Unwarranted Religious Paranoia, Courtesy of Fundamentalism
One thing I have never understood about religious fundamentalists of any ilk is why they have to be so paranoid. It is as if that if they let people do as they wish, the world will collapse — if they cannot coerce people into following the one true faith, then we are all doomed.
Take, for example, Christian fundamentalists in the United States. They have nothing better to do than to pressure their government to insert its nose where it does not belong and put Christianity in the public sphere.
Worse still, they stand for oppressive laws which ban behaviour they consider "immoral". They conveniently forget that the Bible condemns homosexuality and adultery in the same breath (and if I recall correctly, only one of these is mentioned in the Ten Commandments — and it isn't sodomy); why is homosexuality sufficiently immoral for the government to ban it, but not adultery?
(Indeed, adultery is probably more harmful than sodomy, since adultery breaks up the nuclear family while at the worst homosexuality only means parents and siblings don't get along.)
At their worst, these fundamentalists actually go out and murder homosexuals and doctors who work at abortion clinics. (How ironic, considering Jesus told us to "turn the other cheek" when slapped so our enemies could have a second go.)
This paranoia has unfortunately hit Malaysian shores with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Increasingly, we see Muslims who pick and choose what their holy book tells them, and insist on the government enforcing laws which are only God's to enforce.
There is one prominent Muslim fundamentalist blogger who once complained about a Christian church's expansion of its facilities, groundlessly asserting that this would harm the faith of Muslims in the area.
If your faith is so weak that it would be threatened by a new church building, I have to wonder what kind of example you are setting for those considering your religion.
Moreover, this zero-sum mentality conveniently ignores the fact that the right way to compete is not to tear the other person down, but to build yourself up.
If you feel that Christian proselytisation is getting out of hand, the right thing to do is to carry out your own dakwah rather than telling the Christians to shut up. If your faith is strong, if your faith is right, what are you afraid of? (The same goes for fundamentalist Christians who seek to tear the Muslim faith down.)
And of course, we have these moral policing vigilantes who do nothing but muddy our nation's name every time they catch a non-Muslim couple and haul them in for supposedly violating Islamic law. (This is just what happened to an American tourist couple — and will continue happening, as long as these extremists are not reined in.)
Religion is a personal relationship between man and God. No one — not the imam, not the Pope, not the Dalai Lama (unless you're the kind of Buddhist who is also an atheist), not the government — can or should come between the individual and God.
Who is to tell me that my relationship with God is not right? Who is to tell me that God does not like what I am doing? If you do not like what I am doing, that's a different story — you have grounds for complaint. If your only problem is that I'm not doing what's right in the eyes of God, that's between me and Him — get your nose out of our relationship, you pervert.
At this point, the fundamentalist Muslims are probably shrieking, "This isn't any of your business! You're a non-Muslim, so only talk about Islam when it concerns you!"
Excuse me? Who is it who injected the state, the government, into this personal relationship between man and God? It was this extremist interpretation of religion — and as a Malaysian taxpayer, I have every right to complain about how my tax ringgit are spent.
When a Malaysian is told by my government she cannot believe what she wants to believe, when a human being cannot be in a relationship with God because of my government, it is every bit my business. Don't patronise me with your paranoia, and stop being a peeping Tom when it comes to how others relate with God — it is not your or the government's place to be a voyeur.