Modern civil discourse appears to rest on the polite assumption that none of us will take our religions at face value — or, at least, not the relevant holy books. The passage of time, and the realization that we all must live in close proximity to each other, have combined to utterly end true literalism, even in the most fundamental of the fundamentalists. Andy Schlafly, debating the issue with me a few years back:
On the account of creation in the Bible opinions vary as to what should be interpreted literally and what is figurative.
That principle, when released (or acknowledged), admits of very broad application. Since Andy hasn’t tried to stone anyone (to my knowledge), we can safely presume he agrees. That’s for the best. The Bible has some crazy stuff, common to both Judaism and Christianity. The 43d (fictional) President:
Given this, it is the height of unfairness to call Muslims to account for every passage in the Koran, or treat each as if it must be believed, by every Muslim, upon pain of apostasy. This is not how religion works for us, and can’t be how it works for them. Nor is the related polemic, concerning the overall violent timbre of the book, well-founded. In the first ten pages (depending on translation) one will find no less than four injunctions that Muslims deal fairly and equitably with Christians and Jews. These commands are not surplusage, or commonly ignored, but find modern expression in the “controversial” (?) Imam Rauf, and in ancient times, generated a form or proto-religious liberty that, while not truly comparable to modern liberalism, was nonetheless ahead of its time.
Few religions are free of the burden of a violent past. Absent some showing of abnormality, though, that history will tell us little abut current practice.