The ignorance and arrogance of religious people (and with that I usually mean “Christians” because I live in a country where Christianity is the predominant religion) never ceases to both amaze and repulse me.
I know the need to believe in a god and/or creator is a powerful one for a lot of people and often hard to resist; existential uncertainty can be terrifying and the idea of a daddy-figure who watches over you and takes care of you and makes it all ok – be it now or later in the “afterlife” - is a powerful, reassuring and calming notion.
And isn’t that what religion ultimately is, an emotional pacifier enabling people to derive meaning from their otherwise seemingly arbitrary existence in an uncertain world at best and a tool to control, sway and subjugate the masses, at worst? As Karl Marx once said, religion is the opiate of the masses. It is “excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet [and what] keeps the poor from murdering the rich” Napoleon once remarked.
So I get it, religion is useful for both those who have a seemingly innate need to believe and cannot fathom existence without a god and creator as well as for those who have understood how religion works and who subsequently have been exploiting that need to believe in order to push their own - often sinister – agenda of control and subjugation in the name of god and holy entities.
So I certainly do understand the psychological need for religion and god but what I will never understand is how this need can be so strong that it subdues rationality, common sense and deductive reasoning leading to willful ignorance and right-out idiocy and callousness, which is so emblematic of religion and its followers.
Case in point, Matthew McConaughey and his best actor Oscar acceptance speech which he began by thanking and praising “god” for giving him “opportunities that are not of my hand or of any other human hand.” Religious conservatives cheered his acceptance speech as a brave strike against Hollywood’s pervasive secular bias, claiming that the Oscar crowd was “rattled” and “quieted” by McConaughey’s praise for the lord.
The truth of religion and god aside, it seems moronic, not to mention deeply arrogant and right out callous, for anyone to believe that an all powerful, benevolent supernatural being that allegedly created the entire universe with its billions of galaxies and trillions of stars and solar systems would care about the career and work of privileged thespians.
One would think “god” would have more important issues of life, death and suffering to contend with than being bothered about the career of athletes and Oscar trophies for millionaires.
Of course, when a non-religious person points out that these notions are facile at best and demeaning at worst, they risk being condemned as “strident,” “mean” and “haters” or at least disrespectful of religious sensibilities. However, since religious supremacy is the dominant paradigm in our society, and since atheists, according to a recent study done by a group of psychologists in the U.S. and Canada, are the least trusted of all listed categories aside from rapists, our society is skewed favorably towards religion and quite unfavorably towards critics of religion.
The emotional pull of our tribal identity almost always trumps our capacity to actually weigh the evidence, which is why facts, and deductive reasoning play such a tragically small role in everyday decision making by law-makers and the institutions of our society and thus are viewed with so much suspicion, leading to the kind of ignorant, blind, self-righteousness as exhibited by Matthew McConaughey and athletes in post-game interviews who seriously believe that it is absolutely plausible and reasonable to believe that an invisible deity who creates whole universes is also endlessly interested in their personal thoughts and successes and award-status.
Why is that a problem, you ask? Why not let McConaughey thank whomever and whatever he wants, be it god, trolls or hobbits? Because not criticizing ignorance to this extent and thus religious people, gives credence to their ignorant notions, aiding in their perpetuation with respect to all aspects of society and legislation. As long as we care more about catering to the religious and their sensibilities than we do about encouraging the open questioning of the claims of the faithful – claims that are, more often than not, detrimental, dehumanizing and harmful to people and society overall, religious supremacy will continue fucking it up for the rest of us.
As Dante once said, the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis remain neutral.
“If you happen to be with an atheist who tells you that he does not believe in God, you can read him the whole library, where it says that God exists, and where it is proven that God exists, and he will not believe. [However] if in the presence of this same atheist you witness to a consistent, Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart [and] it will be your witness that brings him the restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works”. -Pope Francis
First of all, I like the, unrelated to this quote may I add, image Lighthouse Catholic Media is using for their post as it is pure PR. By showing the Pope
condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts his image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring disease. Like Jesus.
Call me naive, but it is my estimation that not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.
Now I do not want to diss the Pope for having done something nice and then be accused of not being able to see the good things people do blah blah yawn, but I want to point out that the accolades the Pope received, both for touching a disfigured man as well as stating that atheists aren’t undiluted evil (a comment which was quietly reversed almost immediately) is emblematic of a larger narrative around Pope Francis that I find deeply objectionable; a narrative that basically says that since Pope Francis is not as overtly heinous as most popes, he is amazing, so let’s make him Time’s Person of the Year and celebrate him as a really amazing human being.
Manipulating people has never been easier.
