Immorality, Violence, Myth, and Contradictions in Religious Texts, Puritanism, Backwards Religious Views on Sex, Contraception, Abortion, Homosexuality, Marriage, and Rape by Clergy

2.7 Abrahamic Texts

 

The presence of organized religions in societies ruled by governments usually makes them far more destructive because they separate people further and give us another reason to wage wars. When organized religions were first developing, there were already an ample number of reasons for conflict, such as land, capital, and the greed that fueled selfish desires to accumulate more and more. But religions made wars very personal. If two groups went to war over religious differences, they weren’t just fighting for their material belongings and land; they were fighting for their sacred beliefs. Religious differences have also intensified many wars that were started for reasons that had nothing to do with religion. Religious beliefs were bound to become more and more extreme, dogmatic, and important to people, especially as governments used them in attempts to justify exploitation and murder.

It can be hard to believe people still kill each other over religion and the interpretation of religious texts written thousands of years ago. The religious myths most people cling to stem from Abrahamic texts. The Jewish people have the Torah. Christians have their Bible comprised of the Old and New Testaments, and adherents of Islam have the Qur’an. All of these texts are filled with myths. Some parts of the New Testament and the Qur’an are considered historical, because there are physical remains (from buildings and monuments) that show they existed. But the Bible’s ideas about creation and the history of the universe are mythical.

Parts of these Holy Books are very removed from reality because they were written so long ago. Individuals who believe every story in these books is nonfiction are called biblical literalists. However, most religious people are not biblical literalists; they believe in some of these myths and reject others. But it’s likely the people who wrote them believed everything they were writing was true, and they wanted everyone else to take what they were writing as literally as they did. If you believe, praise, endorse, or promote the entire Bible, Torah, or Qur’an, you should be aware you are promoting unscientific claims, violent, patriarchal, and hateful scripture, and a few positive, peaceful platitudes that contradict the more hateful parts. I believe it is best to study and analyze these books for their individual parts for these reasons but it’s nonsensical to pick and choose passages we like and pretend like the rest don’t exist.

The Book of Genesis explains the world was created in six days. (On the seventh day God takes the day off.) There is so much scientific evidence against this it is not worth mentioning. The seventh day (or Sunday) is also called the Sabbath (the Sabbath is observed by Jews from Friday’s sunset to Saturday’s sunset) and the Bible has very strict and violent rules about the Sabbath:

Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the Earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.” – Exodus 31:14.

 

The creation myth in the Book of Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament) is not even remotely plausible when compared to the evidence that supports evolution. In this myth, God creates the first man, Adam, “from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” -Genesis 2:7. The first woman, Eve, is “made from the rib he had taken out of the man.” – Genesis 2:22. In the Garden of Eden where they live, there is a talking snake and a magical tree that contains the knowledge of good and evil.

When Adam and Eve are created in Genesis, God forbids them to eat from the tree that contains the knowledge of good and evil, (which seems counter-intuitive seeing as knowing right from wrong would help them know what would please God.) Later in Genesis, a serpent tells Eve to eat the fruit and as a result God tells Eve, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16.

With God’s assistance, Eve then has two children named Cain and Abel. After offering sacrifices to God, Abel is praised by God while Cain is scolded. God says “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” – Genesis 4:7. Cain then says to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” Cain then kills his brother unprovoked and for no apparent reason. God scolds Cain and tells him he will live a miserable life. Adam lives on for 930 years and has other children according to the Bible. (Antediluvian patriarchs in the Bible were able to live for more than 900 years; most lived for at least 200 years, another very unscientific aspect of the bible.)

The book of Genesis then goes on to tell one of the Bible’s most unscientific myths: the story of Noah’s Ark. The Book explains that every living creature on Earth once became evil, and instead of offering them guidance, God decided to kill nearly all of them:“The sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years” The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the Earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the Earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the Earth the human beings I have created – people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” – Genesis 6:1-6:7.

The Book of Genesis doesn’t say how or why people became wicked or why all the other animals deserved to die as well. It just states that God wanted life to start anew, so he calls on Noah, a 600 year-old descendant of Adam to put two of every kind of animal on a large boat, so that they can all survive the global flood and eventually repopulate the Earth. But it is not possible to make a boat large enough to do this. God told Noah to make the ark three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits in height. (One cubit is 45.72 centimeters or about one and a half feet. The whole ark would’ve been 450,000 cubits in volume, which would not be anywhere even near large enough.) Other people also had boats at this time, but this story leaves that out.

The flood in Genesis lasts 150 days, and this means everyone on the boat would die from dehydration, because salt water is not potable1 and it would be impossible to bring enough clean water on the boat beforehand. The other animals would also likely eat each other before they could die of dehydration. Even if this story was true and every animal was able to survive somehow, this would mean we are all the product of incest. There are so many holes in this story they are not all worth discussing. Even if you believe this story is a metaphor, it’s not a good one. Killing everything on Earth because God doesn’t like the inclinations in their hearts sounds like something the Biblical “Satan” would do.

After the flood, the Earth repopulates. Noah later gets naked and drunk and curses his grandson for no apparent reason when Noah’s son, Ham, discovers him and his brothers, Shem and Japeth, cover him: “Cursed be Ca’naan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” – Genesis 9:25. Noah lives on for several hundred more years and dies at 950 years old according the book.

Later in the Gospel, it is written that there is one universal language and God says, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” –John 11:6-11:8. It isn’t explained why God wants to hinder humanity’s progress by doing this.

