How ironic that only a week after my first column should another act of violence be perpetrated by the religious right. Dr. Barnett Slepian was cold-bloodily murdered in his own home by a coward who had waited outside and shot the doctor with a high-powered hunting rifle simply because he would occasionally perform abortions in addition to his regular duties as an obstetrician. Once again religion shows its true colors.
I am continually amazed at those who claim to speak for their god. I often wonder what happens to them when they die. If there is a god, does he (it?) approve of what they've done? Does he give them high-fives and a slap on the back for a job well done? Or, does he refuse them entry? Does he send them to hell for eternity for breaking his rules and having no remorse? I wonder, do those who claim that others will go to hell really believe that they are somehow immune to the same rules? That they will be welcomed?
People such as Jim Jones, David Koresh and now even Pat Robertson and Reverend Donald Spitz, only prove what a danger to society that religion really is. All of these people, and others like them, have the same message: that they and they alone know what is right for the people of America. If you don't follow what they say then you are wrong and doomed for eternity. They have spoken to god and are following his dictates. I never knew that what god had in mind was the killing of your fellow man simply because you disagree with his lifestyle or profession. I was always under the impression that god was a caring, supreme being who instructed us to love our neighbors. Guess I misread his teachings somewhere along the way.
A few more examples of the beauty of religion are in order. Lets start about 6,000 years ago. The first recorded instances of brutality based on religion was the Egyptians vs the Israelites. The Egyptians, for those of you who slept through world history, had a multi-deistic society. The Israelites on the other hand, believed in one god only. For this they were perpetually persecuted by the Egyptian rulers and eventually left to found the modern-day state of Israel (in which they now perpetrate the same evils against the Palestinians that were once done to them).
Jump forward about 5,000 years to the time of the Crusades. Ah, those were the times. Imagine, being able to slaughter whole cities, every man, woman and child, in the name of your god. That is exactly what the crusaders would do when they would capture a city. Everyone who didn't convert was executed. And all was condoned by his holiness, the pope. At least when the Arabs would retake a city they would release the women and child and most of the men, keeping only a few for slaves. This happened nearly a dozen times. Think of all the scientific discoveries which could have been made had their efforts been directed in that direction. After all, it was the Arabs who gave us most of our mathematical systems that we know today including the concept of zero.
Go forward just a few centuries, to the time of the Dark Ages. Although there was advancement of society during this time, much was restricted by edict of the church. Discoveries which could have propelled Europe to the forefront of world leadership went undiscovered. Even before this time people such as Leonardo DaVinci were closely watched by the church for fear that their ideas would "corrupt" society. For a time 'ol Leo was incarcerated by the church because of his writings and theories. But hey, who cares, all that mattered was that society was protected, regardless of how much help these theories would have brought to the people because that is what god wanted. Why do you think that many scientists of the day used codes to write their notes? To protect themselves and their works from the secret police (as they are now known) from reading and discovering what these men were up to. It was to save their necks!
Jump forward just a bit, say to 1492. That date ring a bell? It should. That's when Christopher Columbus set sail to find a shortcut to the Indies. Instead, he found a Caribbean island and a race ensued to see which country could acquire more land than their neighbor. Of course what they didn't stop to realize, or care about, was that there were already people living on these lands. To them they were fulfilling gods word. When they did encounter indigenous people one of two things happened. Either they attacked these people without any provocation or they would attempt to convert these people to Christianity, explaining to them that their ways were wrong. If the people didn't convert they were usually enslaved and eventually died but who cared, the heathens were dead.
Now come forward just a few centuries and meet up with our old friend Adolf. Ah, what a character. He had an entire country eating out of his hand and he goes and blows it with his irrational hatred of a group of people simply because of their religion. He hated these people so much that to get them out of his society he sent them to their own cities. And promptly attempted to exterminate them. Did a pretty good job too. Before Adolf lost his mind and had completely destroyed his country, not to mention a dozen or so other countries as well, he had killed over 3 million people. Not bad although had he started sooner he probably could have done much better. But when appeasing ones god it's always best to go slow at first to make sure you're doing the right thing.
So what does this have to do with today? Simple. The continued bombings of abortion clinics, the murders of doctors who perfrom abortions, the recent murder of Matthew Shepard who was gay, the continued insistence by the religious right that homosexuals not be allowed to adopt children or be protected because of who they are (sort of like African Americans), the continued attacks on African Americans by the KKK (who base their actions on the bible), all combine to show that what took place over thousands of years continues to this day. For all the talk about love thy neighbor and what a caring god there is, when the truth is told it is clearly shown that if you disagree or do something for which the religious fanatics don't like (even being yourself), you are instantly on their hit-list. You will be hounded, harassed and yes, even killed, if you oppose them in any manner.
And now we come to this auspicious time of year. A time when once again the airwaves crackle with the voices of narrow-minded, red-necks who warn us about the evils of Halloween. This is a terrible time, filled with witchcraft and satanic rituals. Too bad it's a religious holiday.
Yup, the beginnings of Halloween started centuries ago with a festival called the All Hallows Eve. It was a time when we paid homage to those who were no longer with us and to laugh at our inevitable demise. When parties would be held and drums banged to awaken the dead so that we could celebrate life. But no longer. We have corrupted this time to include parties for children dressed as ghosts and demons, where they bob for apples or maybe cause a little mischief such as shaving cream on ones windows. Yes, this is a horrible time. We must be sure not to celebrate at this time or we too may become evil incarnate. Yes, religion is such a wonderful thing.
To those who continually say that the rest of us are wrong and their way is right I say this: thhhhpppppppppppttttttt! Go stuff it. Your way is your way and my way is my way. So long as I am not violating any laws I'm free to do as I please. If you don't like it then find another country. When you become god then you can make the rules. Until then, remember three things: 1) Judge not lest ye be judged; 2) Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; 3) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.