I am a proud, though somewhat embarrassed, Christian apostate. I once enthusiastically embraced Christianity but then ‘deconverted’. My apostasy cost me my friends and some family, but it did not cost me my life. Though Christians use to kill apostates, they no longer do. But in many Islamic traditions, the penalty for deconverting (riddah) from Islam is death. This recent Pew poll shows the horrible prevalence of this evil way in present-day Islam with percentages of Muslims who agree with killing apostates.
- 86% in Egypt
- 82% in Palestinian territories
- 46% in Lebanon
The same survey shows Muslim approval for stoning (execution) as punishment for adultery:
- 89% in Pakistan
- 85% in Afghanistan
- 84% in Palestinian territory
At the hospitals where I work, after the Boston marathon bombing, I have heard Muslim doctors arguing with colleagues that militant Islam is an exception — that Islam is actually a religion of peace. And, indeed in my very limited experience, for Muslims I know here in my town, that is the case. But for many Muslim’s I met in when I lived in Pakistan, that was not the case. Look at the Pew data to see a very dangerous story for much of Islam.
After watching Massimo Pigliucci recent talk on morality, I wondered about the “apostate” meme and the classic “trolly” dilemma I wonder if people who say they think apostates should be killed, would actually throw the stones needed to kill an apostate in front of them or if they are only comfortable with others killing apostates for them. That is why governments and religions are dangerous — we can make very different decision when we are removed from a situation then when we give over responsibility to a larger group which has been sanctified. The kill-apostate meme is deadly and evil but the “apostate meme” itself is horrible and feeds this mentality. The meme still exists in many forms of Christianity. This meme must be combatted. So take a stance — stand out — if possible, proudly declare your religion-free life so as to perhaps make apostasy safer for others.
Now for a final linguistic treat:
“Apostate” is from the Greek: “defection, desertion” – to stand away from
- apo: away from, off
- stenai: to stand
Other examples of “apo” words:
- apology: apo + logos: speech. To speak in one’s defense
- apocalypse: apo + calypso: hidden. to uncover, disclose
- apogee: apo + gaia: earth. furthest from earth
Other examples of “stenai” words — from PIE: “sta”
- station: a place to stand
- statue: made to stand