Criticizing Religion = Racism? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-10-2014, 04:35 PM
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Criticizing Religion = Racism?

I don't know if anyone saw this segment, or have since read anything about it but essentially, Ben Affleck thinks any criticism of Islam is racist, and ISIS should be separated from Islam in general.

http://m.christianpost.com/news/ben-...sting--127591/

What do you guys think?

I tend to be if the mind that a religion is its followers. Mormon fundamentalists and their ideas which are harmful to women are an expression of Mormon fundamentalism. Similarly, ISIS and other radical Islamic group are springing from ideas in Islam. Is criticizing problems with Islam the same as being racist towards Middle Eastern people?

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#2 Old 10-10-2014, 04:43 PM
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I think assuming all Muslims are of middle eastern ancestry is racist.

Calling ISIS a Muslim group is true.
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#3 Old 10-10-2014, 05:02 PM
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I think assuming all Muslims are of middle eastern ancestry is racist.

Calling ISIS a Muslim group is true.
And isn't that the larger point as well? Islam has penetrated the globe, particularly parts of Africa and asia.
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#4 Old 10-10-2014, 06:49 PM
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There is a very important distinction to be made here between religion as a practice and the cultural following or political ideal that is often (but not always) associated with a religion. We're not too good at that distinction in the US. In fact we normally blow it. It is not "racist" to criticize Islam, that's mixing your metaphors, so to speak - to suggest this is very ignorant... Kind of like saying that a person who doesn't enjoy coconut must think Hawaiian Islanders are all evil. One has nothing to do with the other. A person could be racist against those of Middle Eastern origin without caring a whit about Islam (there are plenty of non-Muslims in the Mid East). A person could have a problem with Islam without necessarily caring from where a particular Muslim hails - and obviously there are lots of Muslims who are not of Mid Eastern heritage.

And ISIS should absolutely be separated from Islam as a whole. ISIS is a group of very severe extremists (this is pretty much undeniable) who claim to be followers of Islam (that may be debatable - I am not Muslim, and don't know enough about the faith to feel comfortable making a call on this). There are actually quite a few examples in the world, including several in the US, where groups of people cite a connection to a common/popular religion and end up behaving in extreme ways that most people disagree with. ISIS stands out because they are relatively large and they are trying to achieve their ends through violence. Most of the US groups who have similar ideals either don't resort to violence, or they keep it in their own homes.

By the way, it is not always true that a religion is its followers - and the example you cite actually proves this. Very few FLDS (with a few exceptions) are either comfortable or happy in that religion/setting, but they stay because it is very difficult for them to leave. Those who do leave often end up in dire straits. The Westboro Baptist Church is a far better example - the members are free to leave if they want to and several have done so. Those who stay seem quite happy with their lot.
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#5 Old 10-10-2014, 07:47 PM
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It is unjust to prosecute philosophy, whether it be religious, political or what have you. We judge people, not for what they think (freedom of thought is something we value at all times,) but for what they do, and when they commit crimes, we judge them according to our laws, which hopefully will remain free of ulterior motive, whether it be religious, political or what have you. Obscuring the issue with philosophy only slows the process. We do not prosecute ideas.

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#6 Old 10-10-2014, 08:56 PM
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It is unjust to prosecute philosophy, whether it be religious, political or what have you. We judge people, not for what they think (freedom of thought is something we value at all times,) but for what they do, and when they commit crimes, we judge them according to our laws, which hopefully will remain free of ulterior motive, whether it be religious, political or what have you. Obscuring the issue with philosophy only slows the process. We do not prosecute ideas.
Excellently put, Capstan.
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#7 Old 10-10-2014, 10:00 PM
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Excellently put, Capstan.
I think characterizing ISIS and other extremists as representative of all Islam- or any other philosophy- is a little unfair, maybe even a little extreme. There's a danger in the emotionalism the extreme actions of those groups may provoke that can be as damaging as what they do, by perhaps leading to another round of "McCarthyism." Personally, I think all the major religions at work today are false, but like communism, they must die off of natural causes, and by that I mean, be freely abandoned by those who practice them.

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#8 Old 10-11-2014, 01:45 AM
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Personally, I think all the major religions at work today are false, but like communism, they must die off of natural causes, and by that I mean, be freely abandoned by those who practice them.
That's fine except that in some countries you can be put to death for renouncing your religious faith. (Easier to be an atheist in the UK than in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia wouldn't you say?) Per the United Nations, that is against people's human rights.

