Religious terrorism or mental illness?

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by arievergreen

Lauren Cox’s Fort Hood Motive Terrorism or Mental Illness? brings up some very interesting questions about Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Was he fighting for Islam, or was he lonely and insane? Or was it both?

“I think it would be a mistake for people to theorize [he did this] because he is an adherent of this or that religious faith,” said Dinwiddie, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “The mental illness comes first, then flowing from that is the adoption of perhaps, unusual, religious beliefs.”

Afkhami also wondered if the public will place too much emphasis on Hasan’s religion. Based on Afkhami’s experience lecturing and working with the military, and plain common sense, it follows that few, if any, of those who oppose the war have turned to radical acts such as a shooting rampage.

“We’re missing a core underlying issue, there are tons of religious folks who are morally opposed to the war on some level who are still serving in the military and get things done,” said Afkhami.

Rather, Afkhami is convinced that a combination of stressors in Hasan’s life — especially in his role as a military psychiatrist — could have led him to a breakdown.

In this story, and in many things posted on this blog, we can see how religion and insanity (or even just power – take George W. Bush and his conversations with god for example) mix with dangerous results. If someone is feeling persecuted, and their religion says they’re on the side of god while others are evildoers, the stage is set for god-sanctioned retribution.

“This was an attempt at an honor killing.”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by arievergreen

s-NOOR-ALMALEKI-largeNoor Faleh Almaleki Dies: Iraqi Woman In US Dead After Father Runs Her Over For Being Too Westernized (Huffington Post):

“By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,” Low said. “This was an attempt at an honor killing.”

Family members had told police that Almaleki attacked his daughter because he believed she had become too Westernized and was not living according to his traditional Iraqi values.

He ran her and her boyfriend’s mom down with his car. Almaleki, 20, died after being in a coma for two weeks and undergoing spinal surgery. It seems the other woman, Amal Khalaf, will survive.

Scientology: The Tom Cruise Edition

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by arievergreen

Gawker has been running some scary stories about Scientology lately, all connected to Tom Cruise. It sounds like the recent revelations from high-profile defectors are making serious litigation a real possibility.

More on Paul Haggis’ split with Scientology

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

David Gibson’s Is Scientology a Cult? Is Paul Haggis the Next Martin Luther? gives a little more information about the director’s split with Scientology over their support for Proposition 8.

Interestingly, Gibson suggests Haggis could improve rather than reject Scientology:

One mark of a “real” religion is its ability to reform or adapt. Some religions could be said to begin as cults and over time transform into religions. Similarly, religious traditions, or parts of them, can also degenerate into cults. But cults generally don’t last long because they are so obsessive and rigid that they cannot change in the face of challenges. Perhaps Haggis needs to start his own branch of Scientology. It’s a model that has worked before.

Judging by the inability of many “real” religions to, say, grant women and queer folks and people in other religions equal consideration and respect, I’m not sure that such a reform movement would do much to improve upon Scientology. Wouldn’t its transition from a questionably-culty new religion to a bonafide 100% legitimate religion just give them more power to control people?

Read Scientology: Ecclesiastical justice, Part 3 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology, for a glimpse into the controlling world of this belief system.

Links roundup: What’s up, religion?

“He had complete control over me mentally and therefore because I was his property and I was his, he was able to do what he did to me”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

Elissa Wall escaped from a forced marriage and has written a memoir about it. She has also worked with the media to challenge people to intervene in similar child-bride situations.

She said, “I didn’t want to be married at 14. [Sect members] honestly believe, and I did and so did my mother, that God sent down inspiration from heaven, like a strike of lightning, down to the prophet. This was God’s word. And we were to follow it, obediently and happily.”

How can a 14-year-old girl raised in this kind of environment be expected to resist her oppression, or even to know she has a right to live her own life? And how can we prevent similar abuses in other situations where humans say they’re carrying out god’s will?

Maybe the most important question is, how can any of us argue with someone’s faith? Can one have a rational discussion with someone who says their actions are justified by an all-powerful metaphysical being that they really, really believe in? If a society believes that religion is an acceptable defense for some oppressions (denying the morning-after pill to desperate teens, denying abortions to women, denying marriage to queer folks, and so on), isn’t that a slippery slope we’re on? How can we give institutional support to some practices, and decry others as immoral, if we’re all using “god’s word” as a justification for our actions?

Links roundup: What’s up, religion?

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

I’ve been saving these ones up – stories of ordinary people who are subjected to oppression for religious reasons. (And several of them resist successfully!) Isn’t religion supposed to improve our quality of life, not destroy it?

“I believe in God and God knows I am not a witch.”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by arievergreen

Huffington Post’s African Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors is a shocking piece describing the torture children are being subjected to as part of “exorcisms,” as evangelical Christianity grows in popularity in Africa. Tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout the continent.

“We cannot afford to make enemies of all the churches around here,” [Sam Itauma of the Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network] said. “But we know the vast majority of them are involved in the abuse even if their headquarters aren’t aware.”

Once a church has declared them to be witches, the children are exorcised by family, neighbors, and church officials, a process which could involve beatings, starvation, being buried alive or tortured with acid or nails, being set on fire… the list goes on. Many children lose their lives. Read more.


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