Religious Freedom – What is it, exactly? The Urban Dictionary defines it this way:
A bullshit excuse used by conservatives and the religious right to justify using their beliefs as weapons to preach against others who don’t believe in what they do. They claim that their right to speech (hate and discriminate) against anything they find immoral or against their ideology should be protected and legalizing something like abortion or same-sex marriage would infringe on their rights and hurt their “religious freedom” (to hate).
Tom: So how’s everything going? Mike: Pretty damn good. I’m very happy. Tom: Niiice. Mike: Yeah, Scott and I have been together for almost 6 years now and it’s been amazing. I love him. Tom: … Mike: I think I’m going to ask him to marry me. Tom: WTF? That’s fucking gay! Mike: …Well, we are gay… Tom: That’s so wrong and nasty. I’m offended. God hates that gay shit, and it’s my religious freedom to not put up with your sin. Mike: …I’m sorry you feel that way. We’re not going to marry in a church. The county is going to marry us. Tom: Fuck that. That’s wrong and I don’t agree. Don’t forget to send me an invite, faggot. I’m going to be there with my posse to protest that shit. I’m a christian and you can’t force that gay shit on me.
Under the guise of their own freedom, Conservative Christians (also Muslims, and other cults) seem to be happy only when they make other people’s lives completely miserable. The idea that a collection of writings, stolen from basically illiterate, unread, unstudied, and uneducated goat herders 3,000 years ago creates a mandatory set of rules for modern society should be laughable – except it is not. They seriously believe the shit that they spread.
Actually, their deliberate mangling of the definition of “freedom” by joining it with “religious” is itself a perversion. In this case, a concept that some very bright men a few centuries ago rediscovered was called freedom of religion. They even put pen to paper and included it in our second version of this nation’s constitution. The Articles of Confederation failed because they resembled too much what Brownback is doing to his failing state of Kansas.
But even our forefathers were not the first. In fact, Lithuania’s Grand Duke Gedeminas was one of the first to actively apply the concept of freedom of religion. When he conquered huge swaths of territory, he had two rules that he applied, fairly and uniformly. So long as the conquered people admitted that he was their ruler, and submitted to his over all control, they could and would maintain not only their local leaders (whose gratitude at being alive was immense) and political structures, but would also keep their religions. His written edict allowing all subjects to choose and maintain their own faiths was revolutionary. And it caused Rome a great deal of distress. It also led to at least one sanctioned “crusade” in an effort to install and instill Lithuania with Christianity.
Religious freedom. How best to define it?
Regardless of which faith you observe or study, it seems clear that faith is the necessary underpinning of every religion. Faith has been defined as “a firm, probably unwarranted, belief in something for which there is no proof”. Without faith, religion simply cannot exist. This is as good a place to start as any other. Faith. Everyone seems to recognize it, but what is it? What is truly meant by the word Faith? You might have noticed that superstitions and faith are closely linked. In fact, there is no difference between the two. Faith = superstition.
Present day superstitions grew over the ages because our earth-bound hominids had these wonderful tools called brains. At least in most cases, although some people today may debate even that statement. (See generally, Michelle Bachmann and Mike Huckerbee) when the earth shook beneath our ancestors’ hairy, unshod feet, or when tidal waves destroyed hamlets and crude abodes, when mountains blew up and spread lava and ash for no particular reason, hominids were puzzled. And being puzzled and confused is uncomfortable for us, even today. So, they made shit up. Any serious study of religion shows just how its creation was an effort to answer the unanswerable, to explain, to illuminate the vast mental darkness that plagued all of our ancestors.
We are curious animals. We seek answers and reasons and discoveries. If a closed box is on a table, for most of us, our first instinct is to open it. For others, their first instinct is to might blow it up ( Dick Cheney) or wish to seal it forever because it contains mortal sins. ( See generally, any conservative, evangelical, or Baptist Church).
Because our brains are powerfully curious, if we don’t find rational answers easily, we make things up. Our brains find patterns where none existed. That one simple cranial mechanism caused all sorts of superstitions to arise, and eventually to become fool-blown religious movements. Only now has our technology grown to a point where real science can answer the hardest of questions.
Much of what we now know about the universe has been due to brilliant geniuses like Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Bohr, Fermi, not to mention brave philosophers who braved the wrath of the powers that were, to promote new perspectives and truths.