Also atheism is criticised in the Bible ie "The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14)

Does that make the Bible racist?

Last edited by leedsveg; 10-11-2014 at 01:49 AM.
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#9 Old 10-11-2014, 08:10 AM
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That's fine except that in some countries you can be put to death for renouncing your religious faith. (Easier to be an atheist in the UK than in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia wouldn't you say?) Per the United Nations, that is against people's human rights.
That is true - but I doubt that is going to last indefinitely. People more and more are demanding the right to choose for themselves. Also, people who do have faith are studying it, and other religions, more deeply than in the past, and are coming to understand that many religions do not support faith by force - regardless of what religious leaders and clergy may have done in the past or may be doing today. It's also worth noting that there is a high rate of atheism in countries that have a state-sponsored religion. Forced religious faith ultimately does not work. It is difficult, almost impossible, to maintain the behavior necessary to force a group of people to do something forever. Regimes change, leaders die, the world forces a different perspective. (As a side note: the OP mentioned the FLDS movement, I have been studying the movement a lot in the last couple of years ever since I read a book by Carolyn Jessop - one of the few escapees. I am very surprised this movement has persisted, and worsened, for as long as it has - but that may be because they are strongly natalist and insular, and do not generally accept outside converts? I'm not sure.)

Of course, it's really hard, for those of us who love freedom, to sit back and watch anyone suffer - particularly in the name of religion. It is small comfort to know that forcible religion will disappear "someday" and yet so many people are being hurt by it.
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#10 Old 10-11-2014, 08:50 AM
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It is unjust to prosecute philosophy, whether it be religious, political or what have you. We judge people, not for what they think (freedom of thought is something we value at all times,) but for what they do, and when they commit crimes, we judge them according to our laws, which hopefully will remain free of ulterior motive, whether it be religious, political or what have you. Obscuring the issue with philosophy only slows the process. We do not prosecute ideas.
I agree. If we'd do that, everyone who every thought anything agressive or said anything in anger should be seen as a criminal. Because he or she has the potential to get violent. We don't act on ''potential to'' we act on actual actions. As it should be.

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#11 Old 10-11-2014, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Capstan View Post
It is unjust to prosecute philosophy, whether it be religious, political or what have you. We judge people, not for what they think (freedom of thought is something we value at all times,) but for what they do, and when they commit crimes, we judge them according to our laws, which hopefully will remain free of ulterior motive, whether it be religious, political or what have you. Obscuring the issue with philosophy only slows the process. We do not prosecute ideas.
...and in countries which have Sharia law, and where you can be put to death for having the wrong faith, or no faith?
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#12 Old 10-11-2014, 12:57 PM
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That's fine except that in some countries you can be put to death for renouncing your religious faith. (Easier to be an atheist in the UK than in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia wouldn't you say?) Per the United Nations, that is against people's human rights.
I agree with the U.N.; however, I recognize it is the laws of those countries that is at fault, not any philosophy that led to the making of those laws, the point being, religion and civil law (the state) should be kept separate, which today, is more a 'western' philosophy. In those countries, it is political change that is required, but change must come from within. This is what the "Arab Spring" was partly about: rebellion against forced religion. "Enlightenment-" for want of a better word- should not be forced on a people by outsiders any more than should be religion from within. They have to do it for themselves, at whatever cost to themselves it requires.

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Also atheism is criticised in the Bible ie "The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14)
Keep in mind, the Bible comes in two parts, the Old and the New. You have quoted from the Old. I have a measure of respect for the Old Testament, but reject Christianity, as put forward by the New. This does not make me a Jew, and while I personally believe firmly in the presence of a Supreme Being, I would not force my belief onto others.

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Does that make the Bible racist?
No, only judgmental, but in a philosophical way. It should not be the basis for any civil legislation.

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...and in countries which have Sharia law, and where you can be put to death for having the wrong faith, or no faith?
This is the whole point. The fight going on in Arabia is not about Islam, but about the separation of church and state. Like the Christian Inquisitions and the McCarthy hearings, it's not about philosophy, but about political power, and who wields it. They are fighting a political war, not a religious one.
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#13 Old 10-12-2014, 03:24 AM
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Tarring all Muslims with the same brush because of ISIS is like saying all Christians are terrorists because of the problems in Northern Ireland. And Islam has no more 'penetrated the globe' than other religions like Christianity.

