Thursday, November 15, 2007

The social effects of god

The Christian faith is a burden to everyone in this country, and I'm not talking about people knocking on your door and handing you religious tracts. Christianity instills certain philosophies that are detrimental to our society. Here are the top five:

1.There is a “creator” that intended things to be a certain way.
This belief has been the backbone of just about every type of bigotry and discrimination in our history.
We used it to justify slavery:
(Titus 2:9-10, NIV) “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”
Also see: 1 Peter 2:18, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Ephesians 6:5-8, Luke 12:46-47

We used it to justify sexism:
(1 Corinthians 11:3) “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (emphasis mine)
Also see: 1 Corinthians 11:7–9, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, and come on…do you really need that much proof that the Bible is sexist?

Today, we use it to justify our homophobia:
(Romans 1:26-27) “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

We used the Bible to justify slavery, but eventually realized that it was unjustifiable. We used the Bible to justify sexism, but eventually realized that it was unjustifiable. Today we are using the Bible to justify our fear of homosexuality. Isn’t that ridiculous? This is the third time around and we still haven’t figured out that the Bible is a bad source for social morals.
The ban on gay marriage is the only modern-day example I can think of where the defense is purely religious. Any kind of argument for “protecting the sanctity of marriage,” or “protecting against the threat to family” are just fancy-fuck ways of saying “God says homosexuality is wrong.” It is absolutely absurd that in this day and age we are still oppressing a group of people because of their sexual preference.

2.Every man is an island
The Bible teaches that we can all have a personal relationship with god, that god created this world specifically for us, and he cares immensely about every aspect of every individual’s life.
This belief is detrimental in a few ways. First off, simply, it gives us the idea that humans are special among all other animals (because god created animals to satisfy our need to control something). Now I have no problem with eating meat, an issue I will explain at some point, but I am against cruelty to animals because they do have certain rights as fellow inhabitants of this planet. And if you haven’t heard, chimpanzees are actually more evolved than humans. I assume this is because they don’t believe in sky fairies (rimshot).
Aside from animal right’s issues, the idea of an individual relationship with god creates an incredible ego. My favorite claim about atheism is that it is arrogant, but I can’t think of anything more arrogant than believing that the god of the universe created the planet especially for me. Not only that, but if I don’t believe in him, he’s going to be upset somehow. This emphasis on our individual importance downplays our responsibility toward the human species and the planet. People don’t feel a responsibility to help other people unless they are going to get something in return, even if that something is an eternal reward in heaven. Because I will admit that a lot of good gets done because Christians are told that they have to do good deeds if they want to be happy in the afterlife (I remember one youth pastor telling us that the more good deeds you built up in your lifetime, the bigger your mansion would be in heaven). But the need for individual good deeds means that there is no motivation to push for social programs that help the needy. After all, if I willingly donate my money to charity, that will look a lot better in god’s eyes than if I endure a higher tax rate so that we can run programs for the needy. I will get into this further when I explain why I love paying taxes.

3.If you don’t agree with me, go to hell (literally).
I am aware that there are a great deal of “progressive Christians” that don’t believe in hell, but that’s because those people realize the absurdity of a “loving” god sending people to eternal suffering. The Christian religion teaches hell, and it was the idea of hell that single-handedly kept me from questioning my faith for 20 years.
If you believe that people who disagree with you about religion are doomed to eternal damnation, how are you supposed to be any less humble about your more trivial opinions like who should be your state’s senator. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Christianity is the sole cause of the nastiness in politics, but it sure doesn’t help.
People who say Christians and non-Christians have to learn how to get along are ignoring this key aspect of their religion. You can’t really show a mutual respect for a person that you believe is going to hell. And if you have any ounce of compassion, you can’t stop trying to convert them. There are few things less enjoyable to me than someone incessantly trying to convert me.

4.I’m right, period. There is no room for negotiation.
Christians are taught that they are infallibly right. They are so confident in their faith that they deny logic and science to maintain their beliefs. Like the idea of hell, I strongly believe that the no-negotiation mindset of Christians translates into other aspects of their lives. Again, if you are not willing to negotiate on religion, it will be harder to negotiate on other issues. In my personal experience, Christians tend to be much more stubborn than atheists. In a less personal experience, look at the issues of abortion, teen sex and drug use. These are all things we are trying to prevent (no matter what Ann Coulter says, no one is trying to get 13-year-olds to have sex and no one is a fan of abortion) but the solutions require us to compromise. Christians cannot negotiate and say “maybe we should focus on educating kids about safe sex so that they’re not in situations where they would get an abortion.” No, their stronghold position is kids should be taught abstinence and abortions should be outlawed. Of course, the lack of proper sexual education leads to more unwanted pregnancies (not to mention STIs) and more abortions. And sure we could cut down the number of abortions by making it illegal, but we would see a huge spike in unsafe “back-alley” abortions that lead to the girl’s deaths.
Well I’m not going to get into all of that right now, but I assure you I will in the near future. The point here is that Christianity promotes bullheaded stubbornness. Just look at our president.

5.This life isn’t important.
In my mind, this is the worst ideology taken from the religious teachings. Not only does it lead people to fly planes into buildings, or generally not value our wonderful gift of life, but it also leads us to downplay the importance of human life in general. That’s right. The same Christians that try to outlaw abortion in the name of “protecting human life” follow a religion that teaches that our lives are very unimportant, and praises people who die for their beliefs.
As always, if this was simply a matter of Christians missing out on their only shot at life, I wouldn’t be so adamant about it. But the idea that there is an afterlife is the root of so many social problems, and they have been since we kicked the Brits out. It’s especially been harmful to the black community. Slaves were told that they would be rewarded in the afterlife, which suppressed a lot of potential uprisings. I always find unsettling the image of slaves and slave owners attending the same church service. Today, several black people are content to watch their community suffer both self-inflicted and government-inflicted social woes because as long as they believe in god, they have a better life coming. Of course, the complacency within the black community doesn’t compare to the complacency from outsiders. We feel no urgency to help our fellow countrymen and fellow human beings, because this life is supposedly temporary.
This skewed view of what is important is the butt of many jokes. I particularly remember the South Park episode where Christian missionaries give bibles to starving Africans. It would be a lot funnier if it weren’t so true. Christians focus on saving peoples’ souls, and only secondarily do they even consider providing them with food, shelter or any of the other things that could make this life more pleasant for them. As a child I attended many holiday meals at homeless shelters where they suckered the hungry heathens in with food and heat. Then they spent the entire night preaching to them. Of course, those people would be hungry again the next day when it wasn’t Christmas, but the people left feeling like they had provided them with something much more valuable than food. They had given them eternal life! How sad.
The other aspect of this is the death penalty. Now personally, I will admit that I do not have a strong opinion on the death penalty, though I lean toward being against it because taking someone’s only life seems to fall under “cruel and unusual.” But Christians have less of a problem with it because when you die you go up some escalator into the clouds where god himself plays judge and decides your eternal faith. If this were true, then killing someone would be the fairest of punishments, whether their crime was triple homicide or running a red light. After all, if there is an infallible god just waiting around to judge our dead, what’s more fair than that? Luckily we don’t actually follow that logic, but it is a problem nonetheless.

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