Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Religion

I thought I’d take a stab at something that has been bothering me as of late, hypocrisy. You see religion in general and not just Christianity is full of it. People who see themselves as religious hold some values, but fail to understand what those values truly mean. For example, the issue of people who consider themselves to be Pro-Life. That is, people who call themselves Pro-Life as opposed to Pro-Choice. No more has there been such a divisive issue in the last 40 years, than the issue of abortion. People who feel it’s their place to tell women what they can do with their own bodies. Now this issue brings up quite a lot of hypocrisy, not only by the usage of the moniker ‘Pro-Life’ but merely in their ideology itself.

Pro-Lifers are typically conservative republicans who believe that government is bad, too big, and too over-stepping. People like this believe that government should be reduced to nothing more than a sign that says: Here sits the United States. There is nothing wrong with having an ideology, however outright hypocrisy leads to credibility problems, and such is the problem with the Pro-Lifers. Because anyone who believes government has no business telling citizens what they can do with their healthcare, their money, and their education, loses all credibility if they believe that same government should be legislating what a women should be able to do with her own body.

People who hold this view, must not see the irony in electing politicians to congress that view government as an intrusive body that needs to be stopped, at the same time granting it the power to be overly intrusive. That said, it’s not the only hypocrisy with Pro-Lifers.

The biggest problem I have with the Pro-life movement isn't that they have taken a stance against abortion, but rather that their stance is that all life is important, all life is sacred. So then let’s continue to talk about this issue attacking a fundamental part of their ideology, which is that all life must have some value. If you support the idea that life is sacred on religious grounds than you must concede that all life is venerable, because to assert that life has some value because its blessed by God, or created by God means, that to take such a life is to go against God, or to disrespect his creation. After all, if God really did create everyone, and you believe that human life is sacred, you do so because God gave such a life to the world, and respect should be shown to this life. Now there is a point to where I am going with this and it leads back to hypocrisy within their religious ideology.

Now as I have already said most Pro-Lifers are conservative republicans, and part of the typical ideology of a modern conservative is one who believes in the death penalty. Now I won’t go into a deep discussion about the abhorrent nature of capital punishment, except to say that it is most certainly hypocritical for anyone to picket an abortion clinic holding signs that criticize abortion in one moment and hold signs at an execution hailing capital punishment in another. You see never is there more certain an issue of hypocrisy than in the modern conservative party who seeks to ban abortions throughout this country but extend capital punishment to all states.

Pro-Lifers tend to be the poorest Americans living mostly in the southern states, the Bible belt, a place where American Pride seems to be a strong part of everyday life. It is a place where people honor their country with a flag on every porch and a son or daughter from every family in some military service. And it is there where much of the Pro-Life movement is strongest. But in just such a place why can someone so strongly believe in the sanctity of life and be so eager to send their child off to fight a war? It is hypocritical for any person to believe all life is sacred and hand over like a pagan sacrifice their own child, sending it like a lamb to the slaughter. To add insult to injury, a person who believes in the sanctity of human life, but holds no value to those lives of people who are not citizens of their own country are too a hypocrite. The bible, that book the Christians hold so dear and build their faith on, talks a lot about murder and one thing that is clear from Exodus is God’s Ten Commandments. Rules set forth by God himself, given to Moses as instructions for everyone to live by. And one of those rules, plain as day, says: Thou shalt not kill. It does not say, thou shalt not kill, except those of a different color, different religion, or different ideology.

I was fortunate to be born in this country, maybe not with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I always had food to eat, a place to sleep, and medicine when I needed it growing up. Estimates are that 17 million children in the United States of America go to bed each night having not eaten a thing all day. 1 in 45 children, 1.6 million of them, homeless, have no place to live, no place to play, except the street corner or garbage where they go to find food.  1 in 4 children in the United States of America have gone without some form of health care. The estimates are that 9 million are completely uninsured, over 11 million are only insured part of the year, and 3 million simply have no way to actually see a doctor. That means 23 million children in this country at one time or another during a typical year go untreated.

