Opinion Columns & Blogs

There’s nothing new about religious rage

Bill Hall
Bill Hall

Over the centuries, religions have been like individual people. From time to time, they are stricken with a pious sickness of sorts, a furious fever of hatred for other religions.

It’s a spiritual rage that overheats your noggin and robs even a normally sane person of his notion of brotherhood.

There’s often some jealousy and alleged superiority among religious people or even among people with political prejudices. But worse, sometimes small factions inside a single religion – or inside one lonely little church – can get cantankerous and yell at each other during sacred services.

Most religions recover sooner or later. Let bygones be flesh wounds. They have the decency to blush a little at the memory of their silly anger.

Some religions more than others try to get along. For instance, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all began as well-intentioned do-gooders out to help the poor and the hungry. In early times, all three of those religions would admire some of the same great leaders and motives.

Well-led church people can go through a cranky mood. and the first thing you know, the hotheads grab a sword and start killing other fanatics.

Centuries ago, Christianity, backed by the Catholic Church of that era, rounded up “crusaders” in suits of armor who grabbed their swords and away they went to butcher members of other religions. Mostly that meant they were determined to murder Muslims.

Now, all these years later, a new, infuriated offshoot of Islam is trying to return the murdering favor, while the rest of Islam suffers from such embarrassment.

Most hideous of all, sometimes one small denomination will kill all its own men, women and children. The charismatic leader of a sect thinks an early chance at heaven would be a dandy idea. It isn’t.

For instance, there was Jonestown, a Christian congregation from San Francisco with a blatantly insane, drug-using preacher named Jim Jones. He moved his flock to a jungle in Guyana. On Nov. 18, 1978, more than 900 people ingested lethal doses of poison.

That was the ISIS of its day, another irrational leader getting gullible young people killed.

Let me call all such people’s attention to the odd favor they could do for their enemies: When it comes to Christian crusaders and crusading Muslims, they long for an early entry into heaven. Bizarre people on both sides of such fantasies should bear in mind that, when they kill an enemy, they will be giving him a ticket to heaven.

Now, here in our time, we have a relatively new way of making your own religion or politics look lousy. Much of the normal Republican leadership in the United States is openly aghast at the outbursts of Donald Trump, the current leading presidential candidate.

The other day, he signaled supporters that, as president, he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States, even though they arrive here the same way your immigrant ancestors and mine did.

When our ancestors came to America, they were frequently told to get lost by self-important earlier arrivals on these shores. The Irish were starving from Ireland’s potato famine. They came so suddenly in such great numbers that they were slapped in the face on their way through America’s door.

Now sadly, descendants of those same hungry Irish immigrants are among today’s tormentors of the newest batch of starving people coming to this country.

Chances are, your immigrant ancestors weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Some among us are still uneasy around former enemies like Germany. If a couple dozen Germans moved into your neighborhood, would Trump try stopping that?

(Wait a minute! Trump? Isn’t that a German name?)

Contact Bill Hall at wilberth@cableone.net or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.