I don't think criticising religion is automatically racist (Islam isn't a race after all) but as LedBoots said, assuming all Muslims are of Middle Eastern ancestry and that therefore people of Middle Eastern ancestry are responsible for any problem relating to Muslim extremism is racist.
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#14 Old 11-29-2014, 04:43 PM
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I do think criticisms of Islam are quite often racist. Of course not all Muslims are Arab, but it's probably good to remember that virtually all Arabs are Muslim. So any negative proclamation that is specifically about Islam will be applicable to the entire Arab world. But it depends on what you're saying. If you're atheist, you think all religions per se have it wrong in an extremely important way. If you are Muslim, you believe in a divine creator. If you're atheist, you don't, and so you think the Muslims have it wrong the way you think anyone who worships a deity has it wrong. If what you are saying about Islam applies equally to Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and any other religion that worships one or more divine figures, it's probably not racist to include Islam. But that's not what we're talking about here, is it? Every major religion has its extremist elements. If somebody is saying the extremist elements within Islam are intrinsic to the religion itself, as if there were no dangerous and organized extremists in the world's other big religions, then yeah I think it's racist.

And that is where it starts to get really sticky for me. I remember working with a man who was married to a Filipina, some of his in-law relatives were Muslim. When the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon blew up on one side, there was a conversation between my coworker and his Muslim brother in law. The man wasn't giddy with joy after 9/11, but he wasn't grief-stricken either. What my coworker quoted him as saying, was: "America has inflicted so much suffering on the world, maybe it will be a good thing for the Americans to experience some suffering too."

He was wrong, of course. It wasn't a good thing at all, for anyone, as it turned out. I told this to illustrate how religion and politics can get their hooks into one another, among people who are not necessarily either extremely religious or extremely political.

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#15 Old 11-29-2014, 05:32 PM
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Of course not all Muslims are Arab, but it's probably good to remember that virtually all Arabs are Muslim.
Wot? Per wikipedia, 5.5% of Arabs are non-muslim which I would say is a significant proportion.
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#16 Old 11-29-2014, 05:51 PM
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Wot? Per wikipedia, 5.5% of Arabs are non-muslim which I would say is a significant proportion.
Okay, you got me. Not all, and not virtually all. Only 94.5% of all Arabs are Muslim.
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#17 Old 11-29-2014, 06:09 PM
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Okay, you got me. Not all, and not virtually all. Only 94.5% of all Arabs are Muslim.
Glad to be able to help you appreciate Joan that there are only millions of non-muslims in the Arab world.
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#18 Old 11-29-2014, 06:34 PM
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Glad to be able to help you appreciate Joan that there are only millions of non-muslims in the Arab world.
does that kill my larger point? About a knock on Islam being pretty much a knock on Arabs in general? I'm thinking more along the lines of a Venn diagram, similar to the way Judaism is a religion but being Jewish is also considered being part of a race. Not that it's always accurate, but that there's quite an overlap.
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#19 Old 11-30-2014, 04:20 AM
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It's all very difficult. The way I've always understand it, the definition of "arab", is someone who speaks arabic as their first language. But not all arabs are muslims. For instance in Egypt, there are millions of christans, most of them copts but there are still a few jews living there. Unlike those christians, it does seem a bit strange to refer to the few remaining jews as arabs.

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#20 Old 11-30-2014, 06:03 AM
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it is interesting how some people seem to think ISIS represents Islam, as though violence defines one's commitment to a set of beliefs.

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#21 Old 11-30-2014, 08:57 AM
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it is interesting how some people seem to think ISIS represents Islam, as though violence defines one's commitment to a set of beliefs.
So who then really represents Islam? I think the fighters of ISIL would say that they are basing their (violent) actions in promoting a caliphate on (violent) verses from the Koran.
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#22 Old 11-30-2014, 09:38 AM
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I do agree that ISIS should be separated from Islam, just as most Christians would separate the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church from Christianity.

Having done a lot of traveling I can tell you there are degrees of what we would consider social extremes among Muslim countries. Up until recently I would have said Turkey is the most socially liberal of them.... in fact I was just in Cappadocia in September and most of the restaurants served alcohol....however recent news would suggest otherwise. Still you had all different levels of cover among women and no one seemed surprised to see me driving a rental car. Morocco is similar, I remember a tour guide there (female, wearing a sweatsuit and a ball cap) telling us there are 13 women in Parliament.

