No, All Religions Are Not The Same

This is another blog entry written in the context of an article. This time, it’s in response to the comments of grinning, socialist comedian Mark Steel in the Independent. The original article is at and my own thoughts are framed around several of his comments.

“Charlie Hebdo: Norway’s Christians didn’t have to apologise for Anders Breivik, and it’s the same for Muslims now”

I haven’t heard anyone demand an apology from Muslims over the Charlie Hebdo killings. Muslims certainly don’t need to apologise at all, in the same way Britain need not necessarily apologise for the actions of the British empire, although it is noticeable that it has in many cases. More on Breivik shortly.

No, Muslims don’t need to apologise; they need to weed out the large numbers of extremists in their midst, because no-one else can intrude internally on their religion and do the job of dragging Islam through its own Reformation better than Muslims themselves.

“Are you allowed to be critical of Muhammad at all?”

It would appear not. Why not try it and let’s see what happens?

“And are all images banned?”

The Quran says nothing on this issue. The hadith say yes. The British press appears to agree with the latter stance.

“..In countries like America you can’t imagine a lunatic ever going berserk with a gun in a public place.”

How many lunatics have gone berserk with a gun in America explicitly in the name of Christianity compared with Muslims who have done so explicitly in the name of Islam? The point being made by critics is that there is a problem specifically and demonstrably within Islam above all other religions right now: not in the Dark Ages… not during the Spanish Inquisition… not during the sectarian religious wars in Europe, but today, and worldwide.

“It’s true that every Muslim leader in Britain has denounced them several times.”

Who are these ‘Muslim leaders’? What is a Muslim leader? How are they appointed, and who appoints them? Every Muslim leader? Are you sure? Shall I embarrass you by pointing you to a couple of ‘Muslim leaders’ who have not only not denounced the attacks, but have condoned them?

Watch the mass street demonstrations of Muslims the next time Israel gets involved in Gaza and let’s just compare with the lack of conspicuous mass street demonstrations explicitly by Muslims over the Charlie Hebdo killings. I’m sure that there were many Muslims in the peaceful crowds which assembled, because there are indeed very many good Muslims who reject the extremists’ agenda, and indeed Muslims worldwide are the biggest victims of this agenda. But according to many reputable opinion polls, there are a significant number of Muslims in the UK alone who agree with the actions of the murderers, a larger number who will not condemn them, and a larger number still (joined by many non-Muslim multi-culti apologists) who claim that Charlie Hebdo had it coming for not respecting the religious demands of a minority.

Anders Breivik is one of the very few names apologists always have to trot out – quite telling in itself really – and he didn’t act for religious reasons. Nominally Christian, Breivik wrote “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person, as that would be a lie” in his ‘manifesto’. Breivik called himself a cultural Christian. I, an atheist, am also a cultural Christian.

Now compare the number of atrocities carried out explicitly, openly, and proudly in the name of Christianity with those carried out in the name of Islam. World events speak for themselves and you look ridiculous when you assert otherwise, merely because reality doesn’t meet with your own world view of how things should be in your Utopia.

Raoul Moat? Again, were his actions carried out for religious motives?

“Nigel Farage has concluded the murders in Paris prove there’s a “fifth column” seeking to destroy us from within”

Well, considering that there are videos of such British people regularly and openly declaring their desire to do precisely this (a quick search on YouTube will help out there), to deny it seems slightly, erm, strange. It also seems strange that it took the murders in Paris for Farage to conclude this.

“Out in rural Kent, where Nigel Farage is standing to be MP, it’s just Allah Allah Allah all day long.”

Hilarious, but I’m guessing and hoping that people in rural Kent are aware and care just a little about what goes on in the rest of their country and the effect wider issues have on their locality.

“Every religion’s holy book is a chaotic mixture [of peace and violence].”

Not so; Jainism is explicitly non-violent. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you were referring specifically to the desert dogmas. The god of the Old Testament is indeed a psycho and the New Testament is still full of questionable morals and contradictions in the context of our societal terms.

“The same could be true of all faiths, its followers ranging from the heroic to the despicable, all of them justifying their actions by finding the relevant quote in their holy text.”

