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A little note tucked away in the world section of my newspaper yesterday tells us that a group of Orthodox Jews in the Israeli town of Or Yehuda burnt hundreds of copies of the New Testament that had been distributed by missionaries...
A little research leads me to http://www.haaratz.com/ and their coverage of the story, to which I have linked in the title.
Following complaints, the deputy mayor of the town, Uzi Aharon, apparently drove through the town with a loudspeaker car urging residents to hand over the Testaments and other material to 'Jewish religious students who went door to door to collect it.'
The books were then burned in a pile near a synagogue, presumably so that God could look on and be proud of his chosen people. After all, anyone familiar with the Pentateuch can scarcely deny that God is rather keen on burnt offerings - He just might be a little disappointed that they were only books.
He later said that he regretted the burning of the books, but called it a commandment to burn materials that urge Jews to convert, so, thats alright then. A jihadist suicide bomber may regret the slaughter of innocents (collateral damage - lovely phrase) who happen to get in the way, but he or she is following a commandment, so, thats alright then. A doctor-murdering 'Pro-Life' nut may briefly regret the killing of a full grown human to save 'babies', but he (I doubt women will object to my use of the male pronoun in this instance) is following a commandment so, thats alright then. In short, you can do whatever you damn-well like to other people, so long as you do it in the name of God.
"I certainly don't denounce the burning of the booklets, he said. I denounce those who distributed the booklets."
Personally, I would denounce anyone who would burn something that anyone holds dear, be it a book, a flag, or a building. That may be because I'm prepared to accept that everyone has a right to live in the way that seems best to them, PROVIDED THAT IN DOING SO IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO HURT OTHER PEOPLE. I know this is a vague and naive interpretation of the ancient Golden Rule, but a form of this rule is the basis by which all secular humanists live their lives, and needs little definition from me.
So, the more religious an individual is, the more faith they have in whatever nonsense they have been brought up to believe is true, the more likely they are to be racist, bigoted xenophobes. The more one is prepared to take instruction and law from ancient texts, the more cruelly do they treat their fellows.
Conversely, the more secular a person is, even if they have faith but accept that their faith must not take precedent over the temporal laws of their country, the more likely they are to live peacefully and constructively with those of other opinions.
Faith itself is not a virtue, and absolute faith is positively destructive.
(Link to full story in title)
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