Compassion or Dogma: That is the Question for the 21st Century?


Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Every religious and political leader is issuing a message of love and compassion. Yet the world is as divided as before. What is wrong with this picture?

Let us now see a quote from Dalai Lama a well known representative for Buddhism, at least the Tibetan Buddhism:

Over time I will add similar helpful quotes from other religions and religious leaders. But the question of the century is, if every one is for love, coexistence and mutual respect, why does it not happen?

Are we willing to give up dogma in our respective religions that is not conducive to greater compassion, justice and well being of every one? I am afraid not.

According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus, may peace be on him, had taken out 7 demons out of Mary Magdalene, who was his disciple and according to some experts his wife:

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. (Mark 16:9-13)

In the Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 17, Jesus gives recipe for casting out the demons:

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matt 17:14-20)

The world of the New Testament compilation was one with abundant demons and ghosts.   Given the license in the Holy Bible itself the world of Christendom remained an era of devils and demons and exorcisms.  The Encyclopedia Britannica States about exorcism:

Exorcism,  an adjuration addressed to evil spirits to force them to abandon an object, place, or person; technically, a ceremony used in both Jewish and Christian traditions to expel demons from persons who have come under their power. The rites and practices of preliterate people to ward off or to expel evil spirits are also a form of exorcism, though they are sometimes considered witchcraft.

In the Christian tradition, Jesus expelled demons by a word and stated that this act was a sign of the coming of God’s Kingdom. His followers, and others as well, drove out demons “in his name.” In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the power of exorcism was considered a special gift that might be bestowed on anyone, lay or cleric. About ad 250, however, there appeared a special class of the lower clergy, called exorcists, to whom was entrusted this special function. About the same time, exorcism became one of the ceremonies preparatory to baptism, and it has remained a part of the Roman Catholic baptismal service.

For the last 150 years Allopathic medicine is fighting a constant battle to bring the enlightenment of the discipline of psychology to the service of humanity, yet the Catholic Church continues to dope its followers with the discredited concept of exorcism, wherever and whenever it can: The Muslim Times’ Collection of Articles on Exorcism: A Glowing Reason for Need of Our Science.

Let us shift the gears and move from dogma to politics.

Pope Francis has accused abuse victims in Chile of slandering a bishop who they say protected a pedophile priest, upending his efforts to rehabilitate the Catholic Church’s reputation while visiting South America.

Francis told reporters Thursday there was not a shred of evidence against Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who victims of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile’s most notorious priest, have accused of being complicit in his crimes.

“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” Francis said before celebrating Mass outside the northern Chilean city of Iquique. “But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?”

The pope’s comments set off a storm in Chile, raising questions about his commitment to repairing the damage from sexual abuse scandals and improving the decline in the church’s image and following in the traditionally devout country.

Pope Francis’ attack on the Karadima victims is a stunning setback,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, a co-director of, a group that monitors abuse cases. “He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis. Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?”

Father Karadima was convicted by the Vatican in 2011 of abusing teenage boys beginning in the 1980s, and he was ordered to lead a “life of prayer and penitence.” That year, a judge found the allegations “truthful and reliable” but dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired.

Bishop Barros, a former military chaplain, was part of Father Karadima’s inner circle and, according to one of the victims, witnessed the priest’s advances on him.

“As if I could have taken a selfie or picture while Karadima abused me or others and Juan Barros stood there watching it all,” one of Father Karadima’s victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, wrote on Twitter.

Despite the allegations against Father Barros, Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno, in southern Chile, in 2015. Dozens of priests and legislators said they opposed the move.

Continue reading the main story in the New York Times

Such self serving ignorance and bigotry is not unique to the Catholic Church, if one reads the daily news with the polarizing lens of seeing when the religion is preaching peace and love and when do they shift gears to self serving bigotry and ignorance, I bet every reader will collect dozens of examples in a few months in this age of information and international news.

I will catalog a few here to make the task easier also. For starters something from the Church of the Latter Day Saints:

If we follow the debate triggered by the death of the leader of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, by pursuing the leads in the above tweet one will find an all too human story of compassion on the one hand and an obstinate insistence on dogma, even when shown to be wrong, to the suffering of a large segment of the human population.

The dirty intersectarian politics in Islam are well known to every Muslim reader even if not known to the non-Muslims in general.

The details would vary from religion to religion, sect to sect, group to group, but, the conflict is the same, compassion is highlighted for the sake of public relations and senseless clinging to dogma and self serving politics, to promote parochial interests of the bureaucracy in each group or the group itself, with almost total disregard of the interests of all of humanity and our global village.

But, what gives me hope is a constant interaction among the different religious factions under the watchful eyes of the agnostics, who are committed to humanism and have no or little use for the dogma.  They are there to keep the religious honest and focused.  The good news is that a third of the young mellineal generation in USA is in this category.

Praise be to God!

Suggested Reading

We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma

What is South America Telling Organized Religion?

Since my writing a few days ago, some new developments have happened:

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