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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fundamentalist religions are deadly to civilization

I am not singling anyone out here. History has seen the following happen in every modern religion.

When a fundamentalist religion takes control of a country, here's what inevitably follows:

Science and medicine first grind to a standstill as new developments and discoveries are deemed anti-religion, then begin to regress as old ones are re-evaluated in increasingly strict religious lines. First birth control, then vaccinations, then most surgeries are deemed ungodly.

Education in general becomes devalued, then softened as religion restricts and censors science and literature. Education of women is first deemed a luxury, then unnecessary, then anti-religion. All fundamentalist religions marginalize women. At best, they are kept in their "place" which is the home making babies. At worst, they aren't even considered human, just a dirty necessity to propagate the race.

Other cultures and religions in the country are first discouraged, then demonized, and then God-mandated to be wiped out.

Wars increase in frequency as the new state-mandated religion looks beyond its borders to wipe out or convert the rest of the world.

We've seen this happen in the Middle East, as the Arabic countries went from world leaders in science and medicine to third-world countries with huge illiteracy rates and virtually no science or medicine. We saw it when the Catholic church set out to convert the world by sword, and during the Inquisition when so many women and men were put to death for being "witches" that many villages were left with no women alive. We are seeing the beginning of this in America as the increasingly strident evangelical Christians are attacking science education by insisting creationism (or its new euphemism "intelligent design") be taught next to evolution despite the fact no one has devised (or can devise) a scientific test for the hypothesis (not theory, because it hasn't been tested and there are no data or hard evidence to study) of an intelligent being who created the universe. We are seeing it happen in medicine as fundamentalists seek to outlaw not only abortion but birth control, as if microscopic cells have souls.

Do we want America to regress to the point where half our children die before the age of ten? If the rollback in medicine continues, that's what will happen, as increasing numbers of parents are refusing to have their children immunized against the once-common killers such as diptheria, whooping cough, and polio. An epidemic is just around the corner.

Why fundamentalist religions appeal to some people:

People who are weak of mind want to be told what to do. They can't cope with gray areas and conflicts of ethics. They want a rule book and must have everything laid out for them in black and white. Fundamentalist religions do that. They relieve their followers from having to think for themselves. Many fundamentalist Christians haven't even read the Bible they think is infallible. They just parrot phrases taken out of context without understanding them, and only obey the parts they want to. The only people who are even close to obeying the whole thing are the Amish.

Poor people are easily converted to religions that promise "pie in the sky by and by" to anyone who just toes the line. As the fundamentalist religions devalue education, they're increasingly appealing to people who can't afford it anyway. Uneducated people are less able to recognize the inconsistencies in their religion and are more likely to have larger families. Not surprisingly, fundamentalist religions value large families and regard birth control as sinful and unnatural.

As the lack of science, medicine, and education send the culture back to a primitive status and the economy fails, the fundamentalists look to a reason for their misery. It cannot be their religion, which is perfect and infallible. It cannot be their lack of faith, which is extreme. So they look outside the true cause for a scapegoat and blame anyone not practicing their religion, anyone of their faith who isn't as rigid as they are, believing if they can only rid the world of all unbelievers, their god will make everything perfect.

And here comes terrorism. It's already started in this country, from 'Christian' fundamentalists who beat up gay people who have hurt no one, who kill doctors and bomb abortion clinics, who set up compounds for The Faithful loaded with ammunition, and one who bombed a building in Oklahoma City. There are fringe groups gaining power who want to establish the law of Leviticus, where a man can kill his own children for talking back, and it isn't regarded as murder, and people are stoned to death for adultery or being gay. Am I the only one who thinks this sounds exactly like fundamentalist Islam?

"Thou shalt not kill." Period. It doesn't have clauses for disobedient children, gay people, adulterers, or anyone you happen to disagree with. If you call yourself a fundamentalist, you should at least obey the Ten Commandments, or you're one hell of a hypocrite.

And for those of you who are thinking, well, I wouldn't go THAT far, but a Christian country could only be a good thing, right?

Well, which denomination? And what makes you think that after all the non-Christians are 'removed' from America, that the denominations wouldn't begin fighting for supremacy just like the Sunni and Shiite Muslims? Only instead of two factions, we have hundreds. Now wouldn't THAT be a civil war for the history books, if anyone survived to write them.

Recommended reading : speculative fiction books Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin, and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Nonfiction: American Fascists by Chris Hedges, and It Can Happen Here by Joe Conason.

Quote of the day:
The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world’s ills or one solution to humanity’s needs has done untold harm throughout history.
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

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