Thursday, July 7, 2016

No religion has a monopoly on evil

 In 2014, a court in Sudan sentenced to death Meriam Ibrahim for her ‘crime’ of refusing to embrace Islam - the religion of her father, who abandoned her when she was six. 
While Sudanese officials changed their minds and eventually released her, she gave birth while still in prison, chained to a bed. 
The Sudanese officials no doubt prostrate themselves before Allah the merciful several times a day.
Canadian Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was murdered by Muslims while visiting Pakistan for being the wrong type of Muslim. No doubt the murderers devoutly believed that Allah was smiling on them.
People have odd definitions of faith. Five hundred years ago, there were South Americans who believed they were pleasing their god by cutting open a prisoner of war and holding his still-beating heart up to the sun.
A common misconception is,
“Faith is believing what you can’t prove.”
Actually the correct word for that would be “credulity.” Faith is based on evidence. (Hebrews 11:1) Even kids who believe in the Tooth Fairy do better than that. Their faith is at least based on evidence – the money that appears under their pillow – plus the confidence (misplaced, in this case) that their parents wouldn’t lie to them. 
Catholics 'have faith' that their religion is the true one, and few have any money under their pillow on which to base that belief. The Catholic Church claims it was started by Jesus, and their adherents wouldn't dare dispute that. 
History reliably records, however, that the Church came into existence more than three centuries after Jesus died.
If the Catholic Church were started by Jesus, wouldn’t they still be teaching what Jesus taught? Let's compare:
  • Jesus taught, ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5: 5) [The Church teaches that the meek will inherit heaven.]
  • Jesus said, ‘Call no man on earth father.’ (Matthew 23:9) [The Church insists on calling its clergy “Father.”]
  • Jesus taught that if your church is the majority, it is wrong. ‘Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter in through it.’ (Matthew 7:13) [The Church believes their being largest makes them the true faith.]
  • Jesus said he was the only way to his father. ‘No one comes to the father except through me.’ (John 14:6) [The Church teaches its followers to approach God through various ‘saints.’]
  • Jesus taught his followers to reject warfare. ‘All who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ (Matthew 26:52) [The Church has a sordid history of preaching her followers into wars, not talking them out of it.]
  • Jesus said, "This cup is the new Covenant ratified by my blood which is to be poured out on your behalf.”’(Luke 22:20) [While the Greek in Matthew 26:27 has Jesus saying ‘this cup is my blood’ he no more meant that the wine in the cup was literally his blood than that the cup was literally a covenant. The cup was a cup, the wine in it was wine. But the Church teaches that the wine in the cup literally changes into Jesus’ actual blood.]
  • Jesus said, ‘Any man who divorces his wife for any cause except her unfaithfulness, and marries another woman, commits adultery.’ (Matthew 19:9) [The Church does not permit divorce on any grounds, even unfaithfulness.]
  • Jesus taught, ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, I having selected you from the world, the world hates you.' (John 5:19) [The Church loves the world, is up to her elbows in the world, believing she can fix it from within. The pope even polled the world to find out what teachings his Church should change.]
Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warned of an apostasy that would infect Christianity. It began even before the early Christians were dead. (1 John 2:18) While the Bible explained that congregations needed overseers (episkopos in Greek - 1 Peter 5:2) egotistical men within the congregation turned episkopos into a title: Bishop. Soon, there were bishops competing to tell other bishops what to do, just at the same time as there were schisms within the Roman Empire itself. 
200 years after Jesus death, the assassination of Roman emperor Severous Alexander resulted in a century long tug-of-war over who was in charge. In several cases there were multiple claimants to the throne - and to the papacy - at the same time.
Some of those emperors, such as Diocletian, hated Christians and fed them to the lions in the arena. Others, such as Maxentius, believed they could use Christian support to bolster their rule. By 312, support for Constantine was rising. He claimed to have seen a vision of a cross with the catchy slogan ‘In this sign you will conquer’ right before going into battle against Maxentius, and it was that ‘conversion’ – and the subsequent bloody victory – that resulted in catholicizing, bringing together, the disparate parts of so-called Christianity.
And thus the Catholic Church was born. 
But does it make any sense that Jesus, having taught his followers to abjure the sword, would have suddenly changed his mind and encouraged Constantine to take up the sword? This was nothing more than political maneuvering.
The history of the Catholic Church from that time to the present is no less ugly. And other religions have ugly skeletons in their closets, as well. We’ll get to those as we move through this multi-part series.
Here's the link to the next part of the discussion. 
Please post a comment. 
Bill K. Underwood is a columnist and author of several books. You can support this channel by clicking on this link to purchase a book at 

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