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Religion is the new politics — but Britain's secular politicians just don't get it

Increasingly, not to understand faith is not to understand the world

28 June 2014

9:00 AM

28 June 2014

9:00 AM

Aren’t Buddhist monks adorable?  They meditate for days without needing to go to the toilet. They talk to each other in ‘grasshopper’ haikus. Their pot bellies are full of wholesome vegetarian fare. Your package tour to Southeast Asia isn’t complete without a sprinkling of them begging politely in the markets. Hollywood stars hire them for beachfront weddings because they’re so cute.

Apart from the ones who are terrorists.

In Burma, Buddhism has turned nasty, thanks to a gang of monks who call themselves the ‘969’, after the nine virtues of Buddha, the six elements of his teachings, and the nine attributes of the clergy. The 969 are consumed with hatred for Burma’s Muslims, who make up 4 per cent of the population. Nearly 200,000 have been driven from their homes. For Burmese Muslims, the numbers 969 — which jump out at them from gaily coloured stickers in shops and taxis — are as menacing as the swastika for Jews. In March, Buddhists set fire to an Islamic boarding school in central Burma. Twenty-four students and teachers were killed; a boy was decapitated; police stood by while onlookers applauded.

Sound familiar? In February, Boko Haram gunmen shot or incinerated 59 pupils at a boarding school in north-east Nigeria. The press reported it, but this was before the kidnap of the schoolgirls inflamed Twitter, so no one paid much attention.

Boko Haram are members of the ‘religion of peace’, as anti-Islamist campaigners remind us sarcastically. But the people who raze Muslim villages in Burma belong to a faith that really is associated with peace. So what’s going on? Sayadaw Wirathu, the venomous preacher who leads the 969 monks, calls himself ‘the Burmese bin Laden’. Here’s the verdict of Time magazine: ‘Every religion can be twisted into a destructive force poisoned by ideas that are antithetical to its foundations. Now it’s Buddhism’s turn.’ There speaks the sorrowful voice of liberalism — still piously attached to the notion that the true message of all religions is ‘peace’.

It would be simpler and more accurate to say that religion has made a startling comeback around the globe. Religion in general, that is — including, but not confined to, the nasty stuff (torching of dormitories, bombs on the Tube, stoning of adulterers, Giles Fraser’s sermons etc). In fact, in many respects, religion has become the new politics.

In dozens of countries, disputes that we may think of as ethnic, political or economic are now unmistakably religious in character: everything from squabbles over school textbooks in New Delhi to throat-slitting in Syria. We see this most clearly in the Middle East, where national boundaries are dissolving and reforming along religious lines. Our inability to recognise religion means, for example, that we plotted an invasion of Iraq in 2003 without realising that we’d be blowing the lid off a Sunni vs Shia civil war.

Even in Britain, our politicians keep being surprised when religion bursts back into the public debate. We now know that state schools — secular ones, not faith schools — in Birmingham were infiltrated by radical Muslims to the point where they were turning into madrasas. This was made possible by the gullibility of politicians and civil servants with regard to Islam — in particular, their belief that ‘moderate Muslims’ can easily be distinguished from Islamists. But it also reflects our ignorance of faith in general: the school inspectors, blind to religion, didn’t know what to look for in Birmingham.


Over the years Britain has, by some measures, become the least religious country in the developed world. Our overwhelmingly secular outlook means that we struggle to understand international affairs. The Foreign Office seems to live in world clearly marked with political borders, where power lies in the government ministries and police stations. But the jihadis know that to control a chunk of Nigeria they impose Sharia law — more effective than a coup. They’re playing old power games with new, religious rules. Also, we instinctively divide ‘faith traditions’ into fundamentalists versus democrats — a crude, naïve and dangerous dichotomy.

Back to Burma. It’s not just sociopathic monks who harass Muslims. So does the state of Rakhine, which since last year has forbidden Muslim couples to have more than two children. You’d expect Aung San Suu Kyi to have something to say about that. Not so. When she appeared on the Today programme, the Nobel laureate and Oxford graduate (third-class honours) sidestepped questions about anti-Muslim persecution.

The pattern of religious violence reinforced by civil laws is becoming a familiar one. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks elated by the crushing of the Hindu Tamils are leading attacks on coastal towns with Muslim populations. Meanwhile, the government is setting up a Buddhist Publications Regulatory Board to ban writings that are ‘in violation of Buddhism, its philosophy or traditions’. According to the Indian journalist Vishal Arora, Buddhist extremism is ‘fast spreading its tentacles in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, as newspapers report violent attacks on religious minorities and shrill demands to ban blasphemy’.

Arora provides some vital context: Islamist militants, he writes, have been waging war against Shias, Ahmadis, Jews, Christians, and secular governments across the world. Now Buddhists have been added to the list: in Indonesia and India, Islamists have started bombing their places of worship. It’s not quite a world war of religion. But at times, in certain places, it does start to resemble one.

In the 21st century, extreme religion has a tendency to go viral. In Syria and Iraq, the shadow caliphate of Isis makes expert use of social media — attracting, as we have seen, the attention of young Welsh students who are persuaded to give their lives for a jihad against Shi’ites. When the Syrian volunteers come back to Britain, it will not be long before some of them find domestic application for their newfound skills.

Boko Haram is using the internet to recruit members in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. These movements haven’t been created by digital technology, but — to borrow Arora’s metaphors — broadband and mobiles help them ‘spread their tentacles’ and ‘connect the dots’ across borders. We may regard this as barbaric, but we ought not to call it medieval. We are witnessing a very modern phenomenon: religious extremism made possible by globalisation and by technology.

Fanatics are only part of the story, however. To understand why religion is becoming the new politics, we need to connect an extra set of dots: between extremists, their wealthy supporters, politicians, bureaucrats — and ordinary believers who tell pollsters they ‘reject violence’ but keep quiet when it’s perpetrated.

You won’t hear this on Thought for the Day, but religious violence isn’t exclusively inspired by hatred. During the Reformation, Protestant zealots invaded Catholic churches, smashing beloved statues and whitewashing precious frescoes. Modern Protestants are ashamed of these actions — but if you read Calvin you’ll find a coherent defence of iconoclasm. He believed that religious art invites man to worship the created rather than the Creator, beckoning him towards pagan demons.

The parallel with today’s Sunni Islam is uncanny. The rulers of Saudi Arabia belong to the puritan Wahhabi sect, which uses Calvin’s logic to justify smashing images. The House of Saud spends billions of pounds a year forcing Wahhabism (or its local equivalents) down the throats of Sunnis everywhere. ‘Sacred destruction’ is taking root in countries as diverse as Pakistan and Nigeria. This enforced religion is, along with oil money, a key method of establishing power. Also, it’s an insurance policy — an attempt to placate Sunni terrorists who would like to seize Mecca.

Obviously there is deep hypocrisy at work here. The bulldozing of the shrines of Shia peasants is being subsidised by fat Saudi playboys in the Dorchester. But what about the hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei? He has just added flogging, amputation and stoning to his country’s penal code. Does that make him a hypocrite, like the Saudi princelings with their bourbon and whores? He seems sincere in his belief that only Sharia can preserve Brunei from western decadence.

Islamophobes will tell you: well, that’s the ‘religion of peace’ showing its true colours. Secularists, recognising that other faiths are capable of evil acts, fall back on Christopher Hitchens’s mantra: ‘Religion poisons everything.’ That was the subtitle of his book God Is Not Great, an embarrassing rant that portrayed religious believers as babies reaching for the Kool-Aid. How interesting that it should be religion that reduced Hitchens and Richard Dawkins — deep thinkers and lovely writers — to spluttering incoherence. They couldn’t make sense of its new vitality. And, if we’re honest, most of us are puzzled. Even when we’ve joined all the dots, it’s hard to explain why ancient prejudices are being customised for the 21st century not just in the basket cases of the Middle East and Africa but also in Asian nations racing towards modernity.

