Recently, the Vatican and the Pope have started speaking out regarding troubles in the Middle East, regarding extremism, Christians groups in the region, and endorsing military intervention to help fight against ISIS
As heart-warming as this is that Tomasi and the Vatican are starting from “the foundation that they [Christians in the Middle East] are human beings with equal rights” in order to legitimise war in their minds, it begs the question as to whether the Vatican would have an opinion at all if the population they were concerned with was not a “Christian…minority group.”
There are multiple assertions of the Vatican comments with which I take issue. The first is that there were no Christians in the area, and the second and most important is the encouragement of a “spiritual communion” between Christians and other religious groups; a setting-aside of religious differences in the name of peace. Again, how heart-warming. That is, until you realise just how hypocritical it is.
Where was the Vatican’s empathy when the circumstances did not suit them? In horrific conflicts affecting the same human dignity they now speak out to protect, but not involving a religious persecution? And if they are so outspoken about a universal religious community, why are they not so outspoken about those Christian groups who preach hate of other cultures and religions in the name of their prophet and their god? The attack on the Wisconsin Sikh Temple in 2012 was committed by Christians, yet George Bush himself claimed that Christianity is “inherently peaceful”, and Islam “inherently violent.”
Muslims in the UK face increasing Islamophobia, especially following the heinous crimes against Charlie Hebo. In the current climate, many Muslim citizens may feel much consternation for not actively and frequently speaking out against ISIS and other extremist groups. Increasingly, Muslim citizens feel a pressure or obligation to forcefully distance themselves from the terrorists in the Middle East, in order to placate the general population and stop trends of thought that lump Muslims together with extremist terrorists. If this is how Islam is ever-increasingly understood, it is only logical then that all sensible and moderate Christians should also aim to likewise distance themselves from the idiocy of those outspoken lunatics who comprise the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. But they do not. Somehow it is acceptable to be a Christian, regardless of the radical differences between denominations and groups, and their respective activities.
When will society realise that people are free to make their own choices? One of the first teachings of the Bible is that humans were created with free will – how else would Eve have been able to defy an all-powerful deity and eat the forbidden fruit? You cannot make someone guilty of the horrendous crimes committed by ISIS by such weak association as sharing the same religion.
So, to the Vatican, to Tomasi, and to the Pope: do not speak out against crimes when it suits you. Speak out against everything that affects our dignity and equal rights as human beings instead of only focusing on that of your fellow Christians, whom you suppress every day by controlling even the most intimate of your followers’ relationships.
In the words of Karl Marx, ‘religion is the flowers on the chains of religious oppression’ (Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right). The sooner that this is realised, the sooner there is hope for the dissolution of extremist groups like ISIS, and the sooner we will all be saved from the hypocrisy of the Vatican and every other religious group.