The Abrahamic religions and religio-fascism

"Fascism": an authoritarian, ultra-nationalist, regimented, populist, political system characterised by dictatorial central power and the forcible suppression of all opposition.

No, we are not saying that all religious people are fascists!

We are saying that some religious people and some religious institutions behave in ways which can only be described as fascist. We know lots of liberal-minded religious people who are certainly not fascists - many of them are confirmed socialists promoting fairness and justice for all!

Differences

What are the differences between the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam?

Very few - they share almost everything - with minor theological differences.

  • They are all based on the stories (*) in the Judaist holy book, the Torah.
  • Christianity started as a sect within Judaism with additional stories reflecting its belief that the alleged (**) Jesus was the Messiah described in the Torah.
  • Islam was derived directly from the teachings of Judaism picked up by Mohamed during his talks with the large merchant Jewish population in Arabia.
  • Judaism does not accept the divinity of the alleged Jesus nor does it believe he was the Messiah.
  • Judaism claims that the existence of god was made known to Jews as "a nation".
  • Islam claims that the revelation of a god was made known to a man: Mohamed.
  • Islam began as a very violent proselytising religion - belief was imposed by the sword.
  • Christianity's success derives mainly from its adoption by Constantine as a unifying force in a desperate attempt to prop up a collapsing Roman Empire.
  • Christianity has been used to justify conquest, violence and oppression: "spreading the good news". "Mission" continues to be the aim of the evangelical wing of Christianity.
  • Christians systematically persecuted Jews - blaming them for killing the alleged Jesus. Could the holocaust have happened without 2,000 years of Christian persecution?

* we use the word "stories" because holy books are not history. They were written to reinforce the beliefs of those who follow a specific religion and sometimes they may contain names of people and incidents that match those in proven history while at other times they contain complete fiction or myth. In most cases no one knows when the chapters in holy books were written - or who wrote them - for example, no one knows who wrote the gospels in the Christian New Testament. Holy books should be treated like historical fiction.

The interpretation of holy books leads to endless schisms (usually accompanied by violence) and sects: Haredi, Dati, Masorti and Hiloni in Judaism; Sunni and Shia in Islam; Catholic and Protestant (and dozens more) in Christianity.

** we use "alleged" when describing the Christian character, "Jesus", because there is no non-Christian historical evidence that such a character ever existed.

Religio-fascism

One does not have to look far back in history to see endless examples of religio-fascism where those not following the "correct" religious line were persecuted, tortured and killed. Wars, pogroms and massacres based on religious differences have killed millions in the last 2,000 years and even now, in the 21st century, there are still countries with the death penalty for blasphemy.

The violent and disproportionate attacks by the Israeli state against the Palestinians can only be explained by its determination that "never again" will Jews bow down under persecution. The persecuted have become the persecutors - despite the fact that most persecution of Jews was done by Christians.

The Israeli state would not survive without the financial and military support of American evangelical Christians whose beliefs are more dictated by the Torah (their Old Testament) than by the teachings of their Christ - the Sermon on the Mount does not feature in most evangelical services! Right-wing, intolerant politics in the USA is dominated by Christian evangelicals - no politician in the USA would dare come out as an atheist!

Recent bans on abortion in Poland show that the intolerant Catholic church dictates politics there - as it does in most countries that have signed concordats with the Vatican. In the UK people like Jacob Rees-Mogg base their politics primarily on their religious beliefs - as a Catholic he too opposes abortion. (Why aren't MPs required to state their religious affiliation when speaking and voting on such matters?)

ISIS and the Taliban demonstrate all too clearly what happens when religio-fascism gets its way.

Religio-fascism begins when religious people and religious institutions try to dictate how the rest of us should lead our lives based on their religious beliefs. For example, the primary reason why we are not allowed to determine the time and manner of our own deaths is down to the opposition of religion.

We are happy for religious people to follow their beliefs (as long as they cause not harm) but we expect it to be a two-way process so they leave us free to lead our lives according to our beliefs, not theirs.

Judge them by their attitudes to sex

The Abrahamic religions have always had hang-ups about sex - after all, you can control everything if you can dictate the most intimate of human behaviour - sex and the bedroom.

Religious books were written by men and interpreted by men - in the interest of men.

Religions talk of a "creator god" yet they talk of their god as "he" not "she". Ask any Christian/ Muslim/ Judaism: "why is god always described as male?" and the only answer you will get is "because it says so in our holy book (written by men)." Is the religious god sexual or asexual? If asexual then surely it should be referred to as "it"?

Christianity has always been miserable and depressing - the concept of "original sin" is not one that leads to immediate happiness! It also explains why religions are dominated by "thou shalt not ..." rather then providing a template for a happy, fulfilled and responsible life (as enjoyed by we atheist humanists).