The new leader of India, Narendra Modi, is the first Prime Minister from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party to command a majority in parliament. He’s also a former member of the RSS, a crypto-fascist organisation that Cardinal George Alencherry, leader of India’s Syro-Malabar Catholics, blames for ‘the violence and terror of Hindu fundamentalism’. What we’re seeing in India, says the cardinal, is the progressive ‘politicisation of religion’.

Or, to put it another way, the hijacking of politics and culture by religion. This goes way beyond the hysteria (and, in some cases, deaths) caused by Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Hindus have just forced Penguin India to pulp all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s much-praised The Hindus: An Alternative History because it contains ‘heresies’. Religious censorship of school textbooks is back on the agenda — not only in India but in America, where Hindu parents from the increasingly hardline diaspora are demanding that high school courses eliminate criticism of Hinduism.

None of these developments shows religion in a good light. That’s partly because, when religion reasserts itself, it’s usually against a background of conflict. Is it to blame for that conflict? The American economist Eli Berman points out the paradox that, in our time-hungry society, it’s the time-consuming strict varieties of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that are growing fastest. Likewise Buddhism and Hinduism. Religions of total immersion create social bonds that sustain the disorientated. Unfortunately those bonds can also provide potent moral support for violence. Terrorist attacks by religious fanatics kill four times as many people per incident as those committed by political extremists.

The states where faith is reshaping politics tend to be those whose failure would be disastrous for the West. Yet — and this point can’t be stressed too often — our leaders know next to nothing about world religions, including those whose adherents have arrived on their doorstep. They’d better start learning, fast.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Damian Thompson is a music columnist for The Spectator, and the author of The Fix and Counterknowledge.

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Show comments
  • Astrid Fernandez

    Brilliant piece. Spot on.

  • Simon_in_London

    One feature of Islam’s ‘bloody borders’ is that it is also radicalising the religions it comes up against, such as Hinduism in India, Buddhism in Burma, and to some extent Christianity in Africa. The Sri Lankan civil war never really achieved the status of a religious war; neither did the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ – from the Irish Republican perspective they were fighting the ‘British’ (ie the English), not the Protestants.

    • Bonkim

      Sri Lanka a new war against Muslims as the Buddhist Monks have now finished their bloody work on the Tamils.

    • mollysdad

      Islam is the only religion in the world which has within its own fundamental texts the resources with which to construct a case that God commands believers to wage war against all the world in order to extirpate every religion other than Islam, and to subjugate the nations under its law and political rule.

      Judaism and Christianity share the same concept of holy war, against an enemy called Amalek. Interestingly, Pope Urban II referred to the Seljuk Turks as Amalek when he ruled that Christ commanded the rulers of Christendom to wage war against them.

      Amalek is shorthand for anyone who is committed to the annihilation of the people of God – in other words the Amalekites were the Nazis of antiquity.

      • Liberty

        Judaism gave up that stuff with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 55ad because after that they were always subject to other religions until 1948. Henry VIII [without knowing it], the enlightenment, reformation nd industrial revolution did for agressive Christianity.

        • mollysdad

          Judaism gave up on the capital crimes code when the Temple was destroyed (the Romans wouldn’t let them execute people anyway) – it’s Jewish law that you can’t administer capital punishment under the Law of Moses as long as the Temple is standing. But you can impose it under secular law, as Israel does for the crime of genocide. The law concerning Amalek is the only law the Jews observe today which could require them to kill, and it remains available as a precedent for Christians, and for any nation that wishes to draw on it.

    • zanzamander

      Look, neither Christianity nor Islam is the problem. The debate was about the politicising of religion particularly in Burma and India. I don’t think there was any problem when these countries were Islamic majority. The troubles started when Hinduism and Buddhism spread across these countries and came into conflict with the indigenous Muslim population that had lived for centuries.

      In the end, it is always Christians and Muslims (having after all same monotheist origins) who are persecuted by polytheists.

      • KPP

        Dude, do you smoke pot? Which world are you living in?

        • zanzamander

          No, you see it was Hindus and Buddhists who were engaged in proselytisating indigenous Christian and Muslim people of Burma and India. If they had just left the local Muslim population alone and didn’t try to convert them, often with bribes and threats, then none of this would happen.

          Btw, did you like the joke about the pot bellied Buddhist monk, I was in stitches. It is good job that we have people like Cristina Odone to bring us some badly needed home truths.

        • zanzamander

          I might as well be living in the old Soviet Union. Freedom to tell the truth was sacrosanct.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Errr, hindusim & buddhism are much older than islam. The muslim populations of east asia were hindu & buddhist before they were conquered.

        • zanzamander

          But it sounds better the way I’ve written. Don’t you think? Less chances of being deleted if I invert the truth.

          • Damaris Tighe

            aha, too subtle for me!

          • zanzamander

            See what I mean.

          • Damaris Tighe

            yup

        • Bonkim

          You are wasting logic on this ignorant bigot – throwing pearls at swine.

      • Bonkim

        Idiot – India, Burma and other South and South-East Asian countries were Hindu and Buddhist for millennia before Islamic invaders overran these countries and forcefully converted many. Muslims are hated all over for their bigotry for their dark-age mindsets and intolerance; intolerance breeds intolerance.

      • liam

        Burma and India both had indigenous “Islamic majorities”? Really? Which madrassa did you learn this in?

      • texasjimbo

        That is the biggest load of BS I’ve even seen.

      • Kennybhoy

        Och you ignorant man…

    • moderate Guy

      Thank you; the voice of reason and reality. The “religion of peace” reaps what it so carelessly sows.

    • Anjaan Aadmi

      Anyone in the west writing on religious conflicts around the world must understand that what the Buddhists and the Hindus, traditionally peaceful and tolerant, are doing, is in self defense, and in reaction to violent Islam threatening their societies, like they did for centuries in history … it is purely an act of self defense …

  • Bonkim

    Buddhist Monks also run amok and slaughter Muslims (Burma), and Tamils (Sri Lanka), engage in active politics and mob violence (Thailand).

    • zanzamander

      I just don’t understand these Buddhists and Hindus, you know. I mean why can’t they take the example of their many coreligionists, Christians and Jews etc. living so happily in Islamic countries to realise the intolerance of their ways.

      Live and let live as it is taught in Islam should be the motto.

      • Bonkim

        get rid of dark-ages mindset.

  • zanzamander

    What was the number of Muslim population in Burma or India before Islam came there, and what is it there now, particularly in India? I’d say from nothing to over half of the entire world’s Muslim population can now trace their roots to India. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    The point is that when you look at all these religious conflicts around the world, they have one common denominator and that is the pig headed resistance, based on bigotry, misunderstanding and racial attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, particularly in places like Burma and India. If people just allowed Islam to be none of this would happen. If the Hindus and Buddhists in these countries were not so intolerant towards Islam, tell me would Islam spread the way it has there?

    In fact, I’d go as far as to say that even we in the West are guilty of bigotry towards Islam. It is our intolerant Judeo-Christian culture and values that is coming in the way of community cohesion that has resulted in such difficulties for Muslims in the West.

    Btw, have we, along with US, not barred the new Indian PM that you mention from setting his foot here? So at least we have done something right. This will go a long way in demonstrating our religious tolerance, I’m sure.

    Finally, if there were no Christian girls going to school in Nigeria, would Boko Haram have had any need of kidnapping them?

    It is not too much religion that is the problem but resistance to it that is at the heart of the problem. Look at Saudi Arabia, when was there any religious conflicts in the birth place of Islam? Now if only all countries were like SA.

  • Andrew Morton

    Good piece but I would like to add that it is not only religion our MP’s know diddly squat about! But I’m not so sure our politicians aren’t up to something sinister that affects us all. Check out Camoron, in this short clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHqRtLeI_pE

    And didn’t the old Empire split the Hindu’s from the Muslims for good reason?

  • zanzamander

    All religions, except Islam, are intimately linked with politics. I mean Hinduism and Buddhism (and to some extent Sikhism) are the worst culprits of this practice. Hinduism, particularly because of its polytheism, rejects all other faiths, particularly Islam for which it seems to have a particular grudge (despite millions of them having converted to Islam).

    Islam, because of its steadfast monotheism and having no links to the Eastern cultures, faiths and values, is willing to accept all other faiths, particularly the Hindu idolators with open arms.

    I think that about sums it up.

    • Andrew Morton

      Zanzamander. Do you know your left from your right? A plus from a minus? Right from wrong? If you answered yes to all of these, then I fear you are in need of being sat down and enlightened.
      When Mohammed Savile died, the Sunni and Shia fought over the next ‘leader’ of Islam. Not fr religious reasons but for political ones. And I think you’ll find islam won’t tolerate inter-faith marriages. And as we see from the conflicts in the mid east, muslims are killing each other….along with a few Coptic Christians who want to be kept out of it! So please do not think that islam tolerates others!!! Wake up and smell the bloodshed!

      • zanzamander

        You’re looking at it from a different angel. Look at Saudi Arabia, when was a religious conflict there last? It is not too much religion that is the problem, but resistance to it that causes problems. If all countries were like SA, would you think there would be any such troubles?

      • zanzamander

        Do you know your left from your right?

        ‘Course I do. The left one is where my mum has marked a big “L” on the back of my hand and the right with “R”.

        And what bloodshed? As I’ve said it is the resistance to religion that is the problem not acceptance of it. If these Buddhists and Hindus just accepted their Muslims neighbours, just like Muslims is the Islamic world have accepted people of all faiths, do you think there would be this problem of politicising religion?

        It is intolerance.

      • Bonkim

        sitting down and getting enlightened? The blind and bigoted stay where they are – don’t try to win by logic – only answer to this lot is ruthless elimination.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Zanzamander, I don’t think you will be deleted for saying what you want to say & will get your message across more efficiently!

      • zanzamander

        Did you like the joke about the pot bellied Buddhist monk? Man I was rolling on the floor.

    • Bonkim

      Islam is political to the core. Forced conversion and eliminating those who don’t at their core belief system.

    • V.Sharma

      BTW when did you convert to Islam? What was your religion prior to accepting Islam? Ask your father/grandfather who embraced Islam and cause of accepting Islam. Was it you guys surrendered under the sword or you got fascinated by having a 4 wives and get a license to beat your wife.

    • Bonkim

      Islam does not have to associate with politics – it is politics incarnate.

  • Kitty MLB

    Please don’t link those who use Islam as a shroud to hide behind
    as they commit atrocities in the name of their religion,
    and in fairness l’ll add anyone that does the same.
    Religion can be the enemy of God.
    ‘A global religious revival’ Yes in a uncertain world full of darkness
    and living with those who have no respect for humanity, people
    return to faith.
    Or spirituality, there are there those who have have no faith in
    God, but believe in something that gives them comfort.
    Yes in this country, politicians need to defend the United Kingdom
    more and support our Christian religion.
    We are not a multi faith country, we are a Christian country
    who tollerates other religions who respect that fact.

    • rtj1211

      I”m not sure I agree wtih you that ‘in an uncertain world full of darkness, people return to faith’.

      Some people do, others are more interested in confronting those of no respect. You can do that without religious faith, you just have to have common decency.

      You didn’t need to be a Christian to fight Hitler, you just had to believe that the Jews, like all humanity, had the right to live.

      If you are comfortable with the iniquities of the real world, without subscribing to any of it, you can do without God.

      If you can’t, maybe you need God.

      To each their own……..

  • zanzamander

    The new leader of India, Narendra Modi, is the first Prime Minister from
    the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party to command a majority in
    parliament. He’s also a former member of the RSS, a crypto-fascist
    organisation
    that Cardinal George Alencherry, leader of India’s
    Syro-Malabar Catholics, blames for ‘the violence and terror of Hindu
    fundamentalism’. What we’re seeing in India, says the cardinal, is the
    progressive ‘politicisation of religion’.

    Have we not, along with US, banned this man from entering here? Long may the ban continue. Britain should have no place for this former member of a crypto-fascist organisation.

    • zanzamander

      I searched Cardinal George Alencherry and he looks very “Indian” to me i.e. not European. Which suggests that someone along his ancestry (or he himself) converted into Christianity from, most probably a Hindu, origins. Boy, those Hindu fundamentalists are stopping other Hindus from accepting Christianity.

      I’m glad for the Cardinal for bringing this organisation to our attention.

    • KPP

      USA was the first country to apply and wait for a reply from Modi for a visit!

    • Bonkim

      Islamic fifth column does not like that. The whole of Islam is bigoted and intolerant – I bet the world has learnt how to repel dark ages bigotry.

  • “The American economist Eli Berman points out the paradox that, in our time-hungry society, it’s the time-consuming strict varieties of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that are growing fastest. Likewise Buddhism and Hinduism. Religions of total immersion create social bonds that sustain the disorientated. ”

    When was religion anything other that what Eli points out. It’s not a matter of religion creating social bonds for the disoriented, it’s the fact that the attempt to remove, isolate and retire religion by the oh so wise liberals that has created the disorientation. That is why religion is back with a vengeance. The Brave New World on offer by the West is being rejected, because the liberal imperialism and its emasculation of all morality except the language of ‘rights’ is a hollow sham covering the hegemony of a new authoritarianism.
    If you follow the liberal view of religion as simply a privatized, internalized, nostalgic feel-good re-hash of older religions, as nothing more than a lifestyle add-on that can be side-lined by politics and law in favour of the new consensus, then the above is obviously incomprehensible. Humans want roots and foundations; neo-liberalism and its bed-fellows can’t provide them, and even seek to destroy them in favour of the next new thing. Game over.

    • JoeDM

      You can be conservative and athiest !!!

      Both result essentially from the application of simple logic. Some people like ritual superstition and the comfort of some imaginary god figure, but don’t foist it on me.

      • Jambo25

        You can be, indeed, but you tend to find such conservative atheism has a propensity to adopt moral codes which are very Christian in the West. if it doesn’t it tends to collapse into an Ayn Rand style conservative individualism which isn’t all that nice.

      • They don’t result from the application of simple logic, since logic is merely a tool of thought to examine ideas, but not the means to attain insight and ideas. Conservatism rests upon natural law (religious or non-religious), which has been overthrown in favour of Mill’s autonomy of the individual contra mundum. that you can write the final sentence really belies any claims you have to being a conservative other than a CINO. I don’t deny that atheists can be conservative, but your ‘don’t foist it on me’ is purely liberal.

        • JoeDM

          Utter tosh.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    When you ridicule another religion you do so lead with your chin.

  • guest

    Lankan war not religious. It was a bunch of Marxist-Leninists united by political dogma. Prabhakaran’s son was catholic, while he was Hindu. Neither gave a fu*k about the other’s religion. Atheists, Hindus, Christians all fought together for a Tamil state. So that’s a silly example.
    Hinduism and Buddhism are developing radical elements because primarily of Islam. The same reason why the EDL came up. When you have inward looking religions confronted with exclusivist, totalitarian, expansionist cults, the consequences are always worse for the former. And people take a stand. Now, as is always the case, hardliners are good at taking a stand. And they do. Which is what happened in Burma. The status of the Rohingyas is disputed anyway. Its a demographic time bomb that they avert by reducing their rights. Reverse the situation. Where are the Buddhists in Afghanistan, in Pakistan? What happened to the Bamiyan Buddha statues? Where are the Zoroastrians in Iran? And even within Islam, there is a civil war now. Are the Tibetan and the thai Buddhists killing each other?
    Lets call the problem as we see it, as it is. It is called Islam. Sooner we can reduce the political incorrectness over saying this, the better.

    • Damaris Tighe

      I think you are right. Many of these religious movements are reactions against militant islam either real or feared. A lot of publicity has been given to christian atrocities in the Central African Republic, but very little to what preceded them – the takeover of government by the muslim minority & atrocities by muslims against christians. Unfortunately suffering usually does not make people noble, it just makes them angry.

      • logdon

        I’m not so sure that in a religion of reincarnation Buddha will still be in his grave, much less spinning

        He could actually be one of those on the Eastern barriers, now defending the religion he founded thousands of years ago.

        Do you know who I am? – takes on a whole new meaning.

      • eagle keeper

        Satan and his “religion” Islam will rule until Jesus Christ returns and kicks their butt and sends them to Hell forever !! Be very careful of which side of the cross you are on. Choose wisely upon whom you put your trust in. Satan is at work 24/7 to deceive as many who will listen to his garbage. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me”. Jesus is the only person in history who was without sin of any kind. Jehovah poured out His wrath upon His son for the redemption of us all. Prior to Jesus death on the cross and resurrection, no one was going anywhere near Heaven. So you can argue different faiths and their origins or their beliefs all you want. But in the end they are just that DEAD ends !!

    • global city

      The ideal conclusion of Islam seems to be that at the end just one ‘pure’ Muslim will be left….. then he will find out their is no Allah!

  • zanzamander

    Has the fact that Malaysia’s
    highest court upheld the ban on Christians from using the word “Allah”, germane to the discussion at hand?

    Look, a link from the Guardian, no less:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/23/malaysia-highest-court-allah-bible-ban

  • tolpuddle1

    Secular politics have failed throughout the world – religious politics have simply stepped into the vacuum that this failure created.

    The only places this isn’t recognised are countries like Britain, where the general public – drugged by TV, gizmos, consumer goods, etc – are too doped to be in contact with the real world, except occasionally to whine against “religion” from their sofas.

    They are encouraged in this by a handful of laughable anti-theist zealots like Dawkins, who try to sweep back the incoming ocean of religious belief with a broom, namely a few stale (and disproved) atheist arguments from yesteryear.

    • rtj1211

      Every form of politics over the millennia has ‘failed’ as no system can satisfy all wants for all time and clinging on to power beyond its sell-by date is the recipe for renewal and/or revolution.

      Religious politics gave us women as chattels, lack of suffrage, the slave trade etc etc. In the 20th century it proved incapable of confronting racism, homophobia and anti-semitism. Three generations without religious politics in the West has largely overcome those issues.

      Just because the small number of bloggers on this site seem to think that everyone agrees with their views, the real world shows us that the majority don’t.

      YOU don’t agree with the atheist arguments, so you PROJECT your views as those of the majority.

      Show me the evidence, based on honest, large surveys, that religion is once again the opium of the masses.

      i think it’s football, myself…….

      • tolpuddle1

        A glance at Britain’s ethnic minorities and at the non-Western world (both Moslem and non-Moslem) shows that the world as a whole is religious and becoming more so.

        The things you decry in the West’s past – serfdom, the slave trade, women as chattels – were inherited by Christianity from the brutal past, whether classical or barbarian. (E.g. in classical Greece women sometimes had to wear the veil and slavery was practised).

        And whatever good there is in the world – modern medicine, for example – is a by-product of the Christian faith. Only in countries with a Christian heritage have women made any progress and has racism been tackled. In the West, even opponents of Christianity have been much influenced (often without realising it) by the Christian faith.

  • Terry101

    The problem is not ‘religion’ but the unique evil of Islam. Good luck to the 969 Buddhists for having the guts to defend themselves from the evil of Islam. Muslims are dumping themselves over the border from Bangladesh because they breed & breed & breed – eventually dumping themselves & their problems on other decent people. Kick them out before they out-number you & impose Islam – what the 969 are doing is a role model for the rest of the world.

    • Chrissurfing

      Sure – burning and beheading children is exactly the kind of model behaviour we should be promoting. They deserve everything they get, right?

      • texasjimbo

        Question is, do you have an alternative solution that you can promise will not end with Muslims being the ones doing the beheading (of both non Muslims and other Muslims)……….. Didn’t think so.

    • Augustus

      And ‘ the unique evil of Islam’ is also so easily divided against itself. Therein lies its Achilles heel. Al Qaeda, like Boko Haram, believes it is wrong and dangerous for girls to be educated. So, what did al Qaeda do when it caught young girls going to school? It threw acid in their faces rendering them unmarriageable. Boko Haram kidnaps schoolgirls and tries to sell them as wives for men who buy them. That way if the marriages don’t work out they can be honour killed. Both ways are evil but the punishments are different.

  • zanzamander

    I would like to know if either of the two committed Christians, Damian Thompson or Cristina Odone, has lived in India or Burma or indeed in any Muslim majority country like the neighbouring Pakistan or Bangladesh for any length of time to have experienced the politico-religious relationships of Muslims/Hindus/Buddhists that they’re discussing.

    • lobotomisedjournalist

      Well, I’ve lived in India and seen first hand how Muslims agitate and cause trouble. Hindu India was invaded many times by aggressive Muslim Conquerors who often forced conversion with threats of death. They also carried out mass slaughter, as at Chittargurgh and Jaisalmer and many, many other places when the inhabitants refused to convert. Over a million killed over the centuries of these brutal invasions.

  • “Increasingly, not to understand faith is not to understand the world”

    Jesus’ presence on Earth doesn’t provide for faith, it’s proof.

    Read the new discovery made concerning who Rome and the Jewish authorities knew Jesus to be, which is why Rome was protecting Jesus and disciples/apostles, and why the Jewish authorities in Judea only arrested Jesus when He gave the signal that it was time for Him to die…

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R36W7ARZ7Z8EBT/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0062104551&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books

  • Randall5

    Uhm, this article would appear to be a blatant rewrite of a Sean Thomas blog on the Telegraph, published a week ago.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/seanthomas/100276612/we-cant-defeat-islamists-instead-we-must-quarantine-them-until-the-fires-of-jihadism-burn-out/

    Some of the lines are almost identical.

    “The problem is that the western elite, our political leaders, simply cannot [understand religion]. Most are atheist or agnostic, the few religious types are mildly Christian: nice, amiable, post enlightenment chaps. Therefore, they simply do not “get” religion, not of the fundamental variety”

    Bit odd, that.

  • Liberty

    If Labour had not facilitated mass 3rd world immigration and Blair/Bush had not invaded Iraq [Afganistan was quite manageable and just in comparison] we would now have secular politics and could safely leave our religous groups to go abut their business peacably. We would be a light unto the world of secular politics and benign tolerance of religious difference.

    • Terry Field

      Ah but you have not thought about the deep influence of Peppa Pig.

  • Bonkim

    Just because the rest of the world is turning to bigoted religions does not mean Britain should follow them and throw out our liberal values.

    What we should do is to keep the bigots out so as not to be contaminated.

    • Dave Cockayne

      Two problems,

      1- The bigots are already here and breeding out of control.
      2- Liberalism has collapsed into nihilistic narcissism, most of the native population of British women have not had a child by the time they are 30.

