Every so often someone will ask me why I bother with this blog. Isn’t it only radical religion that’s bad while moderate religion is ultimately benign? Why do I bother to post videos? Why do I waste my time grinding out my opinions, arguments, and views in these posts? Why do I beg people of faith to rationally reconsider the tenets of their chosen devotion and confront the obvious contradictions and hypocrisy therein?
I do this because, by association, moderate religion gives unjustified shelter to radical religion. Because moderate faith is only separated from radical faith by a few degrees of literalism and commitment. Because moderate religion demands universal respect for all religious beliefs regardless how ridiculous, immoral, irrational, or criminal they might be.
I could point to how yesterday, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, the Pope declared that condoms make the spread of AIDS worse…but I won’t.
I could point to the systematic rape of children and polygamy within the FLDS…but I won’t.
I could point to the man who founded a Muslim-American television station (to help fight Muslim stereotypes) and then beheaded his wife with a sword in a traditional honor killing…but even that is not visceral enough.
I will point to this story where yesterday 1,000 people accused of being witches in Gambia have been locked up in secret detention centers and forced to drink a dangerous hallucinogenic potion. Two have died so far.
I will point to this video that talks about the Pentacostal church teaching fear of witches in Niger Delta and the children who are maimed and killed as witches.
I will point you to the single most disturbing video I’ve ever seen. It is infuriating and anguishing and I warn you up front that it shows people accused of being witches…being beaten…and burned alive. This cannot be unwatched and it is not something to view at work or around children. You have been warned. It is here.
To bring this full circle, as AIDS has taken its horrific toll in Africa, villagers have blamed witches — and not the virus — for the deaths. (Thanks Pope!)
And lest you think this has no impact on people here in the US… VP candidate Sarah Palin gave credit to Kenyan Pentecostal pastor Thomas Muthee for her 2006 gubernatorial election victory. This same pastor began his ministry with a witch hunt against a Kenyan woman he accused of causing car accidents through demonic spells and famously prayed over Palin saying “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, every form of witchcraft is what you rebuke. ”
The salvation of humanity rests in education and rational thought, not in the outdated superstitions of ancient dogma. God help us? Today God can only help us by getting out of the way. So I do this small thing, this insignificant blog, to try and help bring the insanity and fear out of the dark corners of the world and to replace it with the light of reason and courage. It isn’t much, but at least it’s something.