I heard a story this morning about a woman on death row in Pakistan because she allegedly defamed the Prophet Muhammad. It is against Pakistan’s blasphemy law, a crime that doesn’t have a requisite death sentence, but almost always gets one.
In a legal, not very veiled way, the blasphemy law has fostered dispensation of personal vengeance since it requires no proof–just someone’s word–to arrest a person, and the whole affair will probably end in his or her death. The accused await trial in prison, which might come only after months of delays, destroying their businesses and the reputation of their families in the meantime. This ad hominem revenge is not just used against those of minority religions either. There are Muslims sitting on death row, because someone claimed that they criticized their own Prophet.
The people who are rightfully against this law, the ones who have publicly denounced it, have found themselves in prison or have disappeared in suspiciously Orwellian ways. It is 2014 and there is no such thing as freedom of speech, at least, not in Pakistan where the Prophet is concerned.
This is what religion has given us; a legacy of death, terror, tyranny, and sectarian vigilantism.
The vast majority of Muslims–in fact, all faiths–are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who want the right to practice their faith in peace and privacy. Most faiths don’t want adherents going around killing in their name. Most Muslims don’t want people killing in the name of the Prophet Muhammad, yet it happens all the same. It is not all, or even the many, but the few who are ruining it for everyone.
It is not just Muslims. It’s Jews in Israel lobbing bombs at Palestine. It’s Christians in the United States killing doctors because they don’t agree with the abortion services they provide. It’s Christians warring with Muslims, and sect against sect all over the world.
We have homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda. We have over fifty years of conflict between Israel and Palestine. We have the self-appointed Islamist State caliphate irrationally claiming religious authority over all Muslims across the world while butchering infidels, including Muslims. We have reproductive freedom stripped away from women in the United States. We have bombings and war and terrorist attacks around the world.
This is the legacy of religion.
And today, in America, we remember that, thirteen years ago, 19 people killed over 3,000 in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters in the most devastating attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor during World War II.
This is what religion has given us. There is no end to it. The list goes on and on and on. It’s got to stop.
There’s not one major religion in the modern world that strictly advocates murder. There just isn’t. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist… we are all people. We are all Homo sapiens derived from the same organic matter, sharing one tiny planet inside a universe that’s so big, we can’t even see the whole thing.
No matter what you believe, find a way to live together and leave each other alone to practice (or not practice) whatever religion you choose in peace and privacy. What your neighbor believes is none of your concern. On a biological level, he is no different from you. Find a way, because until you do, the human race will not evolve.
Homo sapiens–the species of every person on earth–literally means “wise man” in Latin. Let’s live up to the name. Stop the killing. Stop the hate.
In remembrance of the countless victims of sectarian violence, war and terrorist attacks around the world, regardless of race, gender or religion.