I got an anonymous comment on my post yesterday. It was…gross. I left it up so you can read it if you want, though I wanted to delete it on sight. But it leads me to a topic that matters a lot. The commenter was sharing a ridiculous but not unique line of thinking about President Obama wherein s/he criticized him for acknowledging Muslims and possibly being a Muslim himself.
Answer me this anonymous trolls of the interewbs: If President Obama was a Muslim, why would it matter?
A person’s religion is almost never relevant. It was not relevant on 9/11: the actions of the terrorists were the issue. It was not relevant during World War II: Hitler’s actions were the issue not his interpretation of religious primacy. President Obama’s religion is not relevant: his actions as President are the issue. That commenter’s religion is not relevant: the fact that s/he was talking like a garden-variety religious bigot is.
I HATE religious bigotry like I hate nothing else. It is probably the lowest form of prejudice because it’s so fucking arrogant. What gives any person the right to think “MY faith is better than your faith”? No one knows for sure. That’s what makes it faith, not fact. Assigning relative values to religions and judging others based on those values is pretty reprehensible. It engenders a spirit of discrimination, no matter what language you try to couch it in.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t love your faith if it brings you joy and comfort; I’m saying that you should accept that other people’s faith brings them joy and comfort and try not to think less of it if even if it is different than your own. Be willing to walk a parallel path without judgment. Why? Because the actions of those who refuse to acknowledge the value of others faiths are among the worst in history. The Crusades. The Inquisition. Witch burnings. The Holocaust. It is only the conscious effort to tolerate and accept others that stands between us and revisiting those terrible forms of religious persecution.
As a non-religious person in America, I am deeply troubled by the arrogance and exclusivity of religion I see all around me. Is a day coming when my lack of faith will brand me as inferior to those who hold their faith high? Or will we manage to remain a nation where all religions – or no religion – enjoy equal protections and regard?
Sadly, the choice about American religious tolerance is not up to me. It’s up to religious people. Please, choose well.