Column: Holy rollers, Batman!

By Gus Bode

Bill Hicks has a famous stand up line about how he was confronted by two angry patrons that were upset over his subject matter.

They said, “Hey buddy, we’re Christians and we don’t like what you said.”

To which Mr. Hicks replied, “Yeah, so, forgive me.”

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Intolerance transcends race, gender and religion, but it is modern religious intolerance that is getting a great deal of attention today. Religious intolerance is nothing new. Humans have been killing each other over God since the dawn of civilization. However, modern religious intolerance has developed into a strange beast here in America. The new modern religious intolerance is that of the supposed religious, especially upon those who they have deemed as evil.

Atheists and agnostics can be intolerant (and annoying – take Christopher Hitchens), but there is a difference in how even the most fervent of the secular take their beliefs. Those who are supposedly religious carry out the majority of religious violence. In America, how many atheists are blowing up “right to life” buildings and churches? How many agnostics are home schooling their children that those who don’t believe like them are evil and destined to burn in a lake of fire?

The vast majority of religious people are, of course, not violent. Belief in some form of Higher Power or existence has inspired many to act peacefully. And all the world’s major religions basically boil down to the same golden rule; treat other people like you want to be treated and love thy neighbor. Personally, I myself find atheism rather boring and unappreciative (not of God necessarily, but life).

However, it is the same faith that has inspired people throughout history like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi who can fuel religious zealots. When you think you have God on your side, you are convinced that you are just and true, whether or not you actually are. The level of faith that someone has does not make them just, and that same faith can blind people from rationally examining their beliefs.

The extremes of intolerance are personified in the Westboro Baptist Church. This is the group that protests military funerals. They feel America should be punished for its homosexuality. They have just announced they are going to protest Heath Ledger’s funeral, something even the Joker wouldn’t find funny.

Of course this is an extreme example of intolerance, but at the same time, most Christian faiths condemn homosexuality as evil. Are then most Christians as evil as Fred Phelps and the like?

No, but both do agree on the same intolerant principle. It seems to me that if this group protested AIDS patients’ funerals instead of military ones, you wouldn’t have seen nearly as massive the condemnation they received.

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I honestly feel bad for the devout Christians these days. They are receiving so many mixed messages on what it is to be good, and their leadership whom they have given everything to have been of absolutely no help. Those who have built empires on peoples’ faiths have perverted their religion to condemn what they call perversion, only to time and time again be caught engaging in this same perversion they condemned. It is just perverted.

Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, Krishna, you name the deity; their message was never one of intolerance. That is why the secular often call the religious hypocrites. They feel these people use a religion of peace to preach hate.

By any means, it is not all religious people. But those who are religious: Demand accountability from your leaders and their churches. Please use that big brain that God gave you to ask questions.

O’Connor is a junior studying political science.

He also airs a radio show at 10 a.m., Monday – Thursday on WIDB.net, Dorm TV and iTunes Public Radio.

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