U.N. Attempts to Outlaw Free Speech When It Comes to Religion

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A "Defamation of Religion" resolution sponsored chiefly by Islamic nations passed yesterday in the United Nations General Assembly by a vote of of 86 in favor, 53 against and 42 abstentions. It declares that governments should:

"adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."

A specific example of "acts of hatred" that should be outlawed was the publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of some of these cartoons of Mohammed:

http://www.humanevents.com/images/islm_cartoon_1.jpg
http://www.humanevents.com/images/islm_cartoon_6.jpg
http://www.humanevents.com/images/islm_cartoon_9.jpg

The passage of this resolution properly alarmed free speech advocates. According to United Press International, Angela C. Wu, international law director of the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, declared: 

"The 'defamation of religions' resolution is a direct violation of the United Nations' mandate to protect religious freedom, as peaceful religious speech -- a manifestation of belief -- will be silenced as a result of it…

"We are deeply disturbed that (the) resolution has given cover to oppressive governments to persecute dissenters. Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, Christians in Orissa, India, and Baha'is in Iran have one more reason to fear for their lives as the U.N. lends legitimacy to the criminalization of their peaceful speech."

"States have no place determining what is and is not blasphemy."

The U.S. State Department  notes that the "Defamation of Religion" resolution started out in 1999 as a "Defamtion of Islam" resolution introduced by Pakistan. Some salient points from the State Department's 2007 response to this noxious resolution:

The United States does not believe it should be illegal to express an opinion on a particular religion, including those which are highly critical. These resolutions carve out a special status for Islam, above concerns for other religions, and infringe on basic freedom of speech rights, such as the right to state opinions, publish books and articles, and freely express views in other ways which may be critical of religions. The U.S. Constitution would not permit any international agreement or treaty purporting to prohibit unpopular opinions and viewpoints to have legal effect in the United States…

The United States is deeply concerned with the use of the concept of "defamation of religions" to justify torture, imprisonment, abuse, and even issue execution orders against individuals and religious groups who do not subscribe to a particular "state" religion, or who wish to convert to another religion according to their conscience. The defamation of religions concept has also been promulgated into national legal systems in order to halt any public comment or dissent against political figures, and is now being promoted at the international level to promote and justify blasphemy laws in some countries. The United States believes that the employment of this concept jeopardizes freedom of religion, expression, assembly, association, and press.

Whole U.S. response to these U.N. defamation of religion resolutions can be found here. UPI report on the passage of th latest resolution here

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  1. So I guess the US has to withdraw from the UN now, huh?

  2. What’s the predictable effect? The resolution passed, so does that mean the UN technically has authority to sanction nations that allow speech critical of religon?

    I, thank FSM, am not an expert on the UN.

  3. *religion*

  4. This is the sort of horseshit that Christopher Hitchens is really good at decrying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bathe87kNFU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgn9NJEoQsE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Crupqf8j6uw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJExwAQP4Eg

    I’m too lazy to do the a href= thing 4 times, but it’s worth listening to anyway.

  5. It really has no effect, except that it takes one step forward towards such nonsense being considered customary international law and binding on all nations. This is something to think about the next time someone advocates that that international law should take precidence or be in any way persuasive when it comes to the Constitution. (I am looking at you Justice Kennedy). Even today, it isn’t much of a stretch to argue that “religous tolerence” is a value endorsed by international law and thus should be considered when interpreting the Constitution. Given that, how long before the right judge decides that the 1st Amendment doesn’t protect speech that defames a religion? Closer than we think.

  6. Is this something the US can veto?

  7. Secretary General of the UNion of corrupt beuracrats, I submit an amendment to the resolution that requires any religion that would wish to be covered by these protections to submit proof that their religion is true and not just some money scam.

    *crickets chirping

  8. The predictable effect? The same thing that has come of the U.N. since its inception: Nothing.

  9. So… if something is a religion, you can’t say anything bad about it?

    Next time someone defames the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they’re in for a surprise!