The Christian Bible contains many other bizarre myths like the myth of Jonah who is eaten by a whale and prays for three days in its stomach to be released, along with the myth of Moses who has God part the Red Sea, so that he can lead his people through. The Old Testament even says that the Earth is flat and supported by pillars: “He shakes the Earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.” – Psalm 9:6. It also claims a range of strange mythical creatures exist like Leviathan (a sea monster that breathes fire) the Behemoth, Abaddon’s Locusts (creatures with tails of scorpions and the faces of men), the First Beast of Revelation (a creature with 7 heads and 9 horns) and 200 million (“twice ten thousand times ten thousand”) horsemen in Revelation. The Torah also mentions many of these creatures, as well as others like Ziz, a flying creature that can block out the sun. Ziz was likely our ancestor’s explanation for solar eclipses.

The Book of Revelation found in the New Testament predicts the apocalypse (its name comes from the Greek word apokalypsis) and it is probably the least plausible of all the books in the Bible. In this story, there are lakes of fire, oceans of blood, and four horsemen of the apocalypse, which represent death, war, famine, and pestilence.  Satan is also a “dragon” and the protagonist is described as a “lamb.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.8 Immorality, Myth, and Contradictions in Religious Texts

 

The problems with these texts are not exclusive to the myths. Rejecting science is dangerous, but many of these documents also promote hate and various conflicting ideologies. The Old Testament and the Torah, despite what most believe, promote immorality, slavery, patriarchy, indiscriminate violence (especially targeted at “Israelites”), and the domination of children. The Christian Bible even provides grotesque rules on slavery in Exodus:

If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him.  If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” – Exodus 21:2-5.

The bible also says that it is morally acceptable to beat slaves as long as they don’t die: “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.” (Exodus 21:20-21) The bible not only condones the ownership of Jewish slaves, but of all people in Leviticus:

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.  You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.” – Leviticus 25:44-46.

Another passage that condones the ownership of women can be found in Exodus:

If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing, and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.” – Exodus 21:7-12.

The Bible also prohibits women from teaching, asserting authority over men, talking too much, and asserts that women are inherently sinful:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing” – Timothy 2:11-15

The Bible also contains very primitive, puritanical, and oppressive rules about menstruation in Leviticus:

“Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. If you touch her during that time, you will be defiled until evening. Anything on which she lies or sits during that time will be defiled. If you touch her bed, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water, and you will remain defiled until evening. The same applies if you touch an object on which she sits, whether it is her bedding or any piece of furniture. If a man has sexual intercourse with her during this time, her menstrual impurity will be transmitted to him. He will remain defiled for seven days, and any bed on which he lies will be defiled.” “If the menstrual flow of blood continues for many days beyond the normal period, or if she discharges blood unrelated to her menstruation, the woman will be ceremonially unclean as long as the discharge continues. Anything on which she lies or sits during that time will be defiled, just as it would be during her normal menstrual period. If you touch her bed or anything on which she sits, you will be defiled. You will be required to wash your clothes and bathe in water, and you will remain defiled until evening….When the woman’s menstrual discharge stops, she must count off a period of seven days. After that, she will be ceremonially clean. On the eighth day, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons and present them to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will offer one for a sin offering and the other for a whole burnt offering. In this way, the priest will make atonement for her before the LORD for her menstrual discharge…In this way, you will keep the people of Israel separate from things that will defile them, so they will not die as a result of defiling my Tabernacle that is right there among them. These are the instructions for dealing with a man who has been defiled by a genital discharge or an emission of semen; for dealing with a woman during her monthly menstrual period; for dealing with anyone, man or woman, who has had a bodily discharge of any kind; and for dealing with a man who has had intercourse with a woman during her period.” – Leviticus 15:19-33.

Bleeding from the monthly shedding of the uterine lining is not a “sin” nor an “impurity” and it does not defile anyone. It is a natural process for women and allows them to conceive children. Turtledoves, of course, have nothing to do with it.

Jesus is one of the very few consistently moral characters in the Bible. He acts nobly and selflessly at times and supports the poor in the book. But even Jesus acts immorally at times as well. In several parts of the Bible, he condemns people to hell for not believing in him. According to the Gospel of John in the New Testament, when the townspeople gather to listen to Jesus, most refute he is the son of God, and an argument ensues. Due to their skepticism, Jesus eventually explains, “For unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” – John 8:24.2 Jesus also says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. Even more extreme are his words in Leviticus: “If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.” There are several similar verses throughout the Bible in which Jesus condemns people to hell, and the concept of hell and eternal suffering are also concepts created by Jesus according to the Bible. The Old Testament and the Torah do not mention hell, but Jesus does many times.

The rest of bible is not very tolerant of non-believers either. The New International Version of the Bible reads: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-1:8.

In the Gospel of John, non-believers are called the “antichrist”: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” – 2 John 1:7. Later in the Gospel, it is written“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father.” (John 2:22-23) This wasn’t written to scare people into being moral. It is simply saying if you do not believe Jesus is the son of God, you are antithesis of Christ and you will suffer for eternity because of it.

Many passages in the Bible also condemn homosexuality and call for the execution of gay people and anyone who approves of gay sex like this one in Romans:

God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:24-1:32) 

The Bible also orders the execution of anyone who commits bestiality or curses their parents. God tells Moses “All who curse father or mother shall be put to death” – (Leviticus 20:120a) However, John 3:15 reads, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” and one of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shall not kill.” This is but one of the many contradictions in the Bible.

It is these kinds of radical and extremist passages that fuel some Christians to hate gays and even call for their execution today. While there many tolerant Christians who accept homosexuals, despite what the bible says, there are also many Christian extremists who make it their mission to bully gay people.3 Some governments still have laws that criminalize homosexual behavior and gays are still killed with these passages serving as the “justification.” Politicians who support and write laws against gay marriage often use the Bible as the justification as well. But marriage was hardly sacred in Biblical times. It was nothing like traditional marriage today. A man who raped a woman was obligated to marry her. A soldier who captured a female prisoner of war could also marry her. A man could also have several wives, so this rhetoric about marriage being between a “sacred bond between a man and a woman” is not even supported by the Bible. The “ideal” marriage in the Bible is still very repressive of women.

