Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You think the Koran is violent? Have you read the Bible?!

I was raised in a Christian household, in a Christian community, in the Bible Belt. The faction of choice, for the most part: General Baptist, though there was a lot of Methodist meeting attendance also going on. That means there were at least weekly Bible readings going on (often more). I knew a lot of the bible by my teen years, but I decided reading excerpts at least twice a week wasn't enough to really understand it, and so I went through the whole enchilada, cover-to-cover. And as I read, I realized, more and more, that I didn't believe. Reading the Bible over several weeks, cover-to-cover, helped me come to terms with my disbelief -- which I'd always had but would never admit to. I was officially an un-believer shortly after that, per a phone call from a church youth leader asking me to come to church camp, and my saying, for the first time out loud (but not the last), that I am not a Christian.

For various reasons, about 20 years later, I decided to do it again: read the Bible cover-to-cover. I needed a refresher course to keep me sharp for comments like, "Jesus said homosexuality is a sin" (he never did, actually). I remembered that the Bible had made me uncomfortable, even angry, as a teen, for some of its assertions, but as an adult, I was absolutely flabbergasted at how incredibly violent and woman-hating the text is, over and over again. I had remembered the hate of the Bible from the first time around, here and there, but the text is permeated with it, and the violence -- wow. I hadn't remembered that from the first time around. Horrific. And nothing I wanted any part of!

(I have to admit that, on this second reading, I gave up at Revelation -- it's just too crazy to get through)

A couple of years later, I decided to read the Koran. All sorts of Christians were telling me it was oh-so-violent and women-hating, and so I wanted to see for myself. And... I was shocked at how far, far less violent it is than the Bible. It is far from woman-hating, as the Bible is. In fact, it does, quite often, lay out the rights of women -- something the Bible never does. "There are at least 30 verses in the Koran that support equality between women and men and that refer to women's rights in various aspects of life." (reference). Further research showed that Islamic cultures that are anti-women base their beliefs on Hadith, an oral tradition of quotes attributed to the Prophet Muhammad but that are in wide dispute as to which are authentic, on ideas they think are in the Koran but aren't (a lot like Christians who think Jesus commented on homosexuals -- which he never did), and on cultural practices that preceded Islam. While I'm still no fan of the religion (any religion), it's a shame that militants are taking over a religion whose basis for belief is actually far more peace-promoting than the Bible.

In short, Christians certainly have plenty of Biblical basis to beat their wives, rape women, keep their wives and daughters hidden at home, beat their children, and kill whomever they deem as a non-Believer. To have these same Christians claim the Koran is violent shows a jaw-dropping duplicity. By all means, condemn violence and justifications for such -- but condemn ALL justifications for such. Condemn the 911 hijackers -- and the men who blew up clinics and shot doctors in Christ's name. And if you want to say that And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children. (Hosea 9:16 NLT) shouldn't be taken literally, fine -- but you have to say the same for the Koran. If you want to claim that when Paul says oh-so-clearly in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 that women should be silent in church that, really, he's just saying women only have to be silent when tongues or prophecy is happening, then you ALSO have to acknowledge that the Koran is ALSO open to interpretation.

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