5 Flat-Out Wrong Things About Religions You Probably Believe
We're not sure if you've noticed, but people get pretty uptight about religious beliefs. As a comedy site, that is beyond our purview. All we can really do is point out some of the ridiculous things some folks think they know about other religions. And we're not just talking about the stuff your bigoted uncle all-caps on Facebook: There are some "facts" about religion that even entirely normal and balanced people who do not believe chemtrails are made by Jewish dragons think are true.
The Sikhs Don't Have Anything To Do With Islam
Take a quick look at this man.
"I get 'randomly selected' quite a bit."
This is Waris Ahluwalia, who was not allowed on an airplane to New York because he refused to remove his turban. Now, while that sounds like a pretty stupid reason to deny a Muslim on a flight, it becomes even stupider when you realize he isn't a Muslim, but a Sikh.
They sort of look like they could be Muslims or whatever, which unfortunately is all the excuse the rest of the world needs: In the first month after 9/11, there were more than 300 documented cases of violence against Sikhs. An utterly unprovoked shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in 2012 left six people dead, and was in all likelihood driven by anti-Muslim sentiment. In Fresno, a few weeks after the San Bernardino attack, Sikh Amrik Singh Bal was beaten and hit with a truck. One completely innocent Canadian Sikh was blamed for three separate terrorist attacks, when a Photoshopped photo of him went viral after the Paris massacres:
So just a heads up when you see this inevitability pop up next time.
60 percent of Americans admit that they know nothing at all about the Sikh religion, which just so happens to be the fifth largest in the world. The Sikh are generally considered some odd offshoot of Islam (or Hindu religion, seeing as the overwhelming majority of Sikhs are from India), when they're considered at all.
But the Sikh are their own thing entirely: Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, was born Hindu, but created his own religious belief system in the late 1490s, after reportedly drowning in a river and reappearing three days later. Nanak's new tenets involved some pretty wild and crazy things, such as equality between sexes, and an overall belief that the caste system is completely ridiculous. Guru Nanak envisioned the Sikh as a proud group of saint-soldier types, meaning that right away, they were assigned the Paladin class while the rest of the world's religions were stuck with monks and clerics.
In 1699, the tenth Guru of the Sikh, Gobind Singh, refined the Sikh look by introducing the religion's physical symbols, the 5 K's. A Sikh wears these five symbols at all times to show off the positive aspects of their faith: They never cut their hair to symbolize holiness and strength. They always carry a wooden comb for the cleanliness of mind and body (and for, you know, the hair), a steel bracelet to show restraint, a badass ceremonial blade to symbolize their status as spiritual warriors, and a special cotton underwear for chastity (and to make fighting easier. Yes. They have fightin' underwear).
The turban was the Guru's way of thumbing his nose at the aristocracy (who were traditionally the only ones allowed to wear it), and because it happened to be part of the military uniform at the time, it was a fantastic way to keep the long hair in check. It's considered the most visible symbol of the religion, and a fully anointed (Amrithdhari) Sikh can never uncover their head in public, which, incidentally, explains why Ahluwalia could not remove his headwear in the first place.
Pacifist Buddhists Can And Will Kick Your Ass
Buddhist monks are all old pacifists, so at peace with themselves and the world that they won't even sit on a blade of grass if they think it'll hurt the grass' feelings. But the idea of Buddhists as a bunch of non-violent non-offenders is a tad wrong: there is a very distinct difference between non-violence and total pacifism, and the Buddha's teachings don't really bother with the latter. The first of the Buddhist teachings is "Avoid killing, or harming any living thing," the imperative word being "avoid." Although there are Buddhists who embrace pacifism, the idea of complete non-violence is a wistful projection by Westerners. Buddhism doesn't allow lashing out in anger, and requires exhausting all options for negotiation before doing so, but if they think no other options are available, a Buddhist can and absolutely will kick your ass.
20th century Asian history is rife with examples of exactly that: Buddhists interpreting their religious texts for combat purposes, more or less as liberally as any other major religion. Bono made you incessantly aware of the Chinese-Tibet conflict that's been going on since 1950, but you may not realize that the Tibetan army that attempted to fight the Chinese was actually created by the 13th Dalai Lama himself, in 1913. Although the current Lama takes a Gandhi-esque approach, his predecessor was pushing to get Tibet a modern military. When Japan invaded parts of China on the eve of WWII, Japanese Buddhists were there because it was necessary to implement the correct version of their beliefs in Asia. Various groups of Sri Lankan Buddhists have been trying to remove those of other faiths from their country for decades, going so far as to assassinate the prime minister in 1959, for failing to ensure their rights. In recent years, Thailand has experienced a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment and outright violence, fanned on by ... Buddhist monks.
