A question I pose to atheists and others who argue that religion is irrelevant to moral behavior has been cited by Christopher Hitchens in his national best-seller, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And Hitchens's citation has been widely quoted - from the New Yorker to the website of the Oxford evolutionist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins.
This is how the story appears in Hitchens's book:
"A week before the events of Sept. 11, 2001, I was on a panel with Dennis Prager, who is one of America's better-known religious broadcasters. He challenged me in public to answer what he called a 'straight yes/no question,' and I happily agreed. 'Very well,' he said. I was to imagine myself in a strange city as the evening was coming on. Toward me I was to imagine that I saw a large group of men approaching. Now - would I feel safer, or less safe, if I was to learn that they were just coming from a prayer meeting? As the reader will see, this is not a question to which a yes/no answer can be given. But I was able to answer as if it were not hypothetical. 'Just to stay within the letter B, I have actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem and Baghdad. In each case I can say absolutely, and can give my reasons, why I would feel immediately threatened if I thought that the group of men approaching me in the dusk were coming from a religious observance.'"
This sort of ties in with the post I made about the Manichean Presidency earlier. There is an assumption that if someone describes themselves as a Christian, they must be a good guy. But the Ku Klux Klan prayed before they set out on their murderous missions, and the Ayrian Nations claim to be a Christian group as well.
The other thing you'd have to ask yourself is how this group of people would treat you if you were a swarthy man wearing a turban compared to how they'd react to a person of European descent in ordinary western clothes.
Again, this is an attempt to both label and define the world. Us v. Them. Christian v. Muslim. Aren't you SCARED of people who aren't like you? Don't you believe they're EVIL and want to do you harm? Don't you know the whole world is a "dark alley?"
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