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Freedom of religion threatens freedom itself

Imagine the following encounter and resulting conversation:

An old lady is walking down a street in Pakistan. She encounters a man, a Taliban insurgent. She confronts the man and argues his ways are immoral and tries to promote peace, after all Islam from her perspective brings comfort and love. He has been mislead and has misunderstood Allahs message.

He then argues back that the same religion has given him instructions to kill all enemies of Islam, and that for the world to have peace, everyone must live under the same perfect system and the flawless scripture of the Quran. The insurgent shows the lady various quotes in the same book she has based her life upon, justifying the argument. They respectfully disagree and go their separate ways.

This is obviously a very optimistic view of how such a conversation would end, I am afraid the reality of it would see the old lady’s chances of waking away very slim. An example of this would be the very brave young girl Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head for arguing her case for education, mentioned in my post Witnessing discrimination first hand.

Earlier this month I visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. At the end of the visit I arrived at a screening by an organisation called free2choose, taking her experience, and the consideration of others who will no doubt see their freedoms taken away past, present and future. Anne Frank was a victim of political, not religious oppression. But she did have religion, and religious freedom was a topic of discussion at the end of the tour. (Link at bottom)

It is considered a standard right to many. But does freedom of religion also create a dilemma as we see so many groups using this freedom (trying) to tell us how to live?


But referring to the scenario, the two in the fictional conversation above are arguing different points, both contradicting what is right overall.

The insurgent in this case although immoral and is lacking any understanding of reason, referring to his religion, has stuck to the script. How can the old lady argue against him if she too is Islamic? Is she reading a different book? Maybe ignoring the bad and just taking inspiration from the good. Regardless delusion is in equal measure from both sides, although one side is much less of a threat, undoubtedly. But this hypocrisy shouldn’t go unnoticed.

A question to think about- is the old lady preserving religious oppression, whilst believing she is fighting for the exact opposite? If you read a book for the good passages, extremists will read the same book for the bad. It couldn’t be more simple. And it couldn’t be more true.
A priest holding a Bible may well be spreading inspirational messages, but is also in possession of literature containing work that would put Mein Kampf in the children’s section in comparison.
Religious fundamentalists misinterpreting certain verses, is myth. As is the illusion by moderates that religion can do no harm, and doesn’t intend to.

Whatever side you feel a connection to, be it the lady or the insurgent, just remember…

They still believe in the same God.

Just different sides to his attitude.


4 replies »

  1. Interpretation is definitely a touchy subject in 2016. Interpretation, though, is something that everyone does, everyday, regardless of being conscious of it or not. Whenever watching the news, we interpret it by our own bias and our own opinions of the specific topic at hand. When we read the newest edition of TIME magazine we immediately stoop to thoughts of how this person is an ignoramus or is brilliant. It is not just literature that is interpreted, it is all of our perceived reality. We are handed this petri dish of facts to our sensory perception ‘minutely’ and given the opportunity to formulate opinion and views. I am of the persuasion that some of these views are incorrect. Misinterpretation of literature happens quite often and misinterpretation of intention quite frequently to simply name a few… ‘Religious fundamentalists misinterpreting certain verses, is myth.’ I am not sure if you mean this in the sense I am taking it, but for every sentence of every book I am sure there are a 100 interpretations. The law of non contradiction would come into play here with a heavy, ‘not all interpretations can be correct’. However in light of the issue being interpretation, what interpretation did you originally mean to convey Sam? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree we do interpret things differently. In ways we want to interpret things and in ways we have to due to our ability..or lack of. Why does a God have to resort to literature that we interpret so differently?


    • Glad we can agree. I anticipated this question prior to typing my first comment. This was why I went through the characterization of all experience being up to interpretation… for even people going through the exact same scenarios and experiences will have a different interpretation and response. Thus the question becomes sort of a moot point does it not? If God exists, unless in a deistic sense, he would be expected to speak to us in various forms. Experience, revelation, etc. I don’t find it surprising that literature is an avenue that people claim God takes. Literature, experience or whatever avenue you take, interpretation will vary…. I guess simply put, no matter what form God took, it would still be interpreted in varying degrees of accuracy, bias and opinion… If that is half kinda satisfying..


  3. I just find it a shame that we live in a world where people are happy to believe in a God that is so absent there are thousands of varying interpretations!


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