Crusaders at ConstantinopleNote: A minor update on the CT-5 primaries is below.

With primaries underway for both parties in Connecticut’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District, it almost goes without saying that the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves trying to present themselves as dutifully sanctimonious Rightists. They’ve been advertising themselves as “job creators” and as wanting to promote “freedom” (even though, if any of them are elected to Congress, they will never hire anyone, and will only reduce people’s freedom rather than enhance it). They’ve mostly steered clear of religion, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before their urge to express their piety and sanctity would overpower them. The Hartford Courant reports that the first of them to do this, is Mark Greenberg (WebCite cached article):

Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg questioned whether Islam was a peaceful religion Thursday and said he believed it was “a cult in many respects.”

His remarks were made in a radio interview on WNPR’s “Where We Live” program. …

When [host John] Dankosky asked Greenberg if people who don’t share those beliefs also change the country and help make it great, Greenberg said, “perhaps, to a certain extent” and went on to talk about aspects related to the religion that he found objectionable. For example, he said he doesn’t believe a mosque should be built near Ground Zero in New York City, and he questioned whether Islam was a religion of peace. …

“I think it’s more a blueprint for living one’s life — a cult in many respects,” he said of Islam. “It’s a religion, but it’s also a way of living.”

Although agreeing with Dankosky that Judaism and Christianity are also ways of living, Greenberg said there is a difference.

“Judaism and Christianity are very peaceful religions,” he said. “I think they are more peaceful than Islam.”

First, I need to begin by commenting that the word “cult” has more or less become useless. It’s a pejorative term, a label slapped on any other religion one happens to dislike. The word itself has long since lost any specific meaning. That Greenberg used it of Islam, just tells me he doesn’t like Islam — it doesn’t mean anything else.

Second, his claim that Islam is not a “religion of peace” but Judaism and Christianity are, is absurd on its face. All three religions have violent pasts and they have adherents willing to resort to violence in the names of their faiths. The scriptures revered by Judaism and Christianity are chock full of violence. Some of that violence was supposedly committed by God himself, and the rest was done by his human followers. Those revered texts tell of the many bloody wars Israel supposedly fought while it was a tribal confederation and then a kingdom, including massacres and genocides. Christians have marched to war in the name of their god Jesus and took part in atrocities of their own. As recently as the late 20th century, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were killing each other to prove which church was more Christlike. Christians have even engaged in terror campaigns of their own. And modern Judaism isn’t free of the stain of violence either; they are one side of a decades-old conflict in the Middle East, and there are some violent extremists among Jews, too.

As far as I’m concerned, any religion that carries an entitlement to impose itself on other human beings and on reality, can lead to violence in some of its adherents. That’s as true of Islam as it is of Christianity, Judaism, and a whole host of others.

I’m dreading this primary season here in the Nutmeg State. I’m sure things are going to get even weirder, very soon (the primaries are less than a month away).

Update: Things have, indeed, ramped up a bit in the twin primaries for CT’s 5th District, as I predicted they would. Dankosky’s interview with Greenberg was part of a series of planned interviews with all of the CT-5 candidates from both parties. It turns out, as the Torrington Register-Citizen reports (cached), none of the rest of them did any better than Greenberg — and one declined the interview out of fear of being asked a question she’s successfully avoided answering. The 5th District is doomed, folks … not one of these slippery creatures deserves a place in Congress, however, one of them is guaranteed to end up there. Ouch.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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