How prayers to God are dividing a local community.

This is a story that I’ve been following since it first started to develop a week or so ago and considering that today is the annual “National Day of Prayer” I thought it would be apropos to talk about it. It concerns a relatively well-known city in the Metro Detroit area called Hamtramck and how a changing population has led to a clash of religious cultures. Outside of Michigan Hamtramck is known for two particular traits: 1) it’s literally a city inside a city in the sense that it is surrounded on all sides by the city of Detroit (as is Highland Park) and 2) it’s traditionally a Polish enclave. Over the last ten years, however, there has been a ten fold increase in the city’s Asian population and these immigrants have brought their Muslim beliefs with them. For the most part the largely Catholic white citizens have managed to get along pretty well with the growing Muslim population in their midst, or at least they’ve managed to hide their resentment of the newcomers up until recently, but simmering tensions finally boiled over due to a request to the city council by the al-Islah Islamic Center for permission to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer over outdoor loudspeakers for about two minutes five times a day. Suddenly the resentment and bigotry came to the surface:

They can believe whatever they want to, but IӒm against them pushing their content into my head like brainwashing, said Joanne Golen, 68, a lifelong Hamtramck resident. ԓThere are seven mosques in the city, and Ill be in the middle of all of them.Ҕ … Though the calls to worship are in Arabic, Golen said shes offended by words that praise Allah. ғHes not my true God,Ҕ Golen said. I canӒt stay locked in my house with cotton in my ears every time they do it. … “It says Allah is the one and only God. I am Christian. My God is Jesus Christ. That is my only objection—that I have to listen to a God other than the one I believe in praised five times a day.”—Detroit News

Oh how terrible it is to be exposed to religious traditions outside of your own! Keep in mind that Hamtramck has many Christian churches several of which ring bells for various reasons throughout the day. The Muslims argue that the call to prayer is the same as the ringing of church bells and have agreed to conditions prohibiting them from broadcasting the call to prayer before 6AM or after 10PM. This isn’t without precedent in Michigan as Dearborn has a very large Muslim population and for the last 15 years the American Muslim Society’s mosque has broadcast daily prayers there, though it is true that most mosques in America keep their broadcasts indoors if the neighborhood isn’t largely Muslim. While the city council weighed the issue upset Christians didn’t sit idly by waiting to see what the decision would be. Petitions were circulated and lawsuits were threatened though most legal scholars don’t think there’s much that can be done about it. Technically the mosque didn’t even need to ask permission under the law as it stands, but they did so out of a sense of being a good neighbor. This is what they get for trying to be polite:

ԓIve made friends. I go to their weddings. (But) weҒre losing our tradition and Im getting mad,Ҕ Alice Dembowski said. If theyӒre going to live in America, why cant they be more American?Ҕ—Detroit News.

Jackie Rutherford, a librarian and youth-care worker, sat on her front stoop watching three men in Islamic shirt-dresses and tupi caps at the house across the street. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to our little town,” said Ms. Rutherford, 39.

“I used to say I wasn’t prejudiced against anyone, but then I realized I had a problem with them putting Allah above everyone else,” she said, of the plan to amplify the call to prayer, which mosques announce five times a day. “It’s throwing salt in a wound. I feel they’ve come to our country, infiltrated it, and they sit there looking at us, laughing, calling us fools.”—New York Times

A number of citizens have shown their ignorance of what their Constitutional rights are in this issue:

“My main objection is simple,” she said. “I don’t want to be told that Allah is the true and only God five times a day, 365 days a year. It’s against my constitutional rights to have to listen to another religion evangelize in my ear.”—Joanne Golen

“Everyone talks about their rights. The rights of Christians have been stripped from them. Last week there were Muslims praying downstairs, in a public building. If Christians tried to do that, the A.C.L.U. would shut us down.”—Chuck Schultz
Call to Prayer in Michigan Causes TensionNew York Times

“Where are my rights? Where are the rights of all the people who have lived in this community all of their lives? I do not have a choice as to whether I hear this or not.”—Mary Urbanski Hamtramck prayer OK prompts outrage

There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you never have to listen to another religion evangelize to you (which the call to prayer doesn’t do anyway). If there was I would have invoked it against all the idiots who keep trying to convert me to Christianity a long time ago. Nor would the ACLU shut your Christian group down simply for making use of a public building as long as it wasn’t as a result of government support. And, no, you don’t have a choice as to whether you hear the call to prayer or not. Just like the Muslims don’t have a choice on hearing the Christian church bells chime on the hour, every hour, every day. You people need to get a friggin’ clue.

