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Racism and Religion


by Carolyn Kay

Nick Anderson. Washington Post Writers Group

Yesterday I posted this at 

All the major religions agree.
Quote of the Day

“Tsze-Kung asked, saying, ‘Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?’ The Master said, ‘Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.’” – Confucius

“Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.” – Buddha

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Matthew 19:19

“What is hateful unto thee, do not do unto others.” – Hillel the Elder (Shabbos 31a)

“Allah loves those who do good (to others).” – Koran 3.148

 [If anyone can find a similar quote from Lao Tse or any other Taoist, please send it to me at  Thanks!—Caro]

Message from Harry A

I don't know of any quotes from Lao Tse or the Taoist tradition, but this morning was taken aback when I read in the Hebrews Scriptures (aka The Old Testament), the Book of Leviticus 19:33-34:

"When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God..."

Now I know that a lot of conservatives and Republicans are quick to insist on the "Word of God" etc., including Bush;  what part of this quote do they not understand?!! Seems pretty clear to me.

My response

Hospitality was very important to the Middle Eastern cultures.  It's enshrined in Islam as well as Judaism.  Some say that the sin committed by the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't that men were having sex with men (that was pretty common), but that the townspeople weren't hospitable to the visitors that Abraham took in and fed and protected.

From Wikipedia:

The biblical text itself seems to suggest that the sin is based in part on inhospitality to some (if not a major) extent (although traditionally, the reason for the punishment has always been immorality):

Ezekiel 16:49-50: Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

This idea is paralleled in the Gospels when Jesus compares an inhospitable reception to Sodom:

Matthew 10:14-15: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

This view of the biblical story reflects that of other ancient civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, where hospitality was a main feature in deciding the quality of a person. Also in these civilizations, men were held in a much higher regard than women (in Greece women being seen as little more than property, therefore, to demand not only a guest but a male guest to be violated against his will would be seen as more of a crime than to allow women to be used to save the guest. 

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Last changed: December 13, 2009