British Poll: Religion More Harm than Good
More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension – greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.
The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.
Religion: loved and hated
I think British’s sceptical attitude towards religion represents the larger picture of developed country in general and Western Europe in particular. And it’s understandable; interestingly it’s not the case in the US. So, if similar survey is conducted in a developing country, say Indonesia, the result will be altogether different.
On grass-root level, some, if not most, people regard religion like a would-be-divorce couple who desperately need a psychologist to sort their problem out. It’s only needed when your mental strength is weakening to the extent that you cannot rely partly or mostly to your own brain. And hence you need a higher Being, whatever it might and could be, to depend and trust upon. This might explain why even the most backward people in the stone era still followed a kind of ’religion’ of their own. Hence, to some agnostic thinkers, religion is like a temporary escape from reality and religious believers are considered to be attaching to ’unscientific’ attitude and mindset.
People in the developed country feel ’powerful’ enough mentally to not rely on other Being, despite there’re some tendencies in the West or to any agnostic people in this matter, who revert to religion in their later life when their strong independent mind evaporate by ages. John Naisbitt in Megatrend 2000 told some interesting facts in which even during the golden era of Soviet Union, many Atheists in the country invite the priests to pray for them in their deathbed.
Religion, Conflict and Violence
The sceptical opinion of the British towards religion could be driven also by the fact that many conflicts currently occurred in our world are emanated from religion or have a religious flavour in it: terrorism, civil wars, inter-religious proselytization, etc. A BA political science student once asked me: why is so many violence and conflict in the name of religion? I gave her a rather cliche answer:
The fact of the matter is it’s not religion that has caused many conflicts along history lane. Religion is quiet symbolized by its quiet holy books. It’s the religious followers, or to be exact the religious leaders or non-religous leaders claiming to be ones, who mix their greedy-lustful ego with religous flavor.
Religion is holy, pure and peaceful. Any religion: be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. Ironically, it’s because of its purity and holiness that many rogue people feel safely hiding behind it. And that’s exactly what’s happening and prevalent in todays world.
Make no mistake, when I say inter-religious conflict, it’s not only confined to violent physical conflict, it includes also the conflict which comes from blind religous-driven or money-driven ego of particular writers and/or bloggers who spread inter-religous hatred in their writings, elegantly or harshly. To some extent, these people are more dangerous because they drive your mind toward the same feeling or at least inter-religous misunderstanding. Sound people will rubbish such kind of writings or blogs. It’ll lead you nowhere.
A good Muslim will never attack their brothers and sisters of other faiths. Likewise, for a good Christian and Judaism. A good Christian will most likely be a good friend of good Muslim and Judaism and so forth. The main purpose of any religion is to purify your heart from any evil feeling: hatred, domination, and conflict. Any evil acts carried out by any particular religious followers in the form of physical or non-physical violence (like writing a hatred piece) in the name of religion is self-contradictiory in itself
Muslim and Poverty
Why Chinese Indonesians are generally richer than non-Chinese? Andreas Harsono, a journalist, himself a Chinese, has the answer as reported by Jawa Pos newspaper yesterday (May 11), “Because Chinese are minority.
And minority everywhere tends to work harder than the majority.” He further elaborates that Javanese are hard-working community outside Java island where they’re in minority. The same is true to other ethnics like Bataknese in Jakarta, Madurese in Kalimantan, Padangese in Java, etc.
Granted. I agree to some extent. But as we know, a person is not only affiliated to particular ethnic. He or she also belong to a particular religion be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or even atheism. The question is how far is it that a religion of reference could influence his or her mindset towards life other than being minority-majority thing?
Have a look at India, on poor and rich issue, most observers see thing generally on religous based because they cannot analyse or hard to analyse it through ethnicity perspective. So, when Indian media or columnist say thing like “minority community” they mean Muslim. If we follow this logic, the paradox comes up: Indian Muslim is the only minority who are poor. Very poor compared to the majority which are Hindus. And Hindus majority generally outperforms the Muslim minority in every fields (see Rafiq Zakaria’s Indian Muslim Where Have They Gone Wrong?)
If you agree with this minority-on-religious-based logic, the question is what’s wrong with Indian Muslim? And with the same token, the question can be raised to Indonesian Muslim as well: what’s have gone worng with them? Why they cannot outperform the minority? Why Indonesian Muslim are generally not wealthy and outperformed by minority community—Indian term—in almost every fields?
Is this something to do with religion we follow, with ethnicity we belong, with certain mindset within the so-called pribumi that we attach to?
You tell me.
Crime and Religion
Salman Khan & Aishwarya Rai former Miss Universe and former Salman’s long time girl friendSalman Khan, one of three major Indian film stars–a long time lover of Aishwarya Rai– beside Shakhrukh Khan and Amir Khan, was and still is a drinker, and is a non-practicing Muslim: one who never cares how to act in accordance with his religion . A few years ago, he got involved with a hit-and-run case. His appearance in the court sound as if he’s one of those devout Muslims you ever see: wearing white hat and white Muslim shirt. He often states that he’s just a victim of being a minority.
A few years ago my junior in India, a bachelor student of political science, asked me why many (Muslim) people who perpetrate crazy terror act such as bombing and killing innocent people claim to be religious and/or on behalf of religion in doing their crimes?
Abu Ala Maududi’s Towards Understanding Islam also mentions how Jamal Abdel Nasser a purely nationalist and secular figure of Egypt of 1960s often used Islam as his jargon to motivate his people to join the freedom struggle against the colonialist British. Indonesian ulama in 1940s also made a decree that fighting against the colonialist Dutch was part of jihad.
Three stories with almost similar theme: religion, Islam in this case, is being used by some people as an excuse, a justification, or tools to attract sympathy on a cause which is not necessarily related or even contrary to the essence and spirit of the religion itself.
I told her, the bachelor student, that there are two lessona taken from this phenomenon:
First, human, how devil one is, still wants to be regarded as “good” creature.
Second, religion, therefore, is the best means to support that cause, to hide one’s true beastial action.
Seeking justification for whatever wrongs we are doing are part of our daily lives. A trend that common people are practicing. Being honest, humble and thus brave in acknowledging the shortcoming and flipside of ourselves is rarity and unique.
If you’re one of human with this rare unique character, you’re lucky. So are your surroundings. And let me take a bow before you once in a while to give my appreciation you duly deserve.
Religion and Nationalism
If a journalist asks your first preference between two important identity which one carries all his/her life, i.e. religion and nationalism, which one comes first? Shakhrukh Khan (SRK), India’s Bollywood mega-star, told BBC a few years back that he prefers nationalism as his first choice. The same question with the same answer also comes from Amir Khan, the most respected India’s actor and comes second to SRK only in terms of making box office.
Actually, to some that’s a tricky question. In Indonesia that’s not a question worth answering, at least to the majority of Muslim Indonesia. Two largest Muslim organisation, NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) and Muhammadiyah, had accepted the Pancasila (pron. panchaseela), the philosophical foundation of the country, as their basic organisation manifesto.
Which means nationalism comes first on the ground that within the Pancasila itself there consist of one point in which freedom to practice one own religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. So, the two point, religion and nationality, in the eye of many Indonesian should not necessarily be considered as two contradicting entities.
In other part of the world, like Pakistan, however, the above question might be understandable.