On Tolerance and Dueling Religions, Christianity and Islam: A Socratic Dialogue

I am going to try something new in this diary and I hope it works. I am posting a debate that raged on over the course of about five and a half hours on Facebook between myself (a Floridian) and two northeast liberals, one of whom (Vanessa) is a friend of mine. They are from the New York / New Jersey area. I’ve modified name details but otherwise left the entire conversation untouched, typos, grammar, and all. I am very interested in hearing any thoughts or comments about this debate, including if I’m totally off base in my argument.

I don’t claim to be any kind of great theologist. However, in my quest to discover the truth of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going, I took the time to learn about science, atheism, and different religions. So although I am not an “expert” in theology, I do know something about religion having repented and been baptized in the name of Christ.

Most striking to me was the fact that these individuals went to such extreme lengths to torture plain and obvious facts to fit a patently untrue narrative of reality. I just simply don’t understand how people claim, with a straight face, that Islam is some great peaceful religion? Maybe it is just me, but it seems like a good chunk of the violence around the globe is perpetrated in the name of that religion, with the support of its religious texts and teachings.

From Vanessa’s Facebook Wall:

Vanessa: Sarah Palin in North Korea Gaffe
6 hours ago via Friendly for iPad

[scorpio0679]: Just like Obama admits he is a Muslim, right? The clip you link itself clearly shows that she simply misspoke. If this is all you have against Palin, I fear for The One’s hopes of a second term. Obama Admits “My Muslim Faith”
6 hours ago

My intent here was simply to point out that my dear friend Vanessa was being ridiculously unfair to Sarah Palin by implying that she thought the North Koreans were our allies. Obviously, she misspoke, and corrected herself. I had no intent to turn this into a discussion on religion.

Vanessa: Who cares if he’s Muslim??? This is America. All religions allowed, and equal under law, yeah?
5 hours ago

Having studied what true faith in Islam really means and requires, as in both the Muslim worldview as well as the specific beliefs and teachings of the Koran, ‘you betcha’ I care if Obama is a Muslim or not.

Of course all religions are allowed, and all persons are permitted to practice their chosen religion, but that doesn’t mean we have to vote for and elect people who believe that women are the inferior sex, that those who don’t accept Mohammad as the one and true Prophet deserve death, and that their twisted religion should be forced upon everyone through violence and conquest.

So yeah, even though I don’t think Obama is a Muslim (he exhibits more of the characteristics of a marxist/communist than a Muslim or Christian), it is certainly a relevant question just as anybody’s faith is a relevant question to their desire to seek public office.
5 hours ago

Freedom of religion. Got it. It’s in the Constitution and I have no problem with it. However, to me freedom of religion does not mean that we have to make religion irrelevant. This is what the Left’s agenda is: to remove religion not only from government, but from society at-large. Personally, when someone tells me they are a Muslim, that communicates certain things. That’s important to me – am I off base here?

Skinner: As it is Thanksgiving I will only call you a propaganda swallowing and scared man. I WILL NOT call you a bigot. Thanksgiving is the only reason that I am not calling you a bigot.
5 hours ago

One of irony’s great moments.

[scorpio0679]: How does the truth make me a bigot? Everything I said above is absolute truth. Pick up a copy of the Koran and find out for yourself.
5 hours ago

[scorpio], I did not call you a bigot because it is Thanksgiving and I won’t call anyone a bigot today.
For the record, a bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Religious texts are open to interpretation so holding an opinion of the Quran and refusing to accept that others have a different interpretation would make someone a definite a bigot.
I have read the Quran, Bible and Torah. They are all pretty much the same.
To judge a religion based on minority groups of its most radical practitioners is a fools errand. By your qualifications Christianity is horrible because it is a religion that demands women who have sex before marriage to be stoned to death.

Being that it is Thanksgiving though I am just going to pray for America.
4 hours ago

I think it’s interesting to note that this guy states: I have read the Quran, Bible and Torah. Somehow I very much doubt that.

