China bans reincarnation, monks stuck
WHILE China isn't too swift when it comes to making and marketing certain products like dog food and toothpaste without putting lives at risk, the West could learn a few things from our Eastern brothers about controlling things on the philosophical, theological and religious fronts.
According to the Times of London, the communist government of China has banned reincarnation. A regulation issued by the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs puts the kibosh on all unauthorized reincarnating. And since China is what the British used to call a "godless country" but in these days of tolerance refer to as "a bunch of bloody atheists," it is unlikely that any Tibetan lamas will be granted a permit to reincarnate. That's bad news for the Dalai Lama, who, though living in exile, is pretty far up there on the reincarnation ladder but now will be barred by Chinese law from reaching a higher plane of existence.
I'm generally against government control of religion, but in these days of religious-inspired terrorism, it might be a useful tool. While China's ban on reincarnation is clearly just a petulant attempt to control all those rowdy monks in Tibet, the way Fort Lauderdale cracks down on drinking college students during spring break, making certain aspects of religion illegal might be a good move.
Governments like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, for instance, could make it illegal for any Islamic terrorist to receive 72 virgins if he kills himself in a suicide bombing. Or they could simply pass laws saying you have to get a government permit before you can become a martyr, no matter what religion you are. And then don't issue any of those permits. Bam! There's goes the whole motivation a terrorist has to blow himself up. Sorry, Osama, I couldn't get the Martyr Permit.
WESTERN governments can protect against terror acts within their borders by passing similar laws. The U.S. Congress could pass the No Martyr Goes to Paradise Act. That would make would-be martyrs think twice before flying a plane into a building.
Now, there's a danger that these kinds of religion control laws might be misused. I mean, you start off banning becoming a martyr in paradise, and then you ban walking on water and turning water into wine. And then just to show that the laws actually work, you challenge someone to walk on water or turn a bottle of Aquafina into an amusing chardonnay. Can't do it? That's right. BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T GET THE PERMIT, MR. MIRACLE MAN.
We wouldn't want to ban all kinds of religious supernatural phenomena. People need something special to look forward to after death. Otherwise death is so ... final. I'm not even sure I agree with China banning reincarnation. Maybe some of those Tibetan troublemakers are going to come back as bedbugs or geckos. No problem. And though no one's done it yet, in these tense days, turning water to wine would be a good thing.
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