncontaminated by evidence, BEG to be mocked. The more fundamental varieties are fine examples of self-parody.
    So Subgenii like Mr. F. Le Mur are ahead of the curve, following a religion that openly mocks itself, even in its scriptures. Pull the wool over your own eyes, indeed.

  • ||

    Dogzilla: Hear, Hear!

  • ||

    Jaybird-But you don't call the Jesusians. You call them Christians, or failing that, followers of Jesus. Just like you call them either Muslims or followers of Islam. Calling them "Islamics" is just not correct terminology.

  • ||

    Maybe we'll evolve an immunity to religion.

  • ||

    Begin quote from FT

    In an effort to calm Muslim anger, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, was set to appear last night on the al-Arabiya satellite news channel to explain his government�s position. He also called a meeting of all foreign ambassadors in Copenhagen for today as the debate in Europe polarised defenders of press freedom and religious groups.

    Ursula Plassnik, foreign minister of Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said she understood the offence Muslims felt, adding that EU leaders needed to �clearly condemn� acts that insult religion.

    Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, said he believed �freedom of the press should always be exercised in a way that fully respects the religious beliefs and tenets of all religions�.

    End Quote

  • ||

    Yeah, as usual the Europeans are spineless when faced with crazies. They were simpering morons in the time of Hitler, and not much has changed since then. I can't wait to see a dirty bomb go off in Paris. I hope a lot of them die, then again, that didn't teach them last time.

  • ||

    Yeah, as usual the Europeans are spineless when faced with crazies.

    But the Chinese are not. When push comes to shove, the very practical Chinese will just take over the Middle East oil fields and use Muslim carcasses for potting soil.

  • ||

    Honestly, how anyone compares the various unfreedoms in a secular sense that comes with historical Christianity (e.g., butchering Jews, Protestants, Catholics, etc. in the name of Christ) with the post-Enlightenment secular ideal of freedom and tries to find a correlation is beyond me. At best what one has is a constrasting of these two as a means to define secular freedom - Christian freedom is secular freedom's "other" in other words.

    The idea that kings go to hell just like everyone else and thus equal is a christian (in fact a jewish one) pre-elightenment ideal.

    And the idea that people are endowed by thier creater with certian inaliable rights is in the decleration of independance an elightment (or post -enlightnemnt) document.

    You can ignore these glaring contradictions all you like. But they do exist and they are not imagined.

    I am happy that you are an athiest Hakluyt, so am I. But that is no reason to ignore history and ignore the evolution of ideas through time.

    By the way the ancient greeks believed in fate...not liberty.

  • ||

    Maybe we'll evolve an immunity to religion.

    not very likely...it is the religious who are breeding and the non-religious who are not...maybe you should take a hard look at how natural selection works.

  • ||

    The idea that kings go to hell just like everyone else and thus equal is a christian (in fact a jewish one) pre-elightenment ideal.

    Jews didn't believe in Hell until the Christian age. And Christians actually picked up most of their ideas of what hell is from either Norse and northern European mythology in the Dark Ages, or indirectly from Islam, which borrowed heavily from Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism in turn. Prior to the Middle Ages, most Christians believed that after death people went into a sort of torpor until judgement day, at which time they would either be welcomed into heaven or destroyed. Hell is very much a modern concept.

    And the idea that people are endowed by thier creater with certian inaliable rights is in the decleration of independance an elightment (or post -enlightnemnt) document.

    Deism, Joshua, Deism. The Enlightenment belief that God exists and stopped caring about the world when it became clear that things were working more or less properly. Borne out of the rationalism of people like Bacon and Descartes, working in the interim period between the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and inspired by the former. Many of the founding fathers were Deists. Most of those who weren't were only nominally Christian, and were still very affected by these ideals.

    And the ancient Greeks believed in Moira--that which cannot be altered. Stuff like your parents, your station in life, etc. Outside of that, humans had quite a bit of freedom.

    I don't have anything in particular against Christianity, but it hasn't been really important to the world of science since the Renaissance.

  • ||

    Deism is a branch of gnostic christianity.

  • ||

    world of science since the Renaissance.

    Yes but science had almost nothing to do with government, politics, culture and morality until the 20th century...mostly just stumbling into it as it were. trial and error not theory and test...In fact what the hell point are you trying to make with this anyway?

    do you think morality and freedom and equality are consiously invented concepts? created by some magically endowed buroucrat?

    And the ancient Greeks believed in Moira--that which cannot be altered. Stuff like your parents, your station in life, etc. Outside of that, humans had quite a bit of freedom.
    The freedom of the strong to prey apon the weak. the freedom of tyrants as it were. Nice try Shem.

    by the way Athens killed plato...killed him for what he said.

    Jews didn't believe in Hell until the Christian age. well a little before the christain age...hey do they belive in hell now? Funny how that works....jews start beliving in hell...and along comes christ. Weird isn't it?

  • ||

    opps Socrates was killed not plato but you get the idea

  • ||

    Many of the founding fathers were Deists. Most of those who weren't were only nominally Christian, and were still very affected by these ideals.

    I like your use of many and most...nice misdirection. ie most were christian and some were diests.

    and it is your contention that Bacon and Descartes lived in a vacume? or perhaps they teleported to europe after being raised by pagens?

    Hmm i wonder what thier education constisted of? I wonder if perhaps maybe a priest had something to do with thier upbringing?

    Anyway Martin Luther is the true father of the enlightenment and secular thought. And his ideas came from the bible. The idea that no man can judge the sins of another man...that is only god's domain...

    That and you can't buy your way into heaven which I think as libertarian is complete bullshit :)

  • ||

    The chief exporter of pornography into the Arab world is Scandinavia. The Islamic clerics complain bitterly, but of course there were no 9/11 attacks on Sweden or Denmark. It took our government's interventionist aggression especially the taxpayer funding of the Israeli government's occupation of Palestinian land to motivate 9/11.

  • ||

    Shem!

    The Camden household certainly isn't like any ministerial family I've seen, and I grew up in one.

    A-HA! That explains it! I've had the impression that you aren't particularly enamored with organized religion, yet you seem to know more about Christian beliefs, history and scriptures than just about anyone I know. Only the experience of living 24-7-365 with a full-time Christian preacher could bring about both traits in the same person!

    Notwithstanding the great respect I have for your knowledge in this area, I do have a question about the following:

    Jews didn't believe in Hell until the Christian age. And Christians actually picked up most of their ideas of what hell is from either Norse and northern European mythology in the Dark Ages, or indirectly from Islam, which borrowed heavily from Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism in turn. Prior to the Middle Ages, most Christians believed that after death people went into a sort of torpor until judgement day, at which time they would either be welcomed into heaven or destroyed. Hell is very much a modern concept.

    My impression (possibly false) is that most religious Jews today, and throughout history, didn't emphasize the afterlife in any aspect nearly as much as Christians do. They focus a bit more on God rewarding or punishing you while you're still alive.

    However, I also do seem to vaguely remember being taught that in the time of Jesus, there were three main schools of Jewish thought:

    1) The Essenes -- Basically cleanliness and health nuts who lived away in caves and communes.

    2) The Sadducees -- who didn't believe in an afterlife.

    3) The Pharisees -- who did believe in an afterlife. (Jesus himself was a Pharisee, at least in terms of his background tradition, for all that he criticized them. I believe that modern rabbinical Judaism is also descended from the Pharisee school of thought.)

    Now, I also vaguely remember that the OT Jews believed in a place or condition called Sheol -- not exactly "Hell" so much as a rather gloomy place your soul went after you died, whether you were good or bad. But there also seems to be a vague concept of punishment or unpleasantness tangled up in it, at least for some people. Plus there was also a concept of a place called Gehenna, which was likened to a trash pit where things were burned. (I think the name was in fact taken from am actual pit near Jerusalem where garbage was burned.) This is more like the Christian concept of Hell, a place (or condition) for the punishment of sinners after death.

    So it seems to me that at least some pre-Christian Jews believed in an afterlife, and there was at lease some vague, ill-defined idea that sinners would be punished then.

    Caveat: I'm just relying on some old memories of one or two college theology classes, mostly, so I could have this a little scrambled.

  • ||

    "Deism, Joshua, Deism. The Enlightenment belief that God exists and stopped caring about the world when it became clear that things were working more or less properly."

    And when did this become clear, exactly?

  • ||

    The chief exporter of pornography into the Arab world is Scandinavia...

    Yeah, and knowing those Scandanavians as I do, I bet they send all that stuff down there FOR FREE!

    Is there some easy way to email blasphemous pictures of the 'prophet' to the entire Islamic world? These people really need some shock therapy to help them 'lighten up, Francis.'

  • ||

    Stevo-I was actually also going to become a minsiter myself for a while. I spent *a lot* of time studying the Bible. It's good for winning bets and surprising the hell out of people.

    Thanks for the compliments! :)

    As for your question, the concept of Sheol most likely became what it was as a result of cultural intermixing with Greeks, as it bears a more than passing resemblance to the Greek Hades. The word Sheol just means "depths of the Earth," and when the references in Deuteronomy were written, it more than likely just a slightly poetic term for the grave. And Gehenna did refer to the place outside Jerusalem where trash was burned. They also disposed of the bodies of criminals put to death, and it was also the site of the altar at which infants were sacrificed to Baal and Moloch. The fact that it was where idolotry was practiced and filth was disposed of led those who believed in the afterlife, like Jesus, to use it as a term for Hell. So yes, you are absolutely correct that Jews did develop a belief in the afterlife.

  • ||

    "...you can't call Gnosticism Christianity."

    Yes you can. Gnosticism was a Christian heresy. The mainline church sought to stamp it out because they thought the Gnostics were profoundly wrong on important matters of Christian doctrine, not that they werenot Christian. Furthermore, the Gnostics themselves thought that they represented the true line of Christian thought.

