ALTHOUGH the media – brainwashed by years of religious propaganda – hasn’t discovered the fact, it is a lot harder to be religious bigot than it is to be an ethnic or homophobic bigot. The reason is that in the latter cases, the target has no choice. Religion like politics, on the other hand, is a personal choice and fully debatable.
To be a religious bigot you have to actually do something that hurts the other person other than merely disagreeing with their beliefs. Thus the Kurdish Yezidi men who recently stoned to death a young woman who was dating a Sunni Muslim and may have become one herself were clearly religious bigots.
Al Sharpton, who doesn’t think much of the Mormon religion, isn’t and it was perfectly fine – whether one agrees with him or not – for him to say in a debate with Christopher Hitchens that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency.
The farcical nature of the excessive coverage of this incident is emphasized by the fact that media is not calling Hitchens a bigot even though he thinks all religionists are nuts.
Now that free thinkers are beginning to come out of the shadows, it is worth taking on this issue because it reflects the submerged bias of the media on religious issues. The implicit argument of the press is that anything less than respect for all religions – except for Islam these days – is bigotry.
In many instances, though, it’s just common sense. Most of the major conflicts in the world today, for example, are being driven by religionists of one sort or another. And while most Mormons behave themselves, their religion’s history is replete with con artists, violence and practices hardly worthy of respect.
Of course there are plenty of similar examples in traditional Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In each case, however, it is not bigotry to be disrespectful of the dark side of a religion.
If the media were truly objective it would not contribute to the sacred bubble placed around religion. It would feel no obligation to protect myths just because they stem from religions. And if Al Sharpton doesn’t think Mormons believe in a real God than he has an absolute right to say so without being hassled by a sanctimonious press.
My rule on these matters is simple: if what happens in the pew and the pulpit stays in the pew and the pulpit, fine. But if it comes out on the street and plants a false halo on politicians “of faith” or makes life harder for women or gays or causes wars that shouldn’t be fought or spends money places it shouldn’t be spent, then religions have to play by politics’ rules just like everyone else. They can’t cry “bigotry” when they say or do something cruel or when their mythological God is carded trying to get into someone else’s heaven. That’s not bigotry, that’s just politics.