  10. So now the German government can no longer discriminate against Scientology?

  11. “Is this something the US can veto?”

    Not general counsel resolution. The US can only veto security counsel resolutions. The good news is that UNSC resolutions are the only ones that have any effect. This is just symbolic. But, as I said above, it does stand as evidence that it is customary international law. Further, it gives cover to twits who endorse this kind of thing.

  12. To all of the people above who are using this as an excuse to defame all religion, are all religions behind this or just one? This is not a religous issue, this is an Islam issue.

  13. “(I am looking at you Justice Kennedy)”

    Go ahead look at him all you want. That is one staring contest you will lose. Truth is that he’s been dead for five years, we just prop him and Ginsburg up with a stick during oral arguments.

  14. My religion requires that I make fun of all other religions publicly and as often as possible. Where does this resolution leave me?

  15. Employee, I think you mean John Paul Stevens, right? The guy who claims to have been at Wrigley Field when Babe called his shot?

  16. The problem with Islam isn’t Islam per se, but the fact that the Islamic world is really young, and young males tend to be fanatical assholes when they’re religious. If Christianity had this demographic profile you’d see the same thing.

  17. @3:51
    It’s good to see that Jon Silverman has found steady work again.

  18. “The problem with Islam isn’t Islam per se, but the fact that the Islamic world is really young, and young males tend to be fanatical assholes when they’re religious. If Christianity had this demographic profile you’d see the same thing.”

    Christianity does in many parts of Africa, but African Christians are not pulling this kind of crazy shit. It is not like the only countries in the world with big young male populations are Muslim. Yet, it only seems to be the Muslim ones who are going crazy.

  19. I’m often told (by H&R trolls) that libertarianism is a religion… maybe we can get special status

  20. BDB,

    That was the dumbest thing I’ve read all week on H&R comments.Congratulations! It is a high bar and you cleared it.

  21. “Christianity does in many parts of Africa, but African Christians are not pulling this kind of crazy shit.”

    Have you ever heard of the Lord’s Resistance Army, John?

    “It is not like the only countries in the world with big young male populations are Muslim.”

    Yes, India has a lot of young male Hindus and Hindu Nationalists can be a real nasty bunch. They’ve been known to start riots and randomly assault Muslims. Then there are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka that are big into suicide bombing.

  22. Earlier in the week, there was a joint statement issued by the “freedom of expression rapporteurs” of the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organization of American States, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (and coordinated by Article 19) on the issue…

    The signatories agreed that the concept of ‘defamation of religions’ does not accord with international standards accepted by pluralistic and free societies. They said that international organizations should abstain from adopting statements supporting criminalization of ‘defamation of religions’.

    They also stressed that restrictions on freedom of expression should never be used to protect institutions, abstract notions, concepts or beliefs, including religious ones, and that such restrictions should be limited in scope to advocacy of hatred.

  23. BDB,

    I didn’t say their are not violent people in the world. But show me where Hindus or Christians or Buddists are blowing themselves up or burning shit down over cartoons half a world away? Show me where a Hindu nationalist government in India is demanding that the UN ban all forms of dissent against Hindus? The Muslims take this kind of craziness to a new level.

  24. You’re saying males between the ages of 15 and 40 aren’t the most violent demographic, SIV?

  25. He jumps!!! SIV surpasses BDB for the gold. In fact, the judges (except the French one) gives SIV gold, silver, and bronze. BDB has to face the cold, harsh world sans medal this time round.

    Back up to Jim in the booth.

  26. VM joins you BDB. Yeah Muslim violence is all about the young male demographic.If more of those 2 billion Christians were young males they would be just as active in religious violence.
    Culture would never have anything to do with it.

  27. The predictable effect? The same thing that has come of the U.N. since its inception: Nothing.

    Yeah. It didn’t come in handy at all in preventing nuclear war during the cold war. Heaven knows that they’ve done absolutely nothing to organize nations against acts of genocide and helped to bring leaders guilty of such acts accountable. No use to having a permanent open diplomatic line of communication.

