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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Essential Problem with Religious Fanatics

The essential problem with religious fanatics is that they take their beliefs too seriously.  As a Christian I hold to a faith that tells us to love our enemies.  Not some obscure theologian wrote this, but it was said by Christ himself.  Being an American, I cannot take this too seriously.  We glory in assassinating our enemies—such as when on “May 2, 2011, bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives in a covert operation ordered by United States President Barack Obama” (Source).  As Americans we know how to modulate our Christian faith molding it to the passions of the moment.  We know how to keep it respectable—keeping it on the back burner when perceived as necessary.  If some religious sect were to take the sayings of Jesus too literally, we marginalize them and are quite capable of feeling vastly superior to them and infinitely more sophisticated.  The most powerful nation on earth cannot afford to follow Jesus’s example—we always respond tit for tat.  No doubt if we were the weakest nation on earth, we could likewise easily justify what we wanted to do.  We do not care to accept the simple fact that the founder of the nation’s predominate religion demonstrated that the love of God has implications for ethical behavior—that in some cases not all can be justified in terms of self-defense.  This, of course, not only has implications for national affairs but for the way we live our personal lives.  We can perceive that self-defense at work justifies almost any behavior in the name of operating in self-interest.  We then have the green light to be vindictive and spiteful to our hearts’ content.  Again, we must not take our religion too seriously else we will be considered religiously weird—perhaps holy rollers or Quakers.  We have a respectable national religion that specializes in convenient rationalization.  The appeal to compelling self-interest is sufficient to effectively neutralize the Gospel.  

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