This morning after dropping off my daughter at school I was chatting with a neighbour who told me a disturbing story. Recently she had taken her young son to a fast-food restaurant for lunch, and as she was leaving a man stepped up to her with a dirty look and dumped his garbage on her. Why? Because she was wearing a hijab - she's a practicing Muslim.
This woman is one of the kindest and soft-spoken people I know and would never hurt anyone. Unfortunately the perception is becoming more prevalent that all Muslims are a threat, just because of the actions of a few radicals.
Believers of the Old Testament might be familiar with the story of Onan, who was ordered to impregnate the wife of his deceased brother to ensure the continuation of the family line. He refused to do so, and was punished for "spilling his seed on the ground". This story is now used as a basis for the condemnation of masturbation and birth control. Many Christians that I have known claim that this should no longer be applicable in today's society since mores change over time. Of course, that doesn't stop the "true believers" from causing a fuss.
I would pose a question to those "true believers": have you actually read your holy text in its entirety and not just taken quotes out of context? The Old Testament in particular is filled with incidents of violence against women and children, persecution of one's neighbours, and destruction of cities, all because of something that was or was not done. God will supposedly punish all those who don't believe in Him - the inspiration for a joke that says every religion decrees that non-believers shall go to Hell, therefore the entire world will go to Hell. And scarily, this might be correct.
Hypocrisy is rife in too many churches. We need to step back and take a hard look at what humans have done in the name of religion. A lot of it isn't pretty. As long as religious extremism holds so many people in thrall, the world will never be the peaceful place that it could be.