Restoring my faith in the faithful (well, for the most part)

Religious folks get a bad rap. I mean, like with lots of groups, it’s sad that the section that grabs the headlines are usually the scumbags- the child molesters, nutjobs, terrorists, bigots and general douchebags- but the fact of the matter is, there are billions of religious people out there who are just regular Joes and Josephines.

They’re not good or evil, their just people, like the non-religious, they’re a mixed bag and flawed, but I like to believe, not actively nasty. I might be biased, because I come from a family that is quite religious, and so I know and love religious people, even if I disagree with their beliefs.

Now religion can be used as a justification of terrible things (and please, I’m not talking about any major religion in particular, but all of them) but let’s not forget that religious beliefs can motivate people to do good. Christianity, the religion I know most about, promotes charity, compassion and generally being nice. I know a lot of Christians, and a great many of them are nicer than me, and I think it’s their belief system which guides them to do good.

Some might argue that this is out of fear or guilt of judgement/punishment by the Big Guy,  but does it matter? They’re still trying their best to be nice. If your intentions are good does it matter why you’re doing it?

Similarly, I know that most of the religions promote a moral lifestyle and good deeds. It’s just a shame that while countless anonymous figures follow these teachings quietly it’s the ones who use it for bad that make the most noise.

The worst aspect of this is the fighting between religions. This has always been a feature of human society, but it’s sad that we haven’t gotten to a point where we can adopt a “you go your way, I’ll go mine” attitude to other beliefs.

Image found on

Image found on

I mean, as long as those beliefs aren’t harming anyone, let ’em be. That’s kind of my attitude- if someone believes in Allah, Shiva, Jesus Christ or Buddha- it doesn’t effect my day-to-day, and if it helps them get through tough times and gives them purpose, then more power to them.

I might not agree, but let’s face it there’s probably not a person on this entire world that agrees with me on everything, and I quite like discussing differences of opinion and belief because it’s something that helps you keep reevaluating your viewpoints and helps you develop as a person.

So, it made me real happy to read a couple of nice stories of inter-faith relations, basic decency and mutual respect.

First off, I gotta applaud the actions of some Muslim groups up in Bradford. For cats who don’t know, Bradford is a city in the UK which has a high Asian population and has, in the past, been in the news for some of the racial tension in the area. In this case though, it’s a positive story with several Muslim groups helping to raise money to help save and preserve a local Synagogue.

Rudi Leavor, of the Synagogue, with Zulfi Karim of the Bradford Council of Mosques

Rudi Leavor, of the Synagogue, with Zulfi Karim of the Bradford Council of Mosques

It’s a really nice story about collaboration between two religious groups who you don’t usually envision as being mates, but it’s a really cool thing to witness, and fair play to them for reaching out to help out others. It’s a damn fine example of decency and a great example to the rest of the world. So well done to them, you can read the story here.

The second story that I’d like to draw attention to is the case of Reverend Isaac Poobalan, an Episcopal priest up in Aberdeen, who has opened the door to his church and hall to enable local Muslims to worship. Poobalan made the offer after witnessing the congregation (it’s the same word for all religions, right? If it’s not, apologies and let me know and I’ll switch it) of a local Mosque worshiping outside due to lack of space. Now, the weather in Scotland is no joke, so those cats must have been freezing.

The Reverend Poobalan with some of the Muslims he has extended this kind offer to

The Reverend Poobalan with some of the Muslims he has extended this kind offer to

Poobalan, in a display of genuine niceness and charity, arranged for them to have access to the church and it’s hall. This is a prime example of someone’s religion inspiring them to do good, with the Rev stating:

What governed my human response was the Christian teaching ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ and that was honestly my first thought, ‘I have to help them as a neighbour’.

Poobalan has my respect already, but it’s the following statement that gets him an “Everyday Hero” badge, because it shows a lot of decency, respect and agrees with my earlier point about religion being something capable of doing good;

It was simply a gut feeling to let them in after seeing someone in the cold praying and I believe that prayer is never wrong.

Now, sadly, this story only came to my attention because Reverend Poobalan has been getting quite a lot of flak from people on the church’s Facebook page, with a bunch of idiots coming out and attacking him for allowing “Satan” to use Christ’s table. Urgh.

See, this is what I was talking about, yet again, the quiet, good work of one religious person is undercut by the louder douchebaggery of others. These people have attacked Poobalan for all manner of things, such as forgetting or ignoring anti-Christian attacks in Muslim countries, well let me tell you something, brother! (Sorry, realized I was inadvertently quoting the Hulkster there)

That is damn stupid, I mean, number one, you’re blaming these Scottish Muslims for stuff that’s going elsewhere in the world? And you gotta ask yourself if  you really wanna go there as a Christian? You want to start blaming every member of a religion for the evil perpetrated by certain sections? When you’re a member of a religion where some members have done some pretty evil s**t over the years?

If you are Christian then you should be turning the other cheek, and you should also go back to your Bible and actually pay attention to what Jesus preaches about love and helping others, because clearly, some of them are missing some big parts of what they’re supposed to believe in!

I always find this kind of inter religious bashing unbelievably wrong headed. I mean, if you aren’t willing to show respect and kindness to other people’s beliefs, then you’ve got no right to complain that other people don’t respect yours! Respect is a two way street, and I’ll tell you something, it’s the accepting, decent people like the Muslims of Bradford and Rev Poobalan who have really earned the respect of others. Especially as Poobalan has said that he won’t be backing down because of the abuse he’s received.

Whew, little bit more serious than my normal stuff, but glad I got that out of my system.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO (whatever your or their beliefs are).


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