A Facebook Conversation on Religion and Faith

I am uploading a facebook conversation that Mary Ann Chacko, Ashley Tellis, I had on religion and faith this morning. The conversation was based on this video that Mary Ann had put up on her FB wall:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=372390412865189

And here is the conversation that followed. I haven’t altered any part of the conversation:

Mosarrap Khan: But like every religion, this video merely reiterates that people just stay where they are (a cleaning lady will be a cleaning lady, a garbage disposal worker will be a garbage disposal worker, a middle class family will be well off etc.). It simply endorses that everyone must be happy in their position. That’s the problem with RELIGION. It will never show you how to change the world (barring Liberation Theology which is anyways not accepted by the Vatican). Religion will merely endorse the hierarchy of the society and ask everyone to be happy. Sorry can’t accept. And in some cases, when people really want to effect social change in the name of religion, they take to suicide bombing.

Ashley Tellis: Liberation Theology has its own problems, too, Mosarrap, whether or not the fucking Vatican accepts it.

Mosarrap: I agree, Ashley.

Mary Ann Chacko: You both came here too?! But that is not how I see it. For me God is the one person who is constant in a life that is constantly changing, moving up the social ladder being just one of those difficult changes we aspire to. He/She/They etc never tells me to just “accept”.

Ashley: God is Dead – Nietzsche

Mosarrap: Likewise, the sun, the moon, the stars are constant too. What’s so special about God? See the point I am making is that this whole God business is a matter of faith and a man-made thing. You believe Jesus is a constant in your life, that’s fine. That’s your faith, that’s your belief. But for me, it changes nothing. Having a faith might be good for the individual but it doesn’t change anything for the world. Religion has only created trouble in human history. Go back to history, go back to the past and you will see what I mean. I am not saying that religion is the only tool for exclusion. There are so many other tools which are used to exclude like race, gender, sexuality, language, ethnicity, disability, region. BUT RELIGION IS THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL OF EXCLUSION IN HUMAN HISTORY. Even a Muslim judges another Muslim if he/she is Muslim enough. That’s what religion does to human society. It’s good for closed in-group, bad for the rest.

Ashley: Or if the Muslim is not from the same sect. look at the fate of Shias in Pakistan! Look at what Protestants and Catholics have done to each other through Christian history!

Mosarrap: That’s the saddest part for me. That religion, which is supposed to liberate, divides people within the same faith. What can be more disgusting. That sugarcoating, claiming certain things about religion is of no help. RELIGION IS A VIOLENT THING. Let’s accept. RELIGION HAS INHERENT VIOLENCE IN IT.

Mary Ann: Yes, I agree. You both are talking about Religion and I’m talking about faith. I’ve always got into trouble with Religion too…especially because I could never grasp how you could say “God is Love” and then in the same breath say, “He does not want you to love a Muslim.”  This being just one of the many examples I could offer!

Ashley: Faith cannot be extricated from the idea of God in the schematic way you seem to want to. All of this violence has also been done in the name of faith and in the name of God. You can’t personalize, particularize and dehistoricize it.

Mary Ann: You are absolutely right!

Mosarrap: What troubles me today is the public display of that faith. This video is just one example. As if there is a constant attempt to prove how faithful one is. That’s where faith becomes an ideology. Take the Muslim example. If the West or America makes it a battle between Muslims and Christians, Muslims will try to prove their Muslimness more to counter America. What could be more absurd. Then it’s no longer a faith. It’s an ideological tool. And the moment it’s a tool, it’s anything but faith. Then religion or faith, whatever you want to call it, can be used in all sorts of ways. And finally, FAITH, LIKE ANY OTHER HABIT, IS A MATTER OF SOCIALIZATION. If a child grows up in an island without any human company, would the child grow up to believe in any religion or god? There’s nothing natural in religion or faith. Socialization and indoctrination makes religion possible.

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