Judaism to me has always seemed a dangerous religion. For all of its benefits and peaceful sides it is now greatly outweighed by avarice and greed.
Anywhere I see a majority of Catholics I see gross oppression of indiviudal rights and governmental roles. They remind me of why democracy will never work in the Congo, Venezuela or anywhere else with Catholic majorities.
If black Baptists ever gain too much power in voting, the United States could very well fall to extremism.
EDIT: Some people accused me of "burying" this disclaimer, so I'm bumping it. Some of these recommenders may have been recommending the "discussion" rather than the content of the diary. However, given the inflammatory nature of the topic, I would hope that these recommenders would have SAID something about the discussion before simply bumping up the diary-- most didn't. I guess this gets into issues of the meaning of recommends, but I'd always thought that if you recommend without commenting against it, you're implying that you support it.
Islam is the biggest religion of the third world. It is a faith that holds great currency among some of the poorest people on the planet. As such, it should not be surprising that it's often used to justify sad and terrible things, or that it's difficult for Muslim immigrants to integrate into developed cultures. This is not because of any regressive element of faith, but because of simple poverty and racism. In any faith, the values of the poorest people are never as egalitarian and accepting as the values of the wealthiest and best educated. Using the regressive attitudes of some Muslims to justify anti-Islamic prejudice is like using the homophobic statements of some black leaders to justify racial discrimination.
Islam, in fact, has a long history of being one of the forces for good in the world. Anyone who knows their history knows that Christian Europe stayed in its ghetto for millenia, imprisoning, torturing, and oppressing any Jew, Gypsy, or other minority that came into contact with it. Islam was the faith that engaged with the world, reaching everywhere from Spain to Indonesia. Muslim traders connected every major empire and polity on the globe with peaceful trade, and cross-pollinated everything from Hindu mathematics to Greek philosophy. Islam had a positive effect in many of the places it touched, ending practices of human sacrifice and brutal slave prostitution in most of the places it controlled. When Europe finally did emerge, it was with bloody warfare in the Crusdes, and, later, full-scale colonial exploitation. Through the whole history of European colonialism, Islam was often the defender of non-European groups-- perhaps the most poignant symbolic moment being the slaughter of Jewish women and children after the Crusders "liberated" Jerusalem from the "evil" Saladin (who had presided over a multi-ethnic city). The ham-handed way that Israel was established has sown discord in the region, and has warped this image, but that should not blind us to the long history of Muslim-Jewish comity preceding the 1950s.
EDIT: As I said in the PARAGRAPH BEFORE THIS ONE, Islam has aided and abetted many immoral things as well. No shit! We hear about these things every single day from our lazy news organizations. My point is that every faith has elements of brutal violence in their past. We should not be singling out Islam as a religion of violence, as MANY posters in this thread have suggested, because that label ignores so many layers of complexity. I'm not arguing that Islam is inherently better than any other faith.
Islam has always been a source of learning and education in the world, and it is only a consequence of the last few decades of ill treatment that the hotheads and violent lunatics have taken power. This is not unique to Islam. We live in a country that started a bloody war to protest a tax hike. How would you feel if you thought a foreign power had taken away your land, pushed you into institutionalized poverty, and supported evil men to rule you? Now I'm not saying that the concerns of radical fundamentalist leaders are valid, but I AM saying that these problems have far more to do with regular, dirty, mundane fucking politics than faith. It wouldn't matter if the Middle East was a hotbed of atheists or Wiccans; if the political situation was the same, they would still be pissed off and violent.
I am not a Muslim. But I AM a member of a religious minority in this country-- a Hindu (which is a faith that's had its own problems with Islamic radicals lately). And it deeply saddens me to see that on a LIBERAL site like this, in a community that ostensibly stands up for liberal values (and I dearly hope that religious pluralism is still a liberal value), a position so blatantly reactionary could gain such traction. Supporting ignorant nativism like bassman's diary reduces us to the level of Fox News and Free Republic. I have to say, my faith in this site has been shaken by this diary's popularity, particularly among such leading posters as Maryscott and Delirium. As a religious minority, I need to know that liberals in this country are still committed to the protection of all faiths, because the moment we begin to make exceptions is the moment religious pluralism dies.
EDIT: I hope this clears up a lot of confusion about what I was trying to say and do with this diary. Oh and as for the poll, I intentionally kept it in the crudest language possible because I really wanted to see what people thought about pluralism in this country and on this site. When 1/3 of the posters are willing to support even this very crude standard, I think there's a major problem.