Not Cease from Exploration

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Religion: An Inherited Trait?

I actually had a discussion the other day with a family member who insisted that, since President Obama has a Muslim father, he was and always will be a Muslim himself.  They actually believe this, and in point of fact I've heard similar dribble from certain talk radio hosts as well.

Let's think about this for a second:  is a religious faith an inherited trait, along the lines of skin or eye color?  Is there a "religion organ" in the body that somehow stores the religious genetic code that is passed from father to son?  Of course not!

Here is an example:  Mary (who is a non-denominational Christian) has a relationship with Abdullah (a Muslim from France) and she becomes pregnant.  Abdullah, after discovering this fact, runs for the hills.  Mary then meets another man, Fred, who is a Born Again Christian.  They are married and Mary gives birth to a son, Barry.  Mary and Fred raise Barry as a devote Born Again Christian who attends the local Pentecostal church. The question is this:  is Barry "secretly" a Muslim, or is he a Christian?  I think any rational person would answer "Christian", unless of course Barry ends up becoming a politician that others disagree with (then all logic gets thrown out the window).

The only counter argument here is that "Muslim" is as much a culture as it is a religious faith.  That argument falls flat on its face for two reasons:
  1. The very word culture implies a set of behaviors and beliefs (see definition HERE) that are shared across a group.  I can tell you that, for example, the behaviors and beliefs of a Muslim in Saudi Arabia are different than the behaviors and beliefs of a Muslim in Iran or a Muslim in Indonesia. 
  2. Being a Muslim means, by very definition, that you are an adherent to Islam.  Just ask Muslims (citation HERE) themselves.  If you are not an adherent to Islam, you are not considered to be a Muslim.
In the final analysis, I do think that there are folks out there who are desperately searching for reasons to distrust President Obama, and 9/11 makes the tag of "Muslim" is pretty convenient.  The problem is that way of thinking is just plain moronic.  Distrust Obama because you disagree with his policies...there are many I'm not overly fond of...or his actions, not out of some misguided notion that religion is somehow inherited.

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