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When Religion Is Used for Evil

October 1, 2008

For many, religion or faith is a central feature of their life. I,
being a member of the clergy (Baptist)  find myself among this number. 
However, during this march to the November 4th election, I have found
faith being used more and more alarmingly as a divisive tool, as a way
to disqualify peoples rights, and I dare say, EVIL.

Evil does exist, and when it is used in the name of God – it is
apparent. It is apparent when a Pastor stands to say that a country – a
nation was "founded in part to eliminate Islam", as Pastor Rod Parsley
has been quoted as saying; and more recently it is apparent when a
movie, in this case the the three-year old film “Obsession” is
distributed (via special
advertising (DVD) inserts into newspapers through September
) in only
presidential battleground states.  The film is unabashedly anti-Islam
in it's presentation, and in my opinion is meant to propagate
Islamophobia to influence our elections and has been the instrument of
incitement for a gas attack on a mosque in Dayton, Ohio.  A mosque,
mind you, which was at the time filled with children.

Webster's Dictionary defines EVIL as:


morally reprehensible : sinful
, wicked <an evil impulse>
b: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct
.

The dissemination of this film into our very charged religious and
political atmosphere is evident EVIL. It is morally reprehensible to
have sent this bile into a neophyte public.  What did the Clarion Fund
think was going to happen when they fed the flames of hatred?

But, I think there is a more insidious mis-use of religion going on
today.  I believe that the religious prejudice evidenced by movies such
as "Obsession" and actions like the gassing of the Dayton mosque has
become the proxy for the racially prejudiced to express their
reservations (without open scrutiny).  It is essentially gauche for one
to express reservation towards a candidate's skin color, so the
discomfort that many still harbor about race, about minorities in
leadership has been transferred into concerns about their religious
bent. 

We see this "Evil" being played out in the need for members of the GOP
to pigeon-hole the discussion on terrorism to rants against
"Islamofascism", and even whether or not Sen. Barack Obama (a
confessed, baptized, and before he began running for the Presidency
regular Christian church goer
) is a Muslim.  According to the Pew
Research Center:

"Nearly half of Americans (46%) are unable to correctly identify Barack
Obama as a Christian including 13% who still maintain that he is a
Muslim and another 16% who say they have heard different things about
his religion."

Those statistics are indicative of a toxic and profoundly un-American
view of religion/faith.  We as a Nation are supposed to be founded on
principles.  One of which is the "Freedom of Religion".  A principle
which I believe has developed the United States into the melting pot
that we are, and the beacon of light we have been to the world. 
However, for the past eight years our melting pot and ecumenical
society has been assaulted by a divisive theocratic rhetoric which we
should condemn – or face the reality of a mini-Beirut erupting whenever
someone feeds the flames of hate.

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