Why do so many people get so irrational when discussing religion? I realise, of course, that religion itself is completely irrational, but there’s no excuse for not discussing it rationally.
There’s a story on the BBC News site today about an Islamic school in West London. People are complaining because it uses textbooks that are offensive to other religions.
Let’s look at a couple of the supposedly offensive passages:
give examples of worthless religions… such as Judaism, Christianity, idol worship and others
Nothing wrong with that is there? Well, they’ve missed Islam off the list. All religion is worthless.
But anyone objecting to it is misunderstanding the way that religion works. At most one religion can be true (sane people know it’s fewer than that). Believers in any given religion will, of course, fervantly want to believe that it’s their chosen fairy story that is correct. Therefore they must believe that all other religions are worthless.
Here’s another “objectionable” quotation:
explain that those who die without adhering to Islam will go to hellfire
Once more, that’s just an obvious consequence of picking one supernatural explanation of the universe over the others. If someone doesn’t believe in the “one true” fairy tale then they obviously won’t be entitled to the benefits of that belief. And for both muslims and christians one of the benefits of their beliefs is that they’ll be in heaven when they die. Non-believers will be suffering in hell.
The textbook is only saying what all muslims must believe. And it’s exactly the same as (although a mirror image of) what all christians must believe. Maybe in polite society they don’t go round telling people that they’re going to hell, but it’s what they believe.
Yes, I agree that children should be taught to treat everyone with respect. And yes, it would seem that these children aren’t being taught that. But this isn’t because they are at a muslim school. It’s because they are at a religious school.
Religions teach their followers that they are better than non-believers (or, at least, that they will have a more comfortable afterlife than non-believers). That is divisive and is yet another good reason why religion should be kept out of school.