Extremely hateful, anti-gay elements exist within various American, Christian communities. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas is a good example. This church is one of the most bigoted and hate-filled churches in America. Their official website URL is http://www.GodHatesFags.com. These people often protest the funerals of soldiers and celebrities who were openly gay while holding signs that read “Fag troops,” “Thank God for 911,” “Thank God for dead soldiers,” “God killed your kids,” and (I’m not making this up) “You will eat your children,” (just like Jesus said!) These people can be called a fringe group and most Christians view them as such, but it is hard to distance yourself from them if you share their religion. Their extremism is in the Bible. So-called extremists feel they are doing the right thing because they usually do exactly what the most hateful parts of these religious texts tell them to do. God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible is another example often used in attempts to justify Christian extremism and homophobia. Even the absolutely absurd claim “You will eat your children” is actually from the Bible in Deuteronomy: “Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. The most gentle and sensitive woman among you–so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot–will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities. If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name–the LORD your God–the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed.” Deuteronomy, 28:53-28:61, (New International Version)

These kinds of aforementioned contradictions (like loving all of humanity, but hating parts of it) are found throughout the Bible. The bible phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (meaning the same harm should be done to anyone who inflicts harm to another) is found in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Exodus, yet in many verses of the bible, Jesus tells people never to take revenge. For example, in the New American Standard Bible in the Book of Romans Jesus says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”Romans 12:19-21. Overcoming evil with good and feeding your enemies are nice ideas, but they starkly contradict the “eye for an eye” concept.

The interpretations of God in the Christian Bible are also very inconsistent. God is described as extremely violent and unforgiving in many passages of the Bible and as very benevolent in others. Most often, however, God is portrayed as a very immoral, removed, selfish being, and these parts of the Bible have been used to justify very violent, vile acts. For example, the story of Abraham found in the Book of Genesis and other Abrahamic texts has also been used to justify violent acts, particularly against children. Abraham (originally Abram) was randomly chosen like Noah by God to be a prophet. The Bible explains he also owned slaves and that he impregnated one of them named Hagar. God says to Abraham in Genesis, “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” Genesis 17:7-17:10. Abraham then becomes the founding patriarch of the Israelites.

When God tells Abraham to kill his son Isaac, he is ready to kill him without even asking why. (An angel eventually stops him and rewards him.) This story could be used to justify any insane act people believe God wants them to carry out because the only line of communication individuals have with God is in their heads. Mentally unwell people like Andrea Yates have killed all their children because they claimed God was telling them to do so, just as God told Abraham. This has even been used as part a criminal defense several times.

Another example of immorality in the Christian bible can be found in the Book of Job. In it God argues with Satan (I am not sure why they are on talking terms) about the loyalty of Job who is described as a very faithful, religious, and righteous person. Satan argues that Job is only so faithful to God because he has a good life. God disagrees, so as a test, God tells Satan to kill Job’s children and destroy his possessions to see if he will remain loyal. Job, as God expected, remains faithful to God and continues to pray and not curse Him, despite his losses. As a reward, God gives him twice the possessions he had (because that is what really matters, of course). God also gives him two new daughters who were surely just as nice as his previous, murdered children. (This is sarcasm if it was not obvious.) In this story, God has ten children killed just to prove Satan wrong, which he doesn’t even succeed in doing. It essentially justifies murder and it can easily make individuals very paranoid. According to this story, even if you obey God, he may still punish you. The same story exists in the Hebrew Bible, which is just as filled with violence. In fact, biblical scholar Raymund Schwager has pointed out that “There are six hundred passages of explicit violence in the Hebrew Bible, one thousand verses where God’s own violent actions of punishment are described, a hundred passages where Yahweh expressly commands others to kill people, and several stories where God irrationally kills or tries to kill for no apparent reason.”

These kinds of stories and passages aren’t just found in the Christian and Hebrew Bibles. I don’t mean to criticize or upset any one religious denomination or person. I merely want to point to the immorality in these books, because they are largely conceived as manuals for morality. The Quran is filled with many myths and contradictions as well. It also promotes violence and torture more perhaps than the Bible does. There are more than a hundred verses in the Quran calling for the persecution or outright killing of non-believers. Here are some examples:

And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” – Quran 2:191-193.

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” – Quran 8:12.

And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” – Quran 9:30.

Many other Islamic documents also contain very violent messages like Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī collected by Muslim scholar Muhammad al-Bukhari, one of six major hadith collections (a hadith is a narrative of the words and actions of the prophet Muhammad) of Sunni Islam. In it Mohammad says, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” – Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57. In the same text, Allah’s Apostle says, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” – Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177. According to Ibn Ishaq, an Arab Muslim historian who transcribed oral traditions to form a biography of Muhammad called Sirat Rasul Allah, which translates to The Life of the Messenger Allah, while giving instructions to an armed group of men Mohammad said, “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah.” – Ibn Ishaq: Sirat Rasul Allah, 992.

As in the Torah and the Christian New Testament, there a few positive and peaceful passages in the Quran, but they are outnumbered by more intolerant and hateful ones. Here are a few examples of the former:

The taking of one innocent life is like taking all of Mankind…and the saving of one life is like saving all Mankind” – Quran, 5:3.

O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.” – Quran, 4:29, Sahih International.

And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” – Quran, 25:63, Sahih International.

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” – Quran 60:8, Sahih International.

You do not believe until you want for others what you want for yourselves. If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hearth and knoweth all things.” – Quran, 8:61.

