What defines a true believer?

Chuck Doswell - date unknown

When I bring up examples of religious believers who say and do horrible things, including violence (like the mass murderer in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik), I’m told by my mainstream believer friends that this person can’t be a “true” christian believer.  The same can be said for muslim extremists: islamic terrorists can’t possibly be true muslims, I hear.  What validity does this have?  Who gets to write the definition of a true believer?

Be they christian, jewish, or muslim, believers all base their beliefs on their “sacred” scriptures of choice: the bible, the torah, and the quran.  What mainstream (or moderate) believers do, as opposed to fundamentalists who accept every word in their scriptures literally, is to pick and choose their beliefs within their sacred texts.  They choose to ignore, for example, the calls for violence to be perpetrated on unbelievers, all the misogyny, the damning of homosexuals, and so on.  In effect, each person can design their own unique set of religious beliefs, which may or may not coincide with one of the numerous different versions (sects, denominations) of their chosen religion.  If religious beliefs are purely personal, then you can believe whatever you want out of the package contained in your sacred scriptures.  You can choose one of pre-packaged versions (i.e., a particular denomination/sect), or you can create your own.  The scriptures are kind of like a set of Legos!

Many moderate christian and muslim believers see their religions as favoring peace and love, despite the indisputable fact that their scriptures are awash with hatred and blood-soaked violence.  How can a believer see him/herself as a “true” believer, when they’ve cherry-picked the scriptures that form the foundation for their professed beliefs?  The hatred and violence within those documents remain, like little poison pellets of evil.  All believers in those religious texts have consumed their contents;  the only difference to be found among believers is the amount of such poison they’ve chosen to swallow.  Fundamentalists swallow the entire document, so it seems to me that they must be the only “true” believers!  Curiously, even self-proclaimed fundamentalists disagree about what poison they’ve accepted.  Believers show a remarkable willingness to embrace contradictions, however, so I suppose this is at least consistently illogical!

Moderates may not believe in the same things that extremist believers do, but if the extremists ever get their way (as in, for example, Iran), the moderates will be forced to choose:  us or the unbelievers?  And don’t tell me it can’t happen here!  In such a black-and-white world, unbelievers are fit only to be cast aside and even killed.  Many moderate believers refuse to take a strong stand against the extremists, some even to the point of saying and doing precisely nothing against the evils of the extremists.

The “true” face of religious belief was revealed recently when Saudi Arabia executed (by beheading) a woman convicted of witchcraft.  That a nation in this modern world would sanction such a murder on the basis of a medieval, mythical belief in the existence of witches and sorcerers is symptomatic of the evil of religion.  When you believe you have all the answers in the words of an infallible text, then anything you do in the name of your deity is justified.  Religion-based absolute certainty is a danger to the whole world.  Lest any moderate christians feel smug about their having rejected witchcraft, they need to remember that many people were murdered in the not-too-distant path by christian zealots (even in America!) based on accusations of witchcraft.  Believers live in a demon-haunted world, to use a phrase coined by Carl Sagan.  In such a world, torture and murder are needed to scourge the world of demons and sorcerers.  If you’re not with us, we’re against you - that’s the “true” face of all religions.

In my view of things, all major religions are myths.  In all forms, they’re nothing more than popular cults that glorify belief without evidence.  Their sacred texts are nothing more than plagiarized mythology (from earlier cults).  In other words, religions are nothing more than a dangerous collection of lies and myths, almost all of them demonstrably false.  How can one be true to something that contains so very little truth?   All religions contain poison.  The good done in their deity’s name is offset by the evils committed  and hatred perpetuated every day in the name of that same deity.  Their evil is defined within the vile documents they believe contain the very essence of their religion.  Read them for yourself!  Discover all the myriad poison pellets embedded within!