On Tuesday the Hamtramck city council unanimously approved the amendment to the noise ordinance giving an official blessing, if you’ll pardon the pun, for the broadcasts to begin next week. Needless to say the Catholic opponents are outraged and have vowed that this isn’t the end of the issue.

The Hamtramck City Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday night of a plan to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast on loudspeakers five times a day in Arabic has outraged many of the city’s Polish Catholic residents.

They said they’ll start a petition drive to bring the issue to a vote. Others have said they’ll file lawsuits in federal court. Some plan to move.

“I’d hate to see it go this route, but unfortunately, it’s going to go this route,” said resident Robert Zwolak.—

I must say, though, that the award for most undisguised bigotry combined with being totally clueless has to go to this woman:

Maria Radtke, a Polish immigrant who fled a Europe devastated by World War II, said Tuesday that it irks her that Muslims don’t seem to be trying to fit into American culture the way she did when she first came to the United States.

“When you come to this country . . . adjust to the customs and beliefs of this country. I respect their religion. I respect their faith. But you cannot wear this on your sleeve.

“Fifty-two years ago when I came to this country, every nationality lived in their own community, and really, it was peaceful. And now politicians made a melting pot where you can live anywhere you want. That made a disaster.”—Detroit Free Press

Can you believe that? In this day and age someone is actually complaining that in America you have the freedom to live anywhere you want. Damn those politicians and their promotion of diversity! Now she has to be exposed to cultures and beliefs that are different from her own! In the minds of these people this is the same as being told their beliefs are wrong and they seriously think they have some Constitutional right not to be told they are wrong. All the Muslims want is to be treated fairly and to enjoy the same privilege already granted to their Christian neighbors. Not every Christian in Hamtramck is opposed to this and many agree with their Muslim counterparts, but the amount of opposition is still impressive.

On this “National Day of Prayer” we’ll be told repeatedly that prayer is always a good thing and should be engaged in daily. That people of all faiths should come together and pray for the blessings from whatever concept of God(s) they may have to be bestowed upon our country, our communities and our families. We will hear of countless stories where the power of prayer has righted some wrong or cured some incurable disease or turned someone’s life around and we’ll be encouraged to make daily prayer a habit because it’s always a good thing. Yet here in Michigan we have a perfect example of just how a daily prayer can cause as much harm as good and can bring hidden prejudices and fears to the surface. It reveals just how poorly many Americans understand what their rights are and just how selfish they can be in allowing others to enjoy the same freedoms and privileges they claim for themselves. Not to mention how little they understand the teachings of their own religion.

58 thoughts on “How prayers to God are dividing a local community.

  1. (Shakes head sadly.)

    The only small bit I’ll grant the Christian community there is that I suspect most (or at least many) folks who hear church bells don’t think of them as an expicitly religious message, as opposed to a direct call to prayer.

    It’s interesting, though, and perhaps more of a local issue than a national one.  I’ve never lived in (in California and Colorado) a community where church bells were anything but a rare, singular exception—a carrilon concert at lunch, perhaps, but not a regular Sunday come-to-prayer, or an hourly chime, or anything like that.  When our church here was built, it was made explicitly clear that the neighbors did not want any sort of bells ringing at any time for any occasion.  With that sort of precedent, it’s likely that Muslim call to prayer would face similar, nonsectarian opposition.

    That all said, way too many of the folks quoted are narrow-minded and clueless.  And I fear the harm they will do to their community will be far greater than the annoyance of calls to prayer will.

  2. What’s scary is that it IS actually the same god:  the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses.  It’s sectarianism poisoned by pure and simple racism.

  3. I don’t view this as a religious issue, but as a noise pollution issue (regular playing of church bells is the same thing). Even if they wanted to play the Mickey Mouse Club song five times a day, I would be opposed to it on the same grounds. The troulble with the residents there is they aren’t arguing on that grounds because that would include their church bells.

  4. Total word on what GeekMom said. Uh, people? IT’S THE SAME GOD YOU IDIOTS. Great googly moogly.

  5. Firstly: Bravo on the writing.

    Secondly: I agree with ***Dave, in that I think of church bells as something to signify time, more than a secular prayer.

