In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week, I’ve read a fair amount of comments from people on social media, and even some journalists and politicians, condemning not just the attack itself and those who support or justify it, but also the religion of Islam itself for promoting intolerance and violence toward non-believers. So I decided to consider that claim in relation to these five questions:
1) Do I support the equal status and rights of all people, including gay people being guaranteed the same legal privileges and protections as heterosexuals?
2) Do I support the equal status and rights of historically oppressed people such as women and racial/ethnic minorities, including the right to be free from harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and physical harm?
3) Do I support the separation of church and state, government and religion, so as not to assume and propose that my religious beliefs be the basis of law and public policy for everyone else, including people who don’t practice the same religion that I do?
4) Do I refrain from trying to convert others to my religion in the belief that salvation will only be granted to followers of my particular faith?
5) When innocent Muslims are killed in warfare, do I resist the temptation to tell myself “They had it coming” or “That’s the cost of war” and instead allow myself to feel sorrow and compassion for my fellow human beings?
If I say “No” to any of those questions, then I need to examine my own belief system before rushing to condemn another.