That last passage is sometimes called “the Golden Rule” and it appears in most Abrahamic texts. Jesus commands it in his Sermon on the Mount: But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:26-31, New International Version. This has its origins in the Torah, which says You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18.

The Quran contains contradictions like the Torah and Christian Bible do because they were written and re-written by so many different people. The Quran has by far the most contributors or authors out of the three and the Quran’s parts are usually interpreted, as opposed to the whole text, as are the other two religious texts. Some followers focus on the texts’ more positive aspects and their behaviors and beliefs reflect that. Most Muslims, for example, are very peaceful. Islam (as with many organized religions) can also act as a very connecting agency that enables people to take part in positive activities like large gatherings for protest or assembly. But taken as a whole there is not one consistent ideology in any of these books, except total devotion to an entity we cannot see. People also come together most of all because there are connections we share as human beings that go deeper than religious beliefs. If there is a cause we all know is right, people gather to make it happen.

Like the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah, the Quran also encourages sexism and the abuse of women. Thus, many orthodox or fundamentalist Islamic societies are extremely repressive of women. (However, many Islamic men in such societies are not happy with this either. Women are exploited and subjugated more, but neither gender is widely happy.) Some extremists even oppose educating women and have bombed girls’ schools because education is so vital to liberation. “Honor rape” and genital mutilation are also common practices in Islamic regions with strict implementation of Sharia Law like the Sierra Leone. These are revolting, inexcusable punishments, which no human being should have to endure.

Like most religious texts, the Quran also promotes sexual repression. Many Imams (religious leaders) make women cover every part of their bodies, except for their eyes and hands, and women are sometimes killed for having premarital sex. (To avoid persecution, some have had their hymen surgically reattached, which is costly and potentially very dangerous.) Men and women are often not even allowed touch each other before marriage (masturbation is also forbidden in many Muslim regions), so repression of natural desires motivates some extremists to take extreme actions.

Love, touch, and intimacy are vital components of life and no one should rob themselves of them because of some archaic religious rules or the rules of lunatics who claim to be close to God today. These extremists misinterpret sex and what they associate with “purity,” especially as it relates to women. They fail to see women as human beings with the same needs as men. They wouldn’t have such a predatory approach to women if they did. Some extremists, for example, believe they will be rewarded with 72 virgins (or “houri”) in the afterlife if they kill innocent people who don’t share their beliefs. If religious dogma did not mandate such sexual repression, it would be far less likely that anyone would kill themselves for any kind of sexual reward. Without the dogma about sex and “purity,” consensual sex would likely increase while cases of rape would decrease.

 

Violent, hateful dogma and corrupt powerful clergy aren’t exclusive to Christian, Islamic, or Judaic communities. Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism have also been used as excuses to commit heinous attacks on innocent people, despite the fact that their religious texts are more peaceful. For example, Buddhist monks like Phra Kittiwuttho have stated that killing communists is not against Buddhist principles and extremists monks have led fatal attacks on Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka. Anti-Muslim riots led by the Bodu Bala Sena or “Buddhist Power Force” created by Buddhist monks broke out in Sri-Lanka in 2014 where 70% of the population is Buddhist and 10% Muslim. 10,000 people were displaced, hundreds were made homeless, and at least 4 were killed. The Sri Lankan government ordered news stations to censor their coverage on the riots to avoid being implicated. The government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has done the same for many years. 87.9% of its population Buddhist and just 4.3% is Islamic. Violence flared in August 2017 with 2000 to 3000 Rohingya Muslims killed by the government forces in Rakhine state alone in three days.4 Muslim women, children, and infants have been also been raped and killed by the state forces of Myanmar. Radical, fundamentalist Hindus in India have also massacred Muslim minorities a number of times, such as in Gujarat in 2002 (during which young girls were raped, burned, or hacked to death, 2000 Muslims were killed, and Chef Minister Modi along with Indian police encouraged the violence) the Bombay riots in 1992, the 1987 Hashimpura massacre, the 1983 Nellie massacre, and in Gujarat in 1969, in which police planned the violence.

Small religions (excluding Judiasm) generally do not produce nearly as much violence as larger religions mainly because they don’t have the same power as large religions. If an entire country or one third of the world adheres to the same general principles and prophet (and these principles are open to interpretation), then these principles will inevitably infect governments and other powerful institutions and the Church itself will have more power to control, exploit, and kill people. Larger religions also make people look more unified than they are. Economic rulers can pit certain religious individuals against each other by blaming the acts of extremists or their own paid lackies on entire religious groups. So while most Muslims are peaceful, for example, rulers who hate Muslims can point to acts by extremists to drudge up hatred for the entire group. This continues the cycles of violence.

Taoism and the many religions of Africa and East Asia have far fewer followers than Christianity and Islam. Most have some more peaceful ideologies, but the major reason they are less violent is because they are small in comparison to the most popular religions, which makes them less powerful. Christianity has the most adherents of all religions (with 2.2 billion followers in 2010) and Islam (1.6 billion) is a close second. Some extremists who identify as Christians or Muslims want their religion to be the only religion, whereas the adherents of smaller religions know there is no possibility of converting the globe, even if they all wanted to.

The targets of Hindu and Buddhist violence aren’t limited religious and ethnic minorities. Some have been more self-destructive. Buddhism, in fact, teaches suffering is inevitable and self-inflicted suffering is a fairly acceptable practice in this religion. A few Buddhists and Hindus have even lit themselves on fire in protests. (This is called self-immolation.) Self-starvation has also been used in protests by both religious groups. Hindu and Buddhist texts also both contain many myths that contradict science. The belief in reincarnation, for example, is found in various Buddhist and Hindu texts. The belief in a utopian afterlife can be comforting, but like many distracting, simplistic comforts, it can also make people less motivated to live meaningful lives right now on Earth. If you have an eternity to live, it becomes much easier to justify “wasting” time and not reaching your potential on Earth.