  6. You know, I don’t even think this is an issue of a noise ordinance. Honestly, I live less than a quater mile from the flightline of Dyess Air Force Base and I have to put up with the sound of afterburners that are so loud and so powerful that the base has blast shields opposite the flightline to protect buildings on base from debris and noise and I don’t bitch about it so what’s the harm in having a call to prayer five times a day? And as for the woman bitching about having another religion evangelize to her, well, what about this? If I ever go to the fair,library, school, bank, mall, supermarket, or even a damn taco bell, there’s always someone handing out religious leaflets and telling me I’m gonna burn in hell, and I even have to put up with the assholes who wake me up at 6:30 in the goddamn morning to tell me to change my evil ways and I STILL don’t bitch about it. Granted, I’m an extraordinarily patient man, but is it really to much to ask of these people to shut the fuck up for once? Really, these bigots make me sick.

  7. There are a couple of related articles on the Christian Coalition website. They have an article about Jim Marquis, who is a pastor of the New Covenant Worship Center in Wellston, Ohio. He is trying to help the Christians in Hamtramck explain how the Muslim broadcast will affect the Community.

    He said, “Five times a day for up to five minutes at a time, you’re going to have to hear this prayer recited to Allah in whom we do not believe as Christians. We do not feel that they have the right to broadcast through an amplification system that prayer that we are forced to listen to, and we have no recourse or redress.” He goes on to say, “It’s disgusting and it’s just absolutely intrusive upon everyone’s rights that this takes place”.

    The CC’s other article talks about the National Day of Prayer-how it’s endorsed by Bush-and how the entire Bible is read over loudspeakers over several days.
    “Since Monday, God’s Word has been read over an amplified sound system that covers a large portion of the National Mall. The last verse of Revelation will echo through the Mall sometime Thursday afternoon.”

    Can you say “double standard”??

  8. Muslim noise pollution, Christian noise pollution, it’s all someone else’s content intruding into my yard. I can shut off the TV, not read the phamplets, kick out the door-to-door Mormons, but what right does anyone have to amplify their content into my freakin’ yard!?

    And jet afterburners are not the same thing.  With jets the noise is a byproduct of the activity, not an attempt to communicate anything. 

    From a noise-pollution angle, the amplified human voice is worse than bells esthetically.  But as a matter of civil liberties, the bell-ringers have no business trying to stifle the prayer-callers.  They should keep their religion out of my yard.  I don’t stand up in their church services and say bad things about their invisible man in the sky.

    Bells can carry content.  On beautiful Sunday mornings, I go out, turn on “CarTalk” at a reasonable* volume as I work on my old Bug in the backyard, a happy man.  And then… the damn church bells start in with their obnoxious catchy 19th century revival hymns.  As a former minister (and former Christian) I know the words to all those hymns and they bug the hell out of me.  But everyone would think I’m a terrible person if I said anything - that’s a fact!

    *(reasonable volume = barely audible at the street, inaudible at my neighbor’s back door.)

    Let ‘em get Palm Pilots if they can’t remember when to pray.  And Vicki, you’re totally right about that “double standard.”  There must be a lot of non-Christians on the mall during that time.

    You suppose I could get a permit to broadcast 5-minute homilies about my favorite scientists 5 tims a day?

  9. Those idjits who are complaining about hearing a call to prayer five times a day should be reminded of the CHRISTMAS CAROLS that are broadcast in just about every public place 24/7 for three months in the winter …

  10. I have heard those call to prayers before and unless the ones that are being talked about over here are louder than the ones I have heard in muslim countries, it is quite ok. You will more likely be more irritated by sounds of a car or a truck driving past your house or that dog barking rather than those call to prayers, or at least I am.

    Not too sure if it is in the article but if I am not wrong unless the people in those Mosque are trying something radically different, the call to prayer is NOT in English. In fact most of the people who attend the Mosque (unless they are from the Middle East) may not even understand it since if I am not wrong it is in Arabic.

  11. I have to listen to that arabic blather piped into my world five times a day so you can pass the liberal crack pipe?  If they try to pull that crap in my neighborhood, I’ll get a chainsaw and night-vision goggles for the nightly “repair” of the sound system.

    When will you knuckleheads get the hint that Islam is a cult and not a true religion?  Just because it survived the centuries amongst the desert goat-herders doesn’t make its rhetoric of hate any more valid.  Nor is their Allah the same as the Christian God.  It says in the Koran:

  12. rachel

    I particularly love the way you use the term cult for muslims and no one else. Especially considering that the textbook definition of “cult” is any group who gathers for worship, so forgive me if I seem a bit harsh but you’re a fucking moron. You sit there and spread this anti-muslim propaganda and what’s worse is that you actually believe this shit. Well, you know what? Eat it bitch. I’m fairly certain after having this same bullshit shoved down their throats since they were born most people here probably don’t want to hear it from you either. Your voice is not unique, but just another bit of mindless whining. So, in the future, if you’d like to post, try to put some actual “thought” into what you say. If you do, you might even gain my respect, but I doubt that’s coming sometime soon.

