Leaving Islam




Born Again as an Infidel  

By Eleanor Green


In walking away from organized religion and Jewish Orthodoxy, I almost expect the abandonment that I faced with relatives after I filtered Christianity honestly through my sense of reason and justice and found it wanting. Most people, with very few exceptions, are able to honestly take an objective stance and consider the beliefs they hold dear, invest vast amounts of money in, are emotionally attached to, and whose adherents make up their peer group. Free thought and honesty of opinion are unwelcome in most religions.

My process of new birth has been a long and winding one. Born to a fundamentalist preacher, I began to question the beliefs of my childhood in middle adulthood and left them entirely for Orthodox Judaism, which was, in the truest sense, reconciliation with the faith of my maternal ancestors. Yet, after a few years inside the ultra-religious world, I began to realize that the same problems that had driven me from the church were to be found here, which led me to finally allow myself to question the subject of religion in general and ultimately, the untouchable Holy Grail known as the Bible.

It saddens me that for centuries, priests and rabbis have spent their entire lives inventing what they think are clever explanations to justify the cruelty and barbarity of the plain text of what man claims is God's opinion. It is much like an endeavor to convince the public that the grand wizard of the KKK is secretly a Jew-, Black-, and homosexual- lover whose words and actions are simply misconstrued, and only a tiny, select, and wealthy group who can attend a special school to learn these justifications is able to understand this "fact." If God wanted the world to know Him, we would never have to explain His opinions or tone down His capriciousness. It would be clear to all if He was just. The one single evidence for me that none of the manmade religious books is from the Creator is the insistence of the major ones with which we are familiar that its adherents shun their fellows. Even worse is the bigoted arrogance of believing that any group is genetically holy, superior, and favored by the Creator of innumerable worlds.

Our rabbis, bless their well-intentioned hearts, tell us that "All Jews have a place in the World to Come." No matter what a monster, jerk, or hateful, selfish criminal a Jew is, he/she is genetically worthy of eternal bliss. But most Gentiles have no such place unless they follow an inferior religious system that we ourselves invented, of which I never even heard and would bet my life that 99% of Gentiles haven't. By the standard of the Noahide system that we made up, Mother Theresa does not have such a place because she was an idolator. Walt Whitman is also condemned because this brilliant, sensitive man was a homosexual. But Pat Robertson, whose bigotry and prejudice has influenced millions, whose lavish lifestyle is funded by the poor and ignorant, has an assured place in the World to Come because he has violated none of the seven laws of Noah. He may believe in Jesus, but he bows to no "graven images."

Genetic holiness, an extra part to the soul, or innate superiority over others, in spite of one's personal behavior toward his fellow man, is a concept that has the number one thing on the alleged list of things God hates written all over it..."a proud look." How can Jews believe such a thing about themselves and then laugh at the injustice of vicarious atonement?

If we can see that dying for the sins of another accomplishes nothing, and merit must be earned through good deeds, why do we then make a mockery of logic and insist that all Jews have a place in the World to Come by a virtue that is similarly unmerited, unjustified, and unjust?

While we may take comfort in saying that we haven't had an Inquisition, nor Crusade, nor have we behaved as the Medieval church did, the truth is that the church got the idea from our Bible. Our Bible is responsible for every "witch" that was ever killed. We planted the vineyard and now we shrug and insist that we did not reap the harvest, but someone else came along and reaped it. We would have done better to have not planted it.

We can quote a thousand rabbis and come up with what we think are wise parables to explain away the plain and obvious atrocities in the text, but that does not erase them. The fact that so much effort is required in order to attempt to justify the capriciousness, impulsiveness, and ferocity of our God (what we think is our God), is proof enough that we know such efforts are necessary because we know that many things claimed in its pages are barbaric beyond modern man's comprehension.

I can never be an honest person and actually delude myself into thinking that the Creator of all the worlds favors me for something I cannot help and had no part in, nor that He disfavors someone else for the same reason.

I can honestly say that every observation of behavior that appalls me in the frum community of Jews is the direct result of deluding oneself into thinking he/she is genetically superior to another. Any other. Yichus (the insistence that righteous ancestors impart righteousness through sperm and egg) and its fruit is the result of thinking one is superior to the non-Jew by virtue of birth. It is only an extension of it.

That is why secular Jews have accomplished so much, while ultra-Orthodox ones have accomplished so little good in this world for the betterment of universal mankind. The more frum, the more insular and selfish one is. Why? Because the Bible justifies the dulling of good sense and, more importantly conscience of how it might feel to be in the "out group." The more frum, the more ignorant one is. Who has time to study science and history when one has a schedule full of shiurim, kaballah classes, and other pursuits that serve to dull, rather than expand, one's knowledge of the readily observable?

There is no more effective way to block the process of objective reason than to recite hours of doctrinal statements every day rather than reading in a library. We created our own capricious master, enslaved ourselves, and now we insist on "praying" from a book which is only brainwashing ourselves to limit our brains to what we wish were true, not what is. What a difference religious Jews would make in the world if they got up at dawn and spent hours reading philosophy, science texts, and history instead of meaningless prayers! Think how wise they would become if the minyan of ten would include women and be spent in the study of astronomy, philosophy, history, geology, and mathematics! A few pages of Einstein, Hawking, Sagan, Voltaire, Socrates, Shakespeare, Paine...The list is endless.

We love to take credit for our genes or our religious books producing our great contributions to humanity, while at the same time despising the secularism that produced such accomplishments, hating our brothers who decided to abandon an ancient religious system of rituals and absurdities for the study of what is here for us to discover if we will only activate our brains and grant our creativity to explaining the undiscovered in nature, rather than acting as defense attorneys for the unjustifiable ideas our ancient ancestors had about God. We should be improving humanity through education and charity rather than lining the pockets of our lucky recipients of "yichus" with exorbitant prices for a piece of fruit and a palm frond! I'm sure God is pleased to see us waving plants around that we paid so much for and step over the homeless and hungry in the street on the way to synagogue!

 Would we refuse to attend a close relative’s wedding and cause rifts in our families for any other reason? Would we castigate a mother for the sincere belief that circumcising her son is an unnecessary and painful procedure for any other reason? Would we refuse to eat with a non-Jewish neighbor for any other reason?

You may wonder, as I did, how, if one decides upon careful thinking that the Jewish Bible can't possibly be written by any other than men, one can still be in favor of Israel's right to exist. It's not a dilemma. Israel is as legitimate a nation as any on the planet, established in sovereignty by the United Nations, as many other Middle Eastern nations were in recent ages. Therefore, she has a right to exist. She also has a right to punish insurrection that comes in the form of violence, to expel those who hate her as we do our enemies, and to defend herself. She must protect her legitimate citizens, including those of non-Jewish origins, by using the most severe and swift judgment against violence. She must write a constitution and a bill of rights that allows neither naturalized Jews to throw stones at passing Arabs, nor naturalized Arabs to throw stones at passing Jews. The Jews are my people, I love them, and they have a right to defend themselves and their nation, just like any other.

We must focus on preventing war altogether and eliminate the entire problem in the future. There is no peace to come from dividing one nation that is attempting to become a democracy into two theocracies. Instead, we must advocate the education of all of its citizens, the end of religious schools that teach only hatred and censor free thinking. We must find a way to secularize education so that all Israeli citizens will, in the next generation, realize that it serves all well to dwell at peace with our neighbor. We could not have an America with territories for each racial group. We are a great nation because we are slowly learning to be one without walls and racial division. We have a long way to go, but we have the idea at last.


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