All of that being said, it isn't racist to criticize the behaviors of certain members in a particular religion, however to criticize an entire group of people for perceived assumptions, whether religious or otherwise (Jewish people being cheap, Asians being bad drivers, etc.) it is bigotry.


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#23 Old 11-30-2014, 10:02 AM
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So who then really represents Islam? I think the fighters of ISIL would say that they are basing their (violent) actions in promoting a caliphate on (violent) verses from the Koran.
I suppose all Muslims represent Islam to some extent..I don't really know what defines Islam.

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#24 Old 11-30-2014, 02:16 PM
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I think it's very important that we are able to discuss serious issues like ISIS without it being called racist. ISIS does pose a very serious threat and that should not be ignored.

ISIS does, in my opinion, represent Islam to some degree because it's based on things found in that religion (as far as I understand they want a state run by a caliph and they want to follow sharia laws) Obviously things can be intepretated in different ways and other muslims may argue that ISIS is wrong, but who is really to decide what the "right" way is?
At the same time I would also say that all other muslims represent Islam just as much, and ISIS should not by any means be seen as the biggest or most accurate representation. Therefor I dont think it's racist to criticize ISIS, because it's not the same as criticizing all muslims.

There's also a big difference between criticizing a religion in general and individual people. I for one have a very big issue with halal slaughter and I will never support a religion which advocates that, but that doesn't mean I dislike all muslims or have problems with all other aspects of Islam. Religion, like all other ideologies, should be a target for constructive criticism and that's not a bad thing.
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#25 Old 11-30-2014, 03:12 PM
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You can read more about the religion of peace here:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/qu...3-violence.htm

Other than the fact that Muslims haven't killed every non-Muslim under their domain, there is very little else that they can point to as proof that theirs is a peaceful, tolerant religion. Where Islam is dominant (as in the Middle East and Pakistan) religious minorities suffer brutal persecution with little resistance. Where Islam is in the minority (as in Thailand, the Philippines and Europe) there is the threat of violence if Muslim demands are not met. Either situation seems to provide a justification for religious terrorism, which is persistent and endemic to Islamic fundamentalism.

Apparently genocide, slavery and rape are ok if a magic sky god tells you to do it. And somehow saying so is racist.

Besides, why should Ben Affleck's opinion count as expert testimony? Shouldn't it be worth < the opinions of people with real jobs?
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#26 Old 11-30-2014, 03:17 PM
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Race and religion are a blended concept sometimes. Recently I heard someone describe a person as "looking Muslim", and follow up questions revealed the person "was brown" but had no visual indicators of Islam.

Sometimes people conceal racism in criticism of religion.

But you're right, it should be totally possible to criticize a religion without being labeled racist, because in most cases they're separate issues.

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#27 Old 11-30-2014, 03:32 PM
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it is interesting how some people seem to think ISIS represents Islam, as though violence defines one's commitment to a set of beliefs.
It does if those beliefs directly instruct people to commit acts of violence.
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#28 Old 11-30-2014, 04:01 PM
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It does if those beliefs directly instruct people to commit acts of violence.
Is that an argument you're prepared to make, that Islam does directly instruct people to act violently in a way other religious texts do not? I for one would only bring it out if I were familiar enough with the Koran to point to where that would seem to be the case. And to know conflicting parts of the Koran well enough to buttress my arguments against why those parts don't cancel out the part I was pointing to. Any sacred texts of some length will have passages that violent, power-hungry people can quote for their own purposes. That's why to me it makes so much difference whether you are criticizing a religion compared to other religions, or as an example of why all religion can take a believer right off the rails with a certain kind of slice-and-dice cherry-picked manipulation.
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#29 Old 11-30-2014, 04:29 PM
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And to know conflicting parts of the Koran well enough to buttress my arguments against why those parts don't cancel out the part I was pointing to.
Back when I worked for six months at what was essentially an ice cream parlor, well before I was vegan, I had to be careful not to let any of the mix for the chocolate frozen yogurt get mixed in with the vanilla mix. Some people are allergic to chocolate, but can have vanilla without a problem. Contamination going the other way wasn't a concern, because the vanilla mix was the base for the chocolate mix. See what I'm saying?
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#30 Old 11-30-2014, 04:44 PM
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As Shakespeare wrote in the Merchant of Venice, the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
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