Saturday, October 4, 2008

Waiter, There's a Fly in My Religion!

The rate at which many prominent politicians in the U.S. mix religion with politics is simply alarming. Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama have been either zealous in mixing it with their political messages or highly reluctant in disassociating themselves from religious ideology despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution is unequivocally sanguine about separation of church and state. History has proved to us, time and time again, that religion and politics is an incendiary mixture that has caused death, devastation and unmitigated misery to millions of people over the ages. The Bible, the Koran, and the Torah are rusty-old books that can easily be turned into weapons of mass destruction.

Recently, I started reading the Cartoon History of the World III, an extremely well-researched and illustrated book (see image), and the perhaps one of the motifs that emerges from the book is that religion, while it provided succour and stability to many cultures, was a cause of great suffering and humiliation to those that were deemed to be, the "others." Although Mr.Gonick, the author, never avers to it, but I came away with the feeling that mass religion is the scourge of humanity and we'd be much better off thinking for ourselves and engaging in our own spiritual quests. This would obviously result in a drop in attendance at churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples but the world will be better for it. Let's pray to the Almighty Dollar (or the Euro or the Yuan) instead. Everybody can see it, visualize and fantasize about it, and we all know how it feels to have one in our hands--it is an out-of-body experience to hold a Ben Franklin in your hand.

Which reminds me, if you ever felt uncomfortable with the inane drivel of modern-day religions but felt shy to voice your opinions, go see Bill Maher's Religulous. It makes laughing stock of our strict adherence to religious strictures and offers up a good laugh in the process. I was in stitches throughout the entire movie and Maher's sharp-witted questions to the defenders of the religious scriptures reveals the depths to which we are ready to accept the hocus-pocus in our religions while we are quick to deride other religious canons as inaccurate and mere fantasy. By the end of the documentary it is fairly clear that all mainstream religions today are based on some virtue-inspired fables, fairy tales, and myths, but it is alarming to see the custodians of those religions trying to convince Bill Maher that their beliefs are the one-true beliefs. And it this trait of unilateralism in every mainstream religion that makes these religion so potentially dangerous, pernicious, and deadly. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Two quotes that I'd like to add here:
“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it”
-John Adams

"Religion is the opiate of the masses."
-Karl Marx

In the chequered history of the U.S., religious bigots have Bible-thumped their way into justifying slavery, inequality of sexes, and a ban on mixed-marriages. So, don't let the religious bigots define what marriage means for the rest of us...Vote "NO" on California Prop 8. Marriage is an equal right for all!

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