I recently read a short piece on someone’s blog (for the life of me I’m unable to find my way back to it) asking why religious people are often subjected to constant ridicule and name calling. My immediate thought was, “how odd that someone would ask, what I considered to be, such a naïve question. Wasn’t it obvious to anyone who wasn’t walking around in a religious stupor?” Well, obviously not, or the writer wouldn’t have asked such a stunningly stupid question.
So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain why thinking people the world over consider the devout more than just a little off their rockers and deserving of the derision and name calling that they receive.
Let us first take a short historical trip to see what we could uncover to explain this phenomenon.
Who was it that created (and until the tail end of the 20th-century still maintained it) something called the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a most shameful edict calling upon the “faithful” to avoid reading anything that posed problems for established doctrine and instead asked their flock to censor their own brains? The world, in fact, was asked to turn their backs on Copernicus, Galileo, Voltaire, Sartre, Russell……… the list is practically endless.
Who was it that tortured their fellow human beings going so far as to stretch them on racks and very slowly pull on the limbs of their bodies until their bones and muscles separated from their joints, all the while taking great delight in the screams of agony coming with each clink of the wench?
Who was it that strapped women to poles in a public square, lit a fire under their feet and roasted them alive after first cutting the tongues from their mouths simply because they dared to offer council and comfort to other women giving birth to their own children? Do the faithful have any knowledge at all about what happened in all parts of the western world for nearly half a millenium, even right in our own front yard in a place called Salem, Massachusetts?
Who was it – in a public display of piety and self-righteousness, no less – that tied their fellow human beings to chairs and then slowly lowered them under water, holding them there until they drowned because they questioned this or that bit of so-called holy writ? Or who tied people to steel chairs and stoked a hot bed of coals beneath them simply because they refused to adhere to proscribed doctrine? Or, who used ingeniously devised contraptions to tear a rectum, vagina or jaw to pieces while listening to bones breaking and their victims screaming in agony?
Who was it that tied Giordano Bruno – himself a Dominican friar – to a pole and set him alight in a public square simply because he had the unmitigated gull to question doctrinal concepts like Christ’s divinity and the “Trinity?”
Who was it that aided and abetted the wholesale slaughter of literally millions of people in the Americas including the Taino, the Aztecs, the Maya, the Inca and the native peoples of North America after first making them slaves, infecting them with diseases for which they had no immunity or killing their livestock or burning their villages to the ground or forcing them to walk a thousand mile journey to a “special reservation” all the while subjecting them to the most barbaric, vile treatment imaginable?
Who was it that stood steadfastly in the way of ending slavery in this country? Moreover, who was it, that once the practice of slavery ended, immediately began the era known as Jim Crow and honored and protected men who rode around on horses, at night, wearing white robes and white hoods with the sole purpose of terrorizing and murdering a population of people who were just granted emancipation from said slavery? If memory serves me correctly, those robes bore a distinct white cross on a red background. Here’s a strange coincidence: the thing they often lit on fire in front of the dwellings of their victims was a wooden cross wrapped in rages and soaked in kerosene. Just a coincidence, you say?
But, enough of the history lesson already. Let’s us move on to more contemporary considerations.
Who’s made it impossible to harvest embryonic cells in the pursuit of medical advances that could be immensely beneficial to humankind the world over? And why the prohibition, one might ask? We’re given a very straightforward answer: zygotes have souls, souls that must – at all costs – be “protected.” We’re told by the holders of the public trust that not providing this protection leads us straight to the gas chambers. Once on that slippery slope, they tell us, there’s just “ain’t no way we cun stop ‘er.”
Who’s directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children each year because their parents opted for prayer, natural healing remedies, homeopathic remedies and other such quackery over a proven medical treatment? Nearly every State in our Union provides parents a constitutionally-sanctioned excuse to reject the scientifically-demonstrated efficacy of childhood immunizations, refuse blood transfusions that could easily save their child’s life or to even administer antibiotics to a child with an easily treatable infection, all in the name of their so-called “faith.”
Who’s sending packs of embarrassingly stupid wackaloons to the US Congress and State Governorships across this country who, instead of working diligently in pursuit of interests in the public sector (i.e. doing things to make life better for everyone they represent), spends an inordinate amount of time proclaiming their loyalties to a supernatural deity and working diligently to pollute every public building and civil institution in the land with their religious graffiti?
Who’s currently standing in the way of all women in this country seeking reproductive health information and medical care?
Who’s currently standing in the way of all women to convenient and inexpensive access to birth control medicine in this country?
Who’s been standing in the way of equality in marriage rights in this country (nay, the entire world) for, well, forever? Strangely enough, the last time I watched the national news it was an ignoramus, wackaloon judge name Ray Moore down in ‘bamy who declared that edicts issued by the Supreme Court of the US were not necessarily applicable to areas within his fiefdom. This so-called judge was thoroughly discredited (and in fact may have had his membership card to the community of enlightened human beings permanently revoked) just a few years back for refusing to remove a religious monument from a courthouse in direct defiance of a Federal Court order. He was subsequently removed from his judgeship and declared unable to competently perform his job as a judge. But, lo and behold, the people of ‘bamy thought they knew better and decided to re-elect this discredited moron to serve in precisely the same capacity a decade later!
When I witness shenanigans like the Ray Moore travesty, I sometimes have to seriously ponder how much of a role religion plays in explaining this phenomenon and how much can be attributed to other, more serious, mental shortcomings.
After all this, I would ask the reader to seriously contemplate these simple observations: Who exactly is it that, despite all of the solid, indisputable evidence to the contrary, still – in 2015, no less – willing chooses to:
- believe that the planet on which they survive is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 years old?
- believe as inerrant truth the legend of a man who is said to have lived for nearly a thousand years and built a boat large enough to hold a mating pair of the world’s wildlife for about a year, without even sailing around the world to welcome the critters aboard? I’ve often wondered why this same guy hasn’t been held responsible for his role in the Black Plague or the world’s malaria epidemic. What do believers of this claptrap think, that he bathed and thoroughly disinfected all of the critters before they waltzed up the plank toward their “living quarters”…… margarita in hand?
- believe that newborn babies are doomed to a life of evil and sin and need to be “saved” because of an incident that took place in a garden involving forbidden produce, a talking snake and a divine eviction more than 2000 years ago?
- believe that with enough “faith” and the right prayers one could easily survive in the belly of a whale cruzin’ the ocean for three days and three nights?
- believe that someone could (if possessed with special supernatural powers, that is) just spit on the ground and bring a corpse back from the dead?
Seriously, what group of people does this level of credulity best describe?
Who’s standing in the way of world consensus regarding the dire consequences of human-made global climate change and what we must do as a species to mitigate the devastation that is certain to befall us? All indications so far (at least as well as I have been able to discern) is that the resistance has been coming solely from those who believe that their deity has entered into a covenant with them and that said deity is in full, beneficent control of their destiny. Besides, they tell us, whatever happens in any case is for the best. Nothing, they say, happens without good reason. This, like many other things, they are convinced beyond movement.
Who’s been working overtime to alter public school science textbooks to better reflect their “spiritual beliefs,” denying the evolutionary history of the planet’s biodiversity?
Who’s invested a ton of energy in trying to convince the American public that high school history textbooks need to place much greater emphasis on the founders’ religious piety while at the same time obscuring the country’s Enlightenment and revolutionary beginnings? Last time I looked, David Barton was still doing a stand-up job at it, despite the fact that he has been exposed for the fraud that he is by every reputable historian in this country. Despite being thoroughly discredited, Barton still has the ears of so-called responsible parties in Congress and State Educational Boards across this country. He even offer tours of the Capitol for brainless idiots who are more than eager to pony up for a ticket.
Who’s been working overtime to dismantle the public school system throughout the country by funneling money away from public school funding and to charter and sectarian schools?
Who’s still standing in the way of passage of the Equal Rights Amendment?
I probably could go on a lot longer but I hope that by now my point has been sufficiently made. The people who profess their adherence to such remarkably stupid ideas are not viewed as credulous, simple-minded, unapologetically and willfully ignorant dolts without good reason.
But an even bigger question that remains unanswered for me is this: why would anyone willing choose to affiliate themselves with a group with a track record that I just described? And what would it really take to dissuade people from openly, affiliating themselves with these stealthy, State-sanctioned terrorist organizations? Yes, I know, it’s a serious problem that won’t, if ever, be easily fixed.
We might do very well to take a lesson from the past on how to effectively eliminate the scourge of ignorance that we are currently witnessing. If memory serves me correctly, Superman was able to put a major dent in the membership of and respect for the KKK during the 1940s. Maybe it’s time we put our superhero to work again helping us to fight the present forces of ignorance, intolerance, bigotry and injustice.
And if that isn’t possible, maybe we can encourage more frequent use of the Google for those finding themselves in such a state of blissful ignorance.