Lest Darkness Fall

15 05 2011

For those of you who aren’t in touch with the wing-nut segment of our society, there are a bunch of billboards and posters showing up in various places around the US claiming that the world will end on the 21st of May (this coming Saturday). Some dotty whackjob claims to have deciphered texts in the Bible which tell him the date of Christ’s return. Note that he made the same claims about a date in the mid-90’s. When the apocalypse didn’t happen as he had foretold, he claimed that further study had revealed the “true” date. He’s managed to convince a bunch of weak-minded imbeciles that he has the straight dope, and these people are the ones paying for the billboards and posters.

Why do I bring this up? A couple of reasons, really. First, I make a point of heaping scorn upon the inexcusably stupid. This nutjob and his feeble-minded followers certainly qualify. Some of them have been spending their life savings in the belief that they won’t need money after May 21st, 2011. These simpletons are throwing away their future on the say-so of a religious huckster who doesn’t even understand his own religious texts. I’ve tried to work up some sympathy for these witless idiots, but I honestly can’t manage it. If they’re dumb enough to fall for this scam artist’s lies, they deserve to be bankrupt and homeless when the rapture doesn’t go off on schedule and their prophet moves the goalposts again.

Second, this is yet another example of the danger religious fuckwits pose to civilized society. Granted that these particular idiots are pretty far out there, even for Christians, they aren’t very far removed from the Christian Dominionists who are deeply involved in our political system. Part of the reason why so many politicians are unwilling to rein in the environmental excesses of various corporations is their religious belief that humans have been given a mandate by god to do with the planet as we wish. Some prominent political figures in the US government have been recorded saying that they needn’t worry about the long-term consequences of their political actions, because they are convinced that the rapture and Armageddon will occur in their lifetimes.

Organized Christianity has probably done more to retard the ideals that were its founders’ than any other agency in the world. – Richard Le Gallienne

A group of supposedly christian people from the US have been doing their best to spread their interpretation of the Bible to the far corners of the Earth- usually to the detriment of the people living in those corners. In Uganda, for one horrible example, christian dominionists from the US managed to convince the Ugandan government to make homosexuality a capital crime. Christian dominionist ministers have gone on record as stating that the United States should be governed by the laws of the Bible, and not by the Constitution. One of them ran for election as President in 2008.

When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. – Sinclair Lewis

These cabals of the religiously deluded all share several ideals which are an anathema to a civilized society. They despise homosexuals, relegate women to second-class citizenship (at best), are largely condescending (at best) or outright hostile (at worst) to anyone whose skin is not lily-white, and they universally make overt attempts to destroy or drive out any religion or sect they deem to be not sufficiently similar to their own. To further their agenda, these so-called “christians” vigorously campaign to remove Constitutional protections from all groups and individuals whit whom they disagree. As evidence, I need only point out the dozen or so state legislatures which have passed or are considering laws banning the practice of “sharia law” (despite the fact that none of these legislators have a clue what sharia law is). Several states have had legislation introduced which denies Constitutional protections to atheists, as well. To date, I don’t believe any have passed, but the fact that an elected official was willing to put his or her name to such stupidity is astonishing- and not a little frightening.

An infinite God ought to be able to protect Himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. – Robert Ingersoll

One has to wonder what these deluded zealots are so afraid of. Why the sheer hysteria at the possibility that two men might want to get married? What does it hurt the christian dominionists if their neighbor is an atheist- or a buddhist, muslim, jew, or pastafarian, for that matter? Is their faith so weak that mere exposure to the presence of unbelievers can shake it?

Christian fundamentalism:  the doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life. – Andrew Lias

Here’s an idea- rather than try to force the whole planet into the warped template of your version of religion, try reading the words in that book you like so much. Granted that it was translated from Aramaic to Hebrew to Greek to Latin and then into English, and doubtless enjoyed many interesting linguistic adventures along the way, there are still a lot of stories in there which you can use as examples in your own lives. You’ll have the smug satisfaction of being “saved” amongst the heathen (if that’s what turns your crank), and the rest of us won’t have to put up with you while you’re reading it. If you have to use any means to convert others to your cause other than showing a good example, perhaps your message isn’t that appealing. If the mere existence of other faiths threatens your belief system, maybe your belief system isn’t that healthy to begin with.