Hinduist and Buddhist philosophies are markedly different from Abrahamic religions. There are no Holy Books within these religions that call for violence against “nonbelievers.” There are many other positive aspects of these religions as well, such as the belief in mindfulness, meditation, introspection, mutual respect, and the pursuit of happiness. Most Hindus also do not encourage sexual repression and, in fact, they believe sex can have many benefits. However, many Hindu traditions interfere with organic relationships. For example, some traditionalist Hindu parents will arrange marriages for their children, as some orthodox Christian and Islamic families do, prohibiting them from pursuing their own relationships. But marriage ought to be one of the most important decisions of a person’s life since it has major impact on our identities and this decision should only be made by the parties involved. Some religious regions forbid rape, but do not forbid forced marriage, which is an odd double standard as sex is part of marriage and if one doesn’t consent to a marriage, the sex in it is not consensual either. Some Buddhists also believe in arranged marriages, and some Buddhist texts forbid divorce. Women are treated as property in most orthodox, religious, marital transactions, and female fetuses are sometimes killed due to the fact that some men don’t want daughters for personal reasons or because girls and women are often treated as second class citizens in these places. Most religions also have very strange rules about sex, and there is institutional abuse as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.9 Religion, Sex, Contraception, Abortion, Homosexuality, Marriage, Puritanism, and Rape by Clergy

 

Dowries and dowers (or bride prices) are used in many orthodox religious cultures and they both transform relationships into financial transactions, in which families are involved and seek to benefit financially. Western marriages are really quite similar financial agreements, but this is rarely acknowledged in the West. Prenuptial agreements remove part of the financial aspect of the arrangement, but most people who get married do not get these. Divorces result in a payment of half of all assets going to the bride. But healthy relationships must be built on love and love can only be free. If a price tag is attached, it is not love.

A dowry is the transfer of property or assets owned by the bride or her family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Contrastly, a dower is the transfer of property or assets owned by the groom or his family to the bride or her family at the time of marriage. In both cases, the brides usually get less. Even when only a dower is paid, usually the men of the family get the most and so they look for potential grooms with families who can pay them the most. Women unable to pay the dowry price are sometimes subject to violence.

The Hebrew Bible has rules about paying a bride price to the father of a minor girl. Jewish customs also forbid women from initiating divorce. Bride prices are also referenced in the Old Testament:

If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins. – Exodus 22:16–17.

Deuteronomy in the Bible also has sick rules about bride prices when rape is involved:“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” – Deuteronomy 22:28–29

Islamic law commands a groom to give the bride a gift called a Mahr:

And give to the women (with whom you marry) their Mahr with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” Qur’an, chapter 4, An-Nisa, verse 4.

Dowers are still paid in Thailand, China, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Papa New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and parts of Africa like Morocco. Dowries are still paid in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Morocco, Bosnia, and Serbia.

These religious customs have become laws in many of these countries as religions often infect governments like viruses. There are far too many laws in America and the rest of the world that were created for religious reasons that violate constitutional amendments that require the separation of religion and law. Abortion laws are another more contested example. Abortion is illegal in many parts of the world because many religious politicians believe it is a sinful. They consider aborting an embryo or a fetus to be killing a child. But there are some important, scientific distinctions to make. A fetus does not develop until the 11th week of the gestation. A fetus also doesn’t become “viable” (which is the ability to live outside the womb) until at least five months after fertilization. It also can’t feel pain until the third trimester. Considering this may affect your opinion on when life actually begins.

It is difficult to determine when human life begins, but it does not seem reasonable to decide that life begins when a sperm enters an oocyte or egg cell and becomes a zygote. A cell can’t have legal rights, because you can’t put a zygote or sperm on trial and ask it questions. (The same applies to fetuses, of course. One could argue the same is true of infants who do have legal rights, but I don’t believe this is not a fair comparison because infants are not so dependent that survival is impossible without their mothers.) Zygotes are not even close to being capable of consciousness, which ought to be one of the most basic requirements to be called human. And if sperm cells had legal rights, every male who has ever masturbated would be guilty of mass murder. Therefore, the issue of abortion should be approached pragmatically and sensitively. The courses forward should have the most demonstrable positive social impacts, and they should ultimately be choices made by those carrying the child.

When a woman becomes pregnant, it is her right and her right alone to decide the future for her potential offspring while it is still inside her because we all have the right to bodily autonomy. She has to develop the fetus, support it, feed it, and go through the pain of childbirth. It is far more compassionate and considerate of human rights to support the well-thought out decisions of pregnant women than it is to allow governments and other uninvolved parties to make decisions about the future of women’s bodies. Abortion is an issue that comes down to personal liberty, but those against it often disguise it as something else. If a girl or woman does not have the proper resources to raise a healthy child and does not want one, there is no reason she should be forced to have a child. If she is forced due to archaic laws, her child will be likely unhealthy and unhappy and the lives of the parent(s) who have undeniable rights can be destroyed in the process, trying to raise a child they never planned for. Some argue that anyone who becomes pregnant takes on a responsibility and they should have known becoming pregnant was possible. This is legitimate, but then again, some women are raped. Unexpected pregnancies do happen in all kinds of circumstances, and it is not fair to tell a woman she has to have a child in any circumstance.

If a developing embryo is only going to be born to suffer, starve and die, why would it be more compassionate to let it live that short existence? Often people who believe life begins at conception don’t care about the circumstances, (even if rape or incest were involved) but they almost always matter to the women who have been abused and impregnated. Many take a “pro-life” stance not because they care for unborn children, but because they are concerned about being punished eternally by the “magic man in the sky” if they do not. This is self-interest, not empathy.

