[Ed note: First, I know this is ranty. Generally, I love my friends and family. I accept you for who you are and what you believe. More than that; if you’ve found power and agency and motivation in those beliefs, that’s awesome. Just try not to force those beliefs on me.]
I’ve long believed that the world needs to be made a better place. People need to be kind to each other, help each other out, actively not fuck each other over. It’s not enough to live and let live. Instead, we need to fight oppression and injustice.
And I’ve also long thought that it doesn’t really matter what an individual’s motivation is to do good, only that they actually do it. That is to say, if someone’s being kind to their neighbor because they believe a higher power compels them to, whatever; that’s cool.
Religion, though, has been used to justify many things over the centuries. Christianity and other religions have been invoked to do great injustices in the form of overt violence to nonbelievers. It’s also been more subtly used to maintain social order and control populations.
But, again, I don’t care so much if the faithful are blind to their oppression, so long as they are good people. I can buy the use of religion as a motivator to make the world a better place.
A gigantic problem is that using a faith-based belief system to motivate acts of kindness comes with a huge brainwashed side-effect. That is, in order to get people to be just to each other, the religion has had to convince them that there’s a payoff at the end, and that the only way to get that payoff is to subscribe to the religious beliefs.
This is a problem because people like Robin’s siblings then seriously think Robin and I are going to Hell because we don’t believe. It doesn’t matter that we’ve devoted our lives to be awesome people who care about others, the environment, global and local social justice, etc. All that matters is that we don’t believe.
And the majorly problematic bit about this is that they then feel the drive to spread the word and try to convert us. Robin called it hella annoying. I call it oppression. It means that their God is, at the extreme, vindictive and spiteful, and, at the least, enacting a colonialist, outsider power play. “I’ll forgive you of your sins, and you can join me here in Heaven, so long as you play by my rules, don’t critique the social order, and cede all power to me.” Yeah, that’s not going to work for me.
And all that doesn’t even consider all the fucking ridiculous rules. No homosexuals, no control of our own bodies, no eating pork on a Tuesday, no figure skating with leotards. In other words, I guess there’s two main problems: 1. that they need to spread their beliefs to sustain their cult, and 2. that some of those beliefs are fucked up. Really. Fucked up.
As a side note, a big fat irony in all this is that we–us heathen atheists–seem to be more tolerant than believers of a faith that compels them to be good. Our sense of social justice, squarely grounded in the idea that *this is it, this is the world we have and we better make it livable*, is more focused on being good than theirs, since they’re sidetracked with replicating their meme.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m starting to doubt whether it’s wise to be so tolerant of people who aren’t reciprocal in their tolerance. Why do they have to spend so much energy in acts of control and less in doing good?
And I fully realize that I’m generalizing. No, I don’t know the history of religions as well as I probably should. No, I don’t know all the different flavors of Christianity, and I know that some people of the faith believe in a benign God and don’t need to proselytize. But sometimes, man, it’s just a pain in the ass.
Aaron shared F_CK SH_T STACK, a video by Reggie Watts, last week that perfectly sums up postmodern existence for me. It’s extremely NSFW, but I think its irreverence opens up a space to start to criticizing how we live and maybe take the fucking huge fucking poles outta our fucking asses and finally just relax.
Relax and learn to jerk: