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.