Religion and The Tragedy of Unintended Consequences

By this point, we all know about the uproar in the middle east over this dumbass video…

… a video over which religious zealots decided to take the decision of who lives and who dies away from God and into their own hands – in a totally not hypocritical exercise of what they claim as righteous vengeance- and murdered American Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, as well as others who had committed the unforgivable sin of being from the same country (maybe) as the guy who made the movie.
But, it turns out, it wasn’t really about the movie.  Except that, in a way, it kind of was.  More on that later.

Now, it has been shown multiple times that the people who performed this vile, despicable act were militant members of Al-Qaeda and not average, every day Muslims.  In fact, a number of Libyans came to aid Stevens, pulling him out of the Embassy and trying to save him.  Sadly, their efforts were in vain.

And when the dust has settled, and the ashes have been blown away by the winds of time, people will go back to their daily lives, and they will pray.

And that’s why this will happen again.

For all the effort that’s gone into emphasizing that the Muslims who attacked the embassy were no mainstream Muslims, one very important, utterly undeniable fact has been completely ignored.  The militant members of Al-Qaeda, who orchestrated and carried out this tragedy, were still Muslim.  They want the U.S. out of the area, because we’re infidels.  They claimed the same faith as the people who tried to save Stevens’ life.  They prayed, and put their lives in the hands of a higher power, and submitted to the will of the Almighty.  They gave up their own free will, and free thought, all in the name of God and His glory.

Muslims are all expected to do the same thing every day.  They raise their kids in their faith.  They read and teach the Q’uaran.  They kneel in prayer, every day, and take the time to explain their faith to others.  That it preaches peace.  And brotherhood.  Joy and love and universality and all the other things all the other major religions also preach.  Islam means submission.  Literally.  All Muslims are  expected to submit their will to that of Allah.

Just so you know, it’s not different for any other religions.  No, it’s not.  “But…” I hear you start to say.  But nothing.  Christians do it like crazy.  Mormons, Scientologists (yes, they’re a valid religion, they’re certainly no crazier than any of the rest), Jews, even Hindus and Buddhists and Sikhs.  All religions demand adherence above free will, and you know it.  And that should be ok, after all, when the religion tells you to be peaceful and take joy in life and treat one another like beloved family members.  Or at least it seems like it would be ok.

But here’s the problem.

All religions also recognize that people suck.  That’s why they have such strict proscriptions against “sin.”  Left to our own devices, we’re, well, just awful.  We have to pay attention to what we’re doing, or we end up just like our tree-dwelling, shit-flinging ancestors.  And before you know it, people are blowing each other up over an acre or two of useless, barren sand.  Or an alleged slight.  Or for fucking money.

Religion tells us not to do these things.  And yet we keep doing them.  Why?

Well, let’s take a look at that video again.  It turns out the maker of that video is some kind of Christian extremist.  Why would he make this movie?  Well, other than to give the finger to any and all enjoyment of any kind of cinematic art (I mean seriously, my buddy has better green screen equipment in his basement)?  The only motives I can think of are religious.  Either he wants to start some kind of holy war, or he just hates Muslims so bad, or God told him there was nothng else good on TV, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that when Terry Jones is promoting the hell out of your movie, it’s because it’s religiously motivated and full of sweet, sweet hate.

See, here’s the thing.

You can’t raise a billion Muslims without a tiny fraction of them going way too fucking far with it.  Same goes for Catholics, or Jehhova’s Witnesses, or whoever.  And yes, the vast majority of religious people are decent folks who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and blah blah blah.  But, the even vaster majority have spent their entire lives practicing doing what they’re told and being brainwashed, so the’re really God damned good at it.  And when even 0.001% of a billion of them get co-opted into a crazy zealous militant fringe group like Al-Qaeda or Focus on The Family, given that the sample size is huge, you end up with a million dangerous, violent, religious fanatics.  And you taught them not to think for themselves, and that everything is all part of God’s plan, so if I blow up this clinic and kill a dozen doctors and their patients, it’s because God wills it.  It’s not my fault, I’m just an instrument of His hands.

And I know no one raises their kids to be like that (well almost no one, I’m looking at you, Mrs. Bush), but that’s the whole point.

You may not have wanted your deeply devout kid to grow into a murderous soldier for God, bathing in the blood of infidels and saving the world one dead doctor at a time, but when you took that kid to church you began the process of taking away that same kid’s ability to not be that monster.  I know you didn’t mean it, but now that you know…  I mean, come on.  Isn’t it abusive to keep chipping away at their humanity like that after you know you’re doing it?

Switch to atheism.  For the children


One response to “Religion and The Tragedy of Unintended Consequences

  1. Will,
    While I enjoy all of your posts, I particularly liked this one! You point to, what seems to me, the very obvious flaws of religion and of sub-groups of religion. While I would also agree that atheism is probably the best route to go, I fear I don’t see that happening and thus I feel somewhat committed to trying to build coalitions with religious folk:

    Your fan,

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