My Imaginary Friend is Better Than Yours: A Defence of Secularism

This is the reason I’m an atheist.

The events that led to Saturday’s scenes can be summed up in one sentence: My imaginary friend is better than yours.

The film Innocence of Muslims was made by Christian fundamentalists “to encourage Muslims to question their faith”, according to script consultant and professional hate monger Steve Klein.

One of the backers is Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who threatened to mark the anniversary of 9/11 by burning the Koran.

It was promoted in Egypt by extremist Coptic Christians, persecuted by the Muslim majority.

There’s no doubt the movie is offensive.

(As one of my friends wrote on facebook, “It is a crime against art that is highly offensive to anyone who loves film. The filmmakers should indeed be beheaded”.)

Mohammed is depicted as a murderous thug, rapist and paedophile, who blackmails people into converting to Islam.

But how can any rational person use violence to defend someone who preached peace?

Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits. {Quran 2:190]

The answer is in the word “rational”.

No major religious text espouses extreme violence.

But faithful followers cherry pick phrases to justify their actions.

The Spanish Inquisition and the Crusade; the torching of Indian Muslims by Hindus; the Troubles in Ireland: Religion is used as an excuse for man’s inhumanity to man.

The term ‘peaceful religion’ is an oxymoron.

This morning, the headline of Greg Sheridan’s piece in The Australian read, “The unacceptable face of multiculturalism”.

An accurate interpretation would replace the word “multiculturalism” with “religion”.

Angry youths need less religion and more work, Joan Smith writes in The Independent.

Eight-year-old Ruqaya, who spoke to the Sydney chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir about her love of jihad, needs an education outside an Islamic school.

We must fight – with words not fists – to keep Australia secular.

I wrote in February about my opposition to scripture classes and chaplains in public schools.

The Gillard government boosted funding to the chaplaincy program, initiated by John Howard, to win the Christian vote.

In a clear breach of the ‘principal of state neutrality’, known as the separation of church and state, taxpayers are funding evangelicals to preach creationism to our kids.

My seven-year-old son insists God created the earth, no matter how many times I show him pictures of monkeys.

At least we have an atheist as Prime Minister. According to the author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, in the United States a successful politician “can’t be an atheist, at least in public”.

But what of Captain Catholic Tony Abbott, who claims it’s “un-Christian” for boat people to come in “by the back door”?

Would an Abbott government further entrench religion in public life?

Perhaps we would follow the path of Ireland, where students spend 10 per cent of their time on religion and 12 per cent on maths?

You don’t need to be a mathematician to see the disparity in numbers between public support for gay marriage, and politicians opposed to it.

The church has disproportionate power in this country.

Witness the difficulty bringing paedophile priests to justice, aired again last night on 60 Minutes.

In the words of Voltaire, “Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense”.

But instead of debating the role of religion, commentary has concentrated on two tribes at war.

Islam and Christianity both originate in the Middle East, with more that binds than separates them: the twin “golden commandments” of loving God and one’s neighbour; Jesus as a prophet and maybe the Messiah; the peace treaty in the Achtiname of Muhammad.

Extremists amplify the differences – and the excesses of their enemies.

“Making a film which mocks Mohammad? Awful. Muslim treatment of women, beheading hostages, burning embassies? No prob.” in the words of one tweep.

Islamophobia and its cousin Christianophobia are growing in otherwise secular states.

I say, refuse to play.

Put down your bats and balls and go home.

Leave the fairy tales to pre-schoolers.

Richard Dawkins reveals the absurdity of it all in this tweet: Somebody in NZ insulted Thor. Quick, burn the Peruvian embassy and attack the Italian Ambassador.

It makes me glad the only things I believe in are worms.