Partly because of the Cult of Christianity, and partly because we humans have fought too many faith-based wars, technology and discoveries have taken a longer path than necessary. Anti-science movements were incredibly strong from 500 AD through the middle of the 16th century. Unfortunately, this willful ignorance is raising its ugly head once again. In many ways, today’s Klown Kar Kandidates uniformly believe that their future (and therefore, ours) depends on religion taking its “proper place” in society.
Seriously, for you to really appreciate just how bad things are going and how they will affect our little iron rock – solely because of faith – you have to take the entire body of scientific, medical, engineering, analytical, and philosophical thought and set it aside, (many “believers” want to throw it out permanently) and replace it with a peculiar version of Christian dogma. While doing so, you must rely on “Faith” and ignore the religion’s bloody, dubious history, and the fact that its instruction manual was poorly and inaccurately translated and repeatedly interpreted from an archaic tongue so primitive that the creators of the language failed to discover or use punctuation marks or vowels.
For such mental misfits, religion is the only thing that will save humanity (and their GOP) from guaranteed ruin and utter chaos. Some religions leader (and at least two GOP presidential candidates) actually speak glowingly of Vlad Putin just because of his treatment of “teh gays.” That alone should be grounds to ban them permanently from and position of responsibility, power, or elected office. But, instead we see the unbelievable spectacle of 19 conservatives each trying to take ever more conservative positions and impose ever more extreme religious ideas and ideals. Except the dude with the rotating wives.
Today’s believers see troubled waters ahead. They see mega churches closing. They see empty pews, and the recognize that those who remain faithful are quite a bit older than the general population. The yute, it seems, are MIA and are quite unlikely to change their ways and begin to tithe and pray in those close-minded hellholes they call church. Much like their dwindling membership, churches are simply dying off.
The most conservative of today’s Christians claim that there exists a single Great and Powerful bearded sky-based god-like person (much like the man behind that curtain in Oz). According to their Faith, their god inexplicably missed out on the part about the universe being around for billions of years, with billions of galaxies, their billions of stars and countless inhabited planets. They insist that only the Christian version of creation is true, i.e., that their god created everything about 6,012 solar orbits ago. Out of his entire, immense and infinite universe, only this iron rock and its hominids are deemed worthwhile of god’s attention.
Luckily, these Christians weren’t too overly egotistical, or else they might have claimed that everything in the universe actually revolved around them and their pathetic little, flat rock. Oh, wait. They did make that claim. Some still cling to that idea.
Now, before you start pointing fingers and claim how silly this all seems at this point, you had better know that it gets much worse. Theirs is a history of deadly battles over language, translations, gospel selection, forgeries, canons, Gnostic ideas, cult wars, wars against nonbelievers, assassinations, murder, riots, torture and repeated acts of treachery. The current version of their biblical instruction manual has undergone numerous translations, editing, changes, even wholesale adapting.
Even in this modern, “enlightened age”, the most strident Christians claim that the version of their instruction manual you read today is completely “inerrant” (defined as incapable of containing errors or mistakes). According to them, the bible consists solely of the actual words that popped out of god’s mouth into the ears of some ancient Hebrew or Aramaic listeners. Because god himself was doing the talking, it was absolutely impossible for the human scribes to make any mistakes. The same theory applies to all the translations that followed. (Some in the bible belt believe that god actually dictated the book in Modern English, long before that language ever existed.)
In 1978, a group of the top evangelical “religious thinkers” (a prime example of an oxymoron, if there ever was one) gathered together to study this difficult “inerrancy” question. After much debate, even hostility, they issued the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” This lovely little document claims that because their instruction manual was “god-given”, “(it) is without error or fault in all of its teachings”, including about how the earth was created, all aspects of earth’s history, and even as to the creation of their fun-filled instruction manual itself.
Circular reasoning is defined as “the practice of assuming something in order to prove the very thing you assumed.” When a christian scholar claims that god exists and the bible is infallible – because it says so, that christian propagandist has achieved the pinnacle of circular reasoning. Their book claims it is true, therefore, everything must be measured by that warped yardstick. Voila!
Religious Freedom, at least today, means that a two part fairy tale must control your life and your life’s choices. Freedom, indeed.
If you really want to learn more about honest, modern, family values, the christian instruction manual is not exactly a good place to start your research. Today’s most serious practitioners rarely follow every word, even when they have the audacity to claim that every word is without error.
Most of them probably never read it cover to cover, much less analyze the true meaning of the verses. That helps explain why so many current christian practices and theories are so offensive to the intellect. It also helps explain why christians are so afraid of modern teaching. Today’s christianity is the last, best, refuge of anti-intellectual scoundrels and hypocrites.
