I feel a rant coming on

Religion really pisses me off and so do all those people who insist on being polite about it. Religion is a scam, the scam, the original scam, the first and longest lasting of all the tricks mankind has invented for separating people from their wealth and their intellectual independence. Religion fucks people up and fucked up people fuck up the world.

Try this thought experiment.

Imagine that religion has never been invented. People bumble along, happily or grumpily blaming themselves or others when things go wrong, gladly taking the credit when they go right or recognizing that they just got lucky. Knowledge has accumulated over millennia and we have no problems with the fact that we’re one species among millions of others, primates descended from other primates, all shuffling around on the restless tectonic stage of a small planet which is but one among billions of billions in a universe that’s unimaginably vast and mostly empty and might even be one of many. Get the picture? Now, along comes someone like Ron Hubbard (Scientology, in case you’ve not been following) and says, “Hey, guys, you’ve got it all wrong! Just give me all your money and switch your brains off and I’ll show you what it’s really about.” Is he going to be greeted with cries of enthusiastic relief – thank God, for God?

As my pal Neven would put it – come on, gimme a break!

Gods are nasty bastards. And the Jewish god of the Old Testament is as bad as they come:

…the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. [Dawkins’ wonderful rant in The God Delusion]

Churches are even worse. Gods may make demands but the Church (as distinct from a small-c church, which is just a building) is out there in the field doing the dirty work on their fellow men, and more especially women. A Church is a political organization and as such it will always have two main objectives: (i) to maximize and consolidate its own power, and (ii) to ensure its own survival. All the rest is peripheral. And for the men who comprise the Church (yes, always men) the ends always justify the means, whatever they are. So it’s no surprise that the Catholic Church, for example, has:

…experimented with almost every kind of extermination, genocide, torture, mutilation, execution, enslavement, cruelty and abuse known to humankind. [Monbiot here]

Religion has nothing to do with morality. It’s all about power. The “divine right of kings” was the best corporate slogan ever invented. None of George Bush’s speech writers could match it – not for want of trying, you can be sure. Unlike human rights, God-given rights are inalienable. So go ahead – shit on the serfs, napalm the fucking peasants, build your settlements among the other guys’ fruit groves, throw aeroplanes at their towers and stones at any woman who has the effrontery to say she was raped.

What of the serfs? Those who want a church wedding, those (fewer) who have their children baptised, or who (fewer still) go to their local church once a week? Well, most of them don’t have the intelligence and/or the intellectual training to appreciate the significance of their actions. They’ve been indoctrinated (“Yeah, well, a church wedding’s better, innit?”) or they’re hedging their bets (“Might as well get ‘em baptised…”). As for those with a more honed sense of social awareness, many if not most of them, I suspect, would claim to be seeking fellowship or some sort of spiritual haven; and if in the process they’re prepared to mumble-jumbo their way through a load of codswallop about father, son and holy spirit – well, I guess that’s their business. But it’s my business too, because by their very presence they are lending credence to the notion that religion is respectable and the Church a force for good – a notion that’s harmful to the health and safety of a small planet and its people. And guess what, guys? It’s my fucking planet too!

By definition religions defend the status quo. So the Catholic church goes condemning millions of kids to a life of poverty by denying their parents the right to use condoms; and Islam persists in its barbarous treatment of the half of humanity that happens to be female. In Israel, fundamentalist Jews go even better, as does the loony Christian Right in the USA: they want to reinstate the status quo ante. None of them seems to have noticed that their blinkered approach to History — and thus to the future — blinds them to the fact that climate disruption is a threat to all life on the planet. Not to mention the problem they have with a few minor matters such as human rights and a sense of what is reasonable and fair…

It is undoubtedly true that for many people a sense of morals is inseparable from religion. But that is only a reflection of the extent to which religious indoctrination is rife; it has nothing to do with people’s ability to use their own moral compass if they wish. I don’t need a fucking god to tell me not to kill or steal. I don’t need the clergy to teach me about beauty and transcendence and the cosmic importance of human consciousness.

It is morally repugnant that so many peoples’ lives are shaped by the lies, threats and manipulative half-truths of a religion. And I will not go on politely turning a deaf ear to the outrageousness of it.

So a plague on your Gods and your Churches. Damn them all to hell and back. Minority moralistic monopolies won’t cut it. It’s time to grow up, Humanity, and face the world as it is.

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