What this clip shows me is she would “parent” our nation. And by seeing the way her kids turned out that is a good thing?
Not to mention she never says anything of substance she just jabs at the White House and thinks that is an original idea. Sarah Palin is a quitter with political amnesia.
4 hours ago

[Skinner] has a valid point. The observance of religion is not a static thing – as humanity has matured, the way that we interpret and understand religious texts has also matured. We do not, and cannot, take every piece of text at face value and follow it blindly. The circumstances in which they were written, and in which they made sense, ceased to be valid centuries ago.

Thus, although I am certain you consider yourself a devout Christian, [scorpio] – I am also certain that you cut your hair, and way clothing containing more than one type of fiber. I’m pretty sure you’re not out sacrificing fatted calfs and goats on holy days.

And if we’re throwing stones at one faith’s history of religious war – I’d just like to remind you of the Crusades. The witch hunts of the early Middle Ages. The Holy Inquisition. Christianity’s hands are far from clean of blood and death and cruelty.

BUT I think the thing that worries me the most about you is that you REALLY have a problem with the separation of Church and State. Something I think is essential to just government.

PLEASE stop dragging religion into everything, but especially – especially – political issues. It clouds your thinking.
4 hours ago

A little context . . . Vanessa and I recently had a private debate over email about gay marriage . . .

Vanessa: Sorry – “wear clothing” not way.
4 hours ago

Vanessa: Final point – I don’t think anyone married to Michelle Obama could, in a billion years, think that women are the inferior sex. There’s no FREAKING way she’d let that fly.
4 hours ago

[scorpio0679]: “I have read the Quran, Bible and Torah. They are all pretty much the same.” errr… okayyy, sure you have. And throwing out a passage from Deuteronomy (part of the Old Covenant, made obsolete by the birth and crucifixion of Christ) is NOT being fair to Christianity, as this does NOT reflect a Christian tenet. Ditto for Numbers and Leviticus.
4 hours ago

Skinner: For the record burning an effigy in the streets is an expressiong of free speech and a totally awesome one at that.
4 hours ago

Skinner: [scorpio] that is just the way you interperet the bible, millions of christians observe the old testament as religious law still.
4 hours ago

Point – throwing out a passage from Leviticus is being EXACTLY as fair to Christianity as you are being to Islam. There are MANY Islamic countries that celebrate and raise up women, and do not treat them as the inferior sex. Example: Egypt. Example: Queen Rania, of Jordan. But you reference a passage from the Quran that is outdated, outmoded – and that enlightened Islamic countries do not observe, just as we have referenced elements of Christianity that are no longer observed except by fringe groups.

Are there many Islamic countries that are behind Jordan and Egypt? Yes. Does that make the RELIGION as a whole completely negative? No.

And having studied comparative history and religion, [Skinner] is right. The basic tenets and mores that govern humanity are the same, across nearly all religions.
4 hours ago

At this point I am thinking (unfairly?): Vanessa says she took a class in religion . . . Skinner claims he has read all these religious texts . . . but yet they make statements that Christians follow the Old Testament’s religious law and all religions have the same basic moral tenets? Really? I mean, I have a slight nagging feeling that I could be wrong — and there could be a sect of Christians who still try to follow the Old Testament religious law. I was under the impression that the New Covenant changed all of that. Didn’t it?


1. you are also referencing the laws of the “Old Covenant” which again, are made obsolete by the birth and crucifixion of Christ. As for [Skinner]’s comment on it, it is just inaccurate to say that any sect of Christian follow the Old Covenant as one of the principal, central tenets of Christianity is that salvation lies in faith in Christ, not in following the law. Open the New Testament and read the book of Romans – it will take you about an hour to read and will give you nearly every major tenet of Christianity, modern or ancient.

2. Christianity has its dark ages and many who claimed to be acting in Christianity’s name have done awful, horrible, evil things – the crusades, witch trials, and the inquisition being great examples. This in NO WAY makes acts like this a reflection of Christian morals or teachings as conquest, murder, and pillage very plainly and obviously cut deeply against Christian theology and teachings.