Never mind that the Pope and the institution he represents neither have changed, nor have any intention to change any of the Catholic Church’s harmful doctrines – from homophobia to misogyny – let’s give the man a pass and call him a great Pope and person for at least not having said gay people will go to hell. Is this the standard now?
When Pope Francis says that “even the atheists have capacity for good” and thus aren’t evil monsters condemned to hell, he’s heralded as some sort of beacon of tolerance, even though it’s the bare minimum of decency to say that atheists have the capacity for goodness and doing good (although I would say that the Pope and I have very different ideas of what constitutes “doing good”).
Remember that despite all attempts at image control, the Pope is still the figurehead and leader of a wealthy international organization that is profoundly and institutionally misogynistic, anti-choice and homophobic and the Pope himself oversees the most powerfully influential lobby to deny women access to reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy.
This is an organization that, between 2005 and 2012, has spent $6.5 million on campaigns against same-sex marriage and thus hate. Also note that neither the Pope’s nor the Catholic church’s positions have changed with regard to any of these issues.
It is just that now the Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Francis, has decided to merely change the rhetoric, basically, with respect to how the church outwardly handles and talks about these issues without having any intention to actually change the harmful policies the church subscribes to and advocates. In the corporate world that is called white-washing.
And what about all those child abuse cases by the church and the cardinals that cover them up? He hasn’t done anything in that regard either. But hey, at least he doesn’t abuse children himself, so let’s celebrate him as an amazing man taking the catholic church in a new direction.
Feeding hungry people does not make Francis a great or exceptional pope. Frankly, it is his job. It is what Jesus taught. Francis doesn’t get a pat in the back for doing something that he’s known he needs to do since he signed up for this whole Pope thing. The pope is still against same sex marriage, he is still against contraception, he is still against abortion. Outwardly he is preaching about doing good but actually he stands for evil things – no matter how politely he talks about them.
Remember that many religious people help feed the hungry but still think gays are evil and abortion murder etc. Feeding the poor is not the litmus test of goodness or change.
As to the quote itself, all I can say is, what a load of unfounded, patronizing garbage.
The catholic church has been spending millions of their (tax exempt) dollars on hate and denying women access to reproductive care; money they could have used to feed and care for the needy, they have instead chosen to use to deny other people their rights and quash their autonomy. And now this charlatan Pope Francis actually has the nerve to question the morality of atheists – trying to teach us about love, caring and Christian values? What a colossal asshole.
(By the way, what and where are all those libraries filled with evidence of a god? I thought the only “proof “this schmuck and his feeble-minded followers had for the existence of god was the pesky Bible and wishful thinking, also known as faith. - Boy, when religious people pile it on, they sure pile it on high).
Religion is harmful. I cannot repeat this enough and I am going to continue repeating it a hundred million more times: religion is harmful.
Religious people, especially in this country, always piss and moan about how unfair everyone is to them. That their god, and Jesus, and Bible and Cross and Guns and Christmas and overall “right” to shit on people as they feel they are entitled to, are all under so much assault by them evil, gawd-less atheists, homosexuals and Liberals.
The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying but religious people continue playing the victim card, branding critics as intolerant, militant and haters.
Criticizing religion and speaking up against the religious powers (and lobbyists) that be is often futile and is generally considered bad form. “Ohhh, don’t criticize the religious person and their faith, you hurt their feelings“. “Oh no, you cannot say that to them, it is rude.” “Just be careful to not hurt their feelings – oh no.”
“You should respect people’s beliefs“, I am always told. “It is not polite to criticize someone’s faith“, a guest once said to Bill Maher, trying to shame Maher who was, rightfully so, speaking out against the massive amount of ignorance and hatred religion spreads and purports, into not “criticizing” people for their faith. Often you are dismissed as being miserable, unhappy, bitter, picky…you name it.
My own co-worker who considers himself a man of god has an irrational disdain for gay people and has, on many occasions, referred to them as “faggots”. Yet when I even make the mention of religion, I am admonished and asked to “not start again.” He can go on and on about how terrible atheists and gays are trying to “impose” their lack of religiosity and homosexuality, respectively, onto others, and he makes sure anyone who may be interested finds out just how critical he is of atheists because they are “so extreme” but if anyone mentions the widely-spread religious bigotry in this country, including his homophobia, he feels offended and under attack, playing the wrongfully vilified victim.
Then there is the often-used bad-apple analogy: “I am religious but my group/church/denomination is totally not like that. The problem is not religion, it is just those religious extremists that are the exception/a small minority“. You will be hard pressed to find a religious person who does not employ the “oh yeah them, not me” trope. Only that even so-called moderates subscribe to unfounded and harmful beliefs that they then want to impose on others in the form of legislation.
