Fellow blogger Gary Fouse posted a letter a few weeks ago from a German named Emanuel Tanay, M.D., who tries to appeal to the majority of Muslims who want peace. Tanay compares the fanaticism of extremist Muslims with the fanaticism of the Nazis, and he makes the case that those who aren't fanatics need to stand up for what they believe in lest the fanatics completely take over and define their religion.
It's a good point, and it's well-written. Personally, I think that while Muslims certainly have an extremely urgent need to address the fanaticism of their religion; however, that doesn't mean that the rest of the world gets to sit pretty and say, "Yeah, Muslims - get it together."
I recently had a blog called Religion and Child Abuse brought to my attention. It keeps track of instances of child abuse that occur under a religious pretext. It has forty posts so far for this month alone. Scary stuff.
Now, I'm sure that there are some religious people out there who might read this sort of a thing and say, "Oh, but I don't do anything like that!" You might even have some handy Bible quotes that contradict the Bible quotes that these child abusers use to justify what they do. You might even be thinking about how you would never do anything like what they do. After all, your beliefs have never harmed anyone. (Much like how the beliefs of most of the world's Muslims have never harmed anyone...hmmm...)
Let's get to the root of this problem though, shall we? When you look at all religious beliefs, no matter which religion you're talking about, they're all based on believing in things without evidence - you know, faith. What drove these people to do what they did? Faith. Sure, most people's faiths don't hurt anybody, but what would have happened if all these people were taught to think critically and not just have blind faith in what religious leaders tell them?
Do you really want to say that it's good to think critically about just some things? Most things? Where's the line?