The ‘Charter for Compassion’ is a waste of time

I came across this website, Charter for Compassion, which is the latest attempt by religious moderates to extend an olive branch to other religions in the hope of curbing fundamentalism. The site asks people to discuss stories of compassion that they have experienced in their lives. I believe it is their hope to communicate through these stories the idea all people share the need for acts of kindness regardless of their religious creed. It is also, in my opinion, entirely futile.

Religious fundamentalism isn’t something you can combat by showing more unity across the spectrum of religious belief. In fact, this act of reconciling differences is one of the main forces that actually DRIVES fundamentalism. The rejection of modern values, and the isolationism in the face of a rising global community are powerful forces in the foundation of today’s religious fundamentalism.

From their video, I extracted a few quotes to specifically comment on, mainly because I find them to be somewhat naive and at times, dishonest.

“As a Muslim, You have to submit to the will of God, and submitting to the will of God means that you have to be compassionate and kind to your fellow human beings”

It’s true Islam does translate into submission, but there are passages in the Qur’an that are definitely not about being compassionate towards your fellow man. There are countless passages making reference to how unbelievers are doomed to hell, and in some versions of the Qur’an, there are distinct passages meant to entice followers to violence. “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (Surah 8:36-)” These are not encouraging words, and it is naive to assume the interpretation of God’s will is compassion towards non believers.

“Every Religion has a history of intolerance, and every religion has principles for overcoming intolerance”

Religion does not have any internal mechanisms for overcoming intolerance, specifically because it rejects any principles that are not part of its accepted dogma. This statement is entirely false; today’s Christian moderates are motivated towards universal acceptance in spite of their religion, not because of it.

“We need a charter for our own souls, for our own sake, but also for the sake of our world, our perilously divided world”

If I said religion was entirely responsible for dividing the world, I would come out as both foolish and ignorant, but there’s no denying it has been a big part of the problem, especially as the world becomes smaller. Nationalism is making way for a stronger global community, but religious exclusion has thrown roadblocks in this effort. There will never be a charter that is accepted by all religions, and even if there were, it would not discourage fundamentalism. Everything seems to indicate it would only be encouraged.

“The Golden Rule is a Golden rule is so many different world religions”

The Golden Rule isn’t limited to religion, and there’s no reason to credit it with it. Social species recognize the survival advantage of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. The rule applies not only to humans, but also to chimpanzees, lions, dolphins, and countless other species. It appears to be an instinct rather than a dogma, and I see no reason to think this rule would not apply if religion was to disappear.

It’s a nice attempt to create a synchronicity within the religious community, but for all intents and purposes, it’s also entirely useless. Religious moderates, as Sam Harris has argued, form the theological foundation for fundamentalists. To properly denounce them, you have to be ready to criticizes your own dogma.

Comments (2)

  • avatar


    Sounds interesting but I still need to read Hitchens and Dawkins… to guys i know i agree with.

  • avatar

    The Other Jacob Fortin

    I think everyone is a little naive, it’s not the philosophy that determines the man it is the man that creates/finds/adapts the philosophy to fit his ideas and purposes.

    I believe that even without Islam and Christianity the moral justification would still have been found for 9/11, Jewish progroms, the crusades, inquistion, etc. All these people did was take an already extent philisophical system and adapted then adopted it as their own. This has happened so much it has become difficult to separate out the good from the bad that has eventually become one and the same package.

    I know that when I am in church that I am seated with people whose ideas and philosophies to do always agree with my own and they feel as I do, that scripture and their religion say they are correct.

    As with everything that involves great numbers of people and emotions Religion is a confusing mosiac of ideas and concepts.

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