Friday, 3 August 2007

Religions are all shite, pt. 1

So, see if you can can guess what group I'm talking about.
Attempted genocide, ethnic cleansing, suppression of knowledge, subjugation of non-believers, mass-murder of complete innocents, indoctrination under the guise of education, demonising common medical practice, covering up the sexual abuse of children and protecting the perpetrators, demonising contraception so that thousands of Africans die from AIDS, forcing through the canonisation worshippers of suffering with twisted morals, murdering or imprisoning scientists for speaking the truth, preventing medical research that could save hundreds of thousands of lives for no good reason, demonising Jews, demonising homosexuals, tacit support for the Nazis, utter fucking hypocrisy. That's right, it's the Catholics, wooo! And some of that lot is still going on today.

Why am I ranting about the Catholics in particular today? Well it's because I have to vent my frustration somehow after barely managing to nod and smile calmly when I was recently given a patronising lecture about not turning my back on something because "that's where Jesus lives." by a one of the unwitting followers of this immense force for evil and stupidity in the world.

Let's briefly cover the history of the Catholic church shall we? Just so we can see how we got to the current state of affairs.

Jesus creates a bit of a stir in Judea with some remarkably progressive thinking, a lot of charisma, and a few magic tricks, and is eventually crucified (probably).
St. Peter and St. Paul took their interpretations of Jesus' teachings to Rome where they and their converts were persecuted for them and both were likely executed.
Christianity continued to be an underground movement following the teaching of Jesus, with various people, many of whom had never met Jesus or even been to the "holy" land, writing gospels about his life and teachings and, largely, making it up. As an indication that most of these weren't written by the disciples, most of them were written in Greek - not the native language of the average red-sea pedestrian - and mostly 50 or so years after Jesus' supposed death. And so the gospels get coloured by typical Roman thinking; most notably Mithraism. Mithras is the son of god, born of a virgin on 25th December, etc., etc.
Eventually (313 CE), for reasons best known only to himself (probably hedging his bets), the Roman Emperor Constantine I converts to Christianity on his deathbed and starts the process eventually completed by Theodosius I, who declares Catholic Christianity to be the official state religion of the Roman Empire and declares all others "heretics" in 380 CE. Et Voila, the Roman Catholic Church is born.
What do they do first? They establish a "Canonical" set of books for the Bible (most of which weren't written by disciples remember), eliminating anything that looks like women might have any say in anything, and suppressing all the books they don't like or are too ridiculous for anyone to believe, like the gospel of Thomas where the young Jesus uses his magic powers to turn his brothers into dogs for a laugh. It's OK he turns them back :D. They have it all translated into Latin and make that the official "holy" language, despite the fact that Jesus almost certainly never spoke a word of it. The word then spread throughout Europe and the middle-east with all of the Roman Empire's might behind it. Where they can't stop the locals celebrating their local festivals, they steal and modify them and claim they was theirs all along. Easter FFS, what have bunnies and chicks got to do with Jesus' resurrection? Fuck all, that's what. The bloody festival is even named after a fertility goddess!
What followed is more than a thousand years of persecution and murder actively endorsed and encouraged by the Catholic church, of anyone who disagreed with them: The Inquisitions, The Crusades, both in the "Holy" land and in Europe. People tend to forget, or were never taught, stuff like the Albigensian Crusades where de Montfort and others attempted to murder everyone in the Languedoc, and succeeded in killing about 20,000 of them, at the direct request of the Pope. They even condemned as heretics people who dared to suggest that the bible might be translated into anything other than Latin. You might think that they didn't want the common man reading it, or he might realise that it's full of shit and the church are teaching them rubbish that isn't even in there.
Eventually, they were forced to modernise a bit, the zeitgeist changed so that they couldn't get away with mass-murder or locking up innocent scientists anymore. Why in 1992 (that's right nineteen-ninety-two) the Pontiff even managed to apologise for imprisoning and excommunicating Galileo for daring to suggest that the Earth wasn't the centre of the universe like it says in the bible.

Now you might say, "c'mon Tim, that was a long time ago; the church isn't like that now." but, at the risk of being (unjustifiably) accused of argumentum ad nazium, how long do you think it will be before we listen to people who say things like "Well, I know the Nazis did a lot of bad stuff, but we're just not like that anymore.", "Yeah but what about all the good the Nazis did for Germany", "Well, I am a Nazi, but I don't believe all that final-solution stuff, that's obviously rubbish"? Fifty years is obviously not long enough, how about two-hundred? five-hundred? What if, like the Catholic Church, they were still committing acts that are tantamount to genocide today, and attempting to justify it by citing specific passages of a book that they choose to ignore almost all of the rest of? Would it be OK to wear their badge then? or go to their meetings? or self-identify as a Nazi? To Bring your children up as Nazis? I think not. Incidentally, before I move on to detail the modern atrocities of the catholic church, it's worth pointing out that Hitler was a Roman Catholic. The very anti-semitism that he espoused, and that allowed him to rise to power, is a direct product of the Catholic doctrine that held the Jews responsible for the crucifixion (because obviously it can't have been the Romans' fault.) The propaganda war they started against the Jews that came up with such lies as the blood-libel and accusations of deicide is still going on today, although these days it's more likely to be by Muslims and US fundamentalist born-again Christians than Catholics, but they started it. And what did God's emissary on earth do when (arguably) the worst evil the western world has seen for millennia marched across Europe committing genocide on the way? Not one thing. Tacit support even, one might say. You might think that the earthly representative of a benevolent God might say something against such obviously immoral horrors, no matter what the cost to himself; but no, not one titter. Fantastic. You've really convinced me that you are a moral authority now mate. Oh, and It's also worth noting that a certain Mr. Ratzinger, the current pope, was a member of the Hitler Youth during all this. BTW, in 1961 the Vatican officially forgave the Jews for killing Jesus, and told Catholics to stop persecuting them; better late than never I always say, and at least they beat Galileo by thirty-one years.

