It is very easy for any religious adherent (the German word is "anhanger"--on-hanger) to become dogmatic. The moderately innocuous result of this dogmatism is the statement "I hope you burn in hell." The ultimate form of such dogmatism is the suicide bomber and those who encourage and celebrate such wanton destruction of life.
Sam Harris makes several provocative statements in his recent book. The most provocative to me (because I think it is almost infinitely insightful from a Mormon sociological perspective) is this:
Because we are a people of faith, taught to concern ourselves with the sinfulness of our neighbors, we have grown tolerant of irrational uses of state power.
--The End of Faith, page 162
This is to me the quintessence of why a majority of Mormons decried the sexually immoral acts of Bill Clinton, while shortly thereafter looking the other way when it comes to the very likely politically immoral acts of George W. Bush. Most religions imply that faith is more important than knowledge. Those who misunderstand Mormonism--including a plethora of Mormons themselves--attribute such policy or doctrine to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They are wrong. Whereas false faith is blind obedience to the patently unreasonable, true faith is reasonable, and true faith finds its ultimate substance in knowledge, while eventually discarding the dross that was ultimately not true faith.
Here's some more truth for our time from Mr. Harris, as he quotes the words of Nazi henchman Rudolf Hess:
The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty, in the surrender to the Führer that does not ask for the why in individual cases, in the silent execution of his orders. We believe that the Führer is obeying a higher call to fashion German history. There can be no criticism of his belief. (p. 100)
It would definitely require more than just the changing of a few words to impute to George W Bush the same motives as Hitler, but how many times has he said that if we're not with him on terrorism that we're somehow unpatriotic?
True faith is not blind. True faith is critical and persuasive. True faith has alacrity. Faith seeks knowledge. A person of true faith seeks reason and improvement. True faith welcomes and respects alternative points of view.
Is it the traditions that have been handed down to us that have persuaded us to believe unfortunately otherwise? To devolve into tribal mentalities?
Rather than find real reasons for human solidarity, faith offers us a solidarity born of tribal and tribalizing fictions. ...religion is one of the great limiters of moral identity, since most believers differentiate themselves, in moral terms, from those who do not share their faith. (p. 176)
I hope that my religion is not so exclusive. I hope that this is not the religion that I am teaching my children. Harris suggests:
...an utter revolution in our thinking could be accomplished in a single generation: if parents and teachers would merely give honest answers to the questions of every child. (p.225)
A world without dogmatism. What a novel idea. What are we waiting for? What are we afraid of?