In Leviticus 25:44, it says that males can own both male and female slaves, so long as they come from other countries or competing tribes. From other parts of the bible it is clear that female slaves had only one purpose, at least in their earlier, nubile, years. Sex.
This one statement was the cause of centuries of suffering, untold death, destruction and bloodshed all over the world, all in the name of god. If you were a person of color, with those words, this cult’s belief caused the destruction of your family, your freedoms and eventually, your life. But, hey, if you have enough Faith, and believe that holding other humans in bondage is merely god’s will, then there is very little evil that cannot be justified under their good book.
For many decades in early America, killing a slave wasn’t even considered to be a crime. Punishing them when, where and how you saw fit was your religious birthright. You master, he slave. There are many historical examples in which slave-owners successfully claimed that killing off your two-legged property was no worse than slaughtering a lame horse.
As late as the 1860s, Very Serious People (reminiscent of today’s Fox News regulars) argued that because the bible supported the idea of slavery, American had to maintain that abhorrent practice. All too often today’s Klown Kar Kandidates seem to use similar arguments to support their positions on same sex marriage, birth control, even their Koch-based economic policies.
If they were truly faithful, our society would look very, very different. Bleeding women tend to wreck havoc with men‘s sex lives. Lev. 15:19-24.
A horny male simply can’t touch them during their periods. Period. Perhaps that is why so many biblical heroes had numerous concubines and sexual playmates, not to mention, rape victims, lovers and multiple wives.
According to most of their instruction manual, men could pretty much decide with who and when they wanted to sleep. In Leviticus, females learn that sleeping with an in-law could get you burned at the stake.
Still, your own family members still have their uses. If you had too many financial debts and mortal sins to deal with, you could atone for many of your sins by selling your daughter into slavery. Exod. 21: 7. Instead of promoting ‘modern’ christian family values, the bible suggests the financial value of your christian family.
Even though most of today’s christian bigots claim that gays and lesbians commit moral and mortal sins, the bible is surprisingly free of such prohibitions. In fact, several biblical heroes were known for their love of all mankind. Claving and craving one another seemed to work out alright for them.
Their bible also controls your diet. It has all sorts of rules about eating. For example, oysters and mussels are a mortal sin; eating them is worse than having gay sex. Lev. 11: 10.
Unfortunately for the curious student, the bible remains silent about what happens to gays should they happen to swallow lobster or crabmeat before claving each other. Possibly earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes? No, Californian droughts!
How food is created is just as important. Just What Would Jesus Do about modern farming technology? Today, these christian Farmer John types had better stop with all of those evil new-fangled farming techniques. Like crop rotation.
According to their inerrant science guide, the mere planting of more than one crop in a field is a deadly sin. Lev. 19:19.
DeKalb, Pioneer and other seed companies manufacture and sell genetically modified grains, each of which have so many different traits, that they probably constitute entirely different crops. Does growing different strains of corn, soy and wheat mean that the farmer who dares grow these crops or the people who eat those products are sinning against god? And what about crop rotation and mixing crops to prevent insect and fungal infestation? Or to refresh the field by a judicious use of nitrogen producing plants? Are all modern farming techniques to be barred because of some ancient book? Oh, good. Let’s all starve in the name of their god.
How will the American farm industry react when farmers find themselves stoned to death simply because they experiment to decrease their reliance on herbicides and insecticides?
Probably the most interesting requirements center around Leviticus. One chapter makes some strong statements about about hair cuts, of all things. If you trim the hair around your ears, you will die. 19:27.
But back to religious freedom and faith. Even under the most minimal scrutiny, it is clear that “religious freedom” is anything but. Their sole purpose is to control what you can or cannot do, hardly the best example of freedom. The logical conclusion is that today’s GOP, it’s conservative Christian candidates, and the most extreme members of that party are either liars or hypocrites – more likely both.
Simply put, today’s alleged movement for religious freedom is little more than a fraud. A dangerous, destructive, and damaging fraud. What is striking today is just how strident their voices have become. 25 years ago, Sanitorium or a Huckerbee would have been laughed off the stage. A Rubio or a Cruz would have been laughing stocks. Instead, they are very serious candidates whose core beliefs are treated with kid gloves (can’t have pigskin just because) by our corporate owned media.
Religious Freedom is not just a fraud, it is the major underpinning of one of our major political parties, in a very sick and disgusting way.