Just Another Addiction.
Some of the more popular television shows being aired these days deal with addictions or extreme behavior disorders, such as hoarding, overeating, anorexia and drug addiction and intervention. These shows center on otherwise normal people who have become addicted to certain types of behavior or have taken their interests to extremes, which place themselves or others in danger. Each of these programs often show extreme behaviors exhibited in gruesome detail, which is shocking to some viewers, who may think this type of extreme behavior is a rarity and far from their own little world. The viewers learn that in each of these programs help is offered by professional mental health practitioners, but in many cases the people suffering from these behaviors deny the severity of their actions and refuse any kind of help. One can plainly see how much families and friends of these people are also suffering as a result of their loved one’s bizarre and extreme behavior disorders.
If people do not know anyone who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, hoarding, eating disorders or other extreme behavior disorders, they may think that they themselves are not effected in any way. But they are wrong. Look at one important practice of every day life that is present in the daily routines of most people. Religion. Every day people can be observed or heard praying. They say grace before meals. They go to mass, church, temple or mosque once a week or more. We hear people preaching in public, whether we want to or not. Out cable TV channel lineup consists overwhelming of religious channels we didn’t order, but we must endure them as they are part of our program bundle. We usually don’t give these religious presences a second thought and accept them as a normal part of life.
But take a closer look at what can happen. The Twin Towers bombings of September 11 were carried out by Muslim extremists. Suicide bombings are an every day occurrence in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas of the Middle East and Africa. The Taliban has been terrorizing Pakistanis and Afghans in an attempt to force them to adhere to their archaic beliefs. These terrorist attacks are all carried out in the name of Islam. Extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and Isis have vowed to destroy the West and replace the governments there with their own deranged form of Islam. They kill thousands of innocent people, among them peace loving Muslims, because they merely think or pray differently. Even in moderate Muslim countries there are groups trying to force their beliefs and practices on the rest of the population. Having lived in Malaysia for seven years I saw firsthand how the government forced their own brand of Islam on the population.
In Israel ultra-Orthodox Jews known as Haredi Jews, a minority in the country have in the past attacked school girls walking to school in a small city near Jerusalem. This sect of Jewish extremists believe in strict segregation of the sexes and they are determined to force their beliefs and practices on the majority of secular Jews, even if it involves attacks on police and other acts of violence against other Jews. Peace talks in the Middle East have been a failure because of religious extremists on both sides. Even in Judaism the different sects attack each other.
Now don’t feel smug because the above examples deal with Muslims and Jews. All we have to do is take a look at some political campaigns in the United States to see many examples of Christian extremists. In past campaigns and most recently in 2016 Conservative Republicans courted Christian evangelicals, who are in reality extremists. Even thrice married, adulterous, misogynist Donald Trump professed his Christian faith and promised to bring back supposedly outlawed Christian values to America. He and his supporters even invented the “War on Christmas”. The possibility that Americans may believe in a different faith is a mute point. They threaten war against those Muslim terrorists who are trying to force their beliefs on their own countrymen, while doing the same thing to their fellow Americans in the US. What hypocrites! They value freedom of religion as long as it is their religion. We all remember the fanatical Christian extremists of the Westboro Baptist church whose hateful rhetoric and practices of demonstrating at military funerals and funerals of gays or gay friendly people. There are only a few members, but they are trying to force their views on the rest of the country. There are many sects of the Christian religion in the West and they each think they are the one and only true Christian religion.
Religious extremism is not only attributed to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. All religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and many others have their extremist members. Even atheism has its extremist elements. There are a couple of big differences between religious extremists and those extremists mentioned in the first part of this post. Firstly religion is quite often considered to be a sacred cow (excuse the pun) and people are either afraid or unwilling to discuss religion in a public forum. Therefore many extreme religious practices or beliefs are ignored or tacitly accepted. People don’t want to criticize someone of their own faith, even though they are not in agreement. Secondly, a big difference is that drug addicts or hoarders and others exhibiting extreme behavior can and do receive treatment for their disorders. Religious extremists are just as sick and unbalanced as other addicts, but no one wants to recognize this. Religious extremists are just as dangerous or more dangerous than those addicted to drugs, alcohol or extreme behaviors. No one offers or even suggests mental health assistance. Because these people’s illnesses are a result of religious beliefs, no one wants to touch upon this subject. It is taboo. The latest intrusion of religion on the lives of the American people are so called religious liberty laws which are nothing more that an attempt to allow Christian religious fanatics to discriminate against gays and anyone who may be different from their idea of what an American is. It is normal for people to want to express a belief and practice a certain religion, but when those beliefs and practices endanger other people’s lives or infringe on other people’s freedoms, something must be done. We must recognize that religious addiction does exist and it must be treated.