  13. ALL religions are cults, they are ALL nothing but utter bullshit, there is not 1 single shred of evidence that supports ANY religion as being factual.

    All religious individuals are suffering from a Mind Virus.

    Meanwhile Atheist just sit back crack a beer and watch the lunacy.

  14. When will you knuckleheads get the hint that Christianity is a cult and not a true religion? Just because it survived the centuries amongst the desert goat-herders doesn’t make its rhetoric of hate any more valid.

    Yes, there a millions of kind, loving people who consider themselves Christian, but they are there because their family are all Christian as well, and they do not follow the Bible’s teachings properly, such as: Deuteronomy 13:6
      If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
      Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
      Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
      But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
      And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
    Rather than mis-guided tolerance, we need a system of de-programming and counseling, much like you would do for an alchoholic or sex offender.

    Yeah, they seem all cute and cuddly when they are the minority, but once they get going, you’ll always be sorry.

  15. Is not a religion merely a cult that have ‘made it.’ A religion is something like an Multi National Corporation (MNC). It is still a company just that it is so much larger.

  16. In fact, that “misguided tolerance” is the ONLY thing in the long run that will keep us from killing each other.  There are very few religions that have not shown a propensity for violence under the right conditions, i.e., when they get the upper hand.

    Under a constitutionally-mandated tolerance, everyone has to give the other guy a bit of space whether they like it or not.  Even if he’s wierd, even if we don’t like him, he lives here and he gets his say.  That’s the law and we all live under it, Rachelle.

    In other words, NO ONE gets the upper hand, that is - an “establishment of religion.”  Not the Christians, not the Muslims, not the Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc.

    The most hopeful thing I have heard anyone say about the human race recently is the Dalai Lama, who said:

    “I believe it is very useful or important to have a nonreligious way of approaching a nonbeliever in order to give him peace of mind.  And in a way to give it to the community and to humanity as a whole.  In any case, the majority of the world’s population of six billion people has little interest or seriousness when it comes to religion…  These are secular ethics, not a religious message, and they are for everyone…. Human values are essential.  We must find a way to present basic human values to everyone - and present them not as religious matters but as secular ethics that are essential whether you are religious or not.”

    There’s your liberal crack-pipe.  Sounds better than the next crusade, inquisition, ethnic cleansing, pogram, etc. which ALWAYS gets started when someone says “They’re getting too numerous!!!”

  17. Rachelle-

    Speaking of rhetoric of hate: How about the KKK and Hitler? What is/was their religious reason for their actions? Oops - I believe that was CHRISTIANITY??!!

    Good one, GM

  18. Thank you, GeekMom, for writing the very reply I would have written. You’ve been hanging out here too much, starting to sound just like me.

    My initial thought is that Rachelle is just another troll, but I do know of people out there that hold a similar viewpoint and that worries me. From where I’m standing all religions could be considered cults, some are just more popular than others.

  19. nowiser, how in the HELL did you know that I was introducing my daughter to Bill and Ted just yesterday??

    “You sunk my battleship.”

  20. Les, thanks for that posting, great job! 

    I wished I could hear the prayer calls again.  It’s been over 20 years, and to me it wasn’t a prayer call, since I didn’t understand it.  It reminded me where I was, it was exciting, excotic and beautiful. 

    And it was a lot more soothing than the church bells I accross the street where I grew up, the street car bells in front of my apartment later and then those airplanes going over my house in Daly City, Cal. Especially on Sundays.

    Now I’m in the middle of the desert and I hate the traffic, sometimes 5 or more cars an hour.  And there’s nothing more annoying than those moronic weekenders on their idiotic 4-wheelers.  Did I move to the desert so I can listen to their noise?

    And how do my neighbors enjoy hearing my new drum?

    I can see where people consider a prayer call noise pollution where there is no other noise. 

    As a western woman, I don’t think I’ll be able to go to the Middle East again, and I’ll never get to see Afghanistan.  Some things you just have to do while you can.

    Anyway, it’s too bad so many Americans are so afraid of anything different, so insecure.

