Friday, June 01, 2012

Why do I attack religion?

Ok, here goes another one.  I’m going to try to clarify some thoughts here.  
There are really two parts to this:
    1.   I try to make clear that my often acerbic remarks about religion are just that, about religion.  They are not intended to be attacks on the adherents of religious belief.  It’s not about people, but the theological teachings and the dogma which leads people to do bad things with, in the beginning at least, good intentions.
    1.   The second part, and the real problem, is how people use those teachings in constructing their daily lives and how they relate to other people.
It is hard to separate those two things in many peoples’ minds.  A lot of folks hear the arguments about how religious teachings are used for evil purposes and think that they, themselves, are under attack.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Attacking the person is what is called an Ad Hominem, which in latin means “To The Man”.  That’s a logical fallacy, and simply betrays a weakness in an argument.  If you don’t have a good argument, attack the messenger.
I am not attacking the people, but the teachings and dogma which illuminates the basis of the evil behind religion.
A good illustration of this is the current battle over gay marriage rights.  The basis for opponents’ beliefs that it is wrong is based on two bible verses in the Old Testament.  
Leviticus 18:21 -22 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.
Nobody on the proponents’ side is trying to deny the meaning of these two verses.  What is being noted, however, is the hypocritical behavior in which christians insist on adhering to these two verses, while ignoring the other 75 rules and prohibitions in that same book which are not exactly in line with modern, enlightened American ethics and law.  (See my recent post on the 76 Things Banned in Leviticus.)
This hypocritical stance is having real, negative repercussions on the American political scene and has traditionally served to marginalize and stigmatize gays in ways that has created real, lasting harm to real people who have no control over their feelings and desires.
This is a real world example of how religious teachings, taken literally and widely followed, have done bad things to our society.  Yet, there are verses in that same book, Leviticus, which prohibit a wide range of activity which is today taken completely for granted as being normal and accepted behavior.
Insanely hypocritical, and completely illogical on a rational basis.
This is real harm.  This is a topic that is being used by the far right wing to divide America and the American people into two warring camps over an issue that, in reality, has no real bearing on the future welfare of this country.  It is being used as a whipping post to drum up alarm and fear in order to get that conservative constituency to the polls.
Yet, that whipping post is hurting real people, their families and friends, and is costing the business community millions of dollars in legal fees where they end up battling what will be a losing fight in support of intolerance.
Can you wonder why folks like me dislike and fight religion?  How could I support people who will use an issue that is so divisive and harmful for the cynical purpose of driving supporters to the polls?  And this is only one issue and only one way that religion harms people and the country I love.

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