A fascist's answers to a few questions

  • Should women be equal to men? No.
  • Should women be treated as second class citizens? Yes.
  • Should men and their holy books dictate how women should dress and behave? Yes.
  • Is it necessary to educate girls? Of course not, their place is in the home, providing for their husband's sexual needs, bringing up children, obeying their husbands and doing the cooking.
  • Should women have the right to control their reproductive lives? No.
  • Should a women have the right to an abortion? No. She should (says the fascist) be forced by law to sacrifice her education and career, to have the child and to bring it up - after all, better an unwanted and resented child than no child at all.
  • Should women have control over their own bodies? No.

The problem is that men play such a trivial part in the human reproductive cycle (a few minutes) that they feel the need to dominate in order to justify their existence.

Religion provides a home for the insecure male - it is one area where everything is black and white and where men are dominant. It also provides a home for sexually insecure males - the concept of a celibate priest is anti-human - the scandals of religious sexual abuse and cover up show what it frequently leads to.

For some reason (usually words in men's holy books), many religious leaders seem to be against happiness and love - hence their attitudes towards everything that doesn't involve the heterosexual missionary position - and even then, that is only allowed in the context of reproduction and marriage!

No wonder religions have problems with women as religious leaders, with gay rights and with same sex marriage etc.

The Taliban takes over in the USA

In 2001, Cherie Blair, the Catholic Christian wife of the Catholic Christian Prime Minister of the UK, argued in favour of giving back a voice to the women of Afghanistan. Her husband, along with the Evangelical Christian President of the USA, used his personal principles ("overcoming evil") to justify the invasion of the "sovereign countries" of Afghanistan and Iraq. No doubt Tony Blair and George Bush will face the judgement of their god for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the millions of displaced people resulting from their religious convictions.

As a side note: thanks to the religious beliefs of Blair and Bush, the "military industrial complex" in the USA and the UK has made billions from the production and destruction of weapons of mass destruction. In the end, it all boils down to who makes a profit - the best way to analyse history is to "follow the money".

However, not only did the Taliban inflict a humiliating military defeat on the USA and the UK, it has now gone on to control the Supreme Court of the USA.

The Taliban justifies everything it does by reference to the holy books of Islam. The Supreme Court of the USA is now justifying everything it does by reference to the holy books of Christianity and Judaism. Look at the court's make-up (seven Christians, two Judaists) - not many happy, fulfilled and responsible atheist humanists there! This is the rule of a religious minority over the rights of the majority. This is religion dictating how the rest of us should lead our lives. Religions demand "respect" yet they show none to those who don't believe what they believe. This is fascism.

Religio-fascism is not dying out as we hoped, it is gathering strength and we are entering a world of inhumane madness dictated by a mystical supernatural entity that no-one can clearly define.

Why does this "god" want us to be unhappy? Why is it so insecure? Why is it so violent? Why is it such a bully? Why is it so authoritarian? Why does it deny freedom of thought? What are its problems? Did it come from an abusive and unloving home? Does it need a hug? Does it need counselling?

The monster that is religious extremism

Per capita, the USA imprisons more people than any other country on Earth and the UK imprisons more people than any other country in Europe. The primary cause for criminality is an unloving or abusive childhood and people abused in childhood make up the overwhelming majority of prisoners. People from unloving and abusive backgrounds often go on to be abusers themselves - repeating the cycle of deprivation, abuse and criminality.

Every child should be a wanted child. Every child should be a loved child. Every decision to have a child should be carefully thought out taking into account the long term considerations for the child and for the parents.

What right does anyone have to force an unwanted and unloved child into the world?

"We can arrange an adoption If the mother doesn't want it."

Unfortunately not all children are adopted, many end up in care (or, even worse, in homes run by religious institutions) and face a lifelong battle against feelings of rejection and against mental illness - they become the prisoners of tomorrow. The adoption suggestion is made by those who obviously think that being brought up by non-biological parents is fine - yet the same people are the first to protest about children being brought up by gay couples!

According to WHO figures, every year 50,000 women die, and over 2 million are seriously injured, in back street abortions where access to safe abortion is denied by law.

Upper and middle class women, those with money, have always been able to access abortion - even when illegal. Those without wealth have turned to the back streets, the coat hanger or the bottle of bleach.

The film Vera Drake is not 100% medically accurate (some of the methods shown would almost certainly result in a rapid and painful death) but it portrays a world where women are desperate to limit their family size. Worldwide research shows that making abortion illegal does not reduce the demand for it at all - it simply kills more women as they turn to back street abortions. The film should be compulsory viewing for those who wish to kill more women by making abortion illegal.

No woman wants to be in a position to consider an abortion - it is not taken lightly by any woman - if men practised safe sex abortion would not be a consideration. A religious woman is free to choose not to have an abortion yet religious people want the state to prevent other women having a choice.

The decision to have children., or not to have children, is a private matter - it is not the business of the state, or of religion, to intervene in any way for or against. To deny women the right to control their own bodies, and to control their family size, is dictatorship, it is fascism, it is monstrous.

As Eeyore says: "if this is a benevolent god, I'd hate to meet a malevolent one!"