I come across this description all the time, usually by well-pampered middle-class white folk who think their various innocuous religious interpretations of caring, compassion, and love represent the ‘mature’ version of modern religious belief. Any religiously-inspired action that defies this caring and compassionate version of god-inspired love is almost always dismissed as nothing more than an ignorant fringe element that does not represent the true meaning of faith in god… no matter how prevalent or abhorrent the religiously-inspired actions are. In this way, the religious believer can erect a false barrier between actions that are not about showing the love and actions that are, claiming the former is not caused by faith in god – in spite of religious faith being the direct and admitted root cause of the latest atrocity – while the latter is ONLY caused by faith in god. It is a neat trick. God gets only good press, so belief in god must therefore be only about the love.
It is the same story when believers attribute the miraculous survival of one person in the midst of a disaster to god’s benevolence while conveniently attribute the mass death and widespread destruction of a disaster to either natural forces or as god’s justified punishment – usually as a response to something about homosexuality. So here’s a fun little activity to try.
Try singing out a loud ‘Praise God!’ in response to news of a mounting death toll from the latest mudslide, avalanche, flood, famine, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, cyclone, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or fire, and see what kind of response you get: people will think you’re rather sadistic, and understandably so. But sing out a loud ‘Praise God’ when one person survives this onslaught of the indifferent forces of nature and believers will not criticize your sadism because they don’t see the flip side of the beliefs. They only see what gives their god good press. This kind of belief has nothing whatsoever to do with love and everything to do with maintaining duplicity, which is dishonest. Religion is all about being dishonest in one’s attributions about god.
So it is without surprise that the forces of ‘love’ once again do battle in the name of honouring god…
In Nigeria, religious fundamentalism holds sway. Both Christian and Islamic fanatics are holding the nation hostage. They seek to foist their dark, retrogressive vision on the country. They show total disregard for human rights and basic freedoms including the right to life, freedom of thought, association and expression.
In July, religious fanatics once again unleashed mayhem in Nigeria. On the 29th, a Wednesday, a mob of about 200 people from the Liberty Gospel Church invaded the Cultural Centre in Calabar Cross River State. The Cultural Centre was the venue of a public symposium on witchcraft and child rights organised by the Nigerian Humanist Movement and Stepping Stones Nigeria.
Incidentally, the attack by the Liberty Gospel Church happened at the same time as the Nigerian police and the army were doing a battle with an Islamic sect called Boko Haram in Bornu State in Northern Nigeria. This fanatical group had declared a war against the state. They attacked and beheaded police officers and civilians in a violent campaign to foist their own version of sharia law on the country.
The picture is about Jane (left) and Mary, in Eket, Nigeria, who had been accused of being witches. Jane’s mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and Mary’s mother doused her in caustic soda. There are THOUSANDS of such abused children and we have religion to thank for it.
You can feel and see more of the love by reading the report here.
So what, right? These religious nutbars are somewhere in Africa and the whole place is nuts.
Well. Guess again. Sarah Palin thinks the world of these religious nutbars.
An African evangelist, Pastor Muthee has given guest sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God on at least 10 occasions in his role as the founder of the Word of Faith Church, also known as the Prayer Cave.
What has this to do with Palin?
She said, As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way.”
“And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Yup. The lord works in mysterious ways, mysterious being code for sadistic.
The pastor speaks of his offensive against a demonic presence in the town in a trailer for the evangelical video “Transformations”, made by Sentinel Group, a Christian research and information agency.
“We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place,” Pastor Muthee says.
After the spirit was broken, the crime rate dropped to almost zero and there was “explosive church growth” while almost every bar in the town closed down, the video says.
The full Transformations video featuring Pastor Muthee’s story has recently been removed from YouTube but the rest of the story is detailed in a 1999 article in the Christian Science Monitor, as well as on numerous evangelical websites.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic.
Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Pastor Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town’s ills, and order her to offer her up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.
Says the Monitor, “Muthee held a crusade that “brought about 200 people to Christ”.” They set up round-the-clock prayer intercession in the basement of a grocery store and eventually, says the pastor “the demonic influence – the ‘principality’ over Kiambu –was broken”, and Mama Jane fled the town.
According to accounts of the witchhunt circulated on evangelical websites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon.
It is this kind of religious nonsense, this is the kind of attributed thinking that powers the faith of people like Palin, and it ain’t about love. Religion is just as much about superstition, fear, and intolerance.
Read more of this travesty here.