It is a travesty that in a country where so many people enjoy living their lives with seemingly no cares in the world, so many children through no fault of their own do not have the things they need to live. We live in a consumerist country where people spend, spend, and spend again. They buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have. They visit all you can eat restaurants and engorge themselves into a bigger waist line, and then throw the remaining food into the trash can as if from some inexhaustible source created just for them. They return to their fancy homes and watch reality shows on their wall-sized big screen televisions, depicting the same type of grossly inarticulate excuses for human beings they are themselves, doing tremendously embarrassing or overly ridiculous acts of stupidity all in the name of money. They go to bed at night, secure in their gated communities, and filled with a sense of accomplishment for escaping such a horrendous day, where they were approached by a homeless person, received a latte with cream instead of soy, and had to wait in line at the check-out because an elderly lady counted out the change she had in her purse to purchase a can of cat food, she plans to eat because it’s cheaper than a can of tuna. Tomorrow he or she will wake up, with no cares in the world and repeat their day over again.

The hypocrite who believes all life is sacred but allows anyone, especially a child, to starve, live on the street, or to be without healthcare, has no business declaring them self to be Pro-Life.

  • If you are Pro-War, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you are Pro-Death penalty, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you believe it is ok to save the life of an unborn fetus, but allow a child to starve, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you believe the slogan “You’re on your own,” fits your ideology, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you are okay with wealthy people getting wealthier, and poor people becoming homeless, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you are unwilling to help sick, disabled, and elderly people unable to work or support themselves, you are not Pro-Life.
  • If you are against Universal Healthcare, you are not Pro-Life.
  • And if you are against abortion even in cases of incest, or the rape of a minor, then you are a religious hypocrite, and not Pro-Life.

Matthew 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 

Jesus Christ, the man for whom a Christian’s entire religion is based, said that children are considered holy, they belong to God. Pro-Lifers claim to love all life, but they clearly set higher value to some and a lower value to others. If the basis for the argument against abortion is truly a matter of protecting children, than such an argument should apply to all children equally, however those who call themselves Pro-Life do not see it as such. For these people they are not so much Pro-Life or even Pro-Children, but rather Pro-Fetus.

As an atheist and a humanist, I too believe life is precious, but I am unwilling to place a higher value on the life of an unborn child, as opposed to a person on death row. That is because, even if the person on death row has committed terrible atrocities, I know the knowledge contained in his brain, the experiences he has had, and the life he has lived is still worth more than the life unlived by a bunch of cells in the uterus of a woman.  Now I’m sure I’ll get plenty of hate mail, and I’m okay with that, but the statement is one I hold to. A child, who is unborn, is not a person, because a person is someone who has lived, and a fetus has not lived. Although, it is easy to claim that life begins at conception, or even when a child could conceivably live on its own outside the womb, the reality is we are products of our own minds. We all live in a world of our creation, perceiving the world around us through the environment in which we build our experiences from. That is to say, we build our lives, one experience at a time, as we move throughout a day. We are literally the products of our own experiences. In effect, a person’s life is a blend of those experiences over time. But a fetus has had no experiences. A fetus has no perception of time, or the passage there of. To argue that a fetus has value merely because it is alive is to devalue that which has lived.

Hypocrisy isn't isolated to Christianity of course; it exists in all religions, but none so more than a religion where its followers like to refer to their religion as: The religion of peace. Of course, I’m referring to the Islamic religion, which of course is the farthest thing from a peaceful religion you could have.

It is hypocritical to refer to your religion as a peaceful religion when your own holy book the Al-Qur’an says things like:

“Those who reject our signs, We shall gradually visit with punishment, in ways they perceive not.”

