What Has Religion Done for Us This Month? Episode 7

Daniel is back with another montage of some of the awful things done in the name of God over the past month:

(via ConversationWithA)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Pseudonym

    I think we should start a thread on each of these videos about stories that were conveniently left out because it didn’t fit the narrative.

    Here’s one.

    Here’s another.

    Any more?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Why would we do that? Churches constantly trumpet all the good they do; make no mistake, they do do some good. The problem is they then use that as an excuse to sweep all the bad done in the name of religion or their own god under the rug. We already know the good stuff religion/churches can do. We also know that the religion/church part isn’t necessary for people to come together and give to those in need.

      The harm done by religion (see videos) is not outweighed by small goods. In any civilized society, Christian fundamentalists wouldn’t have prevented single payer health care and a strong safety net, which would make such charity drives unnecessary. Mitigating the harm caused in large part by your co-religionists doesn’t count as “stories conveniently left out”.

      • Pseudonym

        Why would we do that?

        Because anchoring bias is real, and distorts our ability to reason effectively.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          The first piece of information offered/seen by almost everyone is positive towards religion, because those religions hype themselves as awesome. These videos aren’t trying to be even-handed looks at everything religion does. They are showing that religion can and does lead to suffering in the world, doesn’t make people better or more ethical, and that the evil done by religion isn’t outweighed by the good done. You’ve entirely missed the point of all these videos. They are a counterbalance to a constant stream of mainstream religion-is-good news and media coverage.

          • Pseudonym

            The first piece of information offered/seen by almost everyone is positive towards religion [...]

            Maybe. Personally, I don’t live in the US (which makes me “almost everyone”) and I get most of my religion news from the local mainstream media (which makes me “almost everyone”), plus FA and similar outlets (which makes me not “almost everyone”).

            I’m not sure which of these traits dominate, but certainly if I didn’t go out of my way, I could easily end up consuming only media that paints religion (especially religion in the US) as almost completely rotten to the core. Glad to know it’s otherwise.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              I’m glad other media paints religion in the US as almost completely rotten to the core. They get that right.

              Do churches do individually good things? Yeah, as your articles show. But overall, they are a drag and a drain on the US. We’d be much, much better off if they weren’t in a privileged position.

        • Michael W Busch

          Because anchoring bias is real, and distorts our ability to reason effectively.

          That is true.

          But, as Feminerd said, at least in US media, good actions done in the name of religion are amply reported. So, assuming it is directed primarily at a US audience, this video shouldn’t trigger anchoring bias too badly. It may be viewed primarily by people who are already hostile towards religion, but that is a different matter.

          • Pseudonym

            True. Plus, as bad as mainstream media is these days, there is probably no worse source of information than some random YouTube video.

    • WallofSleep

      David Allen Coe? Isn’t that the dude that wrote such hits as “N***er Fucker” and “My Wife Ran Off With a N***er”?

      I’m not saying he shouldn’t get help for his health problems, I’m just saying.

      • Pseudonym

        I have no idea who he is, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.

        Besides, if you’re just saying, then anything you say is by definition perfectly okay!

        • WallofSleep

          “Besides, if you’re just saying, then anything you say is by definition perfectly okay!”

          If that’s how you want to see it, fine. I’ll add a few more words to that sentence for your benefit: I’m just saying you could have probably picked a better example.

          • Pseudonym

            That was a flippant comment about the use of the phrase in general, and not directed specifically at you. I apologise for that; I can see how what I said wasn’t clear.

            “I’m just saying” is one of those phrases like “I’m not [generic bigot-type], but”. It should be used with great care.

            • WallofSleep

              Never interpreted it like that myself. I suppose I could have also said: “I’m not saying he shouldn’t get help for his health problems, I’m just saying he’s a racist prick.”

            • Carmelita Spats

              Now I have to be careful with “just sayin’”? Hell, I thought I was good enough to make a jack rabbit spit in a bulldog’s face by just focusing on NOT calling Mother Teresa a “Hag O’ Christ” and a “malevolent dwarf”. Someone once said that the Right Reverend Jerry Falwell was given an enema and buried in a matchbox. Forget bloggers, comedy writers are the worst offenders. But then again, what’s humor without sensitivity training?

          • Rain

            One of the current vogues of the internets is that “just sayin” is somehow evil and nefarious. Probably instigated by some high-falutin fancy pants blogger somewhere that likes complaining about idioms. It is a perfectly harmless term, so get over it already fancy-pants grammar police people!

