Religious Toxicity and Cafeteria-Style Religious “Beliefs”

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Atheism, Christianity, Evangelicals, Religion, Science
Tags: , , , , ,

by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

The more literally people take their religious beliefs, the worse they tend to be: dogmatic, arrogant, authoritarian, cruel, willfully ignorant, and self-pitying.

Let’s take these in order. They’re all related; they’re interlocking. (We looked at these in more detail in 20 Reasons to Abandon  Christianity, Part I and Part II. Here, we’re only hitting the low points.)

Dogmatism. Asserting that some “holy” book or man is invariably correct–despite oftentimes massive evidence to the contrary–is almost a dictionary definition of dogmatism.

Arrogance. Just look at the self-congratulatory, self-referential terms religious folk use: “the chosen people” (or simply “the chosen”), “the elect,” “the redeemed,” “the saved,” etc., etc. And then look at how righteous they feel about imposing their dogmatic beliefs on others.

Authoritarianism. ISIS with its shariah law is only the worst recent example of this. Look also to Boko Harom in Nigeria and the mullahs in Tehran.

Here in this country, look at America’s Taliban: the Christian fundamentalists, conservative Catholics, and Mormons intent on turning this country into a theocracy (a “Christian nation”) with their religious beliefs jammed down everyone else’s throats via the government. (They’re already done this to a great extent via intrusive laws with no secular justification, such as those restricting abortion, [until recently] those outlawing “sodomy,” [until a few decades ago] those restricting or banning birth control devices, and those denying assistance in dying to those with terminal illnesses or intolerable pain. And let’s not forget about the “war on drugs”–conducted by uniformed terrorists–which is in large part fueled by religious “moral” fervor.

Cruelty. This is so obvious it seems almost  unnecessary to provide examples, but just to hit a few of the low points: the Inquisition with its ecclesiastical torturers; the mass burning of “witches”; imprisonment of atheists (in 19th-century England). And currently, denial of access to abortion to rape and incest victims; vindictive prosecution and imprisonment of those who help those in intolerable pain die with dignity; (until recently in this country) cruel, lengthy prison terms for the victimless “crime” of “sodomy”–an unfortunately common, current practice in all too many other religious countries;  support for the death penalty, and the slavering, vicarious enjoyment of judicial murder; and the hideous, unjustifiable sentences routinely imposed on drug “offenders” for their victimless “crimes.”

Willful Ignorance. Again, this is so obvious that there seems little point in mentioning anything but the low points. Climate change denial. Creationism. Submission of women. Persecution of gays. Leviticus (the entire damn thing–almost nothing but vicious assertions and incitements to murder). The list goes on. Christian apologists go in with predetermined conclusions, cherry pick the evidence to find anything that supports their wishful thinking, and ignore the rest — the exact opposite of the scientific approach.

Self-Pity and Paranoia.  Christian crybabies constantly whine about how “persecuted” they are. What’s the reality? The number of laws prohibiting Christian worship in the U.S.? Zero. Property tax exemptions for  churches?  Universal. Clergy housing tax exemptions?Universal. Money from the government to churches? Very, very common. An entire TV “news” network devoted to flattering the most fear-driven, vicious, authoritarian Christians? Check. Cruel religious precepts, with no secular justification,  enshrined in law? Almost universal. Laws restricting access to abortion. Laws restricting access to or (until relatively recently) banning contraception. Laws outlawing homosexuality–almost universal in the U.S. until very recently, and still very common in Christian countries outside the U.S.  Laws prohibiting individuals from controlling their own lives and deaths? Almost universal. And, lest we forget, nearly 80% of the U.S. public is Christian, along with a good 90% of U.S. lawmakers.

The way the Christian victims in the U.S. manage to put up with such terrible persecution is a constant mystery and  inspiration.

And, yes, the very being of all too many American Christians, their cruel, intrusive, authoritarian nature, is enough to gag a maggot.

But what of the decent Christians we all know? They’re decent people to the extent that they cherry pick Christian scripture and preaching and ignore the rest. They’re cafeteria Christians, choosing what they like and discarding everything else. Why do they do this? Because scientific advances have revealed how outright insane many religious beliefs are, and because they’re nice people. Not as a result of religion, but despite religion. They’ve simply discarded the most inhumane aspects of it (after 250 years of secularism, which is powerful only because of its ideas).

What’s the harm in this? you might ask. Well, first off, they’re taking financial advantage of the rest of us.  Their churches contribute nothing to schools, libraries, fire departments, or the other services they and their members use. The rest of us pay for this with our property taxes.

And, probably worse, liberal Christians provide cover for their mean-spirited, goose-stepping co-religionists. They make religion appear almost respectable. We’d all be far better off if they’d abandon it and allow those who take their religious beliefs seriously, literally, to reveal the true nature of religion. (This is the wonderful thing about the Westboro Baptist Church [“God Hates Fags”]: they’re honest, and they reveal the true nature of Christianity. Fred Phelps was absolutely right when he said of the Bible that there are two verses about hate for every one about love.)

Right-wing, theocratic Christians are a deadly threat to our lives, families, and freedoms. Liberal Christians who know better and who reject the more vicious parts of Christian dogma should be ashamed of themselves. They provide camouflage for the mean-spirited authoritarians intent on turning the U.S. into Iran.

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