Charter for Compassion

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warning icon orange.svg This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

Charter for Compassion could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

Preach to the choir
Icon religion.svg
Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith

The Charter for Compassion is a short text promoting compassion, tolerance and other feel-good stuff, and a website that hosts it and invites people to "affirm the Charter" and "spread the word" — essentially a form of slacktivism.


Although it claims to be an ecumenical and universal document, the Charter is essentially a warming-over of Christianity's "greatest commandment in the law," as hashed out by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 and also referenced by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13. This is understandable, since it was made by an ex-nun, Karen Armstrong, who had departed the cloister to become a "freelance monotheist" and study modern literature.[1]


The short text of the charter contains some, uh, rather questionable statements. Two of the more egregious howlers are:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.

The followers of Esoteric NazismWikipedia would, one would suppose, take umbrage at that, the heart of their traditions running more in the direction of fire and slaughter; but even among the old traditions, paganism generally put more emphasis on duty or excellence than on love or compassion (this became a major selling-point during Christianization). Islam, meanwhile, is named for its call for followers to submit to the will to God, rather than love or compassion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ... to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate.

One wonders exactly which "scripture" is being referred to here. It is certainly not the Qur'an, indeed one would have to do some fancy footwork in order to maintain that an order to "slay the idolaters" did not "breed violence" back in the old days, especially considering that its author and his successors did just that, fighting massive wars of conquest and religious subjugation.

It is certainly not the Old Testament, either, seeing as how it contains an explicit example of how a very legitimate "interpretation of scripture" bred violence, in the story of the semi-legendary King Josiah of Judah (2 Kings 22-23). The story starts with the Israelites having become polytheistic, worshipping figures such as the earth-mother Asherah in addition to YHVH. After Josiah is crowned as king, a scroll is found in the temple to YHVH at Jerusalem with a certain part of the Pentateuch written on it. Upon reading the scroll, Josiah hastily embarks on what the text characterizes as an extended bout of holiness,[2] burning and desecrating many cultic objects, killing numerous priests, digging up some more and giving them a posthumous immolation. Mr. Compassionate, indeed.

Notable signatories[edit]

Among the document's signatories are:

External links[edit]