      Liberalism is going extinct because it can’t reproduce itself and it can’t convert the fanatics we are shipping in to keep up population numbers.

      • Bonkim

        So what is your solution? Liberalism by definition cannot turn to bigotry.

        This is Darwin’s theory in practice – Survival of the fittest – and as you say the more numerous. You will find many countries allowing/encouraging immigration of other cultures simply to keep afloat on the premise nothing stands still – expand or die.

        Looking through my liberal eyes – the process is self-destruct – world populations are exploding and resources running out fast. So a century or two if not decades and the present discussion would have passed its sell by date. Overpopulation kills.

        • Dave Cockayne

          Liberalism can turn into bigotry. Take a look at the modern self righteous social justice warriors that spew hatred at ‘their’ enemies and tweet death threats in the name of ending gun violence. Or killing millions in gulags in the name of communism.

          You are right about the overpopulation problem, we have massively overshot the natural carrying capacity of the planet, right now in 2014 there are more people living in absolute malnourished poverty than there were people on the planet a century ago.

          That is why faith is making a come back, only the religious have hope for a better world.

          • Bonkim

            Live in hope – if a politician makes an unfulfilled promise he is a liar – if God promises eternal life that is immovable faith.

          • Dave Cockayne

            If you take a look at the countries that are undergoing demographic collapse, it is exclusively western liberal democracies.

            Russia has fixed it’s problems by beating down feminists in the streets, levelling whole towns in Chechnya and embracing Orthodox Christianity, the Han Chinese are not going to allow mass immigration, the Japanese don’t, the Saudis are expelling two million ‘guest workers’.

            It is only western, liberal countries are committing self righteous suicide.

            Still on the plus side at the least baby boomers have high house valuations.

          • Bonkim

            Apart from voluntary residence of wealthy foreigners Immigration arises mainly from economic pressures. You will be surprised at the numbers moving to Russia and japan, and also numbers of foreign workers in China.

          • Dave Cockayne

            Nope, technological progress arises because employers are forced to innovate and cope with staff shortages or demands for higher wages.

            Immigration occurs to ensure that there a lot of desperate people competing for crap jobs on crap wages and employers don’t have to invest capital on automation.

            If you want to help the poor and the young, stop mass immigration.

          • Bonkim

            Is helping the poor and young the main objective of business or to maximise profit? Similarly are politicians interested in helping the poor and young or ever increasing economic activity?

            Maintaining high cost of production by artificial means – high import tariffs or restricting labour and capital supply – protectionism does not help the poor and young either as it reduces economic activity and wealth creation.

            The young and the poor need to be trained better, and made more competitive. The main problem in developed economies are that affluence breeds sloth – present generation in Britain not as go-getters as their predecessors in the WW2 generation. Overprotected by social handouts and political correctness. Immigrants by their very nature take more risks and more go-getters and innovative. See the huge expansion of high-end businesses in the US following relaxation of immigration rules in the 1960s and 70s. Same in Australia, even Germany where high-end production has been maintained over the decades. Germany takes in more immigrants from within and without the EU.

          • vieuxceps2

            If your theorising is correct,a big if, it ignores the fate of those already living where the” invigorating” immigrants come to dwell.Just bad luck,eh?

          • Bonkim

            That is for the governments to regulate – governments are always reactive and restrictions to free movement of capital and people will always have consequences – Pre 1960s most countries had restrictions to movement of people – but relaxed to encourage tourism and bilateral trade. Yes there are consequences to society – as said for governments to regulate/restrict if they consider it appropriate within the international treaties they subscribe to.

          • red2black

            Hope it’s OK to catch up with you here as NS ‘Race and Immigration’ thread was closed. I think the 60k figure for advertised jobs was given in a Private Eye article, but I can’t trace it online. Facebook page ‘Stop Romanian and Bulgarian Immigration to Britain 2014’ gives a 42k figure for Romania alone, so (if this figure is true) 18k for Bulgaria seems reasonable.

          • prinefan

            Indeed-the scam of religion will surely save us all.

  • Picquet

    Fools, all of those who really think that some fairy is going to treat them to an eternity of fillet steak and sex with virgins. Or, of course, that an imp is going to prod them with a pitchfork for the life of the universe and longer, for consorting with their neighbour’s ass.

  • Roger Hudson

    Traditional English religion , at least since the failure of the Oxford Movement and its Methodist opposites , has shown how the English took raw religious impulses of foreign origin and mellowed them into an English modality. English Buddhists, English Sufis, English evangelical Christians: all tamed by English common sense.
    As for the fundamentalists, let them stay abroad.

  • Brendan McNeill

    To understand both Islam, and Christianity for that matter, you have to examine both their Scriptures and their founders.

    When Christians engage in unprovoked acts of bloody violence, they do so in contradiction of Jesus teaching and example.

    Sadly, when Muslims engage in unprovoked acts of bloody violence, they do so in harmony with Islamic teaching and the example of their Prophet.

    And that is why the world is awash with violent Islam – because it is the religions default setting. Times of peace are the aboration and usually because Muslims are numerically weak, as they are in the West today. The reverse is demonstrably true for Christianity, and most of the world’s other religions.

    • dado_trunking

      Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

      You have joined the dark side without even realising.

  • Liz

    A lot of Buddhist monks in Thailand are ex convicts because they have nowhere else to go. One was convicted a while ago of the rape and the murder of a tourist.

    • Well I wouldn’t trust them. Buddhism has a benign Richard Gere flavour in the west, but is different in the east.

  • styants64

    Enoch Powell proved right yet again.

  • JoeDM

    Religion + Politics = Social Poison

  • Apaliteno

    I suspect the troubles in both Sri Lanka and Burma are more racial than religious. The Muslim community in Burma is mostly Bangladeshi and I doubt many Sri Lankan Muslims are Sinhalese.

    • Bonkim

      Ethnically Lankans are not a lot different from South Indians – language, culture, and religions – all from India. History too – that of Tamil Kingdoms conquering the local tribes, and also strong links during the British Raj. Regards sri Lanka Muslims – Muslims from both Sinhala and Tamil communities. SL also has a sizeable Christian population from their Dutch days, and also mixed race people. not all clean cut.

      • Apaliteno

        I was under the impression Sinhalese has more in common with Northern Indian languages? I suspect the troubles are similar in nature to Malaysia in 1969. The Muslims dominate trade in Sri lanka, Tamils in both countries are pre-eminent in law/medicine and the Sinhalese (like the Malays) run the government/ military/judiciary.

      • lobotomisedjournalist

        Wrong. Sinhalese are ethnically and linguistically related to northern Indians. Anyone can see that by looking at them.

        • Bonkim

          Thanks – stand corrected but to be a little more exact – Sri Lanka has been invaded/colonized for over two millennia – same as India the Indo-Aryans spread over 3 or 4 millennia. The branch that migrated to Ceylon was mainly from North-Eastern India (present day Bengal). The language is Indo-European although many aspects of language, and culture have profound South Indian/Kerala influences. Buddhism – over 2000 years had a major influence on the local tribes which were Dravidian same as South India in terms of language – Pali the language of the Budhists, also superstitions,etc. Subsequent invasions by the Tamil Kingdoms and later plantation labout=r from South India, etc. Doubt if there is any pure strand of ancient Sinhala people – no different from India where ethnicity and languages are quite complex.

          “popular Sinhalese folklore and references in Mahavamsa to times before Vijaya, indicate the Sinhalese are actually descendants of earlier inhabitants of Sri Lanka; (Raksha,Yaksha, Deva and Naga) who intermixed with Vijaya and the other Aryan and other invaders from India.

          • lobotomisedjournalist

            That is much more accurate.

