I was reading an online post the other day wherein someone said something derogatory about Jesus. Naturally, there was a flurry of back and forth commentary. One of the posters admonished the posters and readers that people should, “Respect all religions, even if it’s with your silence. If you disagree with it, you don’t need to voice your opinion.” I thought about that comment for a few moments, and decided that I needed to respond—and to write about it briefly in my blog. And I won’t even discuss the fact that every American has the constitutionally protected right to express their opinions on any subject they choose—even if some others find it “offensive.” No, I won’t even focus on that, because the right to speak freely is a given, and even jesus and muhammad are fair game. (The use of lower case in their names is very much intentional.)
To those who would say that religions should be given automatic respect simply for existing (especially their own religion, of course), I say this: Religions (as institutions) do not deserve respect. Religions (and those who choose to affiliate and associate themselves with religions and who are acting as religious leaders, defenders, apologists, or advocates) must constantly prove themselves worthy of respect—which they (i.e., the institutions themselves) have never done. In the name of religion, billions of people all over the world are (currently!) oppressed, divided, swindled, manipulated, deceived, brainwashed, used as spreaders of hate, deprived of human rights, imprisoned, or murdered every single day—and this has been going on for millennia! How can anyone with a conscience be “silent” about this, or give “respect” to religions or to religious figures? Thankfully, there are growing numbers of people who refuse to be silent and let this backward shit continue unchallenged—in any form or iteration. I am glad to live in a society that protects the speech of individuals—the speech of the outnumbered. And I am glad that so many good people are able to overcome the well-intentioned religious indoctrination (the brainwashing) they received as children and are willing to speak out against the establishment-sanctioned, and long-ago metastasized cancer of religion. There need to be more, because religion is not innocuous to human society—and it certainly isn’t beneficial.
Be “respectfully silent?” Uh… no. I submit, that to be silent is not “respectful”—it is to approve. To be silent is not “respectful”—it to be complicit. I would much rather speak out and have those responsible for such atrocities and injustices (and those who participate in them through their “respectful silence”) think me disrespectful, than to allow the disease of religion to spread any further and to ruin or take one more life. Religions do not ever “deserve” respect. What they deserve is careful scrutiny. They deserve to be questioned. They deserve to be controlled and limited, because they are predatory by nature. Scrutiny, questions, reasoned thought, science, truth, and the free exchange of ideas are the bane of powerful, controlling institutions like religion FOR A REASON—because religions are inherently secretive, corrupt, divisive, extremely bigoted, bogus, oppressive, über-controlling, intimidating, manipulating, intolerant, progress-inhibiting, thought-suppressing, for-profit, power-grabbing, influence-peddling, criminal enterprises that cause far more harm to human society than they provide good.
Religion predates the formation of governments, I believe, so it was likely the religions of the world that originally taught/required people to group themselves together and hate and discriminate against the other religious and non-religious “groups” because they were different and served other “gods” (and they still do this shit—on the written instructions of their “gods” and their “prophets”). It was religion, therefore, that likely planted the original seeds for things like bigotry, and racism, and sexism, and oppression, and intolerance, and societal division in the hearts of mankind. I don’t believe these things exist naturally in the hearts of most people. It seems rather obvious to me that humanity learned these behaviors from participation in religion, and through blind obedience to its sick, twisted, divisive precepts, which people have long ago begun to apply more broadly toward one another. These concepts and behaviors were reinforced and greatly solidified in our societies when governments began to form and divide and control us more completely and effectively; but it was religion, I believe, that started it all and which still serves as the primary “moral” justification for its continued existence in society.
Besides, if religions were legitimate—if the “god’s” they serve were actually real, who among us mere mortals could find fault in them or their “holy” religious doctrine? Who could judge or criticize an institution based on, and governed by, a truly infallible, perfect, all-powerful, omniscient “god of the universe?” It’s just ridiculous and silly and the people of the world are divided and hating one another for no damned reason.
“I am here to challenge your comfortable and familiar perceptions and paradigms—to help awaken you—to make you think.” — AAJG