Why ultra-religious people scare the shit out of me, part 2

(for part 1, read this post that caused a near riot and logged more comments than any post on Cincy Blog in many a moon.)

I was forwarded an e-mail last night that a friend had sent to them concerning the existence of God. Read the e-mail and we'll dissect below, if your brain doesn't asplode before then.

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It's an explanation all people will understand.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said:"I don't believe that God exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.

"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving a God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me."

"Exactly!", affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him!. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

If you think God exists, send this to other people---If you think God does not exist, delete it!

If your head hurts right now, I don't blame you, just take a second to compose yourself. By the way, nice Christ-like character there to throw in: scraggly long beard and long hair...or it could have been the lead singer of ZZ Top, I could be mistaken.

The initial reaction I have to a story like this is that it is one of the most ignorant, shallow, condescending, arrogant, and non-intellectual stories that I have ever read. So by the story's theory, if you go to God then only good things will happen to you.

To examine this point, let's think about several tragedies that have occured over the past 5 years, particularly 9/11, the Indonesian/Filipino/Thai tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina. Are we saying that none of these people went to God? I'm quite sure that anyone on the four planes that went down was praying to God as they flew towards the Twin Towers. Plenty of them probably prayed on a nightly basis. You think that the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi weren't religious people? Plenty of them were devout Christians and Catholics, but God didn't exactly look out for them there.

What about the Pacific Rim, were they not Godly enough? Or were they just praying to the wrong God? Yeah, I know that sounds like a low blow, but I think a lot of the religious zealots in this country believe in the 'my God is better than your God' theory.

So apparently these people believe that bad things happen to you if you don't go to God. But if you ask them why bad things happen to people that are religious and do go to God, they respond 'well, that's just God's plan, and sometimes we can't explain that'. Excuse me? That sounds like a serious copout to me! If something good happens to you then you praise him, but if something bad happens, well then it was just God's will? And then how do you explain uber-Christian zealot Pat Robertson getting prostate cancer? He supposedly has a personal relationship with God. Oh, but I'm sure you'll say that he was just testing Pat's faith in him (though I spoke to God last week, and he told me it was a warning shot to tell Pat to shut the fuck up and get off the air). And we wonder why intelligent design can't pass scientific muster...

I have a feeling that if God wanted the word spread that going to him was the best way for good to happen in your life, I think he would have found a better mode of communication than a chain e-mail. Chains can get you a free vacation to Disneyland, a piece of Bill Gates' fortune, or laid within 36 hours (although these people would never forward that e-mail because they're too afraid of their sexuality to actually perform the act, so the stork brings all their babies), but they shouldn't be used to spread the word of God.

Moreover, I am not a scholar of the Bible, but I do believe that Jesus makes remarks in it of how you should feed the hungry, heal the sick, and clothe the poor. So maybe instead of just sending out an e-mail to people (which I'm sure the poor wouldn't get since they likely can't afford broadband), you should get off your self-righteous ass and go do something about making things better! Go work in a soup kitchen, join Habitat for Humanity, donate some time to the Free Store. Of course, then you might find out that the poor actually consist of individual and unique people that have stories and experiences that can't all be distilled down into a simple parable.

You see, the right accused Democrats of hating religion. We don't hate religion. We don't hate people, except for Tom DeLay (because he is a detestable, sleazy, lecherous liar) and Ryan Seacrest (but everybody hates him, so we're no different). We hate the way the right uses religion as a rod to beat people over the head with. It's not about spreading the word of Jesus to them, it's using Jesus as a way to declare themselves more moral than those of us that don't follow their faith. And that's what we have a problem with.

Religion, like alcohol, can be a good thing in moderation, but dangerous in large quantities (as seen above). So I encourage you, if you have ultra-religious friends that would enjoy a letter like the one above, send them the link to this post, and have them explain just exactly how we're wrong on this. Faith can be a great thing (it worked wonders for George Michael), but explaining it in a clear and concise manner is a whole 'nother issue.

No comments: