I was tweeting a little about this earlier, but twitter isn’t exactly the medium for communicating anything that can’t be clearly expressed in 140 characters, so I’m writing up a more coherent version here.
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It always fascinates me that groups like the EDL are anti Radical Islam and Pro Moderate Christianity, with no regard to the relationship between the two. (Of course, their anti-islam stance is little more than racism, so I’m not surprised they haven’t given it much thought.) Still, I see the same attitude a lot, people who shout about Religious Extremism but attribute no blame to the foundations laid by moderate religious belief.
Take, for example, people who oppose abortion on religious grounds. This might be phrased as a single stance, “God says Abortion is wrong,” but it’s a sequence of beliefs that arrive at an extremist conclusion.
There is a God.
He talks to us.
When he talks, he gives moral instructions.
One of those instructions is that abortion is wrong.
Each belief is reinforced by the one that comes before, and you can not challenge the final belief without challenging the foundation it is built upon. Unfortunately, the first three beliefs in the sequence are not limited to extremists and would probably be shared by most self-described Moderate Christians.
If we as a society condone the first three beliefs, even if we don’t share them, we endorse taking our ethical values from an authority figure that can never be challenged, debated, discussed, but most of all, can never be demonstrated to be existent, ethical, or effective.
If we endorse the foundational beliefs of Religious Extremism, if we agree that it is reasonable to take moral instruction from a believed God, with what authority do we challenge those who take morals we do not like? Their God, after all, is just as valid as that of the Moderate Believers.