  • ||

    Gnosticism wasn't merely a heresy, it was a parallel development with Christianity that eventually amalgamated with Christianity to form one religion. There were even some strains of Gnosticism that predated Christiantiy by several hundred years, assuming that the historical figure or Christ was born when the church said he was.

    Besides, even if it were just a development in Christianity, just calling it "Christianity" is as disengenuous as calling Protestants 'Roman Catholic.' After all, the RCC tried for centuries to stamp them out, and Protestants think they represent the true line of Christian thought.

  • ||

    Joshua Corning,

    The idea that kings go to hell just like everyone else and thus equal is a christian (in fact a jewish one) pre-elightenment ideal.

    Which is not secular equality and leaves no place for anyone who is not Christian or in fact someone who is not a "proper" Christian. Thus the various wars of religion fought by Europeans and between Europeans.

    And the idea that people are endowed by thier creater with certian inaliable rights is in the decleration of independance an elightment (or post -enlightnemnt) document.

    A watchmaker God is hardly equal to Christianity.

    But that is no reason to ignore history and ignore the evolution of ideas through time.

    The only one ignoring history and the evolution of ideas over time is you.

    By the way the ancient greeks believed in fate...not liberty.

    The word is freedom, and they discussed the idea quite a bit. That they also dealt with the idea of fate does not undermine this fact. Or are you rather stupidly suggesting that a culture cannot deal with more than one ideal?

    ...do you think morality and freedom and equality are consiously invented concepts?

    Yes. The variance in cultures on these subjects certainly indicates such.

  • Ghost of poster Past||

    jeg er d�d tr�t af Jer. Jeg kan ikke t�le det l�nger. Hold da k�ft! GUUUUUUDDDDDDDDD!!!!!

    what about all those people who got their panties in a bunch after Sinead ripped up the pic of the pope?

    honestly, there are tons of x-ians out there who would get outraged with acts they interpret as being slights against their imaginary friend. granted, the (US) gov't wouldn't get involved to the extent that, e.g., lybia's did. but c'mon.

    the fucking bible thumpers are, as Hak notes, insecure, too. and it's easy to rile their goats with any act they would preceive as being a slight against their gahwd.

    mein gott.

  • ||

    This is not funny !
    You should be ashamed of yourselves !
    We are looking for a ground to bring understanding between religions, we don't need to start a war.
    Why do you involve religion in all your disputes? Isn't it time to let the religious people do their job and YOU mind your own?
    What that stupid Danish newspaper has posted is silly.
    I have never heard any newspaper in the Muslim world has made fun of Jesus, Mosis or the church.
    Pity you!

  • Brainster||

    "Once, in illiberal and authoritarian times, blasphemy was outlawed as an offense to God and the authority of churches. Now, we are hearing calls to outlaw blasphemy as an offense to human sensibilities based on group identity."

    How about if we just recognize that Muslims have a right to be angry, to write letters, to demonstrate, to boycott Danish goods if they like, much like those protesting the Book of Daniel did? Calls for death, calls for bombing, etc., are not valid forms of protest, but protesting is fine.

  • ||

    ..do you think morality and freedom and equality are consiously invented concepts?

    Yes. The variance in cultures on these subjects certainly indicates such.

    So I guess thumbs where invented as well? or the eye or photosythisis or the economy...

    great just what the world needs an athiest who belives in intellegent design

    Anyway jesus was talking about moral equality long before jefferson and the greeks (or any pagen for that matter) NEVER talked about it.

  • ||

    At some point the statute of limitations has to run out on considering this a "Judeo-Christian Society."

    I don't see why. We have a huge portion of our population who are christian and who associate democratic ideals, moral equality and liberty with thier christian faith...and a disproportiante number of christian leaders who rule us (congress, president etc) And yet i am able to live a free life withoiut being forced to have thier faith.

    Anway I am not sure you (shem) have followed the origin of this debate. All i was trying to say is that religious people are fully able to follow and nurture libral democratic ideals and institutions. And making statements that religion will somehow destroy it or is dengerous to it just does not follow the evidence and history of western civilization.

    In fact if the history of the 20th century tells us anything is that human beings do not need religion as an excuse to brutilize thier fellow man and fourfit the ideals of liberal democracy.

    In fact I am willing to go as far as saying if there is a hypothetical war between libreal democratic christians and libreal democratic athiests i think my best bet would be to go with the christians...simply becouse christains have proved themsleves capable of forming and nurturing instituaions and ideals that lead to libral democracies and are able to recocognise the rights of others to hold views that conflict with thier own. And I say this as an athiest.

  • ||

    Joshua Corning,

    I don't know where you get the idea that atheists and others who just don't care aren't reproducing.

    Laura Bush herself said, "freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion."

    I've always thought this God fellow was an awfully clever guy. Stalin, Hitler, genocide, concentration camps... what nifty "inventions".

    Jesus this, Jesus that, it gets old after a few thousand years. I'd find religion a bit more interesting if you guys came up with new ones more often. Only problem is, you just keep re-using the same stories over and over, rehashing them to make people feel better about believing bullshit fairy tales.

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