The religious discrimination debate

| December 10, 2021

Most people at least go through a stage when they believe in a supreme being or beings. As humans, we are psychologically predisposed to wonder about the world around us; to explore, evaluate and search for answers.

One result of this urge is that some people have taken philosophy, meditation, isolation and dreams to the next logical stage, and that is to associate their ideas of a perfect environment with revelation from a higher source. The concepts are then refined and communicated as a way of life to others. The higher source becomes the supreme entity and, as we do when faced with powerful individuals, we treat them with respect. This respect becomes worship when we associate it with the cosmos.

Over time, the originating individual dies but his ideas remain. If those ideas are acceptable to the majority, over time they become a religion. Once this bridge has been passed, the sayings or writings of the originator become fixed and unalterable. They are quoted and interpreted by others according to the current situation. However, the overall concept is usually kept sacrosanct.

This refusal, or inability to accept any alteration to a traditional form of worship/lifestyle results in wars and persecution of minorities who either want change or see underlying inconsistencies in the current system.

Basically, we do not like to alter our current ways of thinking about what are referred to as the big questions (life, liberty and the universe). Problems arise when one religion is forced to exist alongside another one – there cannot be more than one system of perfect harmony in any country. Each religion begins to show its flaws through the actions of its adherents against one another. A case in point is Christianity.

The main reference here is, of course the Bible; or more specifically the Old Testament. This was originally written in a language which is very difficult to translate.

The reason for this is that few people could write. The scribes and poets prided themselves in communicating in complex ways. Not having vowels, it was not difficult to produce sentences, verses, etc which could be read and interpreted in more than one way. We also have double entendre but they took it further and produced pieces which could be understood in many ways. Their poets were extolled for writings which had seven or more meanings.

This is why the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam is a case in point – I know of over twenty translations which are completely different from one another.  Many of the verses of the Old Testament have four or five possible meanings and this is one of the reasons there are so many Christian sects – each insisting that their translation is correct.

The New Testament does not have as many problems, although it must be remembered that it was written in two different languages by peoples who, two thousand years ago had vastly different ideas and outlooks on life, being under Roman rule and surrounded by enemies with competing gods.

What I am trying to say is that history shows us that it is virtually impossible to have different religions being practised in one country without resulting strife. Religion and discrimination go hand in hand, whatever the law – we just have to accept and live with it. Generally speaking religious leaders are of little help. By their very nature they tend to be focused on their particular religion while having the personality profile of a community leader.

This is ideal in the local or tribal sense but tends to become unhealthy in the state or country sense. The majority or believers are only half-hearted in their adherence and so will probably settle into their new country well; it is the dogmatists and fanatics we will have problems with, of whatever religion.