Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Getting to the Bottom of What's Permissible ... So to Speak
One of the things for which America is justly famous is our freedom of (and from, but that gets lost on the Far Right sometimes) religion. The Founders had recent experience of the religious wars of Europe and didn't want to bring that horror to the new nation they were setting up, and so the Constitution makes it clear (in Article VI) that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States," and the Bill of Rights (First Amendment) states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
This is all pretty clear to me, if not to those on the Religious Right who insist that the Founders had a specifically Christian agenda.
But there are other places in the world where the wisdom of avoiding extreme religious belief is not quite as well recognized.
NOTE: the rest of this post is recommended for adults only. You've been warned.
I call your attention to this video clip from the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). It features Abdallah al-Khilaf, a London-based Shiite cleric who answers religious questions posted in jihad-focused online discussion groups. In this clip from al-Khilaf's television program in June of this year, he addresses a question posed by a would-be holy warrior who wants to participate in a "martyrdom operation" that involves the use of explosives inserted into the ... um ... nether regions of his body, but is concerned about whether preparation of the appropriate orifice for such an "operation" violates Quranic prohibitions against sodomy.
You will no doubt be pleased to know that the tormented questioner's mind was put at ease by Mr al-Khilaf, who cited a fatwa (religious ruling) by a religious scholar who assured him that, while sodomy was forbidden in principle, it was acceptable when engaged in for purposes of furthering jihad ... although one has to ask God's forgiveness.
Maybe it's just me, but if this is what it takes to get God's attention, I'll just start going back to a church where they still believe in the old love thy neighbor thing, and skip the 72 virgins in paradise.
Have a good day. Worship according to your conscience, but remember that it isn't necessary to kill people who worship according to their own.