In Defense of Religion
Bigots, Radicals and Blasphemers—Lend Us Your Ear
by The Late Mitchell Warren
Tomorrow Belongs to Me
There is a scene in Bob Fosse’s 1971 musical Cabaret in which Nazi Patriotism is celebrated and witnessed “live” from the eyes of two “undecided” characters, more intent on satisfying their complicated sexual urges than worrying about country politics.
The scene must have been incomprehensible to Americans in 1971 as anything but a surreal nightmare of economic desperation gone wrong, even as Nazi logic was seen as something alien and inhuman. U.S. American values were always so well-defined, so universally accepted among the wealthy class and the fairly wealthy class. God supported their perfect society. Free enterprise created their vast world-renowned empire. Anyone who challenged the American Sleeping Giant was blown to smithereens and the world quaked with fear and respect.
Then September 11th, 2001 happened—at the hands of mastermind, whomever you believe—provoking the Sleeping Giant to go on an unorganized global rampage, searching for an ambiguous network of “evil”, and sabotaging its own economy. Within seven years, the U.S. American economy crashed, taking down multiple countries with it.
At some point before hitting rock bottom, American values began to be dissected, as surely Germany’s own values were scrutinized during economic catastrophes that culminated in World War I and World War II. What was the United States of America…really? What did it really stand for and why did it fall?
And so factions and divisions evolved from that Sleeping Giant, now dizzy and reeling from its own flailing arm fury. As recession worsened beyond 2008 and a certain political Messiah’s promises were unfulfilled, these American remnants began to expand their vision, even as they warded off pangs of starvation.
They did what any dying beast does—they reverted back to fundamentalism. Rather than accept, adapt and improve the world that resulted from mistaken patriotism, they sought out extreme answers. And now here we are in 2012, a divided nation and undergoing a continuing process of distillation—purifying the message and getting rid of all the unsightly elements, the unsavory flavors that compromise the proper pungency.
What is the unsightly element? To economists, the issue is an age old tug of war between capitalistic comfort and socialistic responsibilities. However, a black cloud looms over a white sky, suggesting that thunder and lightning are the central causes of all this population fracturing.
Ban All Religion
The idea of Organized Religion is the most offensive notion of all. Its primary antagonists—evangelical atheists, extreme liberals, and Obama socialists—believe that religion is the primary driving force behind conservatism, and promotes nothing but bigotry, bible-based intolerance, and an adherence to tradition over modern reasoning, and worst of all—irrational fear of God, a subject which, granted, is a recurring theme in Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
The case is a difficult one to refute. One cannot discount the blood guilt that religious leaders and religious organizations called upon themselves in the name of their God, from the notorious days of the Catholic Inquisitions, to Protestant-sponsored death trials, to religious-political wars fought in the name of Christ and Allah, to even the thoughtless words of enraged homophobes and racists who threaten lynching to the president, we do see strong evidence in favor of destroying the “unclean thing”, the whore of Babylon (as more than a few claim), Organized Religion.
Such a radical solution would ensure the end of spiritual tradition, the end of judgment and the cutting off of all religious talk in matters of State, Society and Relationships. Families would be reunited after years of shunning and vitriolic disagreement. Violence based on antiquated books of morals would desist. Rather than a life of suppression and restraint, human beings would live their lives fully and imagine a world of new possibilities and new monumental achievements, never again to wonder What If. The death of the False Prophet, the Seven Headed Beast, at the hands of godless humanity would also be more than a little ironic, given how many times Organized Religion has cruelly tried innocent and oppressed human beings.
Even apologetics and so-called “left leaning” believers have succumbed to peer pressure—at least to an extent. They reconcile that State Law cannot be compromised by Theocratic Wishes. That the rights of individuals transcend the laws of morality. That religion is a hobby, a personal choice, and one that should be beyond the law’s reach—a dirty little addiction best kept behind closed doors, away from the view of children, and never dared brought up in intellectual conversation.
Freedom of Religion Should Not be a Choice
When John Lennon first imagined “Imagine” in 1971, his dreamer’s vision of a perfect world living in peace came with startling implications, the likes of which we haven’t fully understood until 2012, in a “state” of disarray. In order to achieve an existence without religion, without property and without patriotism would require a sudden or at least a gradual extermination of a large number of people who believe ardently, and would rather die than see such a peaceful world realized.