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Pseudonym is partially right on this one point. The phrase is so often a cover for bigotry that it will always invoke the sentiment. However, it’s obviously not being used that way here.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Maybe you should also castigate Daniel for not mentioning that a religious grandma baked cookies somewhere today, or possibly that the stock market went up partially because some Christians invested money. You’ve missed the point.

      • Pseudonym

        You’re the first person in this thread who suggested castigating Daniel.

  • mikedave

    Most religious people are not evil, just mistaken. This video paints them all with the same brush, the generalization borders on bigotry.

    • WallofSleep

      *sigh*

      http://aprilreign.breadnroses.ca/wp-content/uploads/NotThisShit.png

      Edit: Please, allow me to elaborate. Religion is something that, after a certain age, most people have a choice in. It’s not something someone is born with that can not be chosen, like skin color, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation.

      So, the incessant whining and constant accusations of bigotry whenever someone focuses on the evil that is enabled by religion and is done in its name gets really fucking tiresome and tedious to address. Thus I simply say “Aw jeez, not this shit again”!

      • Pseudonym

        I would think that ethnicity is just as “chosen” as religion. You can freely change your cultural practices, the kind of food you eat, and how you refer to yourself.

        I have a friend who refers to herself as Chinese. She was born in Malaysia, and her ancestors have been there for several generations. She now lives in Australia. She has never even visited China as far as I know. But she is Chinese.

        • WallofSleep

          I think you might be confusing ethnicity with nationality.

          • Pseudonym

            That’s exactly what I’m not doing.

            • WallofSleep

              By definition a person’s ethnicity includes a racial component. That part can not be chosen. So yes, I do believe that is what you’re doing.

              • Pseudonym

                The current scientific consensus is that there is no such thing as “race”.

                • WallofSleep

                  “The current scientific consensus is that there is no such thing as “race”.”

                  Provide a link backing up that claim, and I’ll be happy to read it when I have time. Until then, that’s the best word I know to use to define the differentiating characteristics of our species. Characteristics that can be easily identified in our DNA. It’s the nomenclature that is most common and accepted. If you have a better term for it, lay it on me.

                • Pseudonym

                  Here’s the usual link. Now please provide a link backing up the claim that ethnicity is something other than membership of and identification with a social group.

                • WallofSleep

                  Thanks, I’ll read that in a bit. My link? Nothing more sophisticated than the M-W dictionary.

                  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethnic?show=0&t=1371454590

                  a : of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background

                  Edit: And to be clear, I never claimed that ethnicity is “something other than membership of and identification with a social group”, I simply said that by definition it includes a racial component.

                • WallofSleep

                  “Here’s the usual link.”

                  Okay, read it. It in no way states that there is no such thing as “race”. It is stating very clearly that all humans are of the same species (no duh), and that cultural proclivities and human abilities are not related to race, but to the culture one lives in and their genetics, respectively.

                  A couple of sentences:

                  “Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.”

                  This does not invalidate the concept of race, but instead challenges the concept of pure races.

                  “Therefore it is meaningless from the biological point of view to attribute a general inferiority or superiority to this or to that race.”

                  This seems to confirm the concept of different races, while invalidating the concept racism.

                  “The biological consequences of mating depend only on the individual genetic makeup of the couple, and not on their racial classifications. Therefore, no biological justification exists for restricting intermarriage between persons of different racial classifications.”

                  Again, confirming the concept of race and racial classification while invalidating the concept of racism.

                  “There is no national, religious, linguistic or cultural group or economic class that constitutes a race.”

                  Here they get into the difference between nationality and race. And as I stated earlier, ethnicity by definition has a racial component, but it’s true that is not all an ethnicity is.

                  This link you gave me in no way, shape, nor form claims that the current scientific consensus states that there is no such thing as race. Instead, it is claiming that humans are all part of one species, and putting the lie to many racist notions and claims. And it is doing it quite well, so I thank you for that link.

                  I think you’re trying to split hairs far too finely, and being needlessly, and incorrectly, pedantic. And because you chose to ignore the other terms in my previous comment while focusing solely on the term “ethnicity” I am also beginning to think that you’re (again, incorrectly) trying to play semantic word games with me, which I neither appreciate nor care to indulge any further.

                  TL,DR?