  21. Wow. Intelligent commenters. Ok, except for the blathering idiot, but she was good for a laugh when she was getting intelligently shot down. I can’t believe I’ve never read your blog before. *note to self: add to aggregator*

  22. Welcome Crankydragon. There’s a lot more where this came from. You should spend a few weeks reading the archives.

  23. Oh no! I’m such a weak minded fool, those calls to worship are sure to turn me to Islam. They must be stopped! Help me Christian Coalition! You guys would never try to brainwash me.

  24. Hey …terms of agreement when I signed up for this group Im sure were the same as everyone else had to agree to also. Which stated….“By registering at this site you agree not to post any messages that are (obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful,) threatening, or that violate any laws.  We will permanently ban all users who do so.”
    hummm? Talk about haters and cults and need I say ignorant. You all put the iceing on the cake. You..who have no clue to what your talking about just mindless words full of hate.

    Here….I think this was misqoted by one of your igorant crew.

    Rather than mis-guided tolerance, we need a system of de-programming and counseling, much like you would do for an alchoholic or sex offender. (or for the idots who are full of Hate and think their all bad stuff because of their sladerous words and uneducated views of others) so have you read the Koran lately?? or how about the Bible? Not!! so then how can you rightly judge any affairs bettween the two? You all are a generation of VIPERS and even more so …to the—“use to be minister,oldecrepitoldfool” … You said…As a former minister (and former Christian) I know the words to all those hymns and they bug the hell out of me. “ITs called conviction and you know it” “you will be held even more accountable…and your time is comeing..God (The I am) will judge you soon and your judgement will be a greater damnation—if you even had a calling—then you knew the truth. This is a profetic word to you sir.. turn quickly from your evil ways or (soon) you will dread your damnation. You will pay the price.” These are not my words,  you dont want to believe me but you know and you may want to OPEN the bible again and check for your self….

    Yeah, (the Hater ignorant group who gather here (group-cault hummm?) seem all educated and tuff stuff when they are the minority, but one day they will be very sorry for their ignorance when they have to bow before Jesus Christ.

    You all think your right..and islamics think their right and christians think their right atheist think their right…so who’s wrong? Those who choose to be ignorant will stay ignorant but those who choose to know the truth will search for it with all their heart because it will set you free. Here is the truth and the life (Jesus Christ) he is the way the only way and besides him there is no other. 

  25. Dude, wrong thread. You should be posting this crap in this thread so we can do all of our laughing in a convenient one-stop approach.

  26. Laugh go ahead while you still can one day you will not laugh. I know I dont have to waist my time posting here…But it was worth it if just one opened there eyes. Because you sure aren’t gonna tell them the truth. Im not gonna stay on here and argue didnt join for that (dont need to) But get this…
    I"M GONNA PRAY NOW and MENTION HIS NAME …JESUS CHRIST and everthing you set your hands to will not prosper… it will fail!  until you turn from your EVIL ways. This is not hate or a power struggle on who is right or who is wrong this is a eternal soul issue. You would not reward your child for doing wrong nor do you hate him for doing wrong but you would tell him to do right and if he didnt you would scold or ground him or take something he liked away until he understood what he was doing was wrong. This may not speak to all but someone-sometime here will read this and it just may change their life.

    Dont bother trying to Comment back to me My visitaion is over.


    There, is that the reaction you were hoping for? Get in line, Bub. There’s lots of others praying their hearts out for me and I’m all for it. Keeps ‘em off the streets and on their knees where they’re less likely to cause any trouble.

  28. After reading generationofvipers last two comments I’m really only wondering one thing and that is, does anybody not realize how pathetic s/he is?

    This is not hate or a power struggle on who is right or who is wrong this is a eternal soul issue.
    And yet it seems this is what it’s really about after all. You can’t stand the thought that someone would believe differently than you do. You hate the very idea of that.

    Your soul may very well be eternal, but don’t worry. It can’t be stupid forever.

  29. I"M GONNA PRAY NOW and MENTION HIS NAME …JESUS CHRIST and everthing you set your hands to will not prosper… it will fail!  until you turn from your EVIL ways.
    You know, and I’ll bet at least half of us heathens are doing a lot better in life than he is. 

    But if my youngest never gets toilet trained, maybe I’ll start believing his dire threats.  Bwahaha.

  30. I’ll bet at least half of us heathens are doing a lot better in life than he is.

    Well, at least the heathens are -coherent-, which is a big plus IMHO.

    Sad, though, that he left so soon.  It’s not often that we get a new lunatic to play with.


  31. Don’t sweat it, Les. What with all those Christians out there praying for you, just one praying against you won’t impair your prosperity much.  At worst, walking out to your limo every morning, you might only find $800 instead of $850 on the sidewalk.