Indeed. The key difference you overlook, however, is that Christianity and Judaism are today firmly rooted in societies which have rejected religion as the dominant force in state politics. Just think about that for one minute, because it’s a fundamentally important oversight in the logic of you and all your fellow members of the “all religions are the same” brigade. Now take a look at Islamic states around the world. How many are liberal democracies and how many are theocracies?

Christ himself (if, for the sake of discussion, we accept the Christian narrative) preached separation of church from state – “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. Christianity was spread by Rome and not by Christ. Islam was spread by the sword by its founder (unlike for Christ, we have historic evidence for this) and Islam’s founder is considered to be the model of perfection.

There is no core concept of separation of religious and state affairs in Islamic states. Very many Muslims who find themselves in courts assert that they don’t answer to man-made laws, but only to God’s laws, as set out in the Quran. This is of fundamental importance to those whom people dub ‘extremists’. To play the multiculturalist’s own game, they may be extremists by our standards, but by their standards they are simply being the best kind of Muslims and following the example of their founder in following the word of God.

Modern Christians choose to wilfully ignore the less savoury parts of the Bible, because they don’t fit the morals of a modern liberal democracy. In other words, secular values move the debate on and encroach on religious influence in western societies. This can be observed in our own lifetimes, where the C of E’s opposition to the ordination of female priests has rescinded and the Church is having to soul-search over its attitudes towards homosexuality.

Far from being the ‘Tory party in pews’ of the mid 20th century, the C of E now regularly takes the moral high-ground over issues such as food banks, bankers’ bonuses, and other issues of social equality. Further back, our attitude to slavery changed a couple of hundred years ago; further back still, we stopped burning heretics, blasphemers, and witches… Some Islamic countries to this day have no such scruples.

Religions are not all the same. To make that claim betrays a fundamental misunderstanding and ignorance of the role of religion in different societies: a submission to wishful thinking rather than hard facts.

Quite simply, Christianity in the West has had to adapt to society rather than the other way around. It has increasingly had to move away from its former role as the conservative force and bastion of high morals it was in the Victorian era and has had to become a mouthpiece for social justice in order to cling on to some semblance of relevance in modern society.

Christianity and Judaism have lost state control either de facto (UK, most of Europe, and Israel) or de jure (USA, France) in all modern liberal democracies. Islam transcends religious and state issues in almost all Islamic states. The Islamic states which are secular are secular because they were forced to be so under the control of larger empires (chiefly the British, French, Dutch, Austro-Hungarian and Soviet empires) and have remained so following the collapse of these empires. The one major exception of course is the most successful Muslim empire of all time – the Ottoman empire, centred around Turkey, which modernised in the early 1800s, and following its demise post WW1, became explicitly and fiercely secular under the leadership of Atatürk. Sadly, Atatürk’s efforts (going as far as banning Muslim headscarves) seem under threat by the current Turkish regime.

Poor education; widespread belief in conspiracy theories; madrassas; anti-western propaganda; disaffected youths; a sense of victimhood; antagonism towards host nations’ core values; demands made on wider society to accommodate religious practices; incompatible cultural practices in treatment of women, homosexuals, children, apostates, and non-believers… These are all factors especially prevalent in Muslim circles. No other minority group or religion presents itself as so mismatched to its host culture and seems to revel in being that way. Sikhs even protest alongside the EDL!

“So the most logical response to any supposedly religious act is to respond to the act and not the religion.”

Thereby ignoring wholly the driving factor behind the act explicitly stated by the perpetrator. You’re so self-unaware and determined not to offend, that you don’t even realise how ridiculous that comment is. Not only that, but given that the perpetrator is brave and of sufficient faith to forfeit his own life, you might at least afford him the courtesy of taking him at his own word!

Look, nobody is blaming Muslims en masse for these daily atrocities, but the core problem is nevertheless with Islam, and the sooner people like you admit it, rather than take every opportunity to resort to predictable partisan criticism of capitalist societies which have betrayed your socialist ideals, the sooner we can support the brave reforming voices within Islam to drag it wholly into the 21st century and improve life for all peace-loving, ordinary Muslims.

We, in nominally Christian societies, with our own dark histories, should know this only too well.