    Absolutely useless.

  28. As you know, the One True Religion, with direct information on the intent and frightfully powerful will of an omnipotent God, cannot stand against the force of sarcasm.

  29. “SIV | December 19, 2008, 4:24pm | #
    VM joins you BDB. Yeah Muslim violence is all about the young male demographic.If more of those 2 billion Christians were young males they would be just as active in religious violence.”

    No, they’d probably join crazy leftist movements and riot like they did in the 1960s. I probably should have said “western world” instead of Christianity, that’s what I’m trying to say. Societies that have a youth bulge have more violence and nutty movements.

  30. EJM, that’s strange — Canada and most West European nations have laws about insulting religions, don’t they?

  31. Have you ever heard of the Lord’s Resistance Army, John?

    Nigeria (including the recent attacks in Jos) may be a better example; however, fighting there often can be caused by either side (Muslim or Christian)–and often is also based on other (e.g., socio-economic or ethnic) factors.

    Yes, India has a lot of young male Hindus and Hindu Nationalists can be a real nasty bunch. They’ve been known to start riots and randomly assault Muslims.

    They’ve also been known to attack members of India’s small Christian community (including, recently, in Orissa–which Ms. Wu refers to in the UPI story above).

  32. If more of those 2 billion Christians were young males they would be just as active in religious violence. Culture would never have anything to do with it.

    Once upon a time, five centuries ago…

  33. Blasphemy!

    Oh, wait, don’t care. As you were.

  34. It didn’t come in handy at all in preventing nuclear war during the cold war.

    Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  35. OMG!OMG!OMG! It’s the first time I won something!
    *wipes away tear*

  36. EJM, that’s strange — Canada and most West European nations have laws about insulting religions, don’t they?

    I’m not an expert on them, but you’re right that many Western (and other) countries still officially have blasphemy laws.

  37. Once upon a time, five centuries ago…

    You know, the Spanish Inquisition has not only ceased to be unexpected, it has become inevitable in any thread about religion and/or Islam.

  38. You know, the Spanish Inquisition has not only ceased to be unexpected, it has become inevitable in any thread about religion and/or Islam.

    Not actually what I was thinking of, but that’s another example. I was referring to the wacky, wild Catholic/Protestant wars that consumed Europe for hundreds of years.

  39. LMNOP just to nitpick, the reconquista was about five centuries ago, but the major reformation wars were closer to 4 centuries ago and lasted almost exactly one hundred years (mid 1500’s to mid 1600’s ending when the 30 years war did). There was still some ethnic cleansing after that, esp in North America, but most of the protestant catholic fighting werre minor skirmishes and was more political-cultural in nature (even in Ireland) than strictly religious. (However, and a little closer to on topic, the current wave of islamic fundementalism is itself more political-cultural in nature than strictly religious)

  40. The UN does nothing good and does a lot of bad.

    It is time the US withdraw from it.

  41. The UN does nothing good and does a lot of bad.

    Yeah, they’re a scourge on the Earth and all humanity will be glad to be free of them.

    Oh, wait, that was mirror world; the one where Spock has a beard and you comment held any correspondence with reality.

  42. I guess I should also plug the Coalition to Defend Free Speech (of which the Becket Fund is a member).

  43. LMNOP just to nitpick…

    Good nit. You are right on the time-line, of course. My comment sacrificed accuracy for speed.

  44. Yeah, they’re a scourge on the Earth and all humanity will be glad to be free of them.

    All of freedom-loving humanity will be, anyway. Cuba, Iran, and North Korea can continue to head the Human Rights Council in our absence.

  45. Yeah, I’m sure the UN will insist someone round up the “Piss Christ” guy any day now. And no doubt Egypt will be getting a stern rebuke for its portrayal of Jews in the state-run media.

    This is what happens when you mix 7th-century intolerance with the ridiculous notion of a democratic assembly of representatives from undemocratic illiberal nations. The UN is a bad joke.

