Radical religious extremism is like bad breath: it’s impossible for those with it to smell their own condition. But others can smell it plenty!
Radical Religious Extremists Defined
Radical religious extremists are people who use a deity or religion as an excuse to say irrational, counterproductive, unjustifiable things that would otherwise have no place in civil society. These extremists often violate common standards of ethics and reciprocity without seeming to realize it.
So, how can you tell when you, or someone else, have crossed the thin line between embracing spiritual traditions and violating common standards of ethics and recipocity?
Have no fear, because the Santa Claus Test for Radical Religious Extremism is here! But first, a little background…
The Essence of all Religion
The Golden Rule is the fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Moses
“What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.” ~Confucius
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” ~Jesus
“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” ~Muhammad
And yet, all religions have extremists who repeatedly strive to break this Golden Rule.
All religions, that is, except one…
Santa Claus as Religion
There are people who are convinced that Santa is real. There are people who are sure he’s only make-believe. Unlike with other religions, believers and nonbelievers aren’t killing each over the truth about Santa Claus.
Does Santa Claus drink alcohol? Can he perform the miracle of stopping time? Does his spirit actually descend on helpers throughout the world on Christmas Eve, or does he visit each home individually? Does he deliver presents to homosexuals? Jews? Blacks? Women? Handicapped people? Is Santa’s penis circumsized? Who are Santa’s chosen people?
Amazingly, followers of the cult of Santa Claus often disagree on these tenets without breaking the Golden Rule. Which brings us to my test…
The Santa Claus Test for Radical Extremists
Whenever you, or someone else, refers to deity or dogma in conversation, replace said deity or dogma with “Santa Claus” and see if you sound Assholian.
Let’s use some famous quotes to see the test in action:
“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing Santa Claus who is sending a love letter to the world.” —Mother Theresa.
That’s sweet. We write letters to Santa as children, then we help Santa write back to the world through our adult actions. That’s enlightening, and I don’t think it’s extremist at all.
“I don’t know that people who don’t believe in Santa Claus should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under Santa Claus.” —George H.W. Bush.
Wow. George gets an eleven on the ten scale of radical religious extremism…and a big fat zero on Understanding the U.S. Constitution.
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty Santa Clauses or no Santa Claus. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ~Thomas Jefferson.
Nice guy. And smart, too, that Jefferson dude.
“Without Santa Claus, democracy will not and cannot long endure.” ~Ronald Reagan
Harmless, bewildering senile extremism. Possibly confusing democracy with capitalism? Possibly confusing democracy with Catholicism? Possibly confusing democracy with the United State’s own democratic republic? Or just plain old confusing.
“The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by people who worship Santa Claus. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of people who don’t worship Santa Claus they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society.” ~Pat Robertson
If he could, Pat would stick a sharp fork in Thomas Jeffson’s kneecap. Scared, paranoid, radical extremist.
“What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness Santa Claus has given us in this world…” ~Robert E. Lee
Very true…and what better words to remind us of the troops that will be separated from their families and friends when Santa brings the world joy this Christmas.
“I just want to do Santa Claus’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take it to the mountain. Proactive? Yep. Extremist? Naaaa. He and Santa have got their own thing going.
“With the support and power of Santa Claus, we will soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism and will breathe in the brilliant time of Islamic sovereignty over today’s world.” ~Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Don’t do it Santa! And don’t give Ahmadinejad his toys until he promises to quit hijacking your support and power. Sounds extremist to me…
“Santa Claus told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then Santa Claus instructed me to strike at Saddam.” ~George W. Bush
And then Santa Claus told him to let monkeys play with the nuclear football…Yeah, right. I wish Santa would shut the heck up! Extremist? You betcha.
“I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Santa Claus: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of Santa Claus.” ~Adolf Hitler
‘Nuff said. This guy’s a pretty radical extremist.
“This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by Santa Claus Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.” ~Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel 1969 – 1974
Go to timeout, Golda. You’re being extremist.
“Believing in Santa Claus is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Santa Claus.” ~Billy Graham
Santa Clause…you could certainly pick a worse role model. Watch the sweets, though…Santa’s belly’s shaking like jelly.
[tags]radical, extremists, Christian, Muslim, Islam, religion, politics, Bush, Iraq, crusade, jihad, Santa, religious right[/tags]