A thinking, rational person not caught up in the fervor of religious hatred or desperate fundamentalism, might very well use discernment and bear witness to a monumental shifting in the public consciousness. The mood of today is not merely a return to socialism, or a proper separation of church and state. Instead, what we are witnessing in modern times with “hard left” liberalism and angry atheism, is the gradual devolution of God, a Nietzschean prophecy fulfilled, and a new social standard being pounded into the collective consciousness by massive peer pressure campaigns and subtle or sometimes overt re-education.
Children are indoctrinated with evolution from an early age, a belief system based partly on factual evidence and partly on fragmentary suppositions—which contradicts everything all major religions teach about Creationism. Teens are embracing nihilistic role models, playing god-mocking video games, and sharing disrespectful memes on social network sites created with the intent to destroy faith and mar the last remaining morsel of belief from ailing, closeted believers who are clinging to their values with a dying breath.
The Inferior Morality of Theists
Perhaps the most disturbing element of anti-religious sentiment is how vehement parents and adult authority figures present themselves in this social cold war against religion. We not only see it coming from a suddenly socialist government, echoing Lennon’s own song, (and “Lenin read a book on Marx”, to quote Don Mclean), and passing controversial decisions, such as the Obama Administration’s attempt to force Catholic Schools to cover birth control services, or to demand Christian-owned stores like Hobby Lobby to sell morning after pills, or the recent news of Germany banning circumcision, but also from the educational elite, including Sean Carroll, who are now suggesting that a lack of evidence for God’s existence is evidence of his non-existence, and of course, Stephen Hawking, who remarked in his latest book that the universe can and will create itself from nothing, totally independent of an intelligent designer.
The scientific community’s condemnation is at least restrained and mitigated, especially when compared with the vitriol of the uneducated but doubly outspoken anti-religious laymen. Left-leaning comedy magazine The Onion ran a feature entitled “No One Murdered Because of This Image”, which featured an X-rated image of a cartoon orgy showing (almost) every religion’s major prophet; a gag that was intended to label Muslims as a violent race of people, the only major violent religion on the face of the earth.
Of course, such behavior is prevalent at social media pages like Sexy Atheists and Religion Poisons Everything, where hate speech against religion is encouraged, as well as liberal agenda magazines like The Huffington Post, where the death of Chick-Fil-A’s vice president was applauded and celebrated by viewers who declared one less “bigot” in the world—ironic, considering that the term “bigot” simply means “zealot or fanatic, a person obstinately devoted to his/her own opinions.”
Even American icons, formerly lauded in the 1980s—a decade of one nation under god—Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood have suffered backlashes from the anti-religious population, since they have dared to either express faith publicly or voice support for Republican right-winger Mitt Romney, a Mormon, running against a president whose own Democratic national convention booed the very mention of a “God.”
Over the past year, we have seen the former Sleeping Giant devolve into a dying beast, having experienced an onslaught of snipes and bites from a growing communist-friendly population. The beast rages in its dying breath, its right arm clinging to fundamentalists like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, while the opposition moves in for the kill.
And a society supposedly built on concepts of tolerance, on Lennon-esque visions of a peaceful world, indulges in generalizations, stereotypes and racially charged remarks, insulting Christians, Muslims and Jews for their stupidity, and attacking the very foundations of their faith—ludicrous fairy tale books like the Tanakh, the Bible and the Quran.
Disown Your Religion and You Can Live
Naturally, the antagonists do not call intolerance by its ugly name—anti-Semitism or stereotyping—but instead hide behind the all-encompassing “freedom of speech”, a given right that is slowly but surely overtaking the “freedom of religion” precedent. “The left” fights as ferociously as “the right”, with both sides reaching a war-like culmination of intolerance for each other’s neighbor, surely a nightmarish scenario that Lennon never dreamed, but that Hitler and company deemed a necessary evil to cleanse the country and eventually the world of corrosive social elements.
