I’m known to lump Christanity and Islam into the same gen­eral cat­e­gory, a sort of “pox on both their houses” approach to reli­gion that usu­ally over­looks Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism — mostly because the first two reli­gions are fore­most in my mind. Christanity is, after all, the dom­i­nant cult in the US, and Islam was shoved blink­ing and naked onto the US stage in 2001.

Periodically one comes across objec­tions from Christians to the effect that it’s unfair to group their reli­gion with that of Muhammad, usu­ally because:

1. Christianity isn’t violent;

2. At least, not any more;

3. And besides, those guys who bomb abor­tion clin­ics and kill doc­tors are lone nuts;

4. And any­way, it’s not like pray­ing in school or dis­play­ing the Decalogue is actu­ally harm­ful to anyone;

5. Except pos­si­bly the minor­ity in the US who aren’t Christian in the first place; but still, why worry, since mar­gin­al­iz­ing a group based on a given behav­ior never actu­ally leads to dis­crim­i­na­tion or harm;

6. Like what hap­pened to Matthew Shepard.

Which is why I think it’s worth point­ing out this from the Beeb.

A Nigerian high court has sen­tenced a Lagos preacher to death by hang­ing for set­ting fire to mem­bers of his con­gre­ga­tion, killing one woman.

Emeka Ezeuko, bet­ter known as Reverend King, was found guilty on one count of mur­der and five of attempted murder.

In July last year, he accused six mem­bers of his Christian Praying Assembly church of sin­ning by hav­ing extra-​​marital sex.

He poured petrol over them before set­ting them alight.

This “rev­erend” told his fol­low­ers he was Jesus Christ, and when he was sen­tenced began shout­ing that oth­ers were plot­ting against him. Interesting how his delu­sional claims were seen as a sign of divin­ity — until his delu­sion trans­formed in a par­tic­u­larly vicious way and was seen as the man­i­fes­ta­tion of insane sociopa­thy that it obvi­ously is.

But here’s the real ques­tion: Did the delu­sion change, or did pub­lic opin­ion of the delu­sion change? And what does this say about the delu­sions of oth­ers caught in reli­gious throes?

Still think that the mes­sages of Christian fun­da­men­tal­ism* are harm­less? How many charred parish­ioners — or bombed sub­ways, crashed air­craft or, for that mat­ter, raped choir­boys — do we need before we seri­ously con­sider dis­pos­ing for­ever of this idea?

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* Or any other kind of reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism; they’re all the same.

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