  46. My religion is Anarcho-Capitalism.

    the next socialist that critisizes it it going to get attacked by the UN. Yeah!

  47. WTF?

    Look, religion is a set of beliefs and ideas. Making fun of a religion is hence not like making fun of someone’s race.

    Religion always says it wants a bigger seat in the “public square” but then wants special treatment.

  48. “Is this something the US can veto?”

    Oh, it’s even better than that. If we get a few Obama appointees, they can argue that we need to accept input from international law and it could become U.S. law (you know, part of that “living constitution” thing).

  49. Gosh. Such touching concern for the perpetrators of savage anti-Semitic stereotypes.

    And indeed, freedom of expression and religion must apply to all, or they apply to none. So of course the UN resolution is to be deplored.

    Now I wonder – would your sympathy glands throb as poignantly for cartoonists who so caricatured the Arabs’ fellow Semites, the Jews?

  50. If we get a few Obama appointees, they can argue that we need to accept input from international law and it could become U.S. law (you know, part of that “living constitution” thing).

    I KNEW IT! HE’S AN ISLAM!

  51. Now I wonder – would your sympathy glands throb as poignantly for cartoonists who so caricatured the Arabs’ fellow Semites, the Jews?

    Gonna go with yes. You must not come here often, Victor, if you’re asking that…

  52. Stupid.

    I will throw in a “John is a bigot” just for spice.

    The scary thing is he believes he has empirical evidence to support his ridiculous beliefs about the difference between Islam and the rest of the world.

    But back to this resolution.
    Just stupid.

    I will note that goverments should provide “adequate protection against [violent] acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion.”

    Period. Full stop.

  53. As long as western countries jail people for questioning the holocaust, I don’t think westerners can lecture anyone on free speech.

  54. As long as western European countries jail people for questioning the holocaust, I don’t think westerners Europeans can lecture anyone on free speech.

    Fixed that for ya.

  55. Is it me, or are we getting a smattering of Jew-baters from other corners of the net on this thread?

  56. Yeah Muslim violence is all about the young male demographic.If more of those 2 billion Christians were young males they would be just as active in religious violence.
    Culture would never have anything to do with it.

    And if SIV knew anything about the subject, he’d know that things like mosque and madrasah attendance are negative predictors of becoming a terrorist. What terrorists do have in common is that they’re underemployed, overeducated men in their 20s and early 30s, and they tend to meet and plan in coffee shops and in soccer clubs. Scott Atran of the University of Michigan has done voluminous research on the topic, and this talk he gave a couple of years ago is highly instructive.

  57. Jew-baters

    That’s either misspelled or belongs in the circumcision thread.

  58. And if Franklin Harris actually read any of the exchange on the comments he would know I was disputing this bit of demographic determinism:

    BDB | December 19, 2008, 4:06pm | #
    The problem with Islam isn’t Islam per se, but the fact that the Islamic world is really young, and young males tend to be fanatical assholes when they’re religious. If Christianity had this demographic profile you’d see the same thing.

  59. Yes. I read it. That’s why I was disputing your disputing.

  60. and we took away your medals.

    pptttttfffff

    neener
    neener

    (fool)

  61. Franklin Harris,
    That makes three of you who believe demography trumps culture and individual choice.So how many more of the 2 billion Christians need to be young men before we have worlwide Christian violence and intolerance?

  62. VM,

    Demographic determinism as the primary cause of religious violence? The Chinese have an even more skewed ratio of young men. When can we expect them to erupt in faith-based violence?
    Economic and political rationales won’t count.

  63. While I’m not sure what my grade will look like in International law this semester…

    UN Resolutions are non-binding, and when international tribunals (who rarely have jurisdiction over any dispute, let alone “Human Rights” disputes) do make decisions, they are will only use those Resolutions as “evidence” of customary international law. Nonetheless, if the US officially ‘objects’ to this resolution, and is vocal about it, then it is tremendously unlikely that America would EVER be bound by it.

