Religion, believed, remains harmful
by: John Tyrrell
As I close out my regular contributions to this site, I thought I'd use my final few Meditations to return to some recurrent themes.
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We are familiar with the way zealots of pretty well any religion can find justification in their holy books for war, for mass murder, for aiding the coming of the apocalypse. but it's also the smaller stuff that we should be concerned about - the application of religious beliefs in everyday family life that bring harm, particularly to children.
Consider those that deny their children medical care based on passages from the Bible - scarcely a week passes when there is not a news report of another child dying from lack of even rudimentary medical care because the parents believed in the power of prayer.
Consider that this week a woman is challenging Indiana's child abuse laws. She claims "spare the rod, spoil the child" and "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." mandate her duty to beat her 7 year old with a plastic coat hanger.
Also this week in Oklahoma, another woman has been charged with murder for killing her 33 year old daughter. According to the accused, the victim was possessed. In an attempt to exorcise the demon, the killer forced a large crucifix down her daughter's throat, amongst other indignities.
It's surprising we don't see more of this given many religions support the concept of demonic possession. It's a core Christian belief - deny demonic possession and you deny some of Christ's miracles. Catholic, Orthodox, and most protestant denominations all offer exorcisms. The Open Bible helpfully provides 100 Bible verses on casting out demons.
We are fortunate that the majority of believers don't, in practice, actually act as if they believe some of the things their religion teaches. Believers by and large are cafeteria believers - picking and choosing which teachings are acceptable to them and rejecting the unacceptable. However, far too many are still ready to believe in the whole package, blindly, unthinkingly.
Believers who actually believe what their religion teaches are dangerous. They always have been. And they always will be.
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