The Ottawa Citizen confirms its faith in its religion experts by asking them to tell us what to think. Today, in its “Ask the Religion Experts” column, the Ottawa Citizen asks, “What are we to think of the destruction of historic shrines in Mali in the name of religion?” Of course, the experts are eager give their opinions.
After five paragraphs explaining what religion is and is not,, Radhika Sekar, an aspiring Vedantin, says
there is no place for violence or destruction in religion. Therefore the destruction of the historic shrines of Mali can only be termed fanaticism. No real religion would condone such acts.
Rabbi Reuven Bulka, advises us that
we should think the same of the destruction of the Mali shrines as we would of the destruction of shrines anywhere and everywhere in the name of religion — they are all despicable acts.
However, Bulka does not see religion as the only cause of violence; in fact,,
many crimes of violence result from the absence of firmly entrenched religious values, such as the inviolable sanctity of every life, and the obligation to respect the property of others, all covered under the famous religious banner — “love your fellow as you love yourself.”
Geoffrey Kerslake , does not mention Mali or the destruction of the historic shrines, but he assures us that
The Catholic Church is a strong advocate of freedom of religion and actively promotes this basic human right. Where we have the right to practice the religion of our choice, we have a basis upon which to build mutual understanding and respect between different faiths and other points of view.
One of the “other points of view” that the Catholic Church claims to respect comes from Kevin Smith:
As secular humanists we react with horror as this attack is one against all humanity. . . .This is evidence, yet again, of a religious totalitarian state’s effect on human freedom. It is in direct conflict with secular values of diversity, tolerance, and universal rights.
Abdul Rashid gives readers some background on the current turmoil in Mali and attempts to put destruction of the historic shrines in Mali in perspective:
The destruction of ‘historic’ sites is not new. It has and does take place in all parts of the world. Wherever it happens, it is usually ascribed to a minor misguided faction, not to the religion to which the perpetrators belong and not to an entire faith or people.
To their credit, the religious experts mentioned in this post resisted the temptation to tell us what we are to think; they give us their opinions based on their religion or ideology and allow us to form our own opinion.