    On the other hand, only important dudes in the Bible had the power to curse anyone, like Jesus withering that barren tree and Moses calling down the plagues on Egypt.  If this viper guy has that kind of mojo, you’d better play it safe.  In fact, all of us smartasses better… hey, where are all these scorpions coming from?  Darwin save me!  AAAAAAAA…….

  32. Geek Mom & Les, it’s understandable to be ignorant of a balief you don’t share, but those weren’t Christian laws, they’re Jewish ones.  Jesus said he came to fulfill that law & I don’t want to take the time to give you all the quotes from the new testament that mention how the new law of love written in believer’s hearts overwhelms the old harsh moral laws.

    You’ve once again picked the most ignorant & absurd quotes to ridicule a belief you don’t like.  This country is an example of what happens when Chrisianity is in charge for almost 300 years, (websites like yours crop up) but then Europe is an example of what happens when it was in charge for 1300 years (or so) then rejected.  Either way, a little different than the middle east where Islam has been in charge for 600 years (how many anti-mulim sites do you find?).

    Anyway, I can see a slight difference between bells & calls to prayer.  Bells are non-specific ways to signify time of day, celebration of events, etc.  Rarely to preach specific doctrine.  How would we like it if we heard in some foreign language piped over loud speakers every day “Jesus is the way, the Truth, the Life, No one comes to God but through Him.  Pray now!  Acknowledge your lowly place!”  Even as a Christian I’d be the 1st one lining up at city hall if I could control the urge to burn the damn building to the ground.

  33. Viki, from what I’ve studied of the KKK & Hitler, Christianity was a part of white culture that they convienently picked & chose to suit their agenda, not a life-driving core belief that they bothered to learn anything more than they wanted to.  Kind of like Kerry with Catholicism.  Anyway, both were actually heavily opposed by Christians within their culture.

  34. Ellie, I agree with you (never thought I’d say that, having read through your posts so far) that there is “a slight difference between bells & calls to prayer”.  I live in Vienna, very Christian (although I guess Catholics don’t count as “Christians” to most Fundamentalists), and we have church bells chiming every quarter hour, not to mention all the calls to prayer on Sundays and festival days.  Doesn’t bother me at all- I’ll have to ask my Muslim friend how he feels about it.

    And I admit, after a few days in Istanbul, the calls to prayer started getting on my nerves.  This may largely be due, however, to the fact that our window (in the cheapest fleabag hotel we could find in the city- not recommended) was directly across the alley from the (very loud) PA system of the local mosque.  It wasn’t the message that disturbed, but the medium.

    So, we have to disentangle two aspects here- noise pollution and religious offence.  The excerpts from the article that started this thread suggest that the religious aspect bulked larger in the complaints than the noise.  I don’t have much sympathy for this kind of intolerance.  But the issues here are complex- what exactly constitutes (unreasonable) offense?  No easy answers here.

    Which is why I have to disagree with you, Ellie, on your facile deconstruction of history. You make Christianity (or lack of it) out to be the reason America, Europe, and the Middle East are the way they are today.  And from your tone, I presume you to mean: Christianity good, Islam bad.  Granted, religion has played a large role in history, but it has often been suborned to suit struggles for worldly power (as Bush is doing now, claiming to be a Christian while taking from the poor to give to the rich, among other sins against humanity).

    Christianity, as well as Islam and Judaism, is responsible for lots of blood being spilled, as well as inspiring some to great humanitarian deeds.

  35. I don’t really call that a “deconstruction” of history.  I’m sure Derrida would freak if he saw that.  Yes, it is a very simple understanding & I appreciate that you understand & disagree.  As a woman, I get pretty emotional & biased seeing all those women & children mistreated.  & maybe it is simply hypocritical to attribute excesses/abuses to human nature rather than doctrine in Christian areas, yet not in Islamic areas, I will continue to consider…

  36. Probably entirely off-topic, but I don’t see how Bush is “taking from the poor to give to the rich.”  Tax cuts don’t go from the poor to the rich. As I understand it from my economics classes, it just means the rich contribute less to everyone.  He hasn’t raised taxes on the poor.  Unless you’re referring to something besides taxes…

    Second, (at the risk of giving y’all more ammunition) it actually IS a Christian principle “to him who has, more will be given, but to him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Matt 24:14-30 from the parable/allegory of the talents as warning against laziness & fear in business.

