It’s the Religion, Stupid
When will humanity acknowledge the inherent dangers of Abrahamic religion —Judaism, Christianity and Islam — and stop being apologists for belief systems which kill, oppress and repress countless millions of people in nearly every society on earth?
How many Crusades, Inquisitions, witch hunts, Israeli colonizations and occupations, 9/11s and Charlie Hebdo attacks will it take before our ‘wise’ species wises up to the fact that the perpetrators of these and countless other atrocities and crimes against humanity are acting not in a manner anathema to their respective religions, but in a manner often prescribed by them?
When a nuclear reactor melts down, there are strident calls for shuttering nuclear power plants.
When gunmen massacre innocent school children, outraged citizens push for firearm bans, or stricter controls.
When carbon pollution, global temperatures and sea levels rise, people around the world press their governments for corrective action.
But when Zionists commit ethnic cleansing, occupation, colonization and apartheid because “God” deeded them, “His Chosen People,” all of Palestine, we declare our undying solidarity with Israel and lavish its criminal military with billions of dollars in annual aid.
When, by the Pope’s own admission, thousands of Catholic priests and other clergy rape and molest children and the Church’s highest authorities conspire to conceal the epidemic, we turn blind eyes and continue to revere that Church as one of the most respected Western institutions.
When fundamentalist Muslim theocracies execute gays, adulterers, blasphemers and those who reject Islam, we don kid gloves and go out of our way to demonstrate how we understand that this abhorrent repression, under which hundreds of millions of people suffer throughout the Muslim world, is “not representative of the ‘religion of peace.'”
Why is religion, which clearly does so much harm to so many people in every corner of the world, treated so differently?
Of course, the fact that the vast majority of humanity believes in supernatural deities or ‘spirits,’ even absent any corroborating scientific evidence, largely explains the perpetual “get out of jail free (and tax-free) card” that we as a species bless religions with.
But let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. If any other group’s most important texts claimed that the highest authority in the universe not only endorsed, but verily commanded its followers to commit genocide, enslavement, rape and all sorts of other inhuman outrages in its name, that group would be shut down, banned, and its leaders tried, convicted, imprisoned or even executed for crimes against humanity.
Yet instead, those of us who dare note the perverse criminality inherent in the holiest texts and teachings of the Abrahamic faiths are accused of bigotry.
This reminds me of the manner in which those of us who condemn, or even acknowledge, racism in America are too often called racists by people who clearly have little or no concept of what racism is, sometimes because they’re racists themselves.
Exposing and opposing the crimes of Abrahamic religion is not bigotry. Are those progressives who rail against the well-documented crimes of corporatism bigoted against Wall Street bankers? Are pro-life conservatives who picket Planned Parenthood clinics expressing bigotry against women who choose to have abortions?
Of course they aren’t. People choose to be bankers, or to have abortions — or to belong to one religion or another. Choices are always open to criticism.
A more reasonable, but still imperfect, argument can be made that Abrahamic religion is bigotry. After all, Jews believe they’re “God’s Chosen People.” Christians believe you’re either ‘saved’ or ‘damned’ based on acceptance of Jesus Christ. Muslims divide the world into believers (Dar al-Islam, or House of Peace) and infidels (Dar al-Harb, or House of War), with eternal paradise promised to the former and aggression and discrimination condoned against the latter in ‘this world,’ with ever-lasting damnation awaiting their lost ‘souls’ (except in Judaism, which has no ‘Hell’) in the ‘afterlife.’
Any objective, reasonable, thinking person should immediately understand that any belief system which divides humanity into ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ and which revolves around the deadly and oppressive commandments of a supernatural deity for which there is absolutely no empirical evidence, is inherently supremacist.
And by the way, if you rail against the “evils” of one religion while ignoring or glossing over the crimes of yours, or hate people solely because they worship differently than you do, that’s bigotry. Yes, Islam might be getting the lion’s share the bad press today, and deservedly so, but Christianity has caused as much, if not more, suffering throughout the millennia, and Gaza’s bombed-out neighborhoods and dead children stand as a stark reminder of what happens when an entire people believes it has ‘God’ on its side.
Religion is dangerous. It kills, oppresses and represses hundreds of millions of people in nearly every nation on earth. Here in San Francisco, arguably the gayest place on earth, my LGBT brothers and sisters could not, for the longest time, marry who they loved due to the insidious machinations of crusading Mormons and other Christian sects. And our gays have it good — they face life imprisonment in Christian Uganda, and they’re stoned to death in Islamic fundamentalist theocracies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, places where women who have sex outside of wedlock and people who insult Islam or its ‘prophet’ are beheaded in the name of Allah the Merciful.
“But I’m a Muslim and I don’t believe those terrible things,” apologists assert incessantly. So what? They’re still in your holiest texts. When apologists parrot the lie that Islamist terrorists do not represent the “religion of peace,” intellectual honesty demands immediate rebuke. For it is written. Today’s Paris attackers were merely following instructions of the ‘holiest’ kind.
Countless apologists, even progressive ones, inevitably fall back on noting all the good that religion has done. Often, they will relate how one religion or another has “saved” them. But I submit that 100 good deeds are negated by one atrocity. Does it matter that an oil company donates to environmental groups when that same profusely polluting corporation is responsible for environmental devastation and degradation on a global scale? And what if I were to argue that joining the Aryan Nation “saved” me? After all, did Hitler not also do some good deeds?
The bottom line is that the crimes committed in the name of Judaism, Christianity or Islam should not be chalked up to a “few bad apples” acting in a manner inconsistent with the these religions. No, I’ll repeat — they were just following ‘God’s’ instructions. And when ‘God’ simultaneously commands “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Kill both man and woman, child and infant,” the latter commandment, which after all affects life and death on a global scale, should trump the former in terms of how we view that religion.