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Not all fundamentalists are the same

HuffPoster Diana Butler Bass, writing about the “South Park” imbroglio, ably disproves her point.

I can’t and won’t defend the Revolutionmuslim website. But violence against those who depict the Divine is not just an Islamic problem. It is worth pointing out that Christianity has a long history of violence against visual depictions of Jesus, the saints, and God. In 1987, Serrano’s Piss Christ provoked death threats and violence from Christian fundamentalists and conservative Catholics across the U.S. and Europe and caused political outrage on two continents. In the 19th century, American Catholics were regularly targeted by Protestant mobs for “worshiping” statues while Protestant ministers lost their positions if they placed visual depictions of the crucifixion, Mary, or the saints in their churches. Two hundred years before that, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan army smashed religious artwork in English parish churches. During the 16th century Protestant Reformation, followers of Luther and Calvin looted cathedrals and convents carting off valuable paintings and statues to burn them in public squares.

While I don’t dispute that some assorted fanatics threatened Serrano’s life, such a response was not sanctioned. And there was no recent precedent, like the brutal murder of Theo van Gogh (referenced by Revolutionmuslim).

Bass notes a “religious-moral superiority” by Western culture, and what’s wrong with that? Western culture doesn’t condemn women to life under a burka, or execute gays using a method of hanging designed to cause a slower, more painful death by strangulation. That’s the past. In countries like Iran, it’s the present.

I detect a whiff of religious-moral equivalence in Bass’ thesis.


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