  37. I have to agree with you here, too, Ellie.  On the whole, we have more civil rights here in the Western World today than in the East, and some of that difference probably has to do with doctrinal differences between Christianity and Islam.  But I suspect more of the difference has to do with general cultural advancement, which has less to do with religion and more to do with… well, this is obviously very complex, and probably no one really knows why, but the best case I know of is made by Jared Diamond in “Guns, Germs, and Steel”.  I won’t do him a disservice by trying to summarize his arguments here.

    OK- that was a misuse of Derrida.  But it was deliberate (any deconstructionists out there? Maybe this should be a new thread…), as I find the whole idea of deconstructionism vacuous, and now use “deconstructionism” to mean “any explanation that is so oversimplified as to be worse than useless”.  I know it’s cool and politically correct, but it’s still stupid.  Are those fighting words for anyone out there?

  38. By cutting taxes for the rich, Bush has shifted the burden onto the poor, regardless of whether the taxes are paid now or in the future. That’s what the deficit is: taxes that will have to be paid someday, increasingly by the poor.

    And OK, I can’t say Bush isn’t a Christian- even Jesus withered a barren tree for producing no fruit, and I guess anyone who isn’t producing wealth can be seen as “barren”.  I don’t really care if he’s “Christian” or not.  I would just like him to stop, yes, making the rich richer; trashing the environment, education, science, and the arts; cutting benefits to the elderly and the military; and starting wars that are creating enemies faster than we can kill them.

  39. ellie, you were probably responding to my post which was a deliberate copy and parody of one two posts above it.

    And in my experience, Christians use the Old Testament very happily when it meets their needs.  Many consider it word for word the accurate word of God, so don’t try to shove it off on the Jews, please.

  40. zilch, I’ve been mulling over your statement “there are no easy answers.”  I think it highlights a different view of mine.  I think there are easy vs. hard answers, & simple vs. complicated.  Many of all kinds are wrong.  I tend to often feel biased in favor of what I view as simple answers that have some obvious flaws & may be hard- requiring grit, with the understanding that 99% of things on this earth cannot be absolute on this earth.  I tend more often than not to be biased against answers that I understand to be complete & complicated, but easy in that they are a cop-out from trying any possible slightly flawed solution.

    Geek Mom, yes, I had read the 2 posts above you.  I understand those opinions, which everyone is entitled to, but I responded to you because you supported your opinion by misrepresenting someone else’s writings.  I haven’t tried to “shove [anything] off on the Jews.”  I consider it the word of God (which is why your post taking it out of context bothered me). But I understand it as being in the context of a continuing story of the Jewish people, while Jews still literally follow that law.

    I don’t like using wacko interpretations of a book to judge it.  If you want to reject the Bible as not of any existent God on an educated level, go ahead.  But at least consider it in the context of what that section was: (a recording of legal code for the time to give a historical context for the culture of the Jews,) and compare it with other similar non-Jewish documents of the same function in the same time: Hammurabi’s code, which was created by the gov’t outside of religion.

    6. If any one steal the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death.

    33. If a … or a … enter himself as withdrawn from the “Way of the King,” and send a mercenary as substitute, but withdraw him, then the … or … shall be put to death.

    34. If a … or a … harm the property of a captain, injure the captain, or take away from the captain a gift presented to him by the king, then the … or … shall be put to death.

    127. If any one “point the finger” (slander) at a sister of a god or the wife of any one, and can not prove it, this man shall be taken before the judges and his brow shall be marked. (by cutting the skin, or perhaps hair.)

    132. If the “finger is pointed” at a man’s wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband.

  41. Ellie, your objections to our use of the Old Testament actually made me laugh out loud. If I had a dime for every time someone came along to “correct” us about how the Old Testament does/doesn’t apply based on their own personal interpretation of the Bible which contradicted what the last person who tried to “correct” us said I’d be a very rich man by now.

    All Christians really need to sit down and come to an agreement on just what the Bible actually says and which parts are still applicable before they try telling others how right or wrong their interpretation may be. You guys can’t even agree amongst yourselves so why should we assume you know what the hell you’re talking about?

  42. So you’re expecting all members of a group to agree without decent?  quite realistic.  (now I’m laughing out loud.)  That’s like asking all people who agreed with Nietzsche about the death of good & evil to accept the fascist social applications of the Nazis.  “All” christians did: Council of Nicea??  As you mentioned, I’m giving my interpretation, that doesn’t mean I’m trying to correct anyone, just that I disagree.  That is allowed, isn’t it?  I haven’t seen previous posts so I’m sorry if you’ve heard the same opinion from someone else, but I’m glad to have given you a laugh.  More answers in the “convert heathens” thread forthcoming….

