I saw this on Twitter, earlier today, and wanted to correct a few misconceptions.

Firstly, atheism and communism are not one and the same. I have this argument brought up again and again as a sign that those of a religious faith are more ‘moral’ and better than atheists. You can be a communist and an atheist. You can be a communist and a Christian, or a communist and a Muslim. You can a capitalist and an atheist (and so on). This is a classic example of ‘false equivalence’, a problem that seems to be growing in the wake of Trump’s ill-fated words on the Charlottesville riots. That the followers of Stalin’s breed of communism carried out so many atrocities has nothing to do with the absence of faith. Atheists do not see themselves as gods, and do not act in the interests of only themselves (well, some of them perhaps, some of them don’t, but guess what, this applies to people who are religious too, no matter what they may say). This swings back to discussions and comments on the subject of morality. It also wants to treat various blocs of people as monolithic entities. ‘All atheists think X, all Christians think Y, all Muslims think Z’. This is completely false. It’s a method of thinking that gives rise to all sorts of unreasonable stereotypes that end up doing far more harm than good.

People have died in the name of political causes, cultural ideals, and yes, religious beliefs. Morality is not something that can be sourced only through divine ideas. Anyone, from any walk of life, is capable of being cruel. Equally, anyone is capable of acts of great compassion. Can we move past the idea that only the faithful can be moral?

yA1. fagagai

I keep discovering new and interesting sites via WordPress, and this one is no exception. This post, by one Chris Murray, author of the Ego Factor, is an excellent and far better version of a post I myself made earlier today to describe religious problems.

As I said before, extremism is a problem for many religions – despite protests to the contrary, Christianity is not devoid of such extremism – historically it has been as violent as Islam, with the main difference today being that fundamentalist Christians use words rather than guns.

It is time to stop blaming the many for the actions of the few.

It is not surprising, but most certainly saddening, to see the broad brushstrokes being applied to Islam at the moment (especially by elements of the religious right).

Whilst is undoubtedly true that Islamic extremists are dangerous and hateful, this doesn’t make everyone who is a Muslim evil – yet it is all too easy to persuade people at times like this that they are.

Does Islam have its problems? Unquestionably. I am far from convinced that moderate voices do enough to combat the radical elements that encourage and carry out these attacks. This is even more astonishing when you consider that extremists target moderate Muslims as well! As I posted over at Big Footy:

… radicals want to remove those who are not ‘true believers’. Moderate voices are deemed thus and are therefore a threat.

After all, to an extremist, anyone that does follow their religion, nor in the exact same way, is not a true believer. The floods of refugees fleeing Syria are doing whatever they can to get to safety precisely because of this – because irrespective of whether they are Muslims, Jewish, Christians or anything else, they are not radical enough in their beliefs.

Religion, like a lot of things, boils down to interpretation, and Islam is not unique in this. Just as Islamic extremists target Non-Muslims and other Muslims alike, so have Christians done in the past, yet this would appear to be white-washed by some who feel they can somehow hold a moral high ground because of their beliefs. Violence between Protestants and Catholics raged for many years across Europe, and in fact continued until quite recently in Northern Ireland (it wouldn’t surprise me to learn if pockets of violence continue there even now). The primary difference between Christian and Muslim extremists is that Christian extremists have gotten clever, embedding themselves in the political machine of the USA, using their influence to quietly and patiently turn America into a theocracy (well, trying to). The hardline elements of the religious right (not just in America but here in Britain and elsewhere) seek to deny homosexuals rights, want to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies, and desire pseudo-scientific ideas like creationism to be taught as scientific fact in schools.

Their goals are depressingly similar to extremist Muslims – only instead of cowardly attacks on innocent bystanders, they’ve gotten smart and use words.

Christian extremists also seek to tar Islam in sweeping strokes too. ‘Islam is a religion of violence’ they will say, whilst reminding us that Christianity is a peaceful religion – never mind its dark history.

So, to summarise :

Islamic extremism is extremely dangerous. The acts carried out in Paris on Friday (not to mention the numerous other atrocities carried out elsewhere) underscore the need to oppose IS and do so properly (striking through various means). It is vitally important to encourage moderate Muslims to play an active role (politically or otherwise) in opposing extremism, something which right now does not happen enough.

It is also important to remember that not all Muslims are responsible for the bloodshed. It is entirely unreasonable and unfair to make such hasty generalisations.