The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have sparked (or rekindled) a debate on whether insulting a religion is or isn’t free speech. Pope Francis joined in the debate by stating publicly that though he defends free speech, people should show restraint when it comes to insulting people’s faith: “You cannot insult the faith of others”, he stated recently.  I actually like Pope Francis. He has been a refreshing breath of fresh air for a stifled religion weighed down by dogma and archaic views. Still, I respectively disagree.

I understand the comment of restraint and it makes complete sense. If you are picking a fight you will get one. Still recent events have shown that even restraint is overshadowed by terrorism. Without free speech how are we to counter extremism?  Without a voice, how are we to counter the oppressive? History has shown that if there is no opposition, there is only tyranny.  Some may say it is western occupation and media insults that fuel extremism. I agree but it runs deeper than that. It is an opposing life style, slanted view of religion and culture that seen through the eyes of a few extremists, labels the other side as infidels – punishable by death…  That is a problem.

Here is the true problem at hand. Religion is flawed… I know… I know… another insult…. I can’t tell you how many biblical conversations I have been involved in that eventually evolve into arguments – especially when facts outweigh unproven biblical dogma. In my own research, I have learned that an individual’s religious faith is often as strong as the intensity of his or her worries and desires in life. Because religious thinking often gives purpose and meaning to a sometimes cruel and indefinable world, it is hard to dive into religious discussions without insulting someone’s beliefs in some way. People get defensive of their religious beliefs and often cannot take any criticism about them.  Some protect their religious beliefs with an intensity that is fanatical and though I would not call it a benchmark; the more fanatical one is with their specific religious philosophy, the more deeply rooted fear they probably harbor. Being ridiculously defensive alludes to a weakness in thinking; whether it’s because of ego, self-esteem, or ignorance, fanaticism points to a flaw in one’s belief system.

Try to insult a Buddhist… It is pretty difficult because Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion. In general Buddhist philosophy and through space, clarity and responsiveness – spiritual empowerment is found within by connecting to True Nature and also through the beauty of people and nature. When someone insults a Buddhist, the Buddhist immediately feels compassion for the person and understands that the source of the insult is a projection of that person’s fears, guilt, ego and lack of intelligence (in certain cases).

I am not sure what the end game is for extremism. To be honest I do not even understand it. Everyone is born with basic morals of right and wrong – no matter your religious or spiritual affiliation. It is so beyond me that some of religious faith can justify sawing the head off of a journalist or killing cartoonists.  It seems like a major dysfunction or complete lack of moral fiber. How can anyone be at peace and happy when living under these actions?

All I can say is Karma is a bitch….


John C. Bader is a wellness advocate and consultant specializing in spiritual self-evolution, meditation, and bio-energy healing. In his writing, he bridges science with spirituality and provides steps to encourage more mindfulness in daily life. His new book, The Responsive Universe – Illumination of the Nine Mandalas is a step by step process on how to begin your very own Hero’s Journey.

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