Sometimes it is classed as a fool’s errand; a pointless proposition, the act of hitting your head against a very, very solid brick wall.
The debate with and against the religious peoples in society is, first and foremost, an incredibly important one – one which, if you are in support of indoctrination and the concept that there is an all-being celestial dictator in the sky, you will hastily disregard. For fair reason too, I suppose. You believe that each person may do as they please, believe in whatever they so wish, and live their life in whichever manner they see fit — unless it imposes on yourself or your questionable moral compass, of course, at which point it is your way or the highway.
In this article however, all that matters is that we, as a predominantly secular western society, stand up and speak out against those aspects of religion that are ugly and harmful.
To begin, I will state that indoctrination into religions that rely on belief in a supernatural being, especially the Abrahamic religions, creates an unnecessary fear in the minds of both children and adults about things that have never been proven to exist.
Religion promotes superstitious thinking and gives a huge amount of respect and credence to ‘leaders’ who become idolised by the masses, often resulting in societies living in a terrible manner. For verification of that, I only need to point you in the direction of the primarily Muslim Middle East and Africa which features both Islam and Catholicism in daily life. Death, disease, mistreatment and ill-guidance feature there, always, presided over by religion rather than legitimate secular, governmental policies and leaders.
The following points explain why I believe it to be of the utmost importance that we, as a society, challenge religious dogma at every turn.
If unproven claims and beliefs are preached, they should not be left unchallenged nor encouraged:
On this point I shall begin with Hitchens’s razor, echoing Occam’s razor, which says this: ‘What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’.
An epistemological razor asserts that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim; if this burden is not met, the claim is unfounded and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.
As I previously mentioned, religion puts the fear of God into both adults and children alike. To me, personally, teaching people that if you make the right prayers and sacrifices your diseases can be cured, virgin births can occur and the dead can be raised again, but if you don’t then you are likely to attend a fire-filled cesspit upon death, is absolute rubbish and wholly immoral. As Hitchens once said, ‘it is immoral to lie to children; it is immoral to lie to ignorant and uneducated people’.
If we, as a collective stop and question those who spread such preachings, then they will most certainly be held accountable rather than be allowed to continue spreading bile and hatred towards those who choose another way.
Real-world problems are made worse by what religion teaches its followers:
The Independent wrote an article titled, War on polio obstructed by radical clerics, in 2004. Within are the following lines:
‘The worldwide campaign to eradicate polio, which is a whisker from total success, is being threatened by northern Nigerian states …[Polio] mostly attacks children under three, about one in 200 of whom develops the disease. It causes irreversible disability — shrivelled and disfigured limbs, paralysis and, in some cases, death. But it can be easily prevented’.
So, in Nigeria — still to this day — Polio does more damage from the likes of Boko Haram.
During the twentieth century smallpox killed more people, globally, than all of the wars and conflicts combined. Subsequently, scientists worked out how to vaccinate against it and eradicate it. This could be the same case for the polio outbreak in Nigeria, and other African countries too, but unfortunately Muslim clerics actively attempt to prevent children from receiving the polio vaccination because, to borrow from Aishatu Mohammed, ‘… with or without the vaccine, Allah protects his own’.
This is a delusional approach that, when taken on by the masses, causes a huge amount of unnecessary deaths to the most innocent, helpless, future generation of society.
The given quotation, ‘… with or without the vaccine, Allah protects his own’, is perhaps the most ironic that a Muslim cleric could have used, given that the Prophet Muhammad arguably died of a fever.
But Nigeria is not the only case in point that allows religion to mistreat little humans.
In Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, there are an estimated 25,000 children living on the streets. Of these, 60 per cent have reportedly been thrown out of their homes because their relatives accuse them of witchcraft, according to child-welfare advocates. That means that there are roughly 15,000 homeless children in a single city, not for the usual issues associated with Africa (AIDS, famine, etc …) but because their own relatives believe them to be of magical lineage. It’s not quite what we see in Harry Potter, is it? In fact, it’s positively satanic — apparently!
Let us focus on a decade-old article from the LA Times inappropriately titled, They Say I Ate My Father. But I Didn’t, from which I gained the above statistics. It focuses on the case of Naomi Ewowo, a five-year-old who lost both parents within just one month, who was then cast out by her extended family after they consulted a local, idolised ‘prophet’ of their religious community.
Edmund — writer of the above article — goes on to say:
‘A rise in religious fundamentalism, revival churches and self-proclaimed prophets is one cause. More than 2,000 churches in Kinshasa offer “deliverance” services to ward off evil spirits in children, the group Human Rights Watch says’.
So, what has religion led to in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Nigeria and also Angola, just to name a few countries with the given delusional way of thinking?
Nothing, really. Other than what I have previously said … ‘real-world problems are made worse by what religion teaches its followers’.
For reference on the Angola comment above, I will leave you this quote from a report in the Times online, Mother of child ‘witch’ traced in Angola, which I jotted down a while back when researching.
‘In another Pentecostal Church, the reporters watched the exorcism of an eight-year-old girl, whose possession was blamed for the breakdown of her mother’s marriage. Her mother and a pastor were “beating the devil” out of her. Asked whether the child should be in hospital, the pastor replied: “Why should the child die? If the child dies, it means the child is evil” ‘.
Need I say any more …?