Religion: we all pay for it in many ways. If you ask me, its part of the reason our children are falling behind intellectually … Its fostering a fatalist attitude in this nation that’s (at least) partially responsible for the populace’s complacence with our foreign policy … It’s a financial drain on government (in terms of lost revenues).
I’m thinking of the subject because of some recent news.
Some of you may have heard that the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, Warren Jeffs, was picked up outside Vegas the other day. What most of you probably don’t know was that this church leader was on the FBI’s top-ten most wanted list.
How can a church leader be on the FBI’s most wanted list you ask? If you think there’s more to it than polygamy you’d be right.
Let me get one thing clear before the bashing begins: I strongly believe in the right of any person to believe in whatever god they want to believe in. If you want to pray to Zeus or the comet kohoutek I don’t care. I think it’s intellectually and spiritually bankrupt to believe in such unsubstantiated non-sense… but it is your right. What I do care about is my tax dollars – and in general – my government -- promoting religion. As
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
It seems that far too many people in this world are ready to grasp at the teaching of certifiable loonies – all because they stand up and spew their ridiculous teachings with verve.
Back to Warren Jeffs: here’s what the nice folks up in AZ/UT are up too –
In its spring 2005 "Intelligence Report," The Southern Poverty Law Center named FLDS to its " Hate Group" listing because of the church's racist teachings, which include, among other things a fierce condemnation of interracial relationships. "Prophet" Warren Jeffs has said, among other things, "The black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."
Ah racism – the refuge of the ignorant. Why blame yourself for your lot in life when you can find an appropriate scapegoat? But hey, it’s church – they can teach whatever mean-spirited, counter-productive trash they like.
Critics claim that Warren Jeffs has indicated his desire to reintroduce the 19th-Century doctrine of "blood atonement", in which serious sins can only be atoned by the sinner's death. Former church member Robert Richter reported to the Phoenix New Times that Jeffs repeatedly alluded to this doctrine in church sermons. Richter also claims that he was asked to design a thermostat for a high temperature furnace that would be capable of destroying DNA evidence if such "atonements" were to take place.
Lovely: our own miniature group of Taliban right here in our own backyard – ready to kill sinners since god doesn’t seem to be doing the job right.
Worse: The local news has reported on the stream of excommunicated boys which flows into
Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men,
officials claim. Utah
Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in
Arizonaand , by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven. Utah
Most of the Lost Boys were between the ages of 13 and 21 when they were banished or pressured to leave.
Isn’t it good to see the caring side of religion come out with such gusto?
On to the more mundane costs of this particular sect’s existence: Because polygamy isn't recognized by law, all "plural wives" are listed as single mothers for tax purposes - almost 50% of the 8000 residents of Hildale and Colorado City are on public assistance.
Talk about your family values: A sanctioned and institutionalized method of bilking the government while simultaneously keeping women in near poverty and financing your operation.
Oh, by the way, members of the 10,000+ member church are expected to deed over all property to the communal organization… so those welfare payments might as well just go into the churches coffers.
While this sect may commit some of the more egregious sins, don’t think the other major religions are immune. Take the Catholics. They enjoy tax exempt status. They reportedly do much for the poor. If that’s true, why is the Catholic Church sitting on more cash, investments and real-estate than Bill Gates? If the function of god’s organization here on earth is to help people why isn’t that money being used to that end?
And who needs to be reminded of the priest sex scandal – where church leaders shuffled known pedophiles from church to church – dealing with a serious crime as if it was an internal matter.
Organized religion: its little more than a series of social clubs where people get together to feel good about the truly least they can do to help humanity.
What percentage of church-goers attend services at “mega-churches”? What percentage drive up in their Mercedes or sporting their latest attire?
Organized religion is a sham. It’s the organization for people who need to be told what their life means… how to live it… and that they are important. It’s packaged and sold just like any other commodity in our society: except those buying have been duped more so than the late night QVC viewer… “You need this” … NOW.
Do I doubt people “find strength” in their religion and beliefs: no … Muslims, Christians, Jews… all attest to the “power of their faith” to help them through tough times in their life. The Christian Scientist (don’t get me started) and the Hindu alike attest to the power of their god(s) to see them thru such times – and they use such evidence as justification for their god’s existence. Well, the opposite is true: since ALL people of faith make this claim we have to look elsewhere for the explanation as frome whence this “inner strength” comes… (giving responsible for your situation over to an all-powerful imaginary friend is apparently a strong tonic).
To such people the thought of living, working and dying in a 100 square mile plot on a tiny planet in the midst of thousands of galaxies -- each beyond our imagination to comprehend – is far too mundane. They must be important… cuz someone says god says so…
And if you’re important in god’s eyes, you can justify almost any behavior, belief or sacrifice (including your or someone else's life). What a bonus.