Population explosion in poor regions is also a serious problem because poor regions are least likely to have the resources necessary to keep more potential children alive, unfortunately. More people require more resources (and industrialized civilizations demand far more resources and products than are even necessary for each person) and there are millions of children without parents, most of whom are impoverished. This is why it makes far more sense to adopt than to conceive a child and why everyone should have easy access to condoms, birth control, and reproductive healthcare, especially teenagers. Preaching abstinence almost never works because most teenagers want to have sex due to their natural, growing hormones, so it is best to let them have it while preventing unwanted pregnancies. But governments still try to do this. They define the age at which one can legally have consensual sex. (In America the age of consent is 18, but in many countries it is rightly lower.)

Criminalizing teenage sex is so obviously detrimental to youth as sex is one of the most important aspects of life. Some individuals mature at a very young, they make choices like adults, and handle them accordingly. If they want to have sex it doesn’t make them predators or their partners predators, of course. But with our backwards laws, a nineteen can be convicted of rape for having consensual sex with a seventeen-year-old. Some teens even have to register as sex offenders for sending sexual texts or nude pictures to each other, which is insane. People at just about every age can decide whether they want to have sex. The notion that this ability develops on our eighteenth birthday is not logical. As long as sex is between two consenting parties, it should not be anyone else’s business. While the FBI supposedly vows to protect society from rapists, it only considers rape to be male-on-female assault, completely ignoring all of the other ways rape can occur and demonizing atypical consensual sex.

Laws against stem cell research also exist because religious politicians are motivated by similar fears. Many religious people have claimed by doing research on stem cells, scientists are killing children. But stem cells are simply microscopic organisms, and what really kills living people is not doing research on stem cells because this research leads to the discovery of cures for terminal diseases.

Religious extremism in government is also responsible for the existence sodomy and polygamy laws. Sodomy is described as a sin in the Christian Bible, and this is why it was illegal up until 2003 in 15 US states. Some states even put people in prison for life for sodomy. Most of these states made no distinction between heterosexual or homosexual sodomy, and their definition extended to oral sex as well. Blowjobs were, in fact, illegal. Laws prohibiting oral and anal sex still exist in some other countries. For example, Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code passed in 1860 under British rule make both illegal in India.

Many traditional or orthodox religious leaders also condemn premarital sex, abortion, masturbation, and sexual contraception. This has many negative effects. Intentionally repressing one’s own sexuality is one of the most self-destructive things one can do, and not using contraception increases the risk of transmitting sexual diseases. In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI condemned contraception and told Africa, the most AIDS affected continent on Earth, they couldn’t use condoms and even said they “made the problem worse.” Many who believed him may have died as a result.

Sex is a human need like food, water, shelter, education, and health-care, but it is not treated as one. Sex became taboo largely because of religious and political leaders who told us it is shameful, unless it is performed after marriage with the opposite sex for procreation. Laws have been passed worldwide to ensure that sex is treated this way and many people have been killed and imprisoned for not abiding by these rules. Contraception, abortion, premarital sex, gay marriage, and gay sex are also forbidden by many governments and religions. (Some countries like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan still execute gay people and those caught having homosexual sex.) They often discourage having casual sex for fun and to improve well-being as well because many believe abstinence is admired by “God.” But people are generally less happy when they are not having sex or being loved, especially when they want both.

Some of us who become desperate can begin to treat sex as a strict transaction. People who sell themselves or buy sex usually have one thing in common, which is that they lack love. Attitudes hammered into our heads by these institutions that control us often make us believe our bodies ought to be priced, bought, and sold and this perpetuates isolation and unsatisfying sexual transactions, even in some “relationships.” Sex has been pushed into capitalist marketplaces where it is bought by the highest bidders. Many members of capitalist societies are often lonely and isolated, especially when they live in close proximity as in big cities. Sex work is also illegal in most parts of the world, which means like the drug trade it is pushed into the shadows of the underground where the dangers increase and regulation and oversight do not happen. So most people can’t even safely buy or sell sex legally. In an ideal world sex would never be bought or sold but as some people see the need to buy and sell sex, there must be safe venues for both. Religious puritanism is in part responsible for laws against prostitution, even though bride prices and dowries are essentially just that.

While most clergy preach puritanism and strict rules about sex, many have broken their own rules and abused their followers trust to fulfill their own sexual desires. For example, hundreds of thousands of Catholic priests and other religious “leaders” across the world have been accused of raping children. This could be a result of their strong belief in sexual repression. Because orthodox priests are not allowed to have sex, marry, or even masturbate, their pent up sexuality can become violent and perverse, and they may prey on children as a result because they know children are the least likely to talk about it. Priests get away with rape more than any other group on the planet because most of the world is religious and nothing exposes the fraud of organized religion quite like those supposedly “closest” to God committing one of the most heinous acts imaginable.

The desire to rape I believe should be treated as a mental disorder. Everyone needs a release and everyone needs love. It is nearly impossible to live the way these priests do and have normal, healthy lives, so these sexual assaults will likely continue so long as priests remain sexually repressed and the Church, religious followers, and courts ignore these problems. Repressing one’s own sexuality doesn’t result in “purity” and quite the opposite can occur. There is nothing dirty about sex. Intimacy is a very much needed part of life.

Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is not a small problem, and it certainly isn’t limited to Churches in America. It has been reported worldwide. The following is a list of some examples: The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported in 2017 that a whopping 7% of all Australian priests were accused of rape between 1950-2009.5 40.4% of the priests at the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God were accused of rape in that period. Australian Cardinal George Pell is one example. In Belgium, Roger Vangheluwe, Bishop of Bruges, admitted to committing rape, after which the Belgian Catholic Church was raided, which the Vatican protested.