    Even then, while the US may incur an international obligation to this effect, no international law can trump US Constitutional protections. Especially not free speech. The precedent to that effect is extremely clear.

  64. can anyone explain the first cartoon to me?

  65. Where can I get a breakdown of what countries voted for this bullshit resolution, which against, and which abstained?

    It is a good thing this will have no effect on US law. What sucks is that this may serve as a shield against international condemnation for oppressive, censoring regimes.

    Even if this resolution only extended to cover gratuitously hostile or trollish statements, I would oppose it as it provides the basis for victimless crime laws. But I fear it may be even worse than that. Its may not just about giving a ticket to a guy that says “Fuck all those Muslims” (which would be bad enough).

    Given the example of the Danish cartoons, they seem to be using the word “hatred” to mean something like “offensive expression”. But any argument in the form of “this religion is not true because…” can be considered offensive to someone who strongly believes the religion. This resolution might be cited as a reason for banning books like The End of Faith.

    As long as western countries jail people for questioning the holocaust, I don’t think westerners can lecture anyone on free speech.

    I agree that those countries with such laws should repeal them. And I’m glad the US first amendment rules out such prohibitions. The only penalty holocaust deniers should be subject to is having their stupidity pointed out to the public.

    But not all individuals who live in those countries support those laws, so we can’t accuse all free speech advocates in Europe of hypocrisy.

  66. Under such a rule, shaould not Islam itself be banned?

  67. “My religion requires that I make fun of all other religions publicly and as often as possible. Where does this resolution leave me?”

    So you’re a fundamentalist atheist, huh?

    It still leaves you a greasy stain on the ground after you make fun of a religion which encourages violence against those who mock it.

  68. ED’S BIBLE

    1) We’ll all be dust. The only “mystery” is when.

    2) Some people deserve to be dust more than others.

    3) There will be no eternal dust parties.

  69. And in the movie Trading Places, they took a successful executive and turned him in to a drug crazed would-be killer!

  70. can anyone explain the first cartoon to me?

    The nice man with the knife is Mohammed. The bar across his eyes is there because you are not supposed to depict mohammed. The bar happens to be the opposite of what you see on the wymens. But I think the joke falls a little flat because the bar is just what the artist happened to choose to “hide” Moham’s identity – it becomes a bit forced. (my expurt inturpritation)

  71. SIV,

    That makes three of you who believe demography trumps culture and individual choice.So how many more of the 2 billion Christians need to be young men before we have worlwide Christian violence and intolerance?

    The problem is this.
    You blame culture and equate it with Islam. Islam is a religion practiced across many cultures. The vast majority of Muslims do not come from countries with the demographic profile being discussed. And the more an individual embraces Islam, the less likely they are to become terrorists (see citation above). Terrorists do, however, tend to come from countries with the demographic profile being discussed. The demographic is not necessary nor sufficient to explain terrorism, but it is at least as important as other factors and certainly a more important factor than the particular brand of fanaticism that encourages the violence. When you have unemployed young men and want to foment violence, you might use religion as your lever, but that religion can be pretty much any religion.

    So conflating Islam with culture falls flat as an explanation of terrorism. Culture is important, but Islam is not culture.

    As for Christian violence…it certainly exists (c.f., examples above).

  72. Your religion (whatever the hell it is) is superstition unsupported by any evidence. Atheists don’t get a pass either. Try proving that negative, arrogant fucks!

    When I’m in the right mood, no religion is safe from defamation. Especially those evil heretical Anglicans. 😉

  73. The demographic is not necessary nor sufficient to explain terrorism

    Finally someone agrees with me:)

    You blame culture and equate it with Islam.

    Uh, No I didn’t.I don’t believe I’ve ever blamed “Islam” per se here or anywhere else.
    Religion is a component of culture but if I meant “Islam” I would have said that.

    I am firmly rejecting a demographic explanation
    for militant intolerance and terrorism and the contention that if the ratio of young males in the Christian faith were the same(for all I know it is) that they would erupt in religious violence for that reason.

