objects in reflective surfaces are usually you

One of my favorite blogs, Infidel753, has written a scathing rebuttal to the progressive Christian claim that Jesus overruled the Old Testament evils and replaced them with a kindler, gentler form of spiritual law, citing Matthew 5:17-19 and explaining:  (Emphasis added is mine)

All the laws of the Old Testament remain in full force and will continue to be so for as long as the Earth itself exists. If you are a liberal Christian and you claim that Christian morality does not require enforcing Leviticus 20:13 and executing every man who has ever committed a homosexual act, Jesus Christ himself says that you are wrong and that Fred Phelps (“whosoever shall do, and teach them”) is right.

Anyone who still thinks that Jesus changed everything should have a look at this 94 page PDF documenting instances of God’s hate (but use eye protection, for it is an abomination against the eyeballs). Sure, things got a little less genocidey after Jesus showed up, but it was still far from lovey-dovey.

So, let’s review: the Bible is the holy book of the Christian faith, and the only widely accepted source of their God’s teachings. The Bible is full of cruelty, violence, injustice, intolerance, and inconsistencies; it is, as Infidel753 describes it, a book of evil, and (if it were true) describes the activities of a deeply evil being, consumed by jealousy and prone to commit acts of unspeakable horror on a whim. Trying to defend this entity’s actions by citing examples where his capriciousness was inclined toward the generous side is like trying to defend a serial killer because he had an excellent driving record and supported his local PBS station.

So if you’re following a religion that is based on this book, but you are a good person, you are good in spite of it, not because of it. But, if you are not following the book, what is your religion, exactly? The god you know in your heart, based on the optimistic and selective interpretation of this book by good-hearted spiritual leaders? Well, then you’ve made up your own religion, and should probably think up another name for it, because when you identify as a member of a religion based on the teachings in the Bible, you align yourselves with Fred Phelps (remember, he’s right — Jesus said so.)

… i digress

About twenty years ago, I spent almost three years in NA, which is a cult, but that’s another rant entirely. The first thing you are required to do in that program is admit that you’re completely helpless and incurably ill, after which you must come to believe that only a Power greater than yourself can help you. If you are unable to choose any recognized deity, they will tell you to pick anything – the doorknob, the toaster, anything. And what is the point of that, one wonders? I would try to make a clever observation about how one’s reflection in the usually shiny surfaces of both those things is still you, it’s just distorted to the point of being nearly unrecognizable, but I feel like that would be pushing it. My point is, it doesn’t matter what you call what you believe in, it’s still just you looking back at you. If you are a genocidal asshole, you’ll see Fred Phelps’ version of a hateful and sadistic psychopath. If you’re a good and decent person, you’ll see a kindly long-haired hippie roaming the countryside feeding the hungry and healing the leopards. What you see in that entity you believe created you in his image is just you.

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fundamental illness

Look carefully at the image below, taken in Maine on election night in 2009. The people on the right are rejoicing upon learning that they have succeeded in passing a law that denies marriage rights to gay couples. The people on the right consider themselves to be godly, moral, and superior to the people on the left. The people on the right have absolutely no concept of the harm they have inflicted, or they pain they have caused. It does not occur to them that there is anything wrong with taking civil rights away from others. I am not a psychologist, but I can tell you without any hesitation that the people on the right are, in clinical terms, fucked up in the head.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the people on the right.

Yesterday I read three separate posts which touched on the psychological (and in some cases psychiatric) issues of religion:

  • Facebook Fundies: Gettin’ Crunk with the Lord, about groups of believers who like to work themselves up into a religious hysteria
  • Religion and Psychology, which explores the underlying cognitive biases that contribute to religiosity such as confirmation bias which plays a strong role in religious belief.
  • Solar Powered Bibles for Haiti: Why Some Christians Feel Compelled to Exploit Disaster**, in which a psychologist explains the underlying issues that would cause people to send bibles in the place of anesthetics for amputations or antibiotics for horrific infections: “First, it can diminish empathy by downplaying the importance of here and now suffering. Second it can make something other than a person’s apparent needs (like food or anesthetics) seem critically important. Third, it can re-direct our mother-bear instincts away from protecting vulnerable individuals and toward protecting the ideology itself. Believers may come to feel more protective of their religion than they are of actual human beings.”

And let’s not forget this guy, whose imaginary friend told him to go shoot a guy in the head in church, or the people who consider him a hero, or any of the other  rhetorical extremists, predatory sociopaths whose message *sounds* completely whackadoodledoo, and is often dismissed as such, but it’s a message calculated to reach a very, very small demographic — like a dog whistle for psychotics. For example:

These people get their morals from god. (image byk763)
This all makes perfect sense to the heavily armed batshit asshole demographic. (image by k763)

The fundamentally ill do not always present with such exaggerated symptoms, of course. And not all of them choose to use the faithful as their minions, but more and more these days they are the primary target market of anyone seeking to impose an economic or social agenda that runs contrary to the good of the many in favor of the good of the few.

The people who keep track of such things estimate that psychopaths make up 1% of the population, but they tend to wield a great deal of influence over the easily led, since they are master manipulators. Whether they occupy positions within in the evangelical community or simply pull the strings from outside, they exert tremendous influence.

“Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets—the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons—clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence.” — Chris Hedges

To be continued, maybe…

**NOTE: representatives of the electric bible-bringers have responded with reassurances that the bibles are not being transported instead of life-saving supplies, but rather “piggybacking on existing shipments, if there is extra space”.  However, the group doing the sending has an ongoing campaign in Haiti to convert Catholics to Evangelical Christianity, and you’d kind of hope that, in times of crisis, they’d set that aside and just help people, but that’s not how it works.

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