Everybody can be jerks. Even in a colorful robe.
You Can Be Buried In A Jewish Cemetery Even If You Have Tattoos
Do you have a tattoo? Sorry, God hates you. At least, that's what the Torah says in Leviticus 19:28:
You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.
Did anybody else read that in a Macho Man Randy Savage voice? No, that's our unique blasphemy? Okay.
But you're getting a seat in hell with us, thanks to that Sonic The Hedgehog tattoo on your ass. Getting tattoos is such a big deal that you can't even be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you have one. Well, on paper, at least: no Jewish cemetery actually has this policy in place, to the point where the spokesman for the Jewish Funeral Directors Of America has dismissed the idea as a "load of rubbish." When you ask scholars about it, they'll tell you that Judaism is not in the habit of leaving dead bodies just lying around because someone "was so totally a Pisces" that they needed a cute little fish on their ankle.
Tattoos themselves are a hotly contested issue within Judaism: While they're technically forbidden by Jewish law, there are no actual repercussions for having one, unless the tattoo is actively idolatrous. Some Jews have started fighting the tattoo taboo, but no one really claimed that a tattoo keeps you away from your designated burial spot.
As for that passage from Leviticus: It's true that God specifically calls out tattoos in it. However, you'll notice that it says precisely jack shit about burial ground bans, and as Biblical scholar Nili S. Fox points out, context is everything. The Bible is actually rife with positive mentions of tattoos. The Leviticus passage is literally the only negative one, which is probably because Leviticus be crazy, y'all.
Mormons Can Totally Drink Caffeine
On the list of odd things Mormons believe, one of the strangest is the ban on caffeine, which makes their perpetual pep all the more infuriating. Imagine how that feels: No coffee, no soda, no energy drinks followed by three fistfuls of NoDoz just to make it to lunch. It's beyond belief ... and it should be, because Mormons are totally allowed to drink caffeine.
There's a section of the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants known as the Words Of Wisdom. These words serve as a kind of Mormon health and wellness guide, laying out what they should eat or drink. If you take a look at that text, there's no mention of caffeine anywhere. Instead, Mormons are restricted from imbibing "hot drinks," which is generally considered to mean coffee and tea, but emphatically not caffeinated in general. Other people saw them turn down coffee, and made that leap. The idea of Mormons having to avoid soda became so widespread that, in 2012, the Church Of The Latter Day Saints actually put out an official statement to clarify their policy. Which was basically: "Hey, they're all right by us, but try not to drink, like, 17 bottles of Pepsi a day."
If only because caffeine pills are so much more convenient.
Everything In The Book Of Revelations Probably Already Happened Thousands Of Years Ago
You know the Book Of Revelations from the Bible, and every fourth Nicolas Cage movie. The seven seals are opened, unleashing the four horsemen; a seven-headed beast rises from the sea, and a final battle commences on the fields of Armageddon. Religious nuts consider it our future, but that's probably because they don't realize it was actually in the past.
The Book Of Revelations is also known as the Revelation To John, who most people don't realize is not the same guy that wrote the Book Of John, from the Gospels. In fact, most Biblical scholars think the Book Of Revelations was written at some point after the year 70 A.D., which actually makes a ton of sense: See, around 70 A.D., the Romans sacked the shit out of Jerusalem, driving out the Jews and destroying their temples. From the Jewish point of view, you could almost call these events ... apocalyptic.
Yep, experts are saying that the Book Of Revelations was likely religious war propaganda, written to rally the Jewish people under the comforting belief that God was going to come back and lay the smack down on those Romans. Scholars have found plenty of evidence to support the view that the Book Of Revelations actually describes an incident from the writer's lifetime, instead of some terrifying ecclesiastical future war. The seven-headed monster points to Rome and its famous seven hills. The mark of the beast, 666, is thought to be a numerological reference to Emperor Nero, who had a storied history of oppressing early Christians. Why, you could almost say the man was anti-Christ. The fields of Armageddon were probably referring to al-Megiddo, a famous battlefield of the time that had already been the site of various conflicts with Pagan armies. In all likelihood, John wasn't prophesying some awful future event in the Book Of Revelations: He was angrily blogging about the world he was living in, whipping it all up with fantastical drama and elaborate slurs, like a slightly less influential Breitbart.com.
Now that you don't need to fear for your afterlife, instead of slapping on temporary tattoos, you can get a real tattoo machine for the low, low price of $40 and clumsily emblazon your skin with a mistake forever!
For more ways we're totally clueless about religions, check out 5 Insane Facts That Will Change How You View Christianity and 5 Myths You Probably Believe About Major Religions.
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