Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Religion Edition

In honor of Easter, Pascha, Passover, Holy Week, the rising sun, the solar eclipse, the lunar cycle, menstruation, and Going Clear… I think it’s time we talk about why your religion doesn’t matter.

I’m not talking about why religion as a whole does not matter. I’m talking about specifically your religion. Or, perhaps, your interpretation of your religion. And here’s why.

We like to point fingers. We are really adept at saying everyone else is crazy while we drink from the cistern of self importance. While your religion might do great things for you (that for some reason you believe you can’t do for yourself) it does not mean that your religion, in only the form you practice it, is the answer to the world’s ills.

Unless we are talking about a plant-based diet, nothing is going to save everyone. (I’m aware of my hypocrisy. Some would say vegetarianism/veganism is an extremism akin to the most fundamental of religions, but I think I’m simply trying to get you to stop eating a living thing and just eat a fucking bean. EAT A BEAN. IT’S DELICIOUS. IT’S PROTEIN!!)

My biggest issue is, and has always been, when someone or some group says that god is speaking to them directly. That’s why your religion is such a problem. Because inevitably you speak with your god and your god sounds a lot like whatever the hell you wanted to do anyway.

Or it sounds like schizophrenia.

I grew up really religious and I really respect a lot of what religion has to offer. I love the tradition, I love the smell of incense, I love holy week in the Greek Orthodox church, and I think candles should be a prerequisite for all places of worship because they are moody and mystical (like me). But I’m a really realistic person and I need an answer for everything and if your answer is, “well god told me to” I’m going to think you’re a nut and a narcissist.

We can talk big picture – like extremists believing that god is telling them to blow up schools and churches and cut heads of people of a different religion – or we can talk regular old George Bush asking the troops to pray for him and telling the country god told him we should go to Iraq.

See? It’s everyone. God didn’t tell you to go to war. Your advisors, your bank account, and your ego did. And that’s okay. We’re all self-absorbed, pseudo environmentalists, and convenient-human-rights-activists-unless-the-shirt-is-cute-enough-to-forget-about-the-sweatshop anyway. Just be real with us.

I don’t tell my boss that god told me to forget to do paperwork, I say my coworker was supposed to do it and she must have forgotten. I lie, but at least I’m not invoking the divine in order to justify my actions.

You know what happens when presidents, religious leaders, and extremists say, “god told me to?”

You get the assholes doing it too. I’m ignoring the fact that the presidents, religious leaders, and extremists can also be assholes.

Case in point: George Zimmerman. In a recent interview with his divorce attorney, that was for some reason recorded and marketed around as if it was actually an interview with a journalist and not just some guy he pays…. Zimmerman said that killing Trayvon Martin was all a part of god’s plans. Who is he to question the divine? Who is he to regret what was clearly the path he was destined to take? Who is he to just… not… shoot kids in the street? You see the crazy? Do.you.see.the.insanity?

This motherfucker KILLED a KID who was walking home and then he didn’t go to jail AND THEN he threatened his then-wife with a gun (and her father) and then he didn’t go to jail AGAIN and then HE WAS ARRESTED a third time for some sort of abuse/assault/gun charge and NOW HE’S JUST GIVING INTERVIEWS SAYING GOD SAID IT’S ALL OKAY?

DO YOU SEE?

I’m not trying to lump actual religious people who have a deep connection with their god with whatever this guy is. But the problem is his religion says he’s okay. And he’s telling people about it. And I’m all for a forgiving god, but I’m not for an enabling one.

He’s not the only one who does this.

Some people think that their religion is so important, they should be allowed to deny other people their rights. This infuriates human rights activists and confused liberals alike. The problem with their religion is that they think they are saving humanity. And when you have that kind of self-importance engrained in your head, you can pretty much convince yourself that anything you’re doing is okay.

Including telling a gay couple, who didn’t want you fucking pizza anyway, that you won’t cater their wedding. Here’s lookin’ at you Indiana.

This belief that you’re saving humanity allows you to create a story about an atheist family who gets raped and murdered in their home because they don’t have any understanding of right and wrong. As if the only way you can teach and understand morality is with the threat of eternal damnation. If you’re anything like Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, that’s exactly what you’ll do and think. In a recent interview, he came up with a story about some made up atheists, because he just can’t understand their point of view, saying that they could look their murderers in the eyes and say, well this is okay, because right and wrong don’t exist. Never mind just being moral because you are a person who makes those decisions to be good… it doesn’t count unless a man in a dress is telling you you might go to hell.

This belief allows a pastor from Colorado to explain away the vicious attack of a pregnant woman by saying it’s god’s punishment to the world for abortion.

It’s all a slippery slope to crazy-ville.

It sounds like I’m picking on Christians and I’m not meaning to. it’s just that they say so much.

The truth is, it’s all religions. Except, for some reason, Buddhism. Even the most extreme Buddhist is going to give you a hug and then sit in a corner and stare at things. It’s like they don’t even care that you have the ability to go live your own life, make your own mistakes, fuck some people, and maybe abort some kids.

I watched Going Clear, along with the rest of the country, and, while it was crazy to see the lengths some people will go to be a part of something, the behavior and the vigor of their belief system was not completely foreign to me. I understand the need to save, the passion behind the conviction. And it’s pretty sad and more than a little delusional. While a personal relationship with god is a private and potentially wonderful thing, much of religion allows for this kind of narcissism, this kind of self-righteous martyrdom.

Mike Ritter, the former spokesperson of Scientology, said an amazing thing during the documentary. He said, “because Scientology is conceived and perceived by the scientologists as being the salvation for man kind, you can have people that lie with a very straight face, if they believe that what they are doing is protecting the Church of Scientology.”

We point and laugh at Scientology but couldn’t that quote be about anyone from any religion? Because you think you are saving our souls, doesn’t it make it easier to tell a gay person you disapprove of their lifestyle choices? Who cares for political correctness and acceptance when you have souls to save and a world to resurrect?

What I think, and the point here is that what I (and you) think does not matter, is that everyone is worshipping the same god. And that god may or may not just be a random collection of stars in the universe. It’s all the same thing. Because if there is a right god, who is telling you what to do with your life in the only correct way there is, then you were extremely lucky to be born where you were so you had the opportunity to learn the correct god, the correct worship, and the correct way to listen to him. And if you’re anything like George Zimmerman, then you are extremely lucky your god says it’s okay to shoot and kill people. May he be the only one with a god like that. (He isn’t.)

Just be nice. And maybe stop thinking you’re so important that you can save everyone’s soul. I can tell you with certainty that I don’t think you’re that important. I think you’re an amazing and wonderful little space ball with the potential to create really cool pictures and words and change in the world. But I don’t think you have the power to save the souls of the heathens and change aborted babies into little angels that rain hellfire down on the nonbelievers. Or something about Xenu. I’m not sure. I get so confused.

Also, let people freely worship. There is such a thing as religious infringement and it’s important that people worship whatever and whomever they want. But just because it’s important to protect your right to worship, it doesn’t mean gay people are somehow threatening you. Or women on birth control. Or other religions. Or atheists. We’re all so tribal, we think we have to group up and fight everyone. I’m making fun of religion but I’m not saying you shouldn’t have it if it works for you. But like, LIVE in the world. You aren’t the only ones. Let’s all be friends. Just like… love your fucking neighbor, okay? And not because you want to save her. But because she is a whole person as she is.

You are not being persecuted, you’re being challenged. Rise to the challenge. RISE ON THE THIRD DAY TO THE CHALLENGE.

I am just not good at making easter related jokes. Is there a right time to do that? Should I just keep working on it… or…

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