In Canada 300 former pupils accused the Christian Brothers of Ireland who ran the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland of rape and violent assault in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Father Charles Henry Sylvestre of Belle River, Ontario also admitted guilt to 47 counts of rape of females, ages 9-14.6 Raju Kokkan, the vicar of the Saint Paul’s Church in Kerala in India was arrested in 2014 for multiple counts of rape of a nine-year-old.7 Frater Brendan Smyth admitted to raping 90 children in parishes in North and South Ireland from 1945 to 1989.8 The Republic of Ireland also found in investigations “tens of thousands of children from the 1940s to the 1990s” were raped and mentally abused by Priests, nuns, and Church staff in three Irish dioceses and religious schools.9

Georg Müller, a Bishop from Trondheim, Norway raped an altar boy but faced no charges because the abuse came to light too long after the rape occurred. 24 priests at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf were accused of rape by 65 former students but as the Italian government’s treaty with the Vatican guarantees immunity to Vatican officials, none have been charged. In France, Priest Henri Lebras received a ten year sentence in prison for raping a 12-year-old boy for three years.10

Clergy rape of children may be most prevalent in America. The John Jay Report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that in America alone 10,667 allegations were made of rape of a minor against 4392 priests from 1950 to 2002.11 As an example in 1985 Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe admitted guilt to 11 counts of rape of young boys.12 And in 2003 Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee rewarded rapist priests with $20,000 to persuade them to leave the priesthood.13

Some Muslim Imams like Mohammed Hanif Khan, Noor Walile, Mohammad Masroor of Detroit (who raped relatives 10, 12, and 13 years old14) and Mohammed Haji Saddique have also raped children. Some Jewish Rabbis have as well like Baruch Lebovits, Rabbi Gary Lieberman, Rabbi Solomon Hafner, Rabbi Jerry Braune, Cantor Michael Segelstein, Rabbi Jerry Brauner, Rabbi Ephraim F. Shapiro (convicted of multiple counts of rape of a seven-year-old15), Cantor Stanley Rosenfeld, Richard “Steve” Goldberg (convicted of multiple counts of rape with girls under 10) Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and Rabbi/Cantor Sidney Goldenberg. Orthodox Rabbis are not allowed to marry, and this may contribute to this deplorable behavior. Clergy in the East have also been convicted of rape. As an example, Indian “guru” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape in August 2017. He has also been accused of forced castrations and murder.

Positions of religious power can intimidate, and some powerful religious figures take advantage of their ability to intimidate, coerce, and create very one-sided “relationships.” Religious people come to them for advice often when they are most desperate, so this makes it easy for predator priests to get away with sexual abuse who make their victims believe that they are only people who can help them. Most victims of sexual assault don’t want to talk about their assault because they feel shame or pain just talking about it. This combined with the state’s insistence on looking the other way has resulted in near total immunity for rapist priests. In fact, only an estimated 3% of Catholic clergy accused have served jail time.16

Instances of sexual misconduct in Churches are also highly under-reported due to the way they are handled by the authorities of the Churches. Individuals allegiant to the Church or the pedophile priest will often stand by them, assured they are innocent because they are under the same spell. Some children are too afraid to report abuse, especially when their abusers threaten them with condemnation to hell. Churches with clergy guilty of sexual abuse have been ordered to pay significant fines for these abuses, but not enough. American dioceses alone have paid over $2.6 billion in compensation for abuse scandals since 1950.17 Church is really big business. So $2.6 billion isn’t much at all for them. However, eight Catholic dioceses in the US have had to file for bankruptcy after paying compensation for their rape victims from 2004 to 2011.

Often, these scandals are whitewashed. The Church authorities will pretend the abuser is also a “victim” in order to generate sympathy and ultimately money from Churchgoers to settle out of court. Many priests also press churchgoers to unknowingly pay for their rape compensation fines. Much like government officials, clergy often cover up crimes committed by their own ilk to avoid embarrassment or a loss of public trust in their institution. This is because they value the protection of the institution and the power it affords them over the victims of heinous crimes far more.

As mentioned despite the fines, very few priests accused of sexual abuse have served any jail time, largely because authorities worry it would reduce Church attendance, money collected, and people’s allegiance to religious authority. Children in Catholic schools are also sometimes required to sign documents that waive their rights to press charges against them or the government, and some Catholic schools have sued for privacy infringement when the media or governments try to get involved or ask questions. Most often when priests are accused of sexual misconduct, they are simply relocated to another parish where they can sexually abuse more children. Before they are relocated they usually undergo “therapy” where they are “cured” of their homosexuality, because the real problem to the Church is their homosexuality and not their desire to rape children. They also disturbingly perceive homosexuality and molestation as somehow equatable.

Priests are supposed to be closer to God than anyone else and the most moral of all people, yet so many of them have been accused of this. It is a testament to the power of religious authority, dogma, and propaganda, that this has had such little apparent effect on people’s religious convictions. (However, one 2017 study shows that coverage of the rape cases by the Boston Globe resulted in a 66% decline in enrollment in Catholic schools.18) Even the Pope, who is supposed to be the “closest to God”, knows all about this sexual misconduct and he has completely ignored the issue. He also preaches to live humbly, yet he and his clan live in a palace that is literally a state. (The meek are certainly yet to inherit the Earth.) In the Book of John, Jesus is enraged when he finds people selling their cattle in a temple, and yet the Vatican has made its own Gold coinage engraved with the image of the Pope’s face. Jesus also said, “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3, and “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.” – Luke 12:13.

