Xtians, Jews, Muslims (and I imagine other world religions) use speech that immediately casts a wedge between their religion and all other people (not just other religions). They casually throw out the phrase "As a Christian":
As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. ...And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. --Adolf Hitler
In this quote, Hitler draws a line between his fellow Xtians, who stand on the side of the good and the righteous, the moral "supermen" who fight for "truth and justice, and everyone else on the planet (or off-worlders
, as it were) who, by contrast, allow ourselves to be "cheated" and do not care a whit for the values of duty, truth, and justice. What really shines a light on this idea of "us vs. them" that is rampant in most world religions is the last line in the quote that defines his quest as one to care only about "his people", and not others who may or may not even be people
Before you accuse me of casting too wide a net, let me describe how this philosophy pervades some major religions beyond xtianity:
- Judaism - The "chosen people" consistently define themselves by defining how they are not who others are. I am not talking about cultural jews or liberal hippy jews, but the jews who still believe in the old testament and the Torah, those who do not take the elevator or cook bacon and especially not on the Sabbath. This group of religious individuals believe that theirs is the true religion and that others who do not follow in their worship and baby genital mutilation practices are not on the side of truth. The jews are one of the few religions who do not practice proselytization (for which I am grateful) but not out of respect for the beliefs (or nonbeliefs) of others, but because those who are not already the children of Israel cannot be "converted" and magically become part of that clique. So theirs is a line in the sand that has grown into a wall that is impenetrable and unscalable.
- Muslim - An example of their idea of truth and justice is one shared by many xtians as well (a fact that never fails to startle me), in the idea that some of their own religion - their own people, are not good enough for god. In fact they are not good enough to live. What is it that would cause the acceptance of other religions (in this case only, I am sure), bring together the hatred of a single segment of population, cause the blood to boil and create so much religious fervor? Did someone draw another picture of Mohammed with a bomb toupee? No, it's teh gays. So Muslim and xtian share the same moral outrage that two guys prefer their own company over the company of women (whom I might add are only accepted slightly more than teh gay by the Muslim community). So their line in the sand separates them from all those who do not believe in the prophet Mohammed and also those within or without their community who are happy to be in the company of someone from the same gender.
Of course, there are sects and offbranches of these religions who more or less forcefully embrace the tenets described, but while they they still subscribe to the umbrella organization, they continue to carry a big stick with which to beat opponents down and draw that line in the sand.
Try this experiment sometime: Substitute "idiot" (or other similar term like "jackoff", "tool", etc.) when you stumble on this phrase. Here's an example:
Malaysia is supposedly enforcing Sharia law, and dont get me wrong, I think it is good that they enforce Sharia Law, As a Muslim, I think Shari'a is the solution to all ppl's problems but they should implement it throught the WHOLE COUNTRY. So Alcohol should be BANNED ROM THE WHOLE COUNTRY. It is ridiculous that the Chinese and Indian community can drink while Malay muslims cannot. Alcohol should be banned entirely. Enforcing this law becomes difficult as well, as someppl are allowed alcohol. Malaysia is a muslim country, and so sharia law should apply to ALL. Not just muslims. -Mushfiquejk (forums.sgclub.com)
"As an idiot, I think Shari'a is the solution...". Sounds a lot more reasonable, doesn't it.
The Atheist community should start using this tactic as well:
"As an Atheist, I believe that girls should be taught that their bodies are their own and that, if they are not a minor, and they want to engage in sex, they should understand how to do so safely."
"As an Atheist, I believe that it is society's responsibility to provide age appropriate sex education to males and females so that ignorance does not lead to accidents."
"As an Atheist, I believe that providing superior science education is the only way to ensure that future generations make the world better for all people, even those who disagree with us."
x-posted from http://330m.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/as-a-christian/