            Unfortunately, Buddhism in Sri Lanka has become nationalistic, at least among the main stream city-based monks – monks, incidentally that don’t really practice (don’t meditate or abide by the Buddha’s basic guidelines), they have simply become a political force.

            I suspect that this came about by the fear of a takeover from the north. Although many of the Tamils are descended from invaders from centuries ago, many were also much more recent incomers. Their agitating for an independent homeland of over a third of the Lankan landmass, their brutal attacks on the Sinhalese, the potential of endless support from a wealthy overseas community and not least the potential support from Indian Tamils all focused the Sinhalese mind.

            Once the Sinhalese found a ruthless and focused leader who was an effective rabble rouser, I suspect what happened to the Tamils was inevitable. Now, of course, their vile and corrupt president knows the route to success and popularity and is turning on the Muslims.

          • Bonkim

            The same story in thailand, and Burma. Once unleashed Sri Lanka will have a civil war in its hand. Apart from the Tamils there are sizeable Muslim and Christian/mixed race communities. It is a small island on the crossroads of international trade – the Chinese are investing there. SL is heavily dependent on the outside world/India and on the road to continuing chaos.

          • lobotomisedjournalist

            My sense is that once the Chinese really start to try to maximise their investments in these areas, they will have little tolerance for any distracting Jihadism, and the Muslims on the frontier of their sphere of influence, in the places you name, will get very short shift.

            They will not pussy foot around like the appeasing liberal West. They will simply label Islam as wrongthinking and deal with them with utter ruthlessness.

  • Maureen O’Brien

    I don’t believe the heart of the problem is that Britian’s current secular politicians do not understand “religion”. Their problem is that they do not understand politics.

    • mahatmacoatmabag

      at the regular rate or luxury good rate ?

  • Are Buddhist Monks in Burma becoming violent as a (perfectly natural) response to Islamic violence, or are they just suddenly erupting for no valid reason?

    Unless we know this very important fact, the entire theme of this article is negated. I suppose it is just possible Burma has escaped the islamic violence prevalent everywhere else in the world, but I rather doubt it.

  • John Matthews

    Well the entire premise of this article is false and doesn’t live up to the evidence.

    Most surveys shows atheists know more about religion in general than people who have just studied their own to death.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8030672/US-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-believers-quiz-finds.html

  • mahatmacoatmabag

    Thompson , I will reserve welcoming you to the Specie , until we know for sure your pal Tony the deacon AKA Phil Evans / Micky Ross / Dax & his 200+ other sockpuppets have not followed you here & will start getting readers banned & posts deleted en masse as he did on the Torygraph .
    So Thompson , you are on probation till then

    • Guest

      Bing-go!

      • mahatmacoatmabag

        dado_trunking why did you withdraw your name from the comment?

        Thompson knows, after his woeful performance on the DT , that we will be watching for signs that his team of blog assassins Phil/Micky/dax et al, have not followed him here

        • dado_trunking

          Oh hello! What a curious post.
          Either this is an attempt of blackmail or you are in fact using this comments section to make an announcement.
          Which one is it?

          • mahatmacoatmabag

            dado , I have my email account set up to receive replies to my posts directly to my mail box, thus it shows the original post ID & Avatar of yours , I was simply wondering why you made the retroactive change, I am not attempting to criticize you for doing so

          • Sanctimony

            You really are a paranoid and utterly pathetic little weasel, aren’t you ?

            Get a life, you moronic little git !

    • Sanctimony

      I’m sure Mr T is a’ shakin’ in his shoes …

    • Sanctimony

      From a nutter with more sockpuppets than the aforementioned, this is truly ironic and hilarious !

  • prinefan

    F’ing religion, still causing problems-the only thing it’s ever done and the only thing it’s good for. I’d love to see it all wiped from the face of the earth so we can have some peace-I have a dream. FFRF

    • George1111

      Stalin, Hitler, and Mao are just a few example of non-religious people that manage to kill others on a massive scale. Modern Chinese leaders have manage to kill a lot of people in Tibet and they are not religious at all. Maybe the main problem is not religion but the idea that there is only a correct way of life and that you should use force to impose it on others for their own good.

      • prinefan

        The point is having religion never stopped anyone from killing so they should not point to non-religion being factor. They are no better because of their religion than anyone else.

    • It just needs to be sidelined rather than brought into every sspect of living: Remove religion from schools, media, politics.

    • God Mann

      Too bad you missed the great experiment that outlawed religion in the USSR, but then communism has always been a failure.

      • prinefan

        Too bad u ignore the history of religious people here in “Merika”-especially in the bible belt. Religion and religious beliefs are a bunch of hypocrite bullsh-t. Something to hide behind and lie and pretend.

        • God Mann

          Well, people like yourself are more than welcome to move to utopias like North Korea that don’t allow religion to get a firsthand view of what it’s like to live without any religious compass. Be my guest. Don’t forget to write from your mud shack.

          • prinefan

            There are good and bad places with and without religion. Religion doesn’t make any difference. That is another lie told by religious scammers. They think it makes them look like they are good people because of their religion. They are not and it doesn’t.

  • Hegelguy

    This video is hilarious because it demonstrates how Christina Odone is the most broad beamed, witless, bottomlessly stupid journo scribbling in Britain today – and that is quite a feat. I sympathise with anyone who has to deal with her sheer imbecility.

    • mahatmacoatmabag

      So you are a woman hater

  • Hegelguy

    The Koran is actually tolerant and easy going compared to the Bible, and Mohammed unlike Jesus is on record as a good humoured man who liked a joke. Muslim cuisine is superb – I love biriyani – and their architecture is the best in the world.
    Britain and the US stoked Islamic extremism at the expense of the Soviet Union and India, with murderous consequences. Now it is hitting them and they are merely being bitten by their own favourite Rottweiler.

    • mahatmacoatmabag

      ”The Koran is actually tolerant and easy going compared to the Bible”

      ”Mohammed unlike Jesus is on record as a good humoured man who liked a joke”

      ”Muslim cuisine is superb – I love biriyani – and their architecture is the best in the world.”
      Are you a comedy scriptwriter for the BBC, Al Jazeera or the PLO propaganda department ?

      • Sanctimony

        Ohhh My Gawdddd… you just had to turn up, didn’t you !

        • mahatmacoatmabag

          Sanctimonkey , I had almost forgotten , what a potz you are , almost but not quite

          • Sanctimony

            And what’s the yiddish word for cerebally challenged ?

          • mahatmacoatmabag

            the yiddish word for cerebally challenged is Sanctimony

          • God Mann

            Heh.

          • Sanctimony

            Sums up the race, I guess….

    • cartimandua

      Mo killed with his own hands and caused many to be killed, advocated rape ,FGM, and child marriage.
      But you are having a laugh.

    • God Mann

      So Mohammed laughed while Jesus wept. And you don’t know why. Pathetic.

    • William_Brown

      Yes, of course. Absolutely everything you say is correct. Now, get back to the Guardian where you can reinforce your bias a bit more.

  • Saddha

    Your article represents the sick twisted minds of liberals posing as journalists. Islam is worse than Nazi ideology which states clearly all religion is for Islam and they must conquer or kill for Islam. That media such as you are supporting sharia laws, a 52 year old prophet who forcefully married a 6 year old and consummated at 9 so he could get verses for the Quran, shows the level of your mind. Buddhists are right to destroy Islam in their states. It’s called destruction of evil, perhaps the media will join in.

