Dear Editor,

As I suspect many of you are, I am constantly confounded by the basis for the rift between Sunni and Shia Islam that has soaked the deserts of the Middle East in blood for the past 15 centuries, and which continues unabated today.

In fact, when one considers ISIS, al-Qaida and the Taliban wielding modern weapons of war, the present may be the worst period of violence in that cursed land since the days of Mohammed and his pitiful legacy. His dying words are said to have been, “Oh God, have pity on those who succeed me.” How’s that for prescience?

While I’m sure there is no shortage of scholarly literature on the subject, do yourself a favor and pick up “After the Prophet” by Lesley Hazleton. Therein, you will find an accessible account of the 7th Century birth of Islam founded by Mohammed, and how, in less than 50 years, his entire family and lineage were murdered, and Islam splintered into the continuously warring Sunni and Shia sects.

It is impossible to come away from the story with anything other than with the revelation (pun intended) that the whole God-religion thing is preposterous and stupid. Bottom line – religion is nothing more than a man-ufactured struggle for power and control, whether by a family or clan or sect that has anointed itself as the messenger of God, and is willing to do anything and everything to maintain that power and control.

In “After the Prophet,” God very quickly took a back seat to the greedy and jealous ambitions of the Caliphs and Imams claiming God’s authority and guidance. “God” is thereby reduced to nothing more than a cheap excuse and justification for committing the most heinous of barbarities, with the faithful convinced they will be rewarded in a debauched heaven filled with honey and virgins. “Allahu Akbar” indeed! Does anyone really believe that god presides over heavenly orgies when his murderous martyrs ascend?

This observation is not limited to Islam. How can it be that god told the Jews (Moses, et al.) one story – before destroying the entire world (Noah); told Jesus and the Apostles quite another, and 600 years later gave Mohammed another entirely revamped version.? Is God confused, fickle or just plain daft?

And then, among hundreds of other minor prophets (Jim Jones anyone – how about David Koresh?), we have our own Joe Smith, a charismatic con-man and Indian grave digger, who translated impossible gold tablets etched with hieroglyphics with seer stones (the Urim and Thummim, for geez Louise’s sake), into the Book of Mormon – a work of gross plagiarism and fantasy.

Were Joe and the Abrahamic prophets kidding, deluded or just lying for base earthly purposes? Or is it that there really is no sky-fairy, and that religion is simply a man-made construct foisted upon the masses as a means to amass and retain power and wealth?

Don’t worry folks, you can still be kind, loving, charitable and do unto others . . . without a religious crutch – probably more so. Try it.

There can be little doubt that organized religion and its sky-fairy CEO is the root of much evil on this miracle of a planet that has spawned and sustains life despite incredible odds. Religion is, in fact, anti-life, anti-evolution, anti-reality and anti-free choice.

So . . . “Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you just hate to make him wait” – but that your true deity is Momma Earth, and you prefer to stay with her.