Case in point, the theocratic government of Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.
The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.
Just this month, measure SB 1062 was signed into law — a measure that would have allowed business owners to reject services to any individual on religious grounds, effectively discriminating against the LGBT community. While that measure was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), on Thursday, the state House passed another controversial measure: the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” (I love it how they try to drown the harmful legislation they just drafted in euphemisms) or HB 2884 which seeks to permit surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant.
Despite the national outcry and bipartisan opposition to the group’s most recent legislative affront on LGBT rights, a number of CAP’s controversial bills continue to make their way through the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature. Here are four more such similar legislation pushed entirlye by the state’s religious activist groups, seriously bringing into question religious peoples’ claims that their beliefs are ”merely private” and do not hurt anyone:
HB 2565: Criminalizing assisted suicide
Passed the House, referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Although Arizona already has a law banning assisted suicide, HB 2565 seeks to expand the definition of manslaughter to include “offering or providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge” that the individual intends to end his or her life.
House Bill 2284 would allow unannounced government inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. The legislation also seeks to make it a class 1 misdemeanor to help “a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements” to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, the bill would require abortion clinics to submit an extensive report of each abortion performed at the facility, including “what steps are taken to save that child’s life.”
SB 1048: Corporate scholarship tax credit
Passed the Senate, passed the House Ways & Means Committee. Referred to the House Rules Committee.
By expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, SB 1048 would permit small businesses organized as S corporations to claim tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations” — tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that allocate the majority of their annual revenue to scholarships or grants for private schools. Opponents of the bill argue that it would divert funding from public school districts.
House Bill 2281 would exempt nonprofit religious assemblies, as well as institutions leasing “property, buildings and fixtures,” from paying property taxes. A similar CAP-backed effort was vetoed by Brewer in 2013.
Here are 13 of the 123 CAP-supported bills that have been signed into Arizona law:
- Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, strengthening informed consent requirements and requiring FDA compliance for medication abortions (2012). The 20-week ban was later ruled unconstitutional.
- Exempting religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or contraception (2012). Viagra is ok, though.
- Ensuring that arts funding is not spent on obscenity or material that disgraces the flags of Arizona or the United States (2012).
- Ending taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for government employees’ abortions (2010).
- Banning partial-birth abortion (2009).
- The Abortion Consent Act: requiring informed consent, enhancing parental consent and expanding rights of conscience protections for healthcare workers (2009). Also known as shaming and manipulating a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she does not want and overall making access to abortion as hard as possible for women.
- Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution (2008). This bill was advanced through a ballot initiative.
- Funding community-based marriage classes (2007).
- Banning taxpayer funding of human cloning (2005).
Religion a private matter?
Religion does not hurt anyone?
One should not criticize religion?
I beg to differ and the facts about the harm of religion stand for themselves.
Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card not realizing that their “right” to religion ends when someone else’s rights are being trampled upon by that religion.
The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.
Why do religious and non-religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion?
It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them. It is utterly absurd.
For far too long, religious people have put intellectuals and rational people on the defense forcing them to, time and again, guard against and explain themselves to these delusional fools.
It was about time, however, that religious people started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry, their hatred, their ignorance. No one should have to politely nod when religious people and their actions hurt people in a very real way while taking humanity down a dangerous path.
Religion is harmful.
Paula Deen stepped out yesterday by making this following statement “I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out. He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying. I’m fighting to get my name back.”
Note to Paula Deen: You were rightfully vilified for being a racist piece of shit who discriminates against people based on their race. That is not the same thing as a gay man not wanting his sexual orientation to overshadow his identity in a sport mostly hostile to that identity.
Moreover, if you want to make the point that you are not, indeed, a racist asshole, then maybe you care to refer to said man by his name, Michael Sam, as opposed to just calling him “that black man.“
I don’t know what’s worse: Ray Comfort and his dribble or the 147 people who clicked “Like”. But I guess this is what happens when you are lobotomized by fear and ignorance.
Is the idea of there not being a higher power so unbearable that people will remain willfully, purposefully and grossly ignorant? That just does not resonate with me. I do not know how people go through life like that.
Are you against regulation? Do you hate the EPA? Do you think in case of a national disaster, such as chemical spills or hurricane Katrina, the first entities arriving at the scene are Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, General Electric and other Fortune 500 companies? Do you think the government and its regulatory agencies holding corporations that handle your food, air and water, accountable was some kind of a conspiracy by a socialist Kenyan to take away your god-given freedoms and a ploy to destroy your American way of life?