  74. SIV,

    You called it “Muslim violence” and said you were disagreeing with the idea that “The problem with Islam isn’t Islam per se,” so I am not sure how you can claim…”I don’t believe I’ve ever blamed “Islam” per se here”

  75. Now I wonder – would your sympathy glands throb as poignantly for cartoonists who so caricatured the Arabs’ fellow Semites, the Jews?

    You’re kidding, right? The KKK and other despised groups do so quite openly. It’s considered in very bad taste by most people, but it’s hardly illegal.

    You blame culture and equate it with Islam. Islam is a religion practiced across many cultures.

    Yes, and very few Muslims are violent, etc. However, a disproportionate amount of religious violence does seem to involve Muslims. In India, Muslims and Hindu. In Israel, Muslims and Jews. In Nigeria and Somalia, Muslims and Christians. Religious conflicts not involving Islam seem to be relatively rare and small-scale.

    It’s not unreasonable to ask whether a religion founded by a warrior and largely spread via armies of religious conquest might encourage a tendency toward violence, relative to other religions founded by pacifists who said things like “turn the other cheek” or “desire is suffering.” To not ask such a question requires political correctness to overwhelm reason.

  76. And yet such a pacifist religion caused millions of death via wars, torture, and general murder. Methinks it has more to do with culture more than anything else. The US is not good because some of the people who founded it believed in a book written by some shepherds; it is good because of the Constitution and laws that followed directly from it, which thankfully, are only obliquely related to religion, and only related to those parts that aren’t too batshit crazy and commonly found in most ethical systems. But, meh, that’s just my suggestion.

  77. Neu,

    BDB | December 19, 2008, 4:06pm | #
    The problem with Islam isn’t Islam per se, but the fact that the Islamic world is really young, and young males tend to be fanatical assholes when they’re religious. If Christianity had this demographic profile you’d see the same thing.

    BDB attributed “Muslim violence” solely to demographic pressures.I rejected that as an explanation.I didn’t offer their faith as the sole, or even primary,cause.
    I said his comment was the dumbest thing I’d seen all week becuase he offered demographic determinism as the primary factor.

  78. And yet such a pacifist religion caused millions of death via wars, torture, and general murder.

    Both Buddhism and Christianity did a lot more to prevent war than to cause it. Post-Enlightenment Christianity gave rise to our modern notions of tolerance and underlies most Western atheist value systems.

    As it stands today, Islam is still undergoing its Enlightenment. Sufi Islam is quite peaceable, but Shia and Sunni still have significant violent offshoots.

    Methinks it has more to do with culture more than anything else.

    Sure, and religion and religious values form a large part of a society’s culture.

  79. maybe… yeah – southern evangelicals are also more prone to violence. So, yeah. primitive culture. primitive religion. violence.

    you may have a point…

  80. @ Brian Ewart

    Thanks! That was exactly the kind of entry-level info I was looking for.

  81. SIV,

    BDB attributed “Muslim violence” solely to demographic pressures.

    Actually, no he didn’t. He simply pointed out that they were an important piece of the puzzle. He said Islam was not, per se, the cause. Meaning that it was not the primary factor. He then added one he thought was more important. BDB’s statement essentially said that Islam was not necessary nor sufficient to explain terrorism, and that an important factor among many would be the demographics of the nations where the terrorists come from.

    If you were reacting to his statement because you inferred that he was implicating demographics as the sole cause, then, well, it isn’t his statement that was dumb, but the message you got out of it.

  82. SIV,

    “Per se” from the Latin, meaning, essentially, “alone,” “solely” or “by itself.”

    “Not, per se,” meaning “not by itself” or “not the sole cause.”

  83. Both Buddhism and Christianity did a lot more to prevent war than to cause it.

    Buddism maybe, I’m less familiar with its history. Though it has not been completely blameless in motivating violence.

