All week I have been hearing about the coming schism in the Anglican Church. Apparently the Bishops have papered over the cracks for now but the Evangelicals are refusing to share communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury over the British and American churches’ liberal attitudes on homosexuality. So it looks like the Anglican Church will soon split into the Anglican Peoples’ Church and the Peoples’ Church of Anglia. Very Life of Brian.
Now what has that to do with the headline? Not much actually but while the Anglicans who have been busy telling us they are the third largest Christian community in the world are totally obsessed with what members of sexual minorities get up to the the privacy of their homes, across the pond big time blogger Amanda Marcotte of Pandangon has been getting a lot of grief about some disparaging remarks she made concerning Roman Catholic attitudes to abortion and contraception. Let's be realistic, its almost impossible to ridicule Roman Catholic attityudes on contraception.
In typical American style the argument soon came down to whether anybody has the right to criticise a faith they are not attached to. Christians do not apply this restriction to themselves of course - being adherents of “the one true God” they assign themselves the right to slag off all non Christian faiths without attempting to gain the least understanding of what those faiths are about.
Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians are very quick to say that criticism of their faith is hurtful and “blasphemous” yet they see nothing wrong in Evangelical Christians claiming that all non Christians are incapable of behaving morally as morality can only come from God, or that pagans are all Satanists and paedophiles. Faced with this kind of irrational criticism from adherents of religious faiths I'd say we have a duty to ridicule their beliefs.
When I keep coming across the hate fuelled idiocy of Fundamentalist Christians Amanda’s allegedly offensive remarks are the epitome of restraint and reason.
The real problems at Pandangon arise from the fact that Amanda told the truth and Christians (even the reasonable ones - sorry Jenni and Roz, ) just cannot and have never been able to handle the truth. Which is why they turn a blind eye to the facts that a quarter of the human beings in the world do not get adequate food, around a fifth do not have access to clean drinking water, the problems of overpopulation can only be solved by contraception and sex education, we need massive aid programs to put right the harmful effects of western exploitation of the third world, Africa needs medicines not missionaries to control the plagues of HIV and malaria and South America and Asia need socialism not sanctimony to give everybody the chance of a decent life.
In view of all that, yes it must be right to ridicule religious faith, if only to help believers keep some kind of grip on reality. God did not create the world in seven days, Moses did not part the Red Sea, Jesus' Mum was not a virgin. To believe that stuff is delusional. Once we allow the whining of clergy and lay people to place an irrational and delusional belief system beyond criticism then we have lost civilisation.
Religionists forget there are many other ways of having faith, mostly equally misplaced; the guy who bets his wage of a fifty to one outsider in the two-thirty at Cheltenham has an insane faith, a pilot has faith in the technology that will fly him and his passengers safely to their destination - flight technology is well proven but the more you know about how a plane stays in the air the bigger act of faith it takes to get on board, the soldier has faith in his comrades that by working as a team they will maximise their chance of survival, I have faith that the sun will rise and life will go on tomorrow, otherwise I would not bother writing this blog.