I grew up in a Catholic family, in a Catholic society, on a Catholic island. I had no choice. This is how religion works and is sustained. You are born to your parents, then they think about what their beliefs are, and before you know it you are dipped in blessed water and become a new member of the club. I didn’t have any say in it, as I was a baby. I don’t hold any grudges against my parents, they were following tradition. When I reached the age of 13 or 14 I rallied against the trips to the church each week, and after open debate, I left it all behind.
Why did I do this? Well, I never did like when you asked a teacher something and didn’t get an answer. My religion class teachers, mainly priests or zealots, were put off by my questions about dinosaurs, other religions, other gods; non acceptance of the dogma being preached. I was sent out and quietly sat with the few Muslims, Buddhists and other wrong-religion believers in the study hall.
One priest told me that people who believed other religions would be “forgiven for their sin”. Another made me do laps of the playground to “learn to respect the collar” (admittedly after I drew a picture of him urinating in a fellow pupils’ mouth and got caught with it). Yet another used to fondle and grope the boys’ buttocks as he waltzed through the corridors. I learnt to stand against the wall to avoid his approaches. Another priest would froth at the mouth, scream and shout in music class, when we didn’t appreciate his blaring classical music. We were frightened youth. Beaten down and conditioned into being good god fearing folk (if we weren’t careful).
I see it happens all over. Muslim boys end up in Islamic schools, and taught the pleasures and pains of a faith bent on degrading women, homosexuals and debate. Jews are empowered to superhuman strength, their arrogance and chosen status reflected in the Israeli states continual harassment and destruction of anything bordering on humanity. The Roman Catholic Church and all of its’ wacky spinoff cousins regret the child abuse and shame yet cover their hounds’ backs at every chance they get.
We live in a multi faith world. With most believers praying hard for salvation, and a place at the right hand of the lord, the creator, the Supreme Being. I wouldn’t have a problem with all of this, if we weren’t so influenced by all of these holy writings to this day. We watch each day in the “religion region”, the Middle East, as men of different ideologies battle it out. Battle to see who has god on their side the most.
The human fear of death is understandable; we don’t know what’s coming. But we have allowed that fear to take over. And instead of making a paradise right here and now on this bountiful planet, we say our words of praise and wait for the afterlife. So whilst the zealots and religious battle it out with weapons or words, we lose valuable time. Barmy talk of creationism and salvation is thrown at our kids, when what we really need are scientists, reality checks and open debate to save us.
The cyclical religious grandstanding is our man-made problem. As an atheist, aka non-believer and/or devil child, I am in a minority in the world. Rational friends and acquaintances argue for a belief I have never shared. They usually wind up angered and frustrated, as their attempts to convert or brainwash are met with puzzlement, disillusion and anger. I struggle with the ignorant acceptance, the disharmony of the teachings, the contradictions contained within these mythologies, the disowning of facts and science, and of course, the lack of spirituality and compassion, the two-faced nature of it all.
I read of the lack of legislation on abortion in Ireland, due to religious sensitivities. A woman dies, and the world rises up. It questions how a mother can be left to die, when she begs for an abortion. A man is left without his wife, his love, his life. People against abortion, usually god-nuts, call themselves “pro-life”, harass and trample over women’s rights. They follow the doctrine spat by angry fruitcakes each Sunday. The church leaders have made sure that their flock know what tune to whistle when a referendum comes around. And still, we wait for compassion and empathy.
Religions claim to teach love, tolerance and acceptance. All whilst condemning same sex couple marriage, and even life-saving condoms. Priests with no partners somehow teach relationships and harmony. Bearing as much knowledge on the subject, as a dentist has teaching a farmer how to grow potatoes. Who knows how many children are being abused and threatened right now with eternal punishment if they speak up. I’d imagine many, right now, as you’re reading this.
Religion has led people into slavery, colonization, genocide and literally made people sheep. I quite like sheep, so excuse me, my baa-baa friends. I used you to make a point. The media are swayed by the power hungry zealots and god-fearing mafia. They report on the cyclical murderous behaviour of the Israelis as justifiable retribution. It seems that depending on what religion you are part of, your actions are judged differently.
We all bleed red, we all look for love, we all like to party. We all have brains, the ability to comprehend and question and argue questions about life and what’s going on. Do we really have to keep going to books written thousands of years ago for inspiration? Can we not be more creative? Why do we allow men in dresses and big hats with fairy stories to dictate world policy?
We have evolved from billions of years of space dust, bangs, fusions, and mutations. Arriving to the point where now we have: developed cures to disease; actually achieved space travel; devised this thing called the internet, which of course, brains my damage; nanotechnology; quantum physics, and even spiritual healing… I could keep on listing our developments and successes. Yet we walk onwards, with this nonsensical weight hanging around our collective neck. We keep carrying the past on our collective shoulders, which negates all our progress.
As you can probably tell, I feel religion and all of its weapons like fear, shame, and prejudice need to be eradicated. I’m happy that a few weeks ago, we didn’t get Romney. Has much changed though? Obama still leads a country with “In God we Trust” printed on its money, the Jews are still intolerable and tolerated, Muslims keep preaching peace and separation, Buddhists teach austerity, while collecting donations from hungry congregations. And the Irish still trudge to the misery of mass.
There’s no end to this argument; or this article for that matter. I could go on and on, and still trip over my arguments and confusion. Probably until I’m long gone and dead. I prefer to keep going, trying to make my own heaven, right here and now. I mean, why wait?
I leave you with George Carlin. Enjoy.