Flavin's Corner

Religious Incontinence

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...
from "Imagine," by John Lennon, c. 1971, Bag Productions, Inc.

     Some folks just can't help themselves...  This past week I received an e-mail
which began, "I find your home page very sad indeed especially where you
express views about people who believe in Jesus - more correctly the Lord Jesus
Christ.  I have trusted in Him since I was very young and He died for my sins
and yours.  If you believe this then when you die you will be eternally saved
from the consequences of your sins.  The world is entering a period called..."
Ouch!  The rest of the e-mail goes on to say I'm going to burn in Hell, but not
before some really bad stuff happens to everyone else on the planet.  My take is
that many BELIEVERS suffer from religious incontinence and their arrogance
compels them to mistreat others.  Some belong in jail, others in therapy, but
most belong in diapers...

     "In spite of early missionary efforts and present ministries, Satan has retained
his hold on Calcutta through Kali and other gods and goddesses of Hinduism.  It
is time for Christ's salvation to come to Calcutta."  From the "Hindu Prayer
Guide," The International Prayer Strategy Office of the International Mission
Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999. [Acrobat PDF version here.]

     "Mr. Mack, Mr. Park, and other members of the Board, distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen, I am here again. I was here two years ago, and now I am
back. Didn't I make things clear at that time?Remarks by Gordon B. Hinckley,
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,13 May 1999, at
the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. [Click here for more.]

     “Neither Hinduism nor communism nor the Indian government with five-year
plans are capable of offering India a real future, the only true redeemer of India
is Christ,” LGH Stuart, of the Catholic Association of Bengal, as quoted in "The
Christian agenda," by Rakesh Sinha, The Hindustan Times Online, 11-3-99.
[Click here for more.]

     The above quotes are recent examples of arrogance.  Some religions and
cults insist their members actively proselytize and recruit others, claiming they
are privy to "God's truth," those who don't belong to a particular religion or cult
are evil, and that their missionary work is sacred.  These claims are, of course,
propaganda and lies.  Inflating membership is about money and power, and is
not about spirituality.  How dare someone today accuse another of being
controlled by Satan!  Such mythic imagery fights fine in films and comic-books,
but has no place in the arena of human rights.  Perhaps arrogance is too gentle a
term and I should describe proselytizing as a hate-crime? [Note: I include the
usage of "cults" as this best describes the Mormons, as they front fraudulent
scripture, preach racist and misogynist dogma, and display numerous traits
which are shared with dangerous, fringe groups.]

        We're all familiar with the humble, daring, and heroically noble endeavors
of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the Peace Corps, UNICEF,
and Doctors Without Borders, and no honest man or woman could properly
deny the greatness of their accomplishments.  They are genuinely concerned
with helping those in need.  These volunteer groups don't attack others with
threats of Hell and damnation, proffer promises of reserved seating in the
"Heavenly Kingdom" (or a planet of your own with thousands of wives, if it's a
Mormon sales-pitch), and attempt to replace individual thought with the hum of
the hive.  Most "missionaries" wouldn't know a charitable act if they were given
one on a street...  [Note: For various reactions to "missionaries," see a Jewish
webpage, an Islamic one, and a compassionate article by an Indian writer.]

     Is it possible to practice a "religion" and not be at war with the rest of the
world?  Sure, there are odd sects and cults which keep to themselves, but what
of the so-called major religions?  The doctrine and dogma of all major religions
state explicitly that they alone are correct and all others are wrong.  So, it's
war...  However, fortunately, some are capable of moving beyond "religion" and
willing to embrace peace.

     The tragedy of Northern Ireland, with the Irish Catholics against the Irish
Protestants, appears to be approaching a peaceful conclusion.  All the religious
hatred, bombs, murders, and assassinations, that has plagued Northern Ireland
may soon be ancient history.  The Irish got tired of God and death and the new
government in Belfast will be shared by both Catholics and Protestants.  Credit
will go to the people of Northern Ireland and not to any "religion."

     "Religion" makes some people crazy.  A week and a half ago someone took
offense to the genitals of Adam and Eve on some paintings hanging in a Roman
Catholic church in Austria and ...took a knife to the canvases.  The destruction
of art pales alongside the bloodshed at St. Andrew's Roman Catholic church in a
London suburb this past weekend.  A naked fellow with a samurai sword played
Highlander with 11 parishioners and inflicted a lot of damage.  There was a brief
report of two other men with sticks, but it turned out that Canon John Lennon,
78, who was in the middle of his sermon, had given a confused account of those
who subdued the crazy, naked fellow.  It's hard to "Imagine" a world where
religion doesn't drive people crazy...

     Personal religious expression is an intractable human right.  One enters a
restaurant and may choose from many different items on the menu.  That one
prefers this over that shouldn't be taken to imply one is more and another is less.
The human experience requires all choices be equal.  We are free to believe in
anything or nothing, hate or love as we choose, but not to interfere with the
rights of others.  The hubris of the major (and minor) religions--that they are
correct and others are wrong--continues to inspire much of the dysfunction in the
world today.  No restaurant offers only a single selection...


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