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

                • Michael W Busch

                  Race is primarily socially defined rather than genetic. The genetic variation within a race is usually far greater than those between races, racial distinctions are made differently in different cultures, and the race that a person is assigned to can vary from place to place (e.g. the same person could be called black in the US but be called white in Brazil).

        • Michael W Busch

          “ethnicity” is a word with many different overlapping meanings.

          It refers to socially-defined groups variously based on common cultural heritage, ancestry, history, homeland, language, or dialect. Some of those are subject to individual choice, some are subject to which group other people you interact with assign you to (and so can vary with context), and some are fixed.

          So your friend may be Malaysian by birth and Australian by current nationality, but still be ethnically Chinese because that’s where her ancestors came from, that’s how she refers to herself, that’s how other people refer to her, and that’s the cultural heritage she finds important.

          • Pseudonym

            Help me out here. In what way is ethnicity not malleable?

            I’m willing to agree, if only for the sake of argument, that some hypothetical changes in ethnic identity make no sense. It doesn’t make sense, for example, to self-identify as ethnically Chinese if neither you nor any of your ancestors have ever lived in China.

            Nonetheless, if your parents came from China but you live in New Zealand, can’t you choose one or both of those ethnicities? Or is “ethnicity” something imposed on you by accident of birth or societal pressure?

            • Michael W Busch

              Help me out here. In what way is ethnicity not malleable?

              If someone is being assigned to an ethnicity based on who their ancestors were, that’s not something they themselves can change – although society as a whole could shift to not consider that distinction as important. In this sense, ethnicity overlaps with the socially-defined groupings that we call “race”.

      • mikedave

        I like Hemant’s usual approach, the friendly part, this video is not friendly.

        The purpose of the video seems to be to incite hatred , the title implies it refers to all religious people. I think we can be stridently anti religious without stooping to the level of producing what looks like a North Korean propaganda film.

        • Michael W Busch

          You do realize this video is simply a clipshow of various news stories from the past month?

        • RobMcCune

          How dare someone compile a list of news stories (many of which appeared on this blog), and distill them into an 8 minute video, this is clearly hate.

          </sarcasm>

          • mikedave

            If I compiled a list of news stories of crimes commited by blacks (or jews or atheists or whatever) and titled it “what has black culture done for the world this month” you would have no problem seeing it for what it is.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Ah, but people do not commit crimes because they are Jewish or black. These crimes were committed by people because of their religion. Religion was the motivating factor.

              Additionally, no one claims being of a certain racial or ethnic persuasion makes you morally superior to everyone else. Or at least, we rightly see such claims as ludicrous and racist and dismiss them out of hand. Religions, on the other hand, make and get away with the claim that religion makes them morally superior to everyone else. That is just as ludicrous as claiming that being of Native American descent makes you morally superior to someone of Caucasian descent and should be denounced as such, using evidence such as the video above.

            • RobMcCune

              There’s a big difference, namely religious people do what they do in the name of religion. The handful of sex abuse stories in the video are the only exception to that. The murder, torture, and aiding and abetting of child rape, were all done by people feeling holy and righteous in their actions.

              When you can show blasphemy laws,, for example, have nothing to with religion, then your comparison will be valid.

    • Michael W Busch

      The first part is true.

      It would be wrong to say that all religious people are evil. But that’s not what this video does. It merely compiles recent evil actions done in the name of religion.

      And intent isn’t magic. Religion is often used to enable evil actions, and to make that observation is not bigotry.

      • C Peterson

        I would simply say that religion is evil, by which I mean that it causes vastly greater harm than good. That is an opinion, of course, but one that many of us agree with, and which videos like this try to show… for the purpose of making people think.

        Taking the position that religion is evil is very different from the position that religious people are evil- as you quite correctly note, and mikedave misrepresents.

  • Tobias2772

    MD,

    I stongly disagree.

    First, these videos do not stir hatred in me – they make me sad – and determined to oppose the irrational belief in supernatural mythology that feeds these heinous acts.

    Secondly, this is just one month’s worth of this religious bullshit. How many of these idiotic actions have to happen before these “not-evil” mythologists clean up their heaping pile of shit – how long before we do it for them.

    Finally, Daniel keeps reminding us that this kind of primitive behavior continues on a regular basis all over the world. It’s easy to forget that when some of our own religious zealots aren’t killing people over their beliefs. That doesn’t make them any less irrational or primitive. And it’s not bigotry to be poiinting out the facts here.
    Thanks Daniel – keep reminding us of the work that still need doing.


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