    But plenty of wars have been fought with Christian theological beliefs as a motivating factor, sometimes as the main factor. There were the crusades, wars between Christian sects, massacres of group with heretical beliefs, etc. Also converting the heathens was one reason cited for wars of conquest by imperial European powers (though at least some of imperialist wars would probably have happened anyway).

    Christianity would have to do a lot of peacemaking for that statement to be true. Especially if one includes other acts of irrational violence that didn’t fit into the category “war” (witch-burning, pogroms in response to host-desecration, etc).

    Post-Enlightenment Christianity gave rise to our modern notions of tolerance and underlies most Western atheist value systems.

    I would say that the Enlightenment gave rise to those notions of tolerance, and (most) Christians incorporated them into their thinking afterwards.

  84. Neu,

    If Christianity had this demographic profile you’d see the same thing.

    BDB stated demographics was the only difference that mattered.That was what I called “dumb”.
    From my comment history you should know I am much more critical of “soft science” than Islam:

  85. But plenty of wars have been fought with Christian theological beliefs as a motivating factor, sometimes as the main factor.

    And far more would have occurred in the absence of those beliefs. The countries least likely to have major violence today trend Christian or Buddhist, regardless of demographics.

    Historically speaking, most of Europe was pretty much constantly at war before Christianity came along, whenever any group of people sensed an advantage over another, or an oportunity to avenge centuries-old grudges, with massacres/enslavement of noncombatants the rule rather than the exception. For example, the Viking raids didn’t end until the Norse converted. The advent of ideas like “turn the other cheek” and “love thy enemy” changed Europe immensely for the better.

    What distinguishes Islam is that it was always openly militarist. That’s a large part of why you don’t have Christian suicide bombers yelling “Praise Jesus” as they detonate themselves in a shopping mall. Christian religious extremists naturally tend to be extreme pacifists, like the Amish or the Quakers. Buddhist extremists are known for ritual suicide, but don’t try to take others with them,

  86. SIV,

    BDB stated demographics was the only difference that mattered.

    Actually, he stated that religion didn’t matter so much as demographics. You interpreted his statement to indicate that demographics was all that mattered. His statement was not an absolute. If you read it as one, then, well…

    And yes, I realize that you don’t have much esteem for empirical evidence that contradicts your assumptions.

    ;^)

  87. We really need to learn our individual roles and how these roles relate to this entity we call humanity. At what point did we really abandon the serious efforts in raising humanity to a higher level of existence? And I don’t mean the ineffective attempts at saving ourselves from ourselves, i.e. starvation, genocide, economic chaos, and whatever else we simply continue to lose ground with. I mean, did we ever really evaluate what we must do within ourselves that will bring a measure of balance in our relationships with each other. I was sent a link to a video yesterday and after viewing it a few times, I think the entire world should spend the five minutes to hear the message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g94iWT2SIwI

    Send it to everyone you know. We have to change our view of ourselves.

  88. Historically speaking, most of Europe was pretty much constantly at war before Christianity came along, whenever any group of people sensed an advantage over another, or an oportunity to avenge centuries-old grudges, with massacres/enslavement of noncombatants the rule rather than the exception. For example, the Viking raids didn’t end until the Norse converted. The advent of ideas like “turn the other cheek” and “love thy enemy” changed Europe immensely for the better.

    Well there may be some truth to thing about frequent wars in pre-Christian Europe. Although there had been some fairly long periods of relative calm when Rome was ascendant (including before Rome became a Christian state).

    Also Christianity in post-Roman Europe had to be spread mostly by the sword in order to cover Europe in the first place. And the Pagans were not always the aggressors in the Christian-Pagan fighting. (The same could be said of medieval Christian-Muslim fighting.)

    Christian religious extremists naturally tend to be extreme pacifists, like the Amish or the Quakers.

    Or Rapture-anticipating Pat Robertson fans. (An even more extreme example would be the Fred Phelps types, but those are an almost negligible number of people).

    Buddhist extremists are known for ritual suicide, but don’t try to take others with them

    Mostly true, with the notable exception of the Zen Buddhist kamikaze pilots of WW2 Japan.

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