  • donqpublic

    So I gather Islamophobe is a minor subset of religiophobe, the modern liberal’s classification system for inculcating true tolerance and understanding for peace through profane secular progress; a New Age progress for which liberals are felt to be uniquely qualified to manage the bigoted victim classes for their own good, As I recall, Hitler, the leader of those irrelgious German deconstructionists and future social scientists, was a neo-pagan and eschewed tobacco and spirits too, but I don’t recall any of the Nazi’s victims being called Naziphobes by their surviving next of kin, either on the Russian side or the Anglo American side. Apparently only modern progressive liberals are beyond phobias and have no irrational fears about anything…., Well, except religious folks, The Bomb, free speech that is offensive, traditional marriage, gender inequalities, well armed citizens, and any blanks on the form that are not filled in…..

  • Dracovert

    Nothing in this article is wrong, but it is grossly incomplete.

    Why do some cultures live in harmony with others, and some do not? Cultures that do not live in harmony with other cultures are driven by psychopathy, the world’s worst mental disorder afflicting about one percent of all people. But psychopaths are devious and cunning and political psychopaths may attract large followings by exploiting cultural, religious, national, and ethnic differences, as Obama is doing now in the USA. Non-political psychopaths just make life miserable for everyone — Jeff Skilling at Enron, Bernie Madoff, John Wayne Gacy, Casey Anthony.

    Individual psychopaths, due to brain damage or defect, are without moral values and conscience. Psychopathic systems are self-propagating; corruption breeds corruption, and the most corrupt states are led by psychopaths. In 1939, the psychopathic and corrupt systems were militant Islam (not peaceful Islam), Marxism, Fascism (the nationalistic offshoot of Marxism), and Japanese militarism. Germany and Japan were purged of psychopathic tendencies and rejoined the community of nations. Militant Islam and Marxism, in its various manifestations, were not purged of psychopathic leaders and tendencies and continue as corrupt, psychopathic systems, despite repeated failures.

    Interesting times in which we live.

  • Humfree1859@yahoo.com

    Hitchens and Dawkins incoherent? Not so! Most of this article reports recorded and verifiable actual violence and terrorism by various religious groups. The author doesn’t provide support for his opinions other than this. It does seem as though the world is of the notion that religion suddenly has become warlike throughout the world. In my view, religious wars have been brewing and executed in this modern world for the last several hundred years. As commerce and communications have forced all of us to rub shoulders more hardily with different traditions and cultures, we necessarily recognize threat to ideological and theological bases of previous solidity. We are going through what appears to be a necessary climax and resolution phase of human process. Hitchens and Dawkins are very coherent here!

  • cartimandua

    Fundamentalist religion of any kind is about low IQ concrete thinkers and tribalism.
    Psychopaths are concrete thinkers.
    That is why there was upset over cartoons. The people who got upset about it couldn’t tell the difference between a symbol and the actual person.

    • amicus

      And you’re SO clever.

      • William_Brown

        Well, what do YOU have to say amicus?
        Go on, please enlighten us all with your superior wit and wisdom.
        We’re waiting.

  • cartimandua

    There is nothing to “understand” about Boko other than they are vile murderous nuts.
    It is true that the West chooses not to understand how in most of the world having an omnipotent invisible friend is the only way individuals have any power agency or well being.
    Belief is only “fundamental” because religion has made it impossible in many places to provide decent lives.
    Young men going on jihad are joining a gang.

  • donna

    is this man kidding ? 23,000 terror attacks worldwide since 9/11 99% by muslims. Now i certainly do not applaud the actions of 969 but it is well past time for push back which is the only thing muslims respect. See the collected “wit and wisdom” of UBL easily accessed on tapes he periodically produced before his fortunate demise. The rage and fear of people worldwide is not irrational nor necessarily based on unalterable prejudice against muslims. It is based on 1,400 of experience dealing with them now revanchist thanks to the flaccid idiocy of west. This author is your typical fear ridden european. I suggest Srdja trifkovic’s Sword of Prophet or asking some Hindu what “Hindu Kush” means. 200,000,000 raped murdered pillaged from religion of peace since the glory days of Medina. I was at christmas viewing of the sly subtle piece of garbage slumdog millionaire and commented to a friend I was surprised it had not provoked rioting in India; next day international press reports rioting over film. If I were Hindu i certainly would have considered participating.

    • Why would Slumdog Millionaire provoke rioting?? Apart from the fact it was a cr*p film?

      • donna

        sly anti hindu propaganda. Quite a few scenes of seemingly unprovoked violence against muslims. It was an awful film agreed. If i was catching this i was just surprised it had not started kerfuffle in India. turned out it had not opened there but when it did: fireworks. It is the Hindus who have been historically oppressed by the muslims Hindu Kush means “hindu agony” tens of millions were murdered and carried into slavery by invasions and take over and conversion of Mughal. They are not going to let it happen again. This is why Pakistan came into existence could not get along with each other either so then bengladesh. sound familiar like modern middle east ?

  • BKennedy

    Thompson has made a serious error – he didn’t blame this entirely on the Christians, and only mentions them via historical comparison.

    His progressive betters will surely go after him for insinuating that the violence of extreme strains of Buddhism and Islam aren’t caused by them looking at the Ugly American Religious Right and emulating the model of the Christian Taliban.

    When secularists in government and the press treat speeches the same as stonings and become organs of disinterest so ignorant they cannot adequately describe the celebration of Easter (The New York Times), it’s not difficult to understand why they can’t fathom the notion of people preferring moral authorities that don’t change when the political party of the MPs do.

  • higgins1990

    Secularism is a religion in and unto itself.

    • prinefan

      It’s a relationship with reality. Not part of a scam made up of pure imaginary bullsh-t-like religion.

      • higgins1990

        A quote worthy of any religious zealot…

        • amphibious

          Have yoiu stopped beating your meat..,.errr.. wife? Circular crap.

          • higgins1990

            @amphibious – I am so sorry about the results of your public education.

  • Tom Servo

    Even this author betrays a lack of knowledge about religion by crediting Calvin with the iconoclastic (ie, image-breaking) movement. It was always present in the early Roman church, as the Jewish, eastern culture which despised all “graven images” clashed with the Greco-Roman culture, which adored them. Mohammed, being eastern and rejecting Greco-Roman culture completely as corrupt and wicked, wrote the Old Testament Jewish prohibition against all graven images into Islam right from the start. The Byzantine Empire saw 2 centuries of purges and revolutions over the issue of Iconoclasm in the 8th and 9th centuries; eventually, the Iconoclasts lost and presumably, most of them moved to Islamic controlled territories. (or helped the Muslims take over, since the Iconoclastic Christians despised the Orthodox Christians, represented by the hierarchies of Rome and Constantinople)

    What John Calvin did was to bring back Iconoclasm after it had been dormant in the western church for 5 or 6 centuries. It seemed like something new, but it was really just the same old wheel going round and round.

    This fight is easily 3000 years old at this point, and if you take the story of the Golden Calf as the first quasi-documented incidence of the issue leading to mass violence, call it a good 3500 years.

    Civilizations rise and fall, but the religious war over the images never ends.

    • pdhan

      He doesn’t actually say that Calvin invented iconoclasm though, just reappropriated it.

  • Patrice Boivin

    Maybe I didn’t understand the article, but it doesn’t seem to provide any solutions. Was that the intent?

    • prinefan

      To show religion is a bunch of bullsh-t and a scam to control people.

  • Kat Saved

    While our limited intellect quickly comprehends usefulness, the complexities of judging merit make it impossible to be judged correctly.

    • mahatmacoatmabag

      limited intellect is a prerequisite for voting Lib-Lab-Con-SNP

      • Sanctimony

        Tres profonde …

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    I’m fed up of the word religion. Terms like “religious violence” just make things worse, I think. To me violence is violence. It’s a man made method ( inspired by the power of the deceiver) that knows no bounds; as such, violence is a fallacious affectation of real (God given love) power.