  43. If it’s the perfect word of God as you guys keep claiming then agreeing without “dissent” shouldn’t be all that difficult one would think.

    As you mentioned, I’m giving my interpretation, that doesn’t mean I’m trying to correct anyone, just that I disagree. That is allowed, isn’t it?

    Bullshit. I believe the exact wording you used just a few responses ago was, “Geek Mom & Les, it’s understandable to be ignorant of a balief you don’t share, but those weren’t Christian laws, they’re Jewish ones.” If that’s not an attempt to correct what you perceive to be our ignorance then I’m George W. Bush. The truth of the matter is I’ve probably studied the Bible more than most Christians have and have heard more than a few differing views on which aspects are relevant from various Christians over the years.

    I haven’t seen previous posts so I’m sorry if you’ve heard the same opinion from someone else, but I’m glad to have given you a laugh.

    The archive pages are alive and working. Perhaps some time spent reading up would serve you well.

    More answers in the “convert heathens

  44. I don’t really want to get drawn into the debate, but I’m just going to chime in for a bit here.  It strikes me that all three of the Abrahamic religions share very much the same basic principles.  They all believe in the one true God, which is considered to be omnibenevolent, and that we should all try to be better people by serving (or attempting to live up to the example of) that God.  Also, just historically speaking, all three Abrahamic religions have a common origin with the folk religion of the Israelites.

    This being the case it strikes me as odd to claim that various rules are Jewish in origin or Christian in origin.  The rules of both Judaism and Christianity are Israelite in origin.

    Just my two cents….

  45. As a rhetoric major my professors beat into my head to stop prefacing anything with “I believe” “I feel” “I agree” or “I disagree” since it is self evident in that you are writing it.  So, I will amend the previous statement to: “Geek Mom & Les, it’s understandable to be ignorant of a belief you don’t share, but as a Christian, I disagree that intelligent, informed Christians intend for those laws to be currently enforced, but use them to understand ancient Jewish culture.  They’re old Jewish laws that Jews currently choose all different ways to interpret, the way we do the bill of rights.”

    Socialist Swine…I agree mostly, but Ummmm, what exactly is the difference between Abraham, Jews, & Israelites?  Currently, I consider them all the same.  Jews consider the entire new testament to be Christian in origin, & I just clarified my personal Christian understanding of laws Jewish in Origin.  In the Koran/Qu’ran Abraham is most important, Isaac stole Ishmael’s inheritance, Moses made the mistake of helping Isaac’s decendants, so his laws aren’t that important & Jesus was a misguided prophet who was too much of a pansy, so Muhamed was a holy man for ordering a holy war to kill Christians & Jews.

  46. Your amended statement doesn’t improve it much. It’s not your disagreement that I have a problem with. It’s your use of the phrase “it’s understandable to be ignorant of a belief you don’t share” that I have a problem with. You can disagree with our assessment of the belief in question, but that doesn’t mean we’re ignorant of those beliefs.

    As for whether intelligent and informed Christians would agree with your thoughts on whether those laws are to be currently enforced, all I can say is there are a number of otherwise seemingly intelligent and informed Christians who would probably disagree with your stance on that point. You’ve managed to go from merely insulting mine and GeekMom’s intelligence to insulting the intelligence of some of your fellow Christians with your change.

  47. ellie, it’s really not wise to make assumptions here about what people know or don’t know about certain beliefs.  You tried to claim that the New Testament “corrected” certain parts of the Old Testament, and Islam claims that Mohammed came along to correct the errors of both of those.  So if we’re to believe everybody, then I suppose we all ought to become Muslims.  But you don’t seem to like them much, given your sarcastic statements about them. 

    And I’m done taking ANYBODY’S word about what a Christian believes or doesn’t believe.  We get tons of them on the site here, saying, “But those aren’t real Christians!  I’M a real one!”  You can talk about your own beliefs, but don’t try to pass them off as Christianity[tm].

  48. ellie,

    The Abrahamic religions are all the monotheistic ones coming out of the middle east.  These include, Judaism, Christianity (which really is just a Jewish sect that took on a life of their own) and Islam.  All three are based primarily on the same original scriptures, with just later cannonical writings being added.  So there is no difference between Abrahamic religions, Israelistes and Jews.  Then again there is no difference between Abrahamic religion Christians and Muslims when you get to the core of the issue.

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