In my first column of this series I mentioned those who are sincere believers and also seem to have "good hearts".
These are the types of people I have always considered as being good neighbors to live near even if my own beliefs differed from theirs.
One of my core philosophies is the supporting of alternative thought and lifestyles as long as they don't impinge on my own.
Unfortunately the harsh reality is that others exist or have existed who also claim to be doing "God's work" and in many cases believe this to be just as true as those who are able to leave their neighbors in peace.
There are religionists who feel it is their duty to convert others to their beliefs yet they themselves have little understanding of those they feel need converting.
Even worse some of these "agents of God" belive in the justification of conversion by force.
I doubt if anyone who is aware of the history of Christianity is unaware of the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, the burning of Joan of Arc, or other such distortions of religious power and authority.
Some of the Twentieth Century Islamists hold the same violent philosophy. It would be unfair to label all Muslims with this accusation as I Am aware of peaceful sects such as the Bahai within that religion, just as I know that most Christians today don't have that evangelical zeal that at one time manifested in violence.
I feel the bottom line is to be a part of society one must be able to do as some religions now accept, that is respect civil authority and leave those who don't accept alternative beliefs alone to live in peace.
Even today some of those "agents of God" are hard at work attempting to replace civil law acceptable to most of society with a religious interpretation of personal and public behavior that only can be justified in my opinion as rules applicable to others who choose that particular faith.
The American Constitution affirms a separation between church and state. That doesn't seem to deter those seeking a Zion on Earth from incorporating their beliefs into civil law..
If some of these "agents of God" read their charter more carefully they might realize they only are authorized to extend their authority or "agency" within their own society of believers.
© 2010 Albert 1 - 5/11/10