Anorak News | Monky Business

Monky Business

by | 30th, July 2002

‘IF HISTORY teaches us anything, it is that religion is rarely a force for love, peace, understanding and tolerance.

”HQ? Send reinforcements. I repeat, send reinforcements.”

Indeed, like sport (on whose behalf similar claims are often made), its track record suggests the complete opposite. Just think of Islamic jihads, Christian crusades, and all the other religious wars down the centuries.

And internecine struggles are even worse. One need only look at the way Buddhist monks (you know, Buddhism, the loved-up religion) fight amongst themselves over the ownership of their temples to get an inkling of the potential for out-and-out war.

So no-one will be particularly surprised to learn in today’s Telegraph that it all kicked off down Jerusalem way when a dispute over control of the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the traditional site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection) got out of hand.

Two groups of monks – the Ethiopian Orthodox mob and the Coptic Church of Egypt crew – clashed with spectacular results when an argument started about the position of a chair where one of the Egyptians traditionally sits.

The monk moved his chair out of the sun, and this was interpreted as a violation of the status quo, as documented in 1757. Tensions rose, as the Egyptian monk was allegedly teased, poked and finally – most insulting of all – pinched by a woman.

At this point all hell broke loose, as they say. Eleven monks were treated in hospital, and ”an uneasy stand-off” now prevails.

One historian is quoted as describing the area, which is a mass of rival sects, as ”the most unchristian place in the world”. It’s just this sort of thing that gives irrational superstitious beliefs a bad name.’

Posted: 30th, July 2002 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink