The separation of religious dogma from political authority is paramount to a world in which all people can coexist. The problems within and among societies begin and perpetuate when the dogma of any faith is interpreted literally, and the interpretors apply these “tenets” to the rest of the population through civil and political control. Whether the religion is Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, this-ism, or that-ism, if the doctrine is subjected to literal translation, then made law, the result is a far cry from the original message. One of the most pertinent and obvious examples of this in today’s world is the muslim extremist interpretation of their “tenet” that martyrs enjoy eternal paradise in the afterlife for their sacrifice. This “special status” afforded martyrs (which also exists in Christianity – the basis for most early saints) is twisted by those interpretors with power to justify suicide and the murder of innocent people. As far as I am aware, suicide and/or murder are not justifiable lessons in Islamic or Christian taachings. Historically, the same was true when Christian dogma was used to justify both the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.
And so, all of the above is what burns me up about the Bible thumping fundamentalists in this country who so arrogantly judge the behaviors of others, and those that believe other than literal Christian doctrine.
If one can separate oneself from the literal, it can be seen that the messages inherent in all religions are the same. Punishments for transgressions cannot be seen as literally dictated, but symbolic of the spiritual damage done to oneself by not striving to live up to the symbolic message contained in one’s dogma.
As to Christian fundamentalism: It is not the belief in Jesus as a person/god that Jesus meant when it was written “I am the truth and the light”, and “none may come to the Father, but through me”. If the living of one’s life adheres to the lessons taught by Jesus, then it matters not if he was called Jesus, Buddah, Poindexter or Achmad, the objective has been achieved.
Take that, Falwell, Robertson, and all Ayatollahs!