Inquisitions, Crusades, slavery, stoning to death, fundamentalist terrorism, abortion clinic bombings and such like are well known parts of past and present history resulting directly from and because of religious fervour.
As dreadful as these occurrences were and are, they are only the visible tip of the iceberg of religious violence and intolerance experienced to some degree by all societies. That which has the appearance of being against the prevailing religious view is and has been dealt with in the harshest ways imaginable.
These obvious examples of religious lunacy are known about by civilised societies, but interestingly enough, the knowledge is scant and not topics for conversation. There is a reluctance to think too heavily on these matters as they show religions in an extremely poor light. The perpetrators were/are religious, some fanatics, some middle of the road and others just going along with the crowd.
Each religious person, when factually confronted by these obscenities, somehow distances herself/himself with various excuses, none of which hold up under scant scrutiny. The only real separators are time and location. The force that is supposedly for all things good, stands condemned of vile acts of barbarism of the worst kind, committed against other humans displaying small or large differences of opinion. People are and have had their bodies mutilated and killed for what was/is in their collective minds.
Fear, nay, terror of anything new or strange turns the religious into psychotic maniacs with diminished or destroyed respect for any part of humanity bold enough to express independent thought.
One might think that these overt iniquities, carried out by the faithful, are the only ones where guilt can be laid on their shoulders. How very wrong is that idea!
It must be mentioned here that all societies have a majority number of people from those who are weakly religious right up to outright zealots. They control the voting in all systems in need of consensus. This is not meant in a conspiratorial way, although in higher echelons conspiracy is the order of the day. The Lyons Forum in Australia is an example and the political control by fundamentalists in the USA another.
Many years of ‘brainwashing’ on certain topics and constant reinforcing of stereotypical ‘evils’ that require no thought, makes for poor interpretation of what should be seriously thought about issues. The circle is completed by the media, which supplies what it’s audience demands. Add to this a similar percentage of religious people working for the media and the scene is set for conscious and unconscious censorship of thoughts and ideas.
Following are a few examples of how this affects the lives of others who think differently in ‘modern’ countries.
Abortion: No matter what you think on this subject, the bottom line is that to legally make women accept pregnancy against their wishes, is to force a set of beliefs on to them. Even in a perfect society, where education concerning sexuality could be comprehensive, accidental conception would occur. The huge pith in this point is that it is those so vehemently opposed to abortion who simultaneously are in opposition to comprehensive sex education. Abstinence is all they can preach. Of all the ideas of religion this is the most ridiculous.
Legal Voluntary Euthanasia: There are those in high places in religious institutions who have purposely distorted facts concerning this fundamental right of all humans. The Netherlands has scientific evidence of the efficacy of their system of Voluntary Euthanasia but religious leaders still cry foul. In this case, even the average adherent considers it to be a good idea by 70% or higher at all polls taken. Politicians with the religious ‘gene’ take heed of only those in control of the flock. Such a blatant disregard for democracy is this, that one day it will fill volumes of books.
Lesbian and gay intolerance: Homosexuality has been recorded down through history. The pendulum is swinging to an acceptance that genetic factors, the same that determine heterosexuality, are at play in the main. Even if it is pure choice, that is no reason for distinction. The variation between heterosexual people in their sexual life is no longer a matter of the ‘missionary’ position and nothing else. Many ‘straight’ people engage in anal intercourse and one has to wonder what difference there is in the lining of the rectum between that of a woman and that of a man. The natural argument is full of holes, so to speak, as to what humans do is natural. Unless a clear and present danger to others is recognised, consenting adult human behaviour is an individual’s choice. It should be beyond the reach of a sexist, puritanical and virginal mind-set.
War on drugs: An imbecilic over-rated, overstated, irrational and wowseristic response to something new. The real drugs of concern are in order; tobacco and alcohol with both having mammoth derogatory affects in most nations on Earth. The taking of recreational drugs is a personal choice. Religion started this witch hunt and continues it with glee, glad to have an enemy to fight. It pays no heed to the damage of the war which is by far greater than the damage of the drugs themselves.
Prostitution: Every society that has ever existed has had a prostitute population. Nothing has even diminished it slightly. Women are vilified and prosecuted whilst men are hardly chided at all for their part in the proceedings. Religious attitudes of the unequalness of women are given succour and support in keeping laws regarding prostitution in the dark ages. How sad it is to see other women, mainly of the religious kind, condemn their sisters for the choice of their profession.