Jesus also condemned the rich, and he even said rich people won’t be granted access to heaven in the book of Matthew: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. I tell you the truth; it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:21-24, New International Version. Therefore, if heaven does exist, the Pope will be in for a surprise when he dies. Why should the Pope not follow Jesus and his instructions? Why not sell the Vatican and feed the world? If he actually believed in the principles Jesus taught, (and was not just fixated on money and power) he would be certain this would save his soul.

 

The Catholic Church’s condemnation of premarital sex and obsession with puritanism has resulted in even more heinous crimes. For example, between 1925 and 1961 the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours ran a maternity home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland called the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home (also known as the St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home), which received funding from the state. The sisters still run the largest private hospital in the state. In 1975 twenty baby skeletons were found under a concrete slab on the property of the baby home. It was later discovered that many of adoptions of the babies were forced, (babies were sold to couples in the US without the knowledge of their parents) the infants were fed trials of drugs, and severely underfed, leading to disease and malnutrition that ultimately killed 796 babies.19 Children were also kept for long periods of time so that the home could solicit money from their mothers. The nuns abused the babies so severely because they saw them as less important than babies with married parents. Catherine Corless, an amateur historian, found the death records for the children but it wasn’t until 2017 that the site was excavated by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, uncovering a septic tank with the skeletons of the hundreds of children. Similar practices occurred at Sean Ross Abbey, Co. Tipperary, Bessborough, Co Cork, and Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, and Grove Hospital also run by the congregation of nuns where 4000 (up to one in two) infants died.20 Member of the Irish Parliament of the Anti-Austerity Alliance–People Before Profit party, Bríd Smith, claims that the state knew full well about what was going on in these homes and continued to fund them. She also demanded the homes be shut down.

The sick puritanism of many nuns has also led to more deaths in similar circumstances. For example, in the Cavan Orphanage Fire of 1943, thirty five young girls and one elderly woman burned to death with no effort to save them because “the nuns did not want the girls to be seen in their night clothes” according to broadcaster Mícheál Holmes. So the nuns preferred the girls burn to death than be seen in their nightgowns by the male volunteers.21 According to Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s national public-service media organization, Cavan man, Matt McKiernan who lost his two sisters in the fire explained they “had been placed in the Industrial school only 6 months earlier after the death of their mother because the local Roman Catholic priest felt it was not appropriate that young girls be looked after by a protestant neighbour or even their own father.”

Religion will always be as pervasive as it is so long as children are indoctrinated by their parents. Religion is passed down from generation to generation, and this is why it is accepted. But educated adults who haven’t been indoctrinated with religion are mostly irreligious, and they also better educated on average.

I say all of this not to upset anyone. Of course, some realities are upsetting and they need to be confronted in order to be mended. I completely support and acknowledge the freedom to believe in whatever we want to believe, but this doesn’t mean we should exercise this freedom by believing in concepts we may recognize are irrational or immoral. It makes sense to have rational, calm discussions about these issues and not adhere to dogma or resort to violence or verbal attacks simply when our deeply held beliefs are being challenged.

Organized religions can be poisonous to society and I believe we would be much better off if secularism was more common than religiosity. While some advances in science (like weapons technology) have had very negative impacts on society, science has made us collectively less judgmental. This is because many people have decided to compromise their sometimes separatist, religious beliefs with science, which has made them understand the scientific root of our differences that we do not control. The positive impacts of the study of science and the scientific method have far outweighed their negative impacts. And most of the negative scientific developments only came about due to the financial pressure industries and governments put on the scientific community to monetize every new invention and discovery. Entitlement and feelings of superiority over others stem mostly from unscientific belief systems. Science also doesn’t impose any ideologies on anyone. We are left to interpret the meaning and implications of scientific discoveries, so these theories don’t have the same kind of controlling effect on identity that religions do.

I believe we could gain much greater control over who we are if we all abandoned our dogma and unscientific beliefs while keeping our morals and values intact and even making them more rational and inclusive. The world around us would improve vastly as a result. People associate so many positive things with faith and religion, so this can seem counter-intuitive to highly religious individuals. I would not tell anyone they should not believe in a God, because God can have so many different definitions depending on who is asked. For some people God means all of humanity, and many associate their religion and God with humanistic causes and do humanitarian work because of it. Some people only do this work to appease God. Perhaps no one is in a position to say to say whether or not this offsets the bad that can come with this, (i.e. reliance on God, disappointment, dogma, magical thinking and so on). It surely depends. It is selfish to do humanitarian work simply because you expect a reward. But any humanitarian work, regardless of the motive, is generally better than none at all.

We know so much more about the world because of the countless advancements in science we have made since religious texts were written. We have the ability to shape our own futures and we ought to. Most people would agree the inequities and suffering on the Earth right now are palpable and we need change. But most of us are religious and have been for some time. So why would God allow so much suffering if God is both benevolent and omnipotent as most religious texts claim? This is sometimes referred to as the “problem of evil,” and it is a very significant topic that will be discussed in the next section.

 

1 Consuming large volumes of salt water can cause death because the salt has to be filtered out through the kidneys, resulting in urination of more water than consumed.

2 English Standard Version.

3Ted Haggard is a prominent example. He preached about the “evils” of homosexuality in front of stadiums full of Christians who were just as bigoted as he was. But due to allegations from a male masseuse in 2006, it was discovered when Ted wasn’t making these speeches, he was having sex with male prostitutes and smoking crystal meth. Ted is still considered a pillar of the gay-hating portion of the Christian community.

12 Jenkins, Philip: Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis, 2001.

16<Catholicbishops.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/cleric2.pdf>

17 Zoll, Rachel. Letters: Catholic bishops warned in ‘50s of abusive priests. Associated Press in USA Today. 03/31/2009. Print.

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