Anyone reading that would know it to mean, reject our teachings and you will be punished in ways you cannot even imagine. To claim peaceful intent is highly hypocritical when the book for which your entire religion is based upon, pronounces punishment, not for an actual crime, instead for an idea, a thought. To continue, it is widely taught and known that Islam requires that the punishment for apostasy is death. It’s highly suspect when a religion punishes someone for something considered a crime, based not on established law, but merely on religious doctrine. Worse still, that punishment is death, not for committing a crime anyone with either sanity or at least some moral sense would consider worthy of death, but instead based on devotion or the lack there of, to their religion. It’s a little akin to a gang whose members join for life. No one with any sense would ever claim that any gang displays a peaceful intent, so it is both hypocritical and disingenuous to continue to refer to your religion as one of peace.

Recently the embassy in Libya was overrun by Islamic terrorists and innocent people were killed. Now it is easy for those not responsible for this attack, or the attacks on 9/11 or the attacks throughout the world in the name of Islam to condemn them as anything but the work of religious extremists. The problem is even if that is an accurate assessment, it does not change the fact that they are Islamic extremists following the text found in the holy book they all consider the word of God. There are Christians who wake up every Sunday morning and go to church, they pray and they lead productive lives. There are also Christians who dedicate their lives to bombing abortion clinics, and picketing, and murdering doctors, and whether they are extremists in their religious views or not, and they are, they are still Christians. An extremist Muslim is still a Muslim. In a modern Christian world, Christian extremists who harm others are a rare occurrence, but even if it wasn't, no one has ever declared Christianity as the religion of Peace. It is abject to regard Islam as a religion of peace, when truly peaceful religions like Hinduism exist in the world.

If Muslims who truly wish condemnation of the extremism within their religion to appear as repudiation, they must stop calling their religion a religion of peace and start calling it what is it. It is a relatively young religion whose members are mostly dominated by ignorant, angry, violent, oppressed people for whom violence and religious dogma are ways of life. Christianity has had the advantage of hundreds of years of progression through modern society. Christianity has had the advantage of going through its dark ages, something Islam has not. The difference is that Christianity was at the time, on par with the rest of the world around it. When Christianity evolved, so did its followers and much of the world. Islam is behind everyone else in the world. They are an archaic religion living in a modern world trying to apply archaic law to civilization.

During the dark ages, there was no option for those who wanted to seek something more civilized, Christianity was it. But Muslims have that option; any Muslim can seek out the modern world and leave the old one behind. The problem with that religion is the same problem Christianity had a thousand years ago, to do so is certainly punishable by death. The problem isn't really with those that don’t; they are merely following the religion as it was taught to them. The problem is with those who do leave the archaic nature of their religion behind them, continue to practice what they consider to be the peaceful parts, and condemn those who continue to act out those parts that are violent. Because of this it is not the contention of the extremists Muslims that their religion is a religion of Peace, but rather peaceful Muslims who lead peaceful lives.

The problem with Muslims is they want you to believe that somehow there are really two Islam’s, the peaceful one and the violent one. Muslims like this would have us believe that water that is hot is hot water and water that is cold is cold water, and although this certainly serves as a way to describe the temperature of the water, the state of the water has not changed, it is still water.

Muslims that declare their religion peaceful would have us believe this because a majority of peaceful Muslims live peaceful lives. That is all fine and dandy except that all Christians read the same Holy Bible, except some of them pray and some pray and blow up clinics. The so-called peaceful Christians are simply those who refuse to accept the violent parts of the Bible as anything more than nonsense, story, or lesson. In much the same way, Muslims who live peaceful lives do so because they ignore the nonsense in their own holy book, where the extremists do not. Of course, there is hypocrisy in that as well. Because if you do not follow the teachings of your religion as they are written and intended, then why do you follow it at all? A Christian, who isn't very Christ-like, isn't likely to actually gain acceptance into this heaven they all so want to get into. Just like a Muslim who condemns the violent Jihadist ways of his religion isn't likely to get his 72 virgins. Look if you are only following some of the stuff in your religion, you’re not a follower, you’re merely auditing, and if you choose to ignore much of the text of your holy handbook, you are just using the Cliffs Notes.

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pages - Menu