I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do.  – D. Dale Gulledge

As for me, I care not what you believe or don’t believe- provided you don’t try forcing your beliefs on anyone else. If your god doesn’t like the way I live, let him tell me. Anything you might tell me has exactly the same weight as the rantings of the homeless guy on the corner wearing the tin-foil hat. Anyone who cannot live by this simple rule shall be confronted at every turn, to be exposed as the hypocritical authoritarians they are. It is incumbent upon all Americans to call out these theonomists among us, before they destroy the country in their pursuit of religious purity.

Current status: Annoyed

Current music: For the First Time by the Scripts


30 03 2008

An 11-year old girl died from a treatable form of diabetes in Wisconsin recently. Here’s the local article on the subject.

The problem with this case (and many others like it, all over the world), is that the so-called parents of this child decided that they were going to pray her well. Despite the pleas of other family members, the “parents” decided that praying for her to get well was preferable to taking the girl to a doctor.

Many people might read that and say, “So? Strangers die every day.”

If this were an isolated case, one might be tempted to agree. Sadly, this case is not unique. Parents all over the world resort to prayer or faith healing when their children get sick, and all too often the child dies as a result.

Most children are not mentally or emotionally equipped to properly assess the risks for such decisions. This legal and scientific fact is the reason parents are given so much control over children. If an adult strongly believed that prayer could save him or her from a deadly illness, that adult should be permitted to make such a decision (so long as no one else is harmed or endangered). Adults make life or death decisions all the time, and they have a right to do so if those decisions do not harm or endanger anyone else.

That’s where the adult’s decisions in life-or-death matters runs into problems with the law: when those decisions harm or endanger another. This is especially true when the person endangered or harmed by their decision is under the legal control of the adult. Part of the bargain wherein society permits parents so much control over their children is the idea that the parents will do what is best for the child. Somebody please tell me how letting a child die of an easily-treatable disease is in the child’s best interest.

A lot of people suffering from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have revived an old myth which says they can cure their disease by having unprotected sex with a virgin. Children are sometimes forced to have sex with AIDS-infected men in the stupid belief that this will somehow cure the disease. The end result is that more people are infected, and the cycle continues.

Polio was nearly wiped out a generation ago. But now there are epidemics of the disease in Africa and Asia because local superstition holds that the inoculation against polio actually causes AIDS. Religious leaders in these areas are particularly guilty of spreading this tale. Apparently it is better in the eyes of Angry Invisible Skyman that people die from easily-prevented diseases than to permit thousands of years of medical science to benefit True Believers.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have permitted children to die rather than permit life-saving blood transfusions. Scientologists don’t believe in psychology or psychiatry, and several people have been injured or killed when people with serious mental illnesses have become violent for lack of commonly available drugs to treat their conditions. Various fundamentalist Christian sects have allowed children to die of easily treatable illnesses because it was “God’s will”.

People in sub-Saharan Africa who are dependent upon local religious leaders for decision-making might, perhaps, be forgiven for their stupidities. If few people are literate (this is not the case throughout Africa, of course), their literate leaders are in the position of parent. If the parent makes stupid decisions for dependents, then those dependents should not be blamed for the consequences.

Blame should rest upon those who live in areas where accurate information is freely available, but the stupid decisions are made regardless of the facts. In the United States, there is no excuse for ignorance. With the sheer quantity of information freely available and widely distributed throughout the country, there is no excuse to rely upon prayer to cure a child’s diabetes. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where condoms and AIDS information are freely available, there is no excuse for deliberately infecting children with HIV in the vain hope that virginity will somehow magically cure the disease.

You can believe in an Angry Invisible Skyman to your heart’s content. You can even live by whatever flavor of Angry Invisible Skyman worship you wish- if you’re an adult and decide to do so. You have no right to inflict your beliefs upon others. You have no right to allow a child to die just because you think praying to Angry Invisible Skyman version 2.0 will magically heal her. You have no right to allow polio to kill and maim others because your favorite superstition says that would be a good thing.

Why do we- as a species- permit this sort of anti-survival behavior?

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can—and must—be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible.” -RAH

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: Seven Seas of Rhye by Queen