The 9-11 terrorist attack:
Incoming Email: "Do you realize that one of the reason America was attacked was because the Islamic world sees our country primarily as a Christian nation (that in itself shows how little they know our country)?"
There are about 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. Many are fundamentalists. But of them, only a very few are radical, extremists, terrorists. If any good is to come out from this tragic loss of life, it may be that liberal Muslims, moderate Muslims, and those fundamentalist Muslims who are not radical, extremist terrorists will become more vocal in promoting their own beliefs and publicly rejecting terrorism.
If there is any single root cause for the terrorist attack it is that the people in predominately Muslim countries are (with the exception of Indonesia and Turkey) living under dictatorships with limited freedoms, great poverty, and few economic opportunities. Many view America as their enemy because the U.S. supports these corrupt, oppressive regimes.
A recent poll shows that 76% of adult Americans consider themselves to be Christian. That is rather good proof that the U.S. can be correctly viewed as a primarily Christian nation. Even though:
as of 2011, the U.S. remains a mainly Christian nation, and should be viewed as such.
That said, the U.S. contains many nominal Christians. Other polls show that about 40% of Americans go to church once a week. However, about half of them are not telling the truth because nose counting shows that the actual value is only about 20%.
list of genocides: that of the murder of over a million American children every year, and a larger number of murders of children elsewhere in the world.
Our response: Abortion involves the termination of a pregnancy by killing a human embryo or fetus.
If a human embryo or fetus is a human person, as most religious conservatives believe, then abortion would be a massive genocide. However, most Americans do not consider a fetus or an embryo in the early stages of gestation to be a human being; just a potential human being.
Medical science now defines death of a human person as occurring when the higher functions of the brain cease and cannot be restarted. My personal belief is that it makes sense to define the event when an embryo or fetus becomes a human person as occurring when the higher functions of the fetal brain start up for the first time. That is, when the fetus becomes sentient. Sentience means she or he becomes aware of itself, becomes aware of its surroundings, can begin to think, can feel pain, etc -- at least at some primitive level. Medical researchers who are not religious conservatives generally believe that this happens at about 26 weeks gestation. My belief is that intentional termination of pregnancy after that time constitutes murder, and should only be justified under very unusual circumstances. But that is just my opinion. I fully recognize that others in our group and other people in North America believe that human personhood starts at conception or at some other time during gestation.
What religion should I follow?
Incoming Email: I am a teenager who was brought up in an Islamic
country. I have been exposed to both Judaism and Christianity in recent
years. All teach different beliefs about God, Jesus, the afterlife, etc. I
believe that a creator God lives in heaven. I want to please him. But I am
confused about which religion I should follow. Please help me decide.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all Abrahamic faiths, in that they revere the patriarch Abraham. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) are respected by all three. But they also differ:
According to one source, there are 16
additional large religions in the world. And the 19 major religions have a
total of 270 denominations or traditions. All teach different things.
Almost all religions can motivate people to lead better lives. But some
traditions within some religions motivate people to do evil deeds. For
example, Serbian Orthodox Christians committed massive genocide during the
1990s against Muslims. Meanwhile, Muslims in the Sudan were committing massive genocide
against Christian and Animists. Muslims and Hindus are locked in a multi-decade conflict in
Kashmir. Hindus and Buddhists were fighting in Sri Lanka until a peace
agreement was signed.
I just took the Spiritual Belief System Selector quiz at at SelectSmart.com. It found that I had a 100% match to Secular Humanism, and 97% match to Unitarian Universalism. In reality, the philosophical system that I follow is Secular Humanism and my religious affiliation is an inactive Unitarian Universalist.
However, one should be aware that every religions, including the one that they select, has an evil side. We recommend that they work within their selected religion to promote peace, spirituality, understanding, and tolerance. They should work to rid their chosen religion from such evils as racism, religious intolerance, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
God and the Bible are intolerant:
Incoming Email: Show me in the Bible where it says to tolerate other religions. God said drive out other religions, because when you live with them they will pull you away from HIM.
Our response: I'm glad that you asked. We have an essay on that very topic at http://religioustolerance.org/tol_bibl.htm We also have a companion essay on intolerance in the Bible at http://religioustolerance.org/intol_bibl.htm which is MUCH longer.
You have put your finger on the main problem with the world today. Some Christians feel that it is their duty to wipe out non-Christians and their religions. Some Muslims feel that it is their duty to wipe out non-Muslims and their religions. Some Hindus feel the same way. Some Protestants and Roman Catholics feel the same way towards each other. And so on, for many of the world's approximately 300 major faith groups. The result is chaos, mass killing and even genocide.
Consider the situation in the recent past between Jews, Muslims
and Christians in Lebanon. Consider the past conflict between Serbian
Orthodox, Muslims and Roman Catholics in Bosnia during the 1990's. Consider Northern Ireland,
Cyprus, Kosovo, Macedonia, Sudan, Israel,
Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan,
Philippines, etc. These are all countries with segments of their population
believing that their religion is the only faith that is of God, and that all
other religions are to be suppressed or even eradicated.
You may well define the term "religious tolerance" differently from us. That is another problem commonly found within religion throughout the world: people often assign very different meanings to common religious words.
This topic continues in the next essay
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