Questionable Motives

November 5, 2009

Religious belief: irrational, intolerant, and de-humanizing. Sometimes, it even kills.

Religious IntoleranceWhen is enough truly enough? When will religious apologists wake up and realize that it is from the ranks of religious moderates comes the never-ending idiotic whack-jobs who think that they have the wherewithal to correctly interpret god’s wishes for humanity and impose their warped views on the rest of us? This comes at a deadly cost.

Examples abound large and small, from the Vatican’s lunatic position that condoms fail to offer much protection from AIDS to Egyptian clerics assuring the faithful that even trees hate the Jews (except for the Gharqad tree), the irrationality of religious beliefs continues to seep into our lives. It would be funny if it weren’t so destructive. There are about a billion Catholics who tolerate the Vatican’s nonsense and another 1.9 billion Muslims who produce clerical scholars of such repute. As if such popular foolishness and general delusion wasn’t depressing enough – foolishness and delusion that at the very least does nothing to stop needless death and destruction and arguably adds to them – we have a general theological consensus that, above all,  homosexuality truly has earned the wrath and revulsion of the devout on behalf of god.

From the Mormons who funded the revocation of legal same sex marriage in the great state of California, to the active support by the Church of Scientology for the same Proposition 8, the religious continue its war against the equal legal rights for gay and lesbian couples in the heartland of Liberty. Iran’s Shia laws may kill them with the blessing of the Guardian Council, but Americans like to think that their brands of Christianity are much less… brutal. Legal discrimination is fine and dandy with the Good Lord’s blessing, of course, but the theological maturity of Western Christianity means that the basic rights to life and quasi-liberty are assured – even for gays. I mean, talk about tolerance. Even India has legalized homosexuality in 2009! Talk about progress.

So how surprising is it to find that the Family – the Christian evangelical group dedicated to a muscular Jesus right at home in the halls of Washington’s power brokers – directly supports such stalwart allies in the land of so much missionary zeal, Africa, like President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

After listening to various speakers at a conference in the capital of Kampala in March of ’09, including American speakers like Scott Livey and Caleb Lee Brundidge who are well known for their religiously inspired anti-gay polemics, Uganda has tabled legislation aimed at criminalizing homosexual behaviour: from capital punishment for aggravated homosexuality to five years in prison and a multi-thousand dollar fine for those who attempt to legitimize or in any way abets homosexual and related practices. The law awaits the signature of the person Senator Rick Santini calls the Family’s “key man” in Uganda, President Museveni. The legislation calls homosexuality a “mental disorder” which “can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation” because it is “preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment.” Sound familiar? It’s the same old ‘homosexual agenda’ bullshit right out of the US conservative christianity shtick. If it can’t fly at home, let’s support it where it can do some real damage, right?

Tolerance by the religious moderates for this kind of ongoing bigoted attack by their devout brethren allows it to spread around the globe without self-rebuke and theological condemnation. Without that moral support from those so-called ‘moderates’, atheists can keep pointing out how irrational, intolerant, and de-humanizing the anti-gay agenda really is with a count of very real dead bodies. Unless and until the religious moderates step up to their supposedly theologically inspired moral plate and deliver a resounding home run against this growing bigotry, the very least they can do is get out of the way and recognize that atheists hold the higher moral ground here on the basis of human rights and dignity for all.



  1. The idiotic “culture war” and associated rhetoric is a distraction from the mission of Christ. I hope you aren’t advocating for the imposition of your belief system on others?

    Comment by ropata — November 5, 2009 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  2. Sorry for making you wait on the comment approval. It should be fixed now (I hope because I continue to try and fail to make it fast and easy).

    Anyway, what interpretation do you have on the mission of Christ so that we’re on the same page?

    I am advocating the supremacy of human rights and dignity of personhood above all other considerations – religious or not.

    Comment by tildeb — November 5, 2009 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  3. Well I’m pretty much sold on the Sermon on the Mount.. in a nutshell, the Golden Rule. It’s ridiculous for Christians to expect others to adhere to Christian mores, live and let live.

    I suppose I was annoying Ken and others when I was exploring the faith/science interface, but honestly I was only responding to the issues raised; not trying to preach. I may have come across that way only because I was trying to give direct answers. It seemed to me that “open-mindedness” there is only a one way street.

    Comment by ropata — November 6, 2009 @ 3:33 am | Reply

  4. I don’t know of any atheist or agnostic who disagrees with the philosophy of reciprocity, what many call the Golden Rule. Let’s be clear: it does not derive from Christianity nor is it a central feature that supports religious belief. It falls under the category of moral philosophy and should not be used to suggest that religion causes reciprocity. Developmental psychology has lots of good evidence that this reciprocity can be seen in children’s behaviour as young as six months… long before any exposure to and understanding of religion belief is undertaken. If this kind of moral sense so highly touted (and rightly so, in my opinion) by the religious exists prior to some variety of theological acceptance, then how is this possible unless morality precedes religion?

    Look, there are two central issues about religious belief that concerns the secularists. The first is that there are many competing truth claims offered by various religions and not all can be true. Which claim is true matters. Belief alone is not an indication of truth value. So does it really matter whether or not people believe what they want? Yes and no, which brings us to the second central issue.

    If religious belief had no public effect, then the answer is No, that people should be free to privately believe whatever they want. It doesn’t matter. That is one of those basic rights secularists support wholeheartedly. Private religious beliefs may be factually right or wrong but it’s nobody’s business what an individual chooses to invest with private belief. In this sense, the study of theology can yield rich metaphorical meaning about how to live well, and by living well I mean in the sense of living a life that to one’s self has purpose and meaning through religious devotion.

    Because religious belief so often does have a public effect, however, then the answer is Yes, that what people believe does matter a great deal, and that people do not have either the freedom or right to insert or impose their private beliefs into the lives of others. When religious belief is inserted into the public domain then it becomes vitally important to determine if these beliefs are factually right or wrong and it’s everybody’s business. In this sense, the religious belief is no longer a metaphorical endeavour; it is a public concern about what the literalistic interpretations from holy texts actually yield. And all too often, religious belief inserted into the public domain attacks the very freedoms and rights secularists support wholeheartedly, most especially in assertions about what’s true.

    When someone attempts to justify religiously inspired attacks against secularist values, then it is the second issue secularists are responding to. All too often, religious adherents who are attempting to justify the second issue fall back into arguing for the first. I think this is what has happened over at Open Parachute where the issue of teaching evolution and respecting the process of discovering what’s true in a scientific sense is questioned by some who wish to argue in favour of inserting religious belief into the public domain. It may not seem that way to some because they alter the vocabulary from scientific terms like ‘the fact of evolution’, which is completely supported in every facet of scientific inquiry undertaken, into religious nonsense like ‘the alternative theory of Intelligent Design’ or ‘belief in creationism’, which is completely unsupported in every facet of scientific inquiry undertaken. These religiously inspired ‘alternatives’ are not science; they are a few of the masks religion wears to get itself inserted back into the public domain where it doesn’t belong to suit the beliefs of a few rather than represent human knowledge through science. And by suiting the beliefs of some, the adherents inevitably impose these beliefs at the expense of others. For a secularist, this is a high crime against human rights of all and respecting the dignity of personhood.

    Comment by tildeb — November 6, 2009 @ 2:46 pm | Reply

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