Kentucky will now be known as the state whose governor endorsed and gave $40 million in tax breaks to people who want to tell children that science and history explain that a 600 year old man herded dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragons and unicorns onto a big boat 4,000 years ago.
I have no words. Here’s The Atlantic’s report.
Exorcisms, which are incredibly still practiced by the Catholic Church and by some Protestant churches, hurt people who are either
- In need of serious medical or psychological attention, or
- Gay, and in need of nothing more than being left the fuck alone about their orientation.
I don’t know which is worse.
Craig James has more on this incredible Medieval vestige.
Implicit in the use of the term “militant atheists” is the assumption that, having no religion, atheists have no place discussing it. And nested in that assumption, Russian-doll style, is this one: It’s no use dissuading anyone from religion, because hey, what’s the harm?
But that’s where we run into problems. Religion kills.
I have begun tagging the problems with religion as “What’s The Harm”.
Let’s get started:
- Wars, crusades, inquisitions, gunpoint missionaries
- Faith healing, heartbreakingly forced upon children
- Circumcision and genital mutilation
- Separating families (heck, even Jesus advocating leaving your family to follow him)
- Spreading scientific illiteracy and general ignorance
- Exorcisms performed on victims who are simply either mentally ill or gay
Why speak out? For a better world.
Here I begin to list just a fraction of the cases in which children have been hurt or killed by parents who trusted God to do all the healing.
- Any child of a Jehovah’s Witness who died from blood loss. (Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the blood to be holy, and refuse blood transfusions.)
- My own uncle, who died of treatable intestinal problems when I was 3 or so years old, because his parents raised him as a Christian Scientist. He was in high school at the time. (Christian Scientists, followers of Mary Baker Eddy, refuse all medical treatment, usually.) I have no memories of my uncle. I just know how hurt my father was by his brother’s death, and by his father’s refusal to hold a funeral (it’s not the CS way).
- This 11-year-old-girl who died from juvenile diabetes, whose parents trusted prayer to heal her.
- Many more…
I don’t want to write on this topic at length, so I’m just going to leave you a few links to back up this claim:
The costly 2003–2010 US-led Iraq War was largely inspired by Christian beliefs.
Al-Jazeera piece claiming the war was at least partially religiously inspired
Dr Muhammad al-Sammak … says “Most of the US presidents are very religious and George Bush is one of them. They definitely act according to their religious beliefs.
“For example, the late US president Ronald Reagan predicted in a TV interview that his generation would live to see the Battle of Armageddon. This is very biblical. No person would use such terms unless he was supported by his religious beliefs.”
Rumsfield’s daily “Worldwide Intelligence Updates” from the Pentagon often had covers with martial Bible quotes and, at least sometimes, photos of soldiers in prayer. (Easier to send ’em to die if you know their souls are saved, eh?) This story was broken by GQ (Flash slideshow – HTML here) and covered in numerous outlets like HuffPo and the Colbert Report.
Consider the way Bush referred to the war on terror as a “crusade” and conflated Iraq, which had no connection to al-Qaeda, with the al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked on 9/11. Well, they’re both Muslim; I can see how Bush could have trouble keeping them straight.
A common defense of theism and religion in general is that, while irrational faith-based belief has no grounding in reality, it’s fine because it helps people cope with real life.
The most obvious response is to point out that religion hurts people besides the believer:
On May 21, 2005, LaRose haunted by what appears to be a sad and hard life began drinking heavily. Depressed over her father’s recent death, LaRose in an attempt to take her life, swallowed eight to 10 prescription muscle relaxers. Failing to kill herself, Colleen LaRose was now at a crossroads in her life. After months of receiving counseling for depression and alcoholism, LaRose apparently found spiritual rebirth in the form of Islam. Unfortunately, the brand of Islam that gave her purpose to live was a brand that advocated death to America, the West and Israel.
— When looks can kill: The Story of Jihad Jane AKA Colleen Renee LaRose
More subtly, but just as valid, is the observation that religion doesn’t even necessarily make the believer happier.
While the most common “benefit” of belief is “coping with death,” studies have shown religious types actually have the hardest time coping with their own death.
But if that didn’t convince you, read on.
People I know in real life have been very much hurt by their religion. A family member, for example, is incapable with dealing with human sexuality in any but the most conservative context, to the detriment of this person’s personal life.
A number of friends of mine have broken up with significant others because they found they loved them “more than they loved Jesus.” (This kind of blows my mind, since that means their closest relationship is with an imaginary, Aramaic-speaking friend who wants to send most people to hell.)
As recounted in The God Virus, religion can even make priests miserable. The author of the God Virus tells of a priest so overcome with Catholic-inspired guilt over his occasional masturbation — that he ends up hating himself for it, unable to think of much else.