Religious Egalitarianism

The five minute window between approximately 5:16 and 5:21 p.m. is my least favorite time of the day.  Not only am I usually waiting for a bus that has about a 25% chance of showing up,  that’s when both the sports radio talk show that I listen to and the Michael Medved show hit commercial breaks.  This leaves me a few options: turn off the darned radio for a few minutes, see if one of the FM stations is playing a good song, or flip to Sean Hannity.  Perhaps out of some yearning to perform an daily act of penance I often choose option three.  (To understand why this is a quasi-penitential act for me, you can read my post about Hannity here.)  At least he usually has on a guest during this time slot who is both more informative and entertaining than he is – a low bar to be sure.

Today he had two guests, both Muslim.  One was a woman that I’ve heard on his show before.  I am not sure if she is currently a practicing Muslim, but she clearly thinks that it is in the thrall of radicals, and she makes this clear by practically shouting each word that she speaks.  The other gentleman was a “moderate” Muslim.  The few minutes of the exchange that I listened to largely consisted of the former insisting that the latter’s abhorrence of sharia law and radicalism was a minority viewpoint within Islam, and the latter insisting that he represented the majority viewpoint.  Neither really advanced any supporting evidence for either viewpoint save to just insist more fervently in their respective positions. Thrilling radio.

Before tuning out to return to the vitally important discussion of the NCAA tournament (perhaps an even stricter form of penance), the man said something that struck me as rather bizarre.  He stated that he did not think that any religion was any better than any other, and that to believe that one’s own religion was superior to other religions was a sign of arrogance.

Come again?Now I guess I should be somewhat appreciative that he does not cling to the belief that the infidel shall be put to the sword, but this strikes me as a rather extreme swing in the opposite direction.  After all, we’re not talking about one’s preferred floral arrangement.  We’re talking about religion and the path to eternal salvation.   A true believer within any of the Abrahamic faiths, at the very least, would theoretically hold that his own faith is the true one – after all, why hold to said faith if it isn’t the true one?  If one believes that’s one’s faith is true, then presumably one also believes that God has laid out a specific path to eternal salvation.  So if you believe that God has laid out a specific plan, isn’t it then an insult to God to claim that every other religion is just as good?  You’re basically insinuating that all these other flawed belief systems are equally as good as that established by the one true God.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not challenge God’s authority.

Is it arrogant to believe that one’s own faith is superior to another’s?  Not if you are more concerned about your own soul than pc sentimentality.  This is not to say that you need to boastfully mock people of other faiths.  “Ha Ha!  You’re number two, sucker!  Make sure you pack sunblock because you’re gonna be burnin’ in HELL!!!!”  Humility is also a virtue.  But I don’t understand how anybody can view as equally valid religions which are presumably inferior paths to heaven., at least not if you are serious about your faith.

11 Responses to Religious Egalitarianism

  • Christ did not say I am one of the ways and one of the truths. Of course, for people who believe that religions are basically clubs with god-talk, I can understand how they view each of these clubs as equally valid. Those who view religion as the true reality underlying their existence, have a somewhat different view.

  • Mark Noonan says:

    I caught that broadcast, too – my excuse is that my Mrs likes Sean Hannity…as she married me, maybe its just an affinity for Paddys. Anyways…

    That statement by the “moderate” Moslem jarred me, too, though a case can be made that any excuse for moderating the exceptional violence and barbarism of Islam is to be welcomed. But your point is well taken – why believe any religion unless you believe it to be the correct one? I have an absolute conviction that not only is Jesus Our Lord; the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but that His Church is headquartered in Rome and Benedict the XVI is the successor to the man Our Lord gave the keys to. I wouldn’t go in to a Moslem’s home and just shout this at him…but if asked, it is what I’ll answer…and, in truth, I should probably be a bit more forceful and proclaim it often among non-believers.

  • Yet more troubling is the message that Islam, in order to become less of a threat to the world, must relativize its claim to possess the truth. That plays directly into the hands of Muslim rigorists who pose as the defenders of the uncompromised and uncompromisible truth and who call for death to the infidels. If Islam is to become tolerant and respectful of other religions, it must be as the result of a development that comes from within the truth of Islam, not as a result of relativizing or abandoning that truth. Is Islam capable of such a religious development? Nobody knows. But, if the choice is between compromising Islamic truth or a war of civilizations, it is almost certain that the winner among Muslims will be the hard-core Islamism that [Bernard] Lewis rightly views as such a great threat.

