Monday, September 5, 2011

The terrible power of faith: Javon Thompson

I have often said that it isn’t religion, per se, that I object to. It’s the faithful adherence to dogmatic certainties. This can take the form of devotion to state, party, economic principles, and causes both good and bad. Anytime people choose their ideology over evidence and reason it is a recipe for disaster.

I still maintain that this is true. But I have a particular bone to pick with religion here and now.

I just read the story: Slain boy's mom discusses cult life

I was livid, as I’m sure you are – whether you are religious or not. I would have been when I was a religious person too. It got me to thinking though. What other examples are there of this type of behavior, outside religious devotees? For instance I agree that faithful devotion to an idea like communism (or capitalism) can be and has been as disastrous as any religious belief but where is the communist equivalent of Madeline Kara Neumann? Where is the party affiliation equivalent of Preston Bowers or Lydia Schatz? Where is the North Korean example of that is comparable to the dozens or more children that are beaten and killed , or suffer preventable deaths due to the religious beliefs of their otherwise “sane and loving parents" every year?

I would call the events at Wako with the Branch Dividians primarily religious in nature and but I would concede a similarity to the political motivated stand off at Ruby Ridge. The Jamestown Massacre, however where parents fed the Kool-Aid to their children has no political equivalent that I’m aware of.

There are examples of mass murder on both religious and non-religious sides. There are disturbed people that have done horrific things for religious and non-religious reasons. I fail, however, to conceive of more than a couple instances where otherwise loving, sane parents neglect to care for their suffering children. There are some rare examples, equally horrific like Gloria Thomas Sam , Eliza Jane Scovill where the suffering and deaths we caused not by religious faith, but faith in pseudo science like homeopathy, etc. Aside from these I don’t know of any other time when parents will defy the conventional wisdom/medicine that offers to treat a terrible sickness tormenting their child without a religious reason. In some cases like with Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions, they KNOW it will save their child’s life but deny it anyway , not because they think that they have faith that God will heal their child, necessarily, but because they think that it would be better to die than to disobey God. This is almost exclusive to religion as far as I can see. It may not be YOUR religion but it IS almost exclusively religion that is to blame. This is the dreadful power of belief in heaven and hell. This is the single threat and promise that would justify this behavior to a rational human being. This why I have to speak out against it. Because all the religions in the world have this power and all the major religions have, at one time or another, exercised this power to the suffering and death of men women and children inside and outside their congregations. Name me one religious tradition that has more than a million members and I’m pretty sure I can find an example. My head is swimming with them right now.

If I am wrong and you can think of examples of this type of abuse done for secular reasons by “sane” people, besides the ones I have already listed please share them. I have already considered and discounted vaccine refusal - as dangerous and deplorable as it is, for reasons that, if not already apparent, can be addressed if anyone wishes me to.

Thank you.

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