So "enough with the ancient history already" I hear you cry, what about now? Well, in Africa, AIDS has reached epidemic proportions, massive numbers of people are dying, children are being born with AIDS and dying before they grow up. In many areas, the only education these people are getting is being given by the Catholic church. That's a good thing you might say, nice Catholics educating the needy, but you'd be wrong. Aid agencies are supplying condoms by the truckload to African nations, and these catholic schools, often the only option available to the locals, are teaching them that to use a condom is a sin, tantamount to murder, for which they will be punished for all eternity. And this is an area where in many cases there is insufficient resources for people to have as many children as they already have. Death and suffering are the inevitable results of these pernicious lies. This is tantamount to genocide and it's happening now, and the catholic church are not only standing by and doing nothing; they actively encourage, endorse and fund it. Instead of teaching people genuine methods of preventing the spread of AIDS these people attempt to teach abstinence. Abstinence programs have been shown to not even work in the west, so how is it going to work among the tribespeople of Africa? Incidentally, studies in America have shown that teenagers who enrol in abstinence programs - where they promise themselves and their god that they will abstain from sex until marriage - are no less likely to indulge in sex before marriage than their less devout contemporaries. In fact, due to their religious education, they are less likely to use contraception when they do, and the inevitable result is unwanted teenage pregnancy and the spread of venereal disease. Nice work.
Africa too far away for you? How about Poland? This year one Polish woman went blind because of the country's stupid catholic-induced abortion laws. She has a condition that meant the increased hormone levels during pregnancy would cause her retinas to fail. In Poland you need the agreement of two doctors and a priest who decide that you medical condition is serious enough to allow an abortion. This poor lady was unable to get such an agreement and has lost her sight because of it. One fact all the news reports failed to mention of course is that if it hadn't been for the socially-retarded Catholic attitudes to contraception prevalent in Poland, a woman who knows these risks almost certainly would never have got pregnant in the first place.
Poland too eastern-European and backward for you? What about America? At least eight abortion clinic workers including doctors, nurses and security guards have been murdered by people who believe abortion is murder because of catholic doctrines, and there have been at least as many convictions for attempted murder. Now you might say that these murderers and would-be murderers were dangerous, insane extremists, but I don't think you'd be right. Friends of theirs usually say they were good and moral people, and often endorse their actions. The point is, that if you genuinely believe that abortion is murder, every sane person has a moral obligation to prevent it. The people that believe this and don't act on it must surely either be cowards or not truly have the courage of their convictions. Teaching people these lies has consequences, and it's about time the catholic church faced up to it, and its adherents stopped supporting them if they wont.
America too far away for you? What about the UK, where Catholic adoption agencies would rather stop helping to place discarded or orphaned children with loving parents than run the risk of having to accept that homosexuals are not evil sinners and treat them as normal human beings. How can you claim to be a moral authority when you will stop giving aid for such pathetic reasons?
Or worldwide, where the teachings of Catholicism cause a large number of people with any sexual leanings that the church say is bad to take the cloth. They can't indulge their leanings and so takes the obvious route of priesthood and celibacy, which you might think is the right thing to do. Unfortunately this then often turns out to involve being in a position of trust within the society. If these persons have a sexual attraction to the young, and no other way to work out their frustrations (masturbation also being a sin obviously), they are often given the perfect opportunity to gain the trust of children, and act out their perversions. In one single event recently the arch-dioces of Los Angeles paid $660 million dollars to settle hundreds of child-abuse allegations. This is by no means an isolated example; it's so common that many catholic institutions actually take out insurance against allegations of child-abuse. Until very recently, the official church policy on child-abuse was to attempt to cover it up and simply move the perpetrator to a different region; where they nearly always reoffended. A spate of recent high-profile cases and the attendant disrepute has forced the church to change it's official line, but how can an organisation claiming to be a moral authority get away with such heinous policies for so long? This respect for the priesthood is so ingrained that in some cases even when the evidence is incontrovertible, the congregations often side with the priest in question and talk about how horrible this ordeal must be for father so-and-so, ignoring the plight of his victims!

There are plenty of other doctrines, teachings and opinions of the Catholic church that are just plain stupid: transubstantiation, the trinity, the virgin birth, original sin, purgatory, limbo, the pope's magic infallibility chair, claiming Harry Potter is corrupting the world's youth and leading them to the devil, etc. but they don't really need our attention as they are not, to my knowledge, particularly harmful beyond the fact that they are evidence of the human race's unbounded capacity for unwarranted credulity in the face unsupported absurdity. There are even a few immoralities and unpleasant, counter-productive falsehoods, both historical and modern, that I haven't covered: selling "indulgences", confession, claiming Mother Theresa was a good person, having enormous amounts of cash and churches full of gold while people they claim to be helping are starving and dying, preventing stem-cell research etc., but this was only meant to be a quick post, and it's turned into a bit of an epic already, and the issues I have covered above really ought to be enough on their own to convince any sensible person of my viewpoint.
There's only really one question left to be asked, and that's why do non-Catholics put up with people that support and endorse this massive edifice of harmful, murderous lies, deceit and corruption? Well there's two reasons, one is that for some bizarre reason it's supposed to be impolite to question idiocy if it's got the "religion" label on it, and the other because by and large, we realise that they're good people and it's not their fault; we know that they have been so inculcated that they are either incapable of, or unwilling to try, thinking clearly about it. The indoctrination takes so well that it's very hard to break free from it, or even see the need to.

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