    Christianity is more, not less, vibrantly Christian as a result of coming to understand more fully the mysterious and loving ways of God in His dealings also with non-Christians. Although the story of this development is complex, the important truth is that tolerance and mutual respect are religious, not secular, achievements. I will say it again: the reason we do not kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God is that we believe it is against the will of God to kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God. Christians have come to believe that. We must hope that more and more Muslims will come to believe that. That will not happen, however, if they are told that coming to believe that will make them less faithful Muslims.

    ~ Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (First Things June/July 2003)

  • Greg Mockeridge says:

    Christopher:

    Where precisely is there pressure put upon Muslims to “relatavize its claim to possess the truth”? I am assuming you are citing Fr. Neuhaus agreeably. Their claims, as well as the Christian claim, to truth is often challenged. It is the duty of both to answer those challenges. Christians, in large part, do. Whereas many traditional Muslims regard such challenges as a bigoted threat.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Blessed Nicholas Tavilich stated, “You Mohammedans . . . Your Koran is not God’s law nor is it revealed by Him. It is founded neither in the Old Testament nor in the New. Far from being a good thing, your law is utterly evil. In it are lies, foolish things, buffooneries, contradictions, and much that leads not to virtue and goodness but to evil and to all manner of vice.”

    “But the holy monk (St. George of San Saba) having declared that Mahomet was a disciple of the devil, and that his followers were in a state of perdition, he also was condemned (to martyrdom) with his companions.”

    Five disciples of St. Francis of Assisi, who when reproached by the followers of Koran for preaching against Mohammed, simply responded by saying “We have come to preach faith in Jesus Christ to you, that you will renounce Mohammad, that wicked slave of the devil, and obtain everlasting life like us.”

  • Pinky says:

    I do a comedy bit with my friends about the Sean Hannity show, how he cites four facts per show:

    (first hour) One! Two! One and Two!
    (second hour) Three!! One and Three!! Two and Three!! One, Two, and Three!!
    (third hour) Four!!! One and Four!!! etc.

    As scary as extremist Islam can be, there’s something possibly more dangerous about moderate Islam. Moderate Islam has the potential to become the easiest religion in the world. There is one God, Muhammed is his prophet (even though what he said isn’t that important), try not to do bad stuff, or if you do, try not to do it again. That creed could produce a wussier religion than mainstream Protestantism ever could.

    Lazy, feel-good Christianity has to contend with two challenges: the Cross, and the Church. Protestantism steps around the authority of the Apostles, and avoids depictions of Christ crucified, but they still recognize the fact of Christ crucified. What would moderate Islam have to keep its followers on the straight and narrow?

    I think moderate Islam could sweep through the West in the same way that watered-down Buddhism has in the past 50 years, but in much greater numbers. We may be seeing the beginning of it in the fraternity that politically-liberal America feels with the Muslim third world.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Knight:

    Did you see my earlier comment, which was deleted?

    It explained the “situation” without spending 15,000 words worth of click-clacking.

    “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

    Mr. Zummo could “get it” from an immoderate mislum over allowing that comment.

    This was a republic, but they were unable to keep it.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    This thread was not meant to be about Islam, but rather about how some people have a squishy view of religion. It just so happened that the individual who made the comment is Muslim. I have no quibble with discussing the errors of Islamic faith – this just isn’t the thread for it.

  • American Knight says:

    T. Shaw,

    I did not see an earlier post. My tongue in cheek comment was referencing the fact that I believe is the point of this thread. Noting the difference in faith, or anything else for that matter, is not an insult to anyone, although most people take it that way. To presume all religions are the same, is to negate the very idea of religion. If religion is understood as the justice we owe to God, then it can only be true if it is on His terms. Most of today’s religions, including most forms of Catholicism (as they are practiced) are more about us than Him.

    If we establish egalitarianism in regards to God, the only question is are we raising ourselves to God’s level or bringing Him down to ours? I suppose some simply think we should just become gods and then who would need the God hypothesis.

    God established a kingdom, it is necessarily hierarchical, which is over and against egalitarianism, except with respect to dignity.

    Paul, it is evident that this post is not about Islam per se; however, it is the most virile of opponents to the true faith, which creates an interesting point vis. this topic. Islam expresses no egalitarian equivalency with other faith. It is considered superior to the point of waging endless war (jihad) to make the world Dar al Islam. Yet our culture always tries to place Islam above all forms of Christianity. One has to wonder how secularists and sentimental Christians find it comfortable to revere an authoritarian religion like Islam merely because it is against the Truth.

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