The environment: To be a special creature created by a god has all other creatures and ecological systems as not so good. The Christian Bible even says to take dominion over all else. This was OK when the numbers of people were small and their technologies were primitive.
Nowadays our numbers are exceedingly large and our demands on the environment ever growing. We cannot continue in this vein ad infinitum.
Religion plays into the hands and minds of the greedy with exploitation justified by calls to ‘God and destiny’. The unfortunate part of this is that the general religious population always retain in the back of the mind that god’s creation was meant to be used, whether that be plant or animal, in any way deemed fit by humans. Why would a god create a planet only to have humans destroy it or not ‘fully’ utilise it? This sub-conscious thought is rife in religious non-thought.
The Pope has even gone so far as to say that planet Earth is capable of supporting 40 billion people. One has to wonder what happens then though. On this he is remarkably silent.
Contraception: No-contraception and no comprehensive sex education are the driving mechanisms in providing new little minds to mould and distort into a shape that is conducive to any particular religious fantasy.
No-contraception denies people the option of a chance of not catching HIV/AIDS and other STD’s and not passing on the disease if they have it.
No-contraception denies women the option, especially those living in a subjugation situation, to bear children only when planned.
No-contraception, as an ideal, is a fatally flawed concept. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the strength of the sexuality in humanity and can only be classed as a very dangerous fantasy promoted by deranged and senile aged men.
Thou shalt not kill, the death penalty and war: One of the touted Ten Commandments, an arbitrary human made number, as they appear in more than one location in the Bible in different form, is the “Thou shalt not kill’ order.
The Bible is a slaughter house of killing and smiting by God and his followers. The rule is an impotent one as Christians have always found reason enough to break it, even if the pretence is imaginary (Start with Witchcraft). The rule is broken any time it is needed to be.
Look at the most self confessed Christian nation on Earth, the USA, and how it is one of the few remaining democracies that clings desperately to the death penalty. Along with this it has the highest murder rate. It is a small jump from killing ‘villains’ to the killing of a national enemy. The born-again-Christian president of the USA, as well as giving no reprieve to those convicted to die, is making decisions on whether other enemies of the state should also die. Such as in the now situation of Iraq. He is thinking with Christian values that allow no right of life to the godless criminal or the wrong-god heathen. He is thinking of the oil and allowing God to take the rap for a murderous intent.
Even though many official Christian voices are raised in protest at the inevitable war with Iraq, George Bush is still at the highest popularity of any President ever. Where are the actual day to day Christians trying to stop the war? Their silence makes a mockery of their leaders calls to moderate. Religion stands condemned of fuelling ignorance and then making the grand gesture in an attempt to compensate for it.
The female gender: What has been stated above is disproportionately against women. Half of the world’s population suffers to some extent, greater than their male counterparts, in all societies. Women are subjected to a lesser role than men, with lesser rights, up to the point of being chattels and killed at will. Women are the scapegoats of all patriarchal religions.
Education: The most important time of a person’s life is in the formulating of a world view in childhood. On a planetary scale, some form of ‘faith’ is instilled from the earliest years. An endemic view that a variety of gods created the Universe is adult supported with children having no mental defence against such teaching. They have no option except acknowledging this as truth. Because of its repetitious and ubiquitous nature, later in life, as with other teaching, the ‘knowledge’ so promoted becomes instinctive.
The range of intensity and content varies from instilling a 6000 year old creation event up to a god as the initiator of the big-bang.
Deeper examination of the wonders of nature is bypassed, with everything that-is, explained by a super-normal happening.
Humans are placed at the pinnacle of creation instead of being the result of an evolutionary process. The dangers of this manifest themselves in our extraordinary brutish and irrational behaviour towards the planet and other ‘faiths’.
Racism: Religion promotes a ‘we are right’ complex in its adherents. We have evolved to treat with suspicion those outside our ‘tribe’. Couple this natural wariness with ‘them’ having a different belief system, then the stage is set for animosity in thought and action.
One result can be, has been and is war and the ‘justification’ for it. Other effects range from certain groups and individuals in communities being vilified to the point of the loss of normal human rights afforded to tribe member’s right up to violence and death.
Media and governments play on these prejudices to sooth the minds of their readers and to win votes.
The above lists of grievances are directly religiously related. It is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination but merely the more glaringly obvious. The misery produced by these irrationalities is incalculable because of their immensity.
Religion, with its roots springing from the days of scientific ignorance, as an explanation of nature, has outlived its usefulness. It is an anathema to modern humanity and a retrograde notion whose merit is far outweighed by its devastating consequences.
By David Nicholls