3. My original response to your status was only to make a tongue-in-cheek remark about how unfair it is to imply that Palin thought we were allied with the North Koreans by showing an example of Obama making the same kind of simple misstatement. The fact that the discussion has evolved was more a product of your reply to my response 🙂 I really didn’t intend it to be any kind of statement on religion at all.

4. I don’t have an issue with separation of church and state . . . in fact my political views tend to be more libertarian than conservative, with a few sharp asterisks. But I don’t want to impose my personal moral or religious views on anybody, — but I am entitled to inform myself about other people’s beliefs by looking to their professed religion.

Again, for the record, I *do not* believe Obama is a Muslim. If anything, he is an atheist, based on his stated worldview and his actions. “Black Liberation Theology” (as taught at the church he allegedly attended for 20 years in Chicago) is about as far from Christianity as Islam is.See More
3 hours ago

@Vanessa (to your last post published as I was typing lol): “But you reference a passage from the Quran that is outdated, outmoded . . .” JIHAD is a central tenet of Islam in the same way as the Trinity is a central tenet of Christianity.

“…except by fringe groups” Again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. On Sept. 11, 2001, across the Muslim world people were dancing in the streets. Muslims RARELY speak out against extremists. Yes there are “moderate” Islamic countries — mostly American puppet monarchies. Islam advocates pure fundamentalism in government — no separation whatsoever between religion/religious leaders and state — and is absolutely incompatible in every way with democratic freedom. Witness, Iran. Witness, the Taliban.

Islamic extremism is not a “fringe group” in fact it is pervasive in the Muslim world — and this brings us back to Jihad being a central and fundamental tenet of the religion.
3 hours ago

It all comes down to Jihad, doesn’t it? I mean, when your religion advocates the slaying, torturing, taking captive, and forcible conversion of ‘infidels,’ explicitly in their religious text which they still believe, follow, and hold to be absolutely valid today it does make things a little less fuzzy, doesn’t it?

Not to holocaust deniers, apparently.

Jihad is important, yes. But there are three different ways to Jihad in the name of Allah –

1. With the heart
2. With weapons
3. With tongues

Only one of those ways is violent. The woman who provides a compassionate and loving example of the worth of Islam to her neighbors, and thus converts them, is as much a jihadist as the man who strikes a blow.
3 hours ago

I couldn’t help but think, as I was typing this next section: do people really convince themselves of this stuff? You really have to force yourself to deny reality . . . but some do.

So you are making a distinction based on “fighting” with weapons, words, or the heart. Okay. Here are some exerpts from the Koran which are the most explicit. There are MANY more than deal in Jihad and “fighting” etc. but it is nearly impossible for argue against the intent of these passages, which also inform on the rest of the Jihad passages:

Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”

Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”

Quran (33:60-62) – “If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.”

Quran (2:191-193) – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

The passages in the Koran, and then interpreted in the Hadith, plainly and simply advocate violent action against “infidels.” Then, we have members of the terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah, the State of Iran, Al-Qaeda, and others conspiring to and committing murder and terror throughout the world. And then, the vast majority of the Muslim world cheers these acts of murder when they are committed.

And you say Islam is a peaceful religion? Maybe to some – but if so, they have some serious housekeeping to tend to.
3 hours ago

But here we go . . . they lose on facts, so what is next in the Left’s playbook? You got it, go personal:

Skinner: Vanessa the thing you really need to keep in mind is that [scorpio] is not really concerned with facts. He really seems to be more interested in things that are truth-like or truthy. He also seems to have a very teaparty understanding of what it means to be a libertarian.
3 hours ago

Skinner: What I mean by teaparty understanding is that as a Christian he probably does not support absolute personal liberty. Especially since his religious intolerance is palpable.
3 hours ago

Okay, okay you guys. Let’s break it up. It’s Thanksgiving.

[Skinner] – I will see you this afternoon. And by “see you” I mean house your ass in the turkey-devouring competition.

And by “house your ass” I mean talk big but utterly fail to impress you.
48 minutes ago

[scorpio0679]: Happy Thanksgiving to you both 🙂 I am down any time for a good debate, even on a holiday lol
46 minutes ago

Skinner: Samesies.
22 minutes ago