“Just because people have the right to believe what they want, and express themselves however they want does NOT mean that their freedom of expression and freedom of religion gives them the RIGHT to bully people who don’t agree with them, illegally influence politics and educational systems, and encroach on MY freedom to put kids through an educational system that leaves MYTH out of SCIENCE. So I say, if you ENCROACH on the rights of others by over-extending your OWN rights, then you RELINQUISH your RIGHT to religious expression, ESPECIALLY when its cancer corrupts everything it touches. It’s not like Christians keep to themselves… because they CERTAINLY DON’T. They meddle in EVERYTHING. The WORKPLACE, the SCHOOLS, the COURTHOUSE, I mean, walk into a courtroom and they try to make you swear on a fucking BIBLE… Where the fuck is this “right to freedom of religion and expression”? It’s NOT. It’s called “OVERSTEPPING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS TO FORCE OUR WAY OF LIFE ON EVERYBODY WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT.” I’ll have no part of it, and I feel their ACTIONS have REVOKED their rights that they would otherwise have, had they not ABUSED THEIR RIGHTS. If you kill someone, and you’re caught, to you still have the “right” to live as a free man? NO. You REVOKED THAT RIGHT when you killed someone. Christians have gotten CAUGHT with their pants down in a HUNDRED different ways… and they should no longer have the RIGHT to bully, browbeat, enforce, and twist the arms of the good citizens of the world with their second-class beliefs and inferior morality.”
Quotes such as the preceding, spoken by an atheist member on a popular Facebook page, well illustrate the fever of bigotry currently existing on both sides, and conjure up images of a new Fascist Morality, one that openly admits to anti-Semitic and anti-Christian intolerances, not to mention one that prides itself on a superior, “pure” morality, free of tainted spiritual practices.
The vengeful spirit of restless Anti-Religious Americans, tired of Westboro Baptists’ salt-in-wounds, terrorist therapy, as well as the united suppression of homosexual marriage rights, is now fighting fire with fire. They want to kill the very beast that has killed; to burn the Hellfire-breathing dragon; to win the war they have been invited to join.
It is clearly an upcoming war without winners, and a perverted view of a hippie paradise, the likes of which we are not ready for, provided we as a collective still have an iota of human respect. What is most alarming about this war against religion is the blatant racism that exists behind religious intolerance.
Anti-religious groups are quick to respond to such allegations, citing that we are all one human being—a population of sharers, of lovers and friends, without color or national boundaries. Unfortunately, such an idealistic—or perhaps uniformity promoting view—is fallacious. We as a human species cannot be forced to assimilate into a collective consciousness, stripped of individuality, stripped of all meditation and spiritual capacities.
To demand the elimination of centuries of ingrained culture, of genetically based dependency on rituals, beliefs and sources of internal solace, in favor of a man made surrogate faith (that of Science) is tantamount to keeping a genocidal wish list. It’s the worst form of fascism, the not-so-ideal communist nightmare invented by the United States years ago, that destroys all aspects of personal choice and promotes allegiance only to the State, the community who knows what’s best, in exchange for shared prosperity, affordable toys, and wild sexual escapades well outside the range of the Puritan Standard.
“I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when he is silent.”
(A statement by a Jew, once scratched on a concentration camp wall)
In contrast to this heartfelt statement, most likely a dying one, we remember the words of Adolf Hitler, a man who at once understood the futility of religion and also its potential for mass mind control.
“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
Compassion for one’s neighbor, a central belief of every religion on the face of the earth, is sorely lacking in this new school of religious intolerance, which seeks to destroy the cancer of Christianity, of Islam and of Judaism. Compassion and empathy, or respect for other cultures and customs (something that by all logic, cannot be separated from the individual), oftentimes runs contrary to perceived progress, contrary to popular opinion, and certainly contrary to mob justice.
Above all else, mankind cannot lose his compassion, his understanding and tolerance for other “species” of people, each with his own unique belief system, a personal champion, a reason for living that no one should be allowed to take away.
Whether we believe in a God or not, it is a moral necessity to defend the right to public congregation and private worship, to allow the existence of faith, and to let these people continue their activities without fear of terrorism, judgment or persecution. Whatever hypocrisy we see from either side, we must expose and repair. Whatever misplaced aggression we see from well-intentioned but misguided zealots, we must stop and heal.
But to destroy a person’s faith is to rob him or her of something priceless, precious and life-sustaining. Think before joining the mob song.
Tomorrow belongs to an “awful lot” of people.
The Late Mitchell Warren is the author of The End of the Magical Kingdom, a tragic parody of religion and politics.