Things CNN Will Never Tell You About Religion

1. That there is no God.

2. That you will not live forever.

3. That Noah’s ark will never be found because it never existed.

4. That Christianity began as a violent first century messianic sect which learned to cope peaceably when its messiah didn’t show up.

5. That most fundamentalists are rather stupid, Muslims and Christians alike.

6. That most evangelical Christians cannot describe what they mean by “inerrant” – speaking of the Bible.

7. That the vast majority of Christians opposed to stem cell research think it means killing babies for their brains.

8. That biblical Israel ceased to exist in 720 BC, lasted for less than two hundred years, and that modern Israel didn’t exist again until 1948.

9. That virtually no Jews use the phrase ‘Judaeo-Christian’, applied to ethics or anything else.

10. That Muhammad, a delusional first century Arab who thought the God of the Jews was speaking to him, was not a Muslim.

11. That Jesus, a delusional first century Jew who, if he existed, thought that the God of Abraham was his father, was not a Christian.

12. That most Arabs don’t like Palestinians.

13. That religion is the cause and not the cure for Middle Eastern violence.

14. That most Lebanese who are not Shi’a would rather be called Phoenicians than Arabs.

15. That the intellectual tradition in Arabia that is supposed to have given us everything from astronomy to the Zero and algebra…didn’t.

16. That not all religions are about peace, love and brotherhood—specifically, that the word Islam does not derive from the Arabic word peace but from the term for “Give up?”

17. That the term Jihad historically has never meant an inner struggle for spiritual perfection but killing the enemies of Islam before they can hurt you.

18. That almost no one in the Middle East believes that the future of the Middle East resides with “moderate” Muslims.

19. That atheism, secular humanism, and agnosticism are essential ingredients of the pluralist culture of modern Europe and America.

20. That when secularism and humanism fail, democracy fails.

21. That religious tolerance is not possible in the Middle East.

22. That unless the phrase ‘freedom and democracy’ includes the construct ‘secular’ neither term is meaningful.

23. That prior to the war on Iraq, the American president did not know that Iraq was biblical Mesopotamia, Eden.

24. That the American President thinks the distinction between Shi’a and Sunni is similar the distinction between Methodist and Presbyterian.

25. That the new ‘democratic’ regime in Iraq – Iraqi Shi’a – and Not Syria or Iran, were the staunchest supporters of Hezbollah prior to the invasion of Iraq.

26. That this means that the people we are calling the bulwark of freedom and democracy in Iraq are the terrorists of southern Lebanon.

R. Joseph Hoffmann is currently senior fellow and Chair of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, at the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York. From 2000 until the break out of the war against Iraq, he was Professor of Civilization Studies at the American University Of Beirut.

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