Hitchens (2008). Chapter Two: Religion Kills. (god is not Great: How religion poisons everything.)

Hitchens, C. (2008). Chapter Two: Religion Kills. In god is not Great: How religion poisons everything. New York: Twelve.

[Religion is intolerant and greedy for power in the temporal world …]

“… it can be stated as a truth that religion does not, and in the long run cannot, be content with its own marvelous claims and sublime assurances. It _must_ seek to interfere with the lives of nonbelievers, or heretics, or adherents of other faiths. It may speak about the bliss of the next world, but it wants power in this one. …it does not have the confidence in its own various preachings even to allow coexistence between different faiths.” (p 17)

[To empathize is human; to collude, divine …]

“… this is a compliment to humanism, not to religion. If it comes to that, these crises have also caused me, and many other atheists, to protest on behalf of Catholics suffering discrimination in Ireland, of Bosnian Muslims facing extermination in the Christian Balkans, of Shia Afghans and [page break] Iraqis being put to the sword by Sunni jihadists, and vice versa, and numberless other such cases. To adopt such a stand is the elementary duty of a self-respecting human. But the general reluctance of clerical authorities to issue unambiguous condemnation, whether it is the Vatican in the case of Croatia or the Saudi or Iranian leaderships in the case of their respective confessions, is uniformly disgusting.” (p 27-28)

[Rushdie fatwah was deadly and not discouraged by other religious leaders …]

“A number of serious attempts were made to kill Rushdie by religious death squads supported from Iranian embassies. His Italian and Japanese translators were criminally assaulted, apparently in one case in the absurd belief that the translator might know his whereabouts, and one of them was savagely mutilated as he lay dying. His Norwegian publisher was shot in the back several times with a high-velocity rifle and left for dead in the snow, but astonishingly survived. One might have thought that such arrogant state-sponsored homicide, directed at a lonely and peaceful individual who pursued a life devoted to language, would have called forth a general condemnation. But such was not the case. In considered statements, the Vatican, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the chief sephardic rabbi of Israel all took a stand in sympathy with — the ayatollah.” (p 30)

[Faith offers no moral advantage …]

“The nineteen suicide murderers of New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were beyond any doubt the most sincere believers on those planes. Perhaps we can hear a little less about how ‘people of faith’ possess moral advantages that others can only envy.” (p 32)

[Religious leaders using tragedy to further their dogmatic agendas; claims of an after-life as political tool …]

“Within hours, the ‘reverends’ Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell had announced that the immolation of their fellow creatures was a divine judgment on a secular society that tolerated homosexuality and abortion. At the solemn memorial service for the victims, held in the beautiful National Cathedral in Washington, an address was permitted from Billy Graham, a man whose record of opportunism and anti-Semitism is in itself a minor national disgrace. His absurd sermon made the claim that all the dead were now in paradise…. …there is no reason to believe that Billy Graham knew the current whereabouts of their souls, let alone their posthumous desires. But there was also something sinister in hearing detailed claims to knowledge of paradise, of the sort that bin Laden himself was making on behalf of the assassins.” (p 32)

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