Why Single Out Christianity and Islam?

Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Thoughts | 12 comments

I’ve had a few people ask me lately “Why don’t you pick on other religions apart from Christianity and Islam? After all, there are thousands you could choose from.” Well the answer is pretty simple, but threefold.

Firstly, I live in Australia, which is a predominantly Christian nation. Upwards of 60% of Australians identify themselves as Christians (according to the 2006 census). Most of the first westerners to arrive here were Christian, and that tradition has been carried on from that point onward. Many Christians like to identify Australia as a Christian Nation, while denying the fact that for some 40,000 years previous, the traditional landowners of this country followed their own ancient tradition of storytelling and ritual. And while it is true that our legal system was set up by people who may have been Christian, this does not in fact make our laws Christian laws.I am familiar with the Christian faith, and it is Christianity that I see rammed down the throats of the school children in Australia, not Zoroastrianism or some other faith. This familiarity with Christianity is why they are a topic of many of my criticisms.

Secondly, Christianity is also the largest single religion in the world at around 33%, closely followed by Islam at around 21% (according to adherents.com). This means that just over half of the world is a religious adherent of an Abrahamic tradition. (Note: according to the percentages at adherents.com, “Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist” account for around 16% or people worldwide.) If I were to focus my attention on, say, indigenous Australian traditional religious beliefs, while just as fanciful, I would be only addressing a very small part of the whole.

Abrahamic religions versus Indian religions worldwide - Wikipedia

Abrahamic religions versus Indian religions worldwide - Wikipedia

Thirdly, because the Abrahamic traditions are the most adhered to religions worldwide, their influence and actions are wide and far-reaching. The are in governments and the military, in our schools and in out communities. People in power worldwide subscribe to either one of these religions. Many decisions of political and social importance are made according to, and in the name of, the major Abrahamic religions, and the religions themselves can be seen by many as an extension of patriotism, nationalism and country-hood. Those in power know this and use the emotionally charged religious doctrines to win people over, to urge them to fight to defend their freedoms and their nation from the influences of the “other” religion, depending upon which side you happen to come from.

Christianity and Islamic distribution - Wikipedia

Christianity and Islamic distribution - Wikipedia

In the map above we see the relative distribution of Christianity versus Islam worldwide. The Middle-East is obviously the area with the highest level of Islam adherents, and also the place where many of the world’s major conflicts are taking place. Christianity, however seems to be more heavily adhered to in South America and Europe than in the “Christian Nation” of the USA, and yet the leaders of the USA still use rhetoric pertaining to “God’s will” when invading Middle-Eastern countries on “peacekeeping” missions, when it’s pretty clear they are actually after oil to keep the fuel-hungry country afloat.

Of the remaining third of the world that does not adhere to the Abrahamic traditions or secularism, the religions practiced by these people are either of the Asian tradition (Buddhism, Hindu, Sikh, and Chinese Traditional), or are adherents to small and splintered beliefs like Zoroastrianism, Rastafarianism and Scientology. If I were to draw my attention away from Abrahamic traditions, I guess the next biggest target would have to be Buddhism and Hindu, however the countries that predominantly follow these religions are not the ones that wield the balance of power at this time.

So my focus remains on Christianity and to a lesser degree Islam (although some would say that Islam is a far more deserving target than Christianity). To me, however, all religions are as guilty as any other; of indoctrination of children, of willful ignorance about the universe, of sectarian violence and hatred, and of promoting the supposed wants of a higher power over the interests of humanity and the rest of the world.

“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”  -Terry Pratchett

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12 Comments

  1. Nice post Marty. 60% of Australians in the last census? Wow. I think in NZ it was something like 20% identifying as Christian. I better check that, but looks like we are a more secular nation.

    I’m an equal opportunity religion (and nonreligion) basher. I’ve just posted something asking whether Buddhist meditation is an anti-life activity
    http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/meditation-means-you-dont-like-your-self/

    and I’ve previously published stuff on Buddhist warfare (I didn’t know that Buddhists have been just as violent as other religions). http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/monks-with-guns-discovering-buddhist-violence/

    Jonathan from Spritzophrenia

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  2. I’m wrong. In NZ it was nearly 56% in the 2006 census. I am really surprised by that. http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/QuickStats/quickstats-about-a-subject/culture-and-identity/religious-affiliation.aspx

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  3. Hinduism often gets a free pass amongst writers, but it is an equally barbaric faith.

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  4. …and to a lesser degree Islam (although some would say that Islam is a far more deserving target than Christianity).

    Read up on Dominionism in the US, that pretty much puts Xianity on par with Muslims who want to Jihad the whole world. The main difference is that instead of putting apostates to the sword they want to run the planet into the ground so the omnibenevolent Jeebus will come back to save a few folks and then kick the rest to the curb. More or less.

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  5. I’m with you, Marty. In short, we can only criticize something that we know very well and we can criticize it even better if we have lived it somehow. We read and study about religions like zoroastrism whatsoever but our knowledge and criticism of them will never be as great as that of those we are better acquainted with.

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  6. Oh, two questions… is Greenland black because there’s no Abrahamic or Hindu religions there? If yes, I am going to learn Greenlandic and move there with Olivia.

    Second, why are you so pro-headache? The font size here is way tiny.

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    • Press “ctrl and +” and presto the font is bigger!

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      • I know. I’m just lazy.

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  7. Thanks for keeping up the good work, Atheist rules! down with dogma and ignorance. Stop lying to young people who doenst know better. save the kids!

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  8. As an American and an atheist who has also lived for an extended period of time in a Buddhist nation, I’d just like to say:
    If you’re not afraid of Christians, then you’ve never been to America. The world better stand up and take notice before it’s too late and you ALL have to worry about a nuclear bomb headed your way because god told some redneck-president it’s the right thing to do. If Perry is elected president, there is a good chance we’ll see it in this lifetime. The Tea Party is almost entirely comprised of people who are PRAYING that the ‘End Times’ happen in their life time.
    Buddhists are people just like anyone else. Which means they have the capacity for violence just like anyone else. The Thais have a saying about “kicking the dog.” That’s where you save up all your rage in public so you don’t lose face by acting out, then you go home where no one can see you and abuse a helpless animal. It’s considered honorable. Oh, and also? You know all those military coups going on..Drug dealers being tortured and decapitated, ect? Yeah. The folks doing that are Buddhist, too. In fact, their geo-political landscape has drastically changed many, many times in the last thousand years and that didn’t exactly come about peacefully.

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  9. People of all religions indoctrinate their children with their religious beLIEfs . But it is these two who want to indoctrinate the world. You may be right in targeting these two religions because they want the entire earth to follow their religion. They want everybody to believe that Human beings are here on earth only since about six thousand years. And this GOD or ALLAH preferred the desert tribe to give all the knowledge. Most of the other religions have no such ambitions

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  10. What a brilliant blog, Marty!
    Sure, all religions are poisonous to the world, but some are too militant, activly spreading the word of God with a sword and fire that had been a way for Christianity and Islam. Now it’s mostly “generous giving” of unwanted donations in exchange of accepting Jesus as a personal savior. Islam is the latest of Abrahamic religions, and still wildly carries out primitive mentality and traditions of the dark ages. You could find that primitive mentality amongst conservative Jews and Christians too, but the methods of dealing with all the infidels, apostates, blasphemers, heathens are significantly different. Times of the Inquisition are gone.

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