  • DaHitman

    “It’s not just Islam”

    Funny because its always the Muslims doing the murdering and yet at the same time they prefer our non-Muslim countries to the cesspit’s Islam has left them

    • amicus

      Indeed. It may not be “just” islam, but it’s ninety nine per cent when it comes to trouble and strife.

  • Gwangi

    Britain – or more specifically England – just does not DO religiosity (Scottish prod versus celtic bigots are different, as is the 17th century mindset of northern Ireland and to some extent the chapel culture of Wales).

    The Americans never get this. Nor do those from nominally catholic European countries. Nor to the Africans and Asians who emigrate to the UK – though it really is the fault of our leaders in not telling them that with their own freedom of worship rights here, they must tolerate others’ faiths, beliefs and criticism, mockery and hatred of their faith and/or all others.

    Sadly, our politicians in the UK are desperate for votes – and also hypnotised by a misplaced multiculturalism which creates division and segregation – so they are constantly pandering to their Muslim and other Asian constituents, and the mad African Christians who’d just love to hang gays from lampposts.

    All wrong. We should NOT be pandering to the religious in Britain at all and keep it out of politics. (Yes I know it is a vestige in our political and legal system – but that is not the same as religiosity).

    This increasing religiosity in British and especially English politics and society is one way (or many) in which barely regulated mass immigration has changed Britain for the worse.

  • “…the hijacking of politics and culture by religion” – very well put. At its best political thinking is rational, fact based, broad in its scope, practical and pragmatic. Politics is the “Art of the Possible” but based on a decent set of values it can transform. Religions are different. They don’t demand reasoning or the weighing up of choices. They don’t have to be rational at all. Transubstantiation anyone? What they demand is “Faith” – the requirement that those who adhere to a religion follow it blindly. OK some religions are more flexible than others. But they all share myths, superstitions, and irrational and unscientific core elements. And if politics is hijacked by religion then political thinking is the poorer because it is constrained, no longer free to think outside boundaries and required to consult an ancient text in order to learn what to do.n

    • MC73

      I haven’t come across much rational, fact based political thinking recently and I don’t think religion is entirely to blame. And more lives were blighted in the past century by the rational science of communism than any religion.

      There is no reason why religion should not be a motivating factor in politics and equally no reason why a religious viewpoint should be treated any differently from a non-religious one.

    • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

      I suppose “…the hijacking of politics and culture by religion” could just as easily be coined

      ” the hijacking or even hacking of culture and religious beliefs by politics..” – depending on one’s viewpoint of course.

      ” Politics is the “Art of the Possible” but based on a decent set of values it can transform.”.. what like “risk” ?

      ” Retrospective notional accountability” anyone? Might as well be transubstantiation I suppose.

      Politics would be nothing at all if it wasn’t designed to make so many people feel poorer..though I must admit some charities seem to be working along the same lines too, these days.

  • Fasdunkle

    Religion is a happy place for the ignorant, the bigoted and the racist

  • Amir
  • Piccadu

    When has religion not dictated politics?!

  • Gwangi

    Buddhist monks adorable? What, even the ones who helped the Japanese in WWII, or the ones in Burma who support massacres? Buddhism is as dumb as any other religion – and its dumb followers smile sweetly as dictators keep them controlled and passive through religion and hope of heaven in future.

  • Melissa Montana

    Folks, it’s up to each of us to build the shining city: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Easy to see you’re a refugee from the Catholic Daily Telegraph. The country stopped being Burma in 1989, so flash to 21st century reality like a good chap.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Have you even met and spoken with Buddhist monks in Myanmar, Damian? If not, shut the **** up.

  • Large kev..

    All religion is just a total con to control people and gain power, money and an easy life… Sex comes into it too and in all honesty does any religion actually do anything positive..

  • Robert2012GB

    Damian Thompson is a dhimmi.

    All that the Buddhists are doing is protecting themselves from Islam.

    In a few years, it’ll be us doing the same.

  • eagle keeper

    If the American left progressives accept homosexuality, abortion, Islam’s raping of young boys as sex toys and all the other perversions of this so called “religion” who in their right mind would accept such evil concepts only to get votes? I hope liberals take a good look at where their political party is concerning their platform. With the issue of the decorated soldier calling out his Afghan commander raping boys on a nightly basis and him being disciplined for saying something about it is sad. Well what would you expect when Obozo selects a Muslim as secretary of the Army? Fundamentally transforming America seems to be right on schedule.

  • A.Alexander

    ” Anti-religion is an old politics”. The other religion is the archi-enemy,while our own is not so important( it can be absent at all).Look for example at IS as it ferwently kills Muslims, or at European agnostics who are ready to kill Israelites and even Jews.

  • Yogi

    Westerners are idiotically lame when they discuss Islam. Europe is
    getting ready for blood bath in the streets but millions are still
    sitting with their heads in the sand. Every place on the planet where
    there are Muslims, there is violence. What really ticks me off is the
    use of appeasement terminology like ‘moderate Muslims’. Please get this
    in your head that Islam is fundamentally intolerant. A practicing Muslim
    is never tolerant. There non-practicing Muslims who make up a small
    minority, could be referred to a moderate. They would have left Islam
    but cannot because Islam allows killing of apostates. The right
    terminology would ‘non-practicing’ not ‘moderate’. Please read Islamic
    texts to understand how messed up they are; read real Hindu history, not
    a white man’s version to understand how Islam has systematically
    destroyed Hindu society over a thousand years. Abrahamic religions
    have brought so much pain and destruction on the planet. They have no
    respect for what any other society may know or believe. All mafia-style
    religions need to be abolished. The only thing that can heal our planet is
    a flow of open-ended spirituality.

  • Yogi

    Westerners are idiotically lame when they discuss Islam. Europe is
    getting ready for blood bath in the streets but millions are still
    sitting with their heads in the sand. Every place on the planet where
    there are Muslims, there is violence. What really ticks me off is the
    use of appeasement terminology like ‘moderate Muslims’. Please get this
    in your head that Islam is fundamentally intolerant. A practicing Muslim
    is never tolerant. There non-practicing Muslims who make up a small
    minority, could be referred to a moderate. They would have left Islam
    but cannot because Islam allows killing of apostates. The right
    terminology would be ‘non-practicing’ not ‘moderate’. Please read Islamic
    texts to understand how messed up they are; read real Hindu history, not
    a white man’s version to understand how Islam has systematically
    destroyed Hindu society over a thousand years. Abrahamic religions
    have brought so much pain and destruction on the planet. They have no
    respect for what any other society may know or believe. All mafia-style
    religions need to be abolished. The only thing that can heal our planet is
    a flow of open-ended spirituality.

  • Yogi

    Westerners are idiotically lame when they discuss Islam. Europe is
    getting ready for blood bath in the streets but millions are still
    sitting with their heads in the sand. Every place on the planet where
    there are Muslims, there is violence. What really ticks me off is the
    use of appeasement terminology like ‘moderate Muslims’. Please get this
    in your head that Islam is fundamentally intolerant. A practicing Muslim
    is never tolerant. There are non-practicing Muslims who make up a small
    minority, could be referred to a moderate. They would have left Islam
    but cannot because Islam allows killing of apostates. The right
    terminology would be ‘non-practicing’ not ‘moderate’. Please read Islamic
    texts to understand how messed up they are; read real Hindu history, not
    a white man’s version to understand how Islam has systematically
    destroyed Hindu society over a thousand years. Abrahamic religions
    have brought so much pain and destruction on the planet. They have no
    respect for what any other society may know or believe. All mafia-style
    religions need to be abolished. The only thing that can heal our planet is
    a flow of open-ended spirituality.

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