I’m not religious, as regular readers of this blog will attest. Even when I was a Christian Scientist (or trying to be one), I wasn’t overly religious. I’ve rarely had much time or tolerance for those who are radically religious. Mostly, it’s because I find their arguments, logic, and claims to the supremacy of their belief over all others to be completely fallacious, and often highly offensive. Religious people are driven by belief and rhetoric, rarely by evidence or logic–at least that’s how I see it. Others may see it differently, and everyone is entitled to their opinion; we’ll just agree to disagree then.
Religion, to me, is an entirely human fabrication that inserts itself between individuals and what I call the Creator, or God. I also firmly believe that religion is at the root of much of the evil that has plagued and continues to plague the world, and it is not a force for good. I personally believe that this world would be much better off if religion were to completely disappear, and people just think for themselves and have their own relationship and belief or non-relationship and non-belief in God. Behind much of the bigotry, hatred, and war in this world is religion. For evidence, I point to the bigotry against homosexuals, wars in the Middle East (although there are many other factors at play there as well), the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland in the 20th century, subjugation of women, and lets go back a few years and offer up the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.
The Napkin Religion is a metaphor to me for the utter gullibility of humans to grasp onto some sort of defined belief, and of what I see to be the utter stupidity of organized religion. It is no more or less valid to me than is any “real” religion. If I were maliciously charismatic enough, I could easily start my own Church of the Holy Napkin, get lots of gullible followers, demand the undying fealty of my followers by convincing them that it is “God’s will” to do as I say, because I “talk to God”, and make myself obscenely wealthy in the process. How many times throughout history have people made that claim? One of the earliest examples I can think of comes from the Holy Bible: Moses. He claimed that the Ten Commandments, along with the many other rules for life (see Leviticus) came directly from God to him; God also apparently said that he and the Israelites should slay all of the Canaanites and steal their land. Later examples I can cite include Joseph Smith (Mormonism), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Jim Jones (Peoples Temple)–all claimed to “talk to God”. In my own experience, I believed in the “divine inspiration” of Mary Baker Eddy. Time and again, she and her followers claim that Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures came to her from God. To all, I say, “prove it”. All that is offered is their word and the often blind belief of their followers–often with some very tragic consequences.
I do still hold a belief in a Higher Power, however I don’t believe in the Abrahamic sense of God–a vengeful, capricious, insecure “sky god”/sentient deity that demands/needs the undying fealty of puny humans, and chooses one group of puny humans over another–slaying those others for the “chosen ones”. My sense of “God” is somewhat agnostic: it is undefined, and I think it will remain so. For now, I believe in something akin to a collective intelligence/consciousness or energy of which we and all living things are a part.
I respect the right of people to their religion and belief, but I do not feel that I must respect any religion. Like all modes of thought, theories, and philosophies, I think religion deserves critical examination, and to be called out for any of its inconsistencies, hypocrisy, and the harm it inflicts. If I think something is misogynistic, bigoted, or bullying, I will say it, and I don’t feel I necessarily have to be nice and polite about it. I tire of the thought that religion must be treated with kid gloves and given a free pass when it bullies and subjugates people because of their race, belief or non-belief, gender, or sexual orientation, when anything else that does the same thing would be castigated on the spot. Why, for example are members of the Ku Klux Klan roundly castigated, when religions that offer their own pernicious forms of bigotry are given a free pass? A perfect example is this story I recently read about a North Carolina Christian pastor who calls for physically assaulting children who “act gay”. Just like members of the Ku Klux Klan, this guy is absolute scum, and so are all others like him. Why don’t people protest outside this church? Anytime someone tries to tell me that religion is a force for good in this world, I think of things like this.
So, come one, come all to the Church of the Holy Napkin. We believe in one God, with a clean face, and clean hands. Of course, all contributions are tax subsidized…oops…sorry…deductible.