That’s ok, because you have a lot in common with Freedom Industries and the citizens of West Virginia – a chronically Red state whose residents have been voting against their own self interest so much, they deserve the Darwin Awards if you ask me.
Last month, a storage tank leaked 10,000 gallons of a chemical used to wash coal into the Elk River, about a mile upstream from the intake for West Virginia American Water, the largest water utility in the state, leaving over 300,000 residents without access to safe drinking water. As a result of the spill, emergency rooms treated hundreds of patients for symptoms related to chemical exposure and numerous people were admitted with acute symptoms and who knows how many people have been exposed to levels that will show effects over time.
In a second spill later in February, more than 100,000 gallons of waste from a coal processing facility leaked into a tributary of West Virginia’s Kanawha River, blackening six miles of Fields Creek.
West Virginia is the prime example of what happens when you put corporations, who are paying off politicians, in charge while keeping regulators out and neuter the few remaining ones to a degree that they may as well not be there.
Lack of regulation in a state where coal and chemical companies form the heart of the economy ultimately allowed for a chemical storage facility to sit on the river and close to a water treatment plant.
As Angela Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition points out, the site of the spill has not been subject to a state or federal inspection since 1991. That is because West Virginia law does not require inspections for chemical storage facilities — only for production facilities because as we all know, spills can only happen during the production phase of a chemical, and not during its storage.
Critics say the problems are widespread in West Virginia where coal and chemical industries, such as Freedom Industries which is responsible for the first spill in January, are powerful forces in the state’s politics and which have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls.
This is not the first chemical accident to hit West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley.
After an explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant owned by Bayer CropScience killed two employees in 2008, a 2010 congressional investigation found that managers refused for several hours to tell emergency responders the nature of the blast or the toxic chemical it released. It also found that they later misused a law intended to keep information from terrorists to try to stop federal investigators from learning what had happened. The plant manufactured the same chemical that was being processed at the time of a gas release in 1984 that killed 10,000 in Bhopal, India.
In 2009, an investigation by The New York Times found that hundreds of workplaces in West Virginia had violated pollution laws without paying fines. In interviews at the time, current and former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection employees said their enforcement efforts had been undermined by bureaucratic disorganization; a departmental preference to let polluters escape punishment if they promised to try harder; and a revolving door of regulators who left for higher-paying jobs at the companies they once policed.
“West Virginia has a pattern of resisting federal oversight and what they consider EPA. interference, and that really puts workers and the population at risk,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a lecturer in environmental health at George Washington University.
Naturally, no charges have been filed against the company that, ironically enough, goes by the name of Freedom Industries.
Oh yes, the irony here is biting.
Freedom Industries reminds one of Freedom Fries, the Statue of Liberty, apple pie and red-white-and-blue. I envision sunny picnics being held for employees on the AstroTurf overlaying the semi-leaking chemical landfill next to the toxic chemical plant, to rally them up against them evil, socialist Liberals who want the EPA to interfere with their time honored right to be exploited and poisoned and to take away their America and guns as they know it.
I bet it is named Freedom Industries because the owner of the plant, in some jingoism induced nostalgic delusion, wanted to show the world what we can achieve with the freedom of free enterprise bestowed upon us by Jaaysus, god and the Founding Fathers.
Looking back, in what appears to be a strange twist of fate, what they really meant with Freedom Industries, of course, – which is incidentally what all Republicans mean when they talk about freedom and America the wonderful blah blah blah – is the freedom to be exploited and poisoned without any avenues of recourse and accountability, because accountability in the form of regulations is for socialists, Liberals, gays, the French and other similar suckers. We here don’t need them. We have our guns, our Bible and the god-given right to be exploited and poisoned by the hard working job creators and American Dream generators of big industry.
Wake up Call
Thing is, the residents of West Virginia are just now getting up to a rude awakening and realizing that they do need these pesky regulations they have been religiously voting against for the past half a century. Now that the toxic shit has hit the fan, so to speak, many resident are just now seeing this as a “wakeup call” on the need for better regulations, according to new polling data released Monday.
The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and commissioned by the Sierra Club, found that 73 percent of residents polled agreed that the state “has paid too little attention to addressing threats to air and water,” and felt that the spill was a signal that “things must change.” Seventy percent of the people polled also said they thought other incidents like this would occur if efforts are not made to prevent them.
No shit! Imagine that, regulations actually being good for people. A truly radical idea in this country.
Yet, I must admit, have very little sympathy for the people of West Virginia who made their toxic waste and now will have the pleasure to bathe in it. I suggest trying to pray away the chemicals, dear residents. I hear West Virginia is a highly religious state so I am sure god keeps an eye out for you and can, with his magic wand of omnipotence, make it all go away.