Today we looked at some dumphead from the American Family Association and his brilliant no more more mosques anywhere, ever campaign. Naturally this stirred the commenting cauldron, with one reader in particular offering an insightful personal rumination.
Some Christians in America seem to be suffering what I consider to be the main problem in certain predominantly Muslim countries: the emphasis has switched in order to make religious ritual more important than religious substance.
For me, my faith is personal. Yes, I am part of a Muslim community, I do not keep my faith a secret, and I share it with my family, friends, and other people I meet. But my faith is still internal. All of my religious conflicts, all of my jihads, take place completely within me.
I'm supposed to be fasting right now but this year I've decided not to. I just can't - it's too hot to not eat or drink anything all day. I am allowing myself very little, but any at all means I'm breaking my fast. When I go to the beach, I bring a wet veil. I feel better with it on my head or around my neck than I would without it - but that's foolish. I'm still showing just as much as I would without it. These are my religious struggles.
If I was like the Christians in this group, my struggles would be making sure everyone else fasts, and all of the other women are covering up. That's external and it's counter-productive and it's not what faith should be.
What are they going to say when they die? "Sure, God, I was a real asshole myself but I managed to stop a mosque from being built and contributed to the furor that got an abortion doctor killed! Let me in!"
No. I've read polls that show they don't even know their own faith - they don't know their own gospels from the Walmart flyer. That's not faith. That's just dictatorial political ideology masking itself as faith - and that's what's happening in countries like Saudi Arabia.
If you can actually make people resent their own faith and dream of escaping its influence, you're doing it wrong.