Tuesday 14 March 2006

Fatwa evangelist blurts out again

For publicity and against peace
One wonders if certain comments from religious figures are for the sake of just getting noticed or contributing to the whole cascade of world peace.
Over the last few months, from my observation, religious leaders have not spoken up for peace but for discord, for division, for difference and for their derision.
This is so evident from the fact that our societies at large are general secular even though the people that make up those societies could be deeply religious.
It also happens that except in countries where there is a state religion, proponents of different religions have to co-exist and be protected by civil society in the pursuit and affirmation of their faith.
For each adherent, there is probably no space for the accommodation of other principles, tenets or belief systems that differ from the core of their religions.
Society and community however has helped people to appreciate differences but allow similarities between peoples to build friendship and fellowship so that we may live peaceably with each other.
The things that divide us
This equilibrium of societal mechanics hits the buffers or the rocks when the so-called leaders of those religious leanings publish views meant to coalesce their followers by condemning the basis of other religions.
This does a number of thing
  • Followers are forced to choose sides, usually with their leaders than objectively challenge views that bring conflict into community relations
  • Non-conformists are aghast at the publication of those views but never find kinship with followers who have now to defend the indefensible if not downright stupid
  • The aggrieved religion protests vehemently through their leaders who then gather their followers to battle by repeating the self-same kind of views that caused conflict in the original situation
  • Government who are buffeted by the humanist separation of religion from state can only appeal for calm at best; else they tacitly support one view over the other
  • Advocates of all sorts of freedoms forget to match the freedoms to critical accompanying responsibilities
Freedoms without responsibilities
None of these situations bode well for our communities where religious leaders seem to have a license to incite ever so subtly and enjoy immunity borne from religious expression.
When the religious leader owns the means of dissemination of those views, they are almost out of reach of the legal authorities that oversee and regulate broadcasting.
It is in this light that we hear again from Pat Robertson who for long has held sway on Christian right opinion and spurted intolerable commentary that does nothing to foster peace.
This once admired and respected man who is probably a very clever man has not evoked commentary that sound as praise to a court jester in recent times.
Just not right at all
First, he pronounced a fatwa on Hugo Chavez which could have read as sanctioning the execution of an elected president of another country.
Then, he opined that Ariel Sharon’s stroke was as a result of his vacating the occupied settlements of Gaza; by inference the punishment of God.
Now, he proclaims Islam is a demonic religion. That said, Islam has not really served itself well with its reaction to the cartoon saga of the last few months.
It does not exculpate Pat Robertson from such unfriendly, intolerant and outrageous comments. People of integrity, peace and honour should speak up and condemn such pronouncements.
Even so, it is not enough for the White House to just say the comments are inappropriate, they should come out strongly against such statements and people who could do well to make the quagmire in Iraq turn into a humongous maelstrom.
Bad attitude
Eventually, as he has recanted on all the other occasions we expect Mr Robertson to apologise to Muslims in due course.
This rotten attitude of constantly causing offence in anticipation of a future apology either is a ploy to make a statement regardless of the consequences or Mr Robertson is not a very wise man; a person who speaks before he thinks through and damns the consequences till condemnation leads to retreat.
When you begin to question the authority and integrity of a religious leader they bring the religion into disrepute, it does not bode well.

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