20 May 2008

Stupid religious people

I watched a Dispatches special on Channel 4 last night about fundamentalist Christians and their attempts to influence government legislation. It was really interesting, but as annoying and frustrating to watch as any programme about people with firmly held religious beliefs. You can't argue with people like that, because there comes a point where you run into the brick wall of blind and immovable faith that is impervious to logical arguments. I realise that that is partly the point when you have faith - you make a leap between what you see and know, and what you believe - and I don't MIND people being religious if that's how they choose to live. But I do mind it when they feel they need to impose their views upon other people, when they imply that people who don't share their views are inferior to them, and when they feel that everyone should live according to their beliefs.

So that was what annoyed me most about their lobbying of government over legislation on religious grounds. It comes down to this: not everyone shares the same religion, nor are they ever likely to; but we ALL share the same law, and it is not fair to impose religious opinion through law. People should be free to practise their religion, and if they wish to impose extra-legal restrictions on their behaviour due to their religion then that's up to them. But they do NOT have the right to impose them on everyone else.

Fortunately, that will hopefully never happen in a widespread way because religion is in decline and laws will be decided by (sort of) democratic majority rather than by the vocal, sometimes extreme minority. I suppose I don't even really mind them having a part in the debate, because everyone has that right, but they can't peddle out "it says so in the Bible" as part of a legal argument. It says a LOT of things in the Bible, it would be impossible to live your life following every edict it contains.

Which brings me on to my other point. Where do Christians feel they get the right to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they obey, and which parts they hark on about and protest about and commit hate crimes in the name of? I'm picking on Christians because it's the religion I know the most about, having been to Catholic school, not because they're the only ones guilty of it.

For example, and predictably given who I am, Christians go on a LOT about homosexuality, and it affects their arguments not just on whether you're allowed to love someone of the same sex but also on marriage rights, adoption rights and fostering rights. And often you'll hear peddled out Leviticus 18:22 as it is one of the clearest condemnations of a man lying with a man as you would a woman, calling it 'abomination' or 'detestable' depending on your translation.

Hmm, OK, fine. Let's turn the page shall we. In Leviticus 19, it instructs you not to cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim the sides of your beard. It tells you not to tattoo yourself. It tells you not to wear clothing containing two types of cloth. It tells you not to plant two types of seed in one field. It says if you plant a fruit tree, you shouldn't eat its fruit for four years and may only eat it after its fifth year. It even says you shouldn't hold onto someone's wages overnight after they've worked for you.

So instead of waving placards outside Gay Pride, why aren't they picketing barbers shops, tattoo parlours, New Look, the Asda fruit and veg aisle, and every payroll department in the country? Why should they get to pick and choose which sins they commit and are happy for others to commit, and which they mount massive hate campaigns about??

Oh yes, and then they say something along the lines of the New Testament did away with the old laws and God no longer requires the same sacrifices of us because of the sacrifice made by Jesus. OK, fine, if that's the way you want to play it then shut the hell up about homosexuals and Leviticus. And the New Testament isn't much better anyway, for example Mark 12:18-27 says if a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have sex with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir. Hmm, how often is that one enforced??

And Jesus never said anything about same-sex behaviour, never condemned it or even commented on it, so how bad a sin can he have viewed it to be??

Arrrgh, god it makes me so angry! Especially as lots of these people don't even understand the pages they quote, some haven't even read them, and they are all translations of ancient languages the meaning of which is open to interpretation anyway.

I'm going to shut up now as this has gone on far too long, but woe betide anyone Bible basher who tries to hand me a religious leaflet on the way home today!
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