Earlier this month, just a day after the Ten Commandments monument outside the Oklahoma State Capitol building was taken down because it was deemed illegal government promotion of religion, the Johnston County Commissioners (in the same state) put up a similar monument outside their local courthouse. (Because who gives a damn about the law, that’s why.)
It’s never really about persecution. Some refs don’t want to see a celebration of any kind following a touchdown, so the moment your hand goes up in the air or you make some sort of excited gesture, they throw the yellow flag.
That’s exactly what happened on Saturday during a game between two high school teams in New York. Mexico Central Academy quarterback Dante Turo ran nearly the length of the field to score a touchdown. As he got into the end zone, he pointed to the sky. The ref immediately called him out on it.
There’s a famous quotation by physicist Steven Weinberg that says: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
We know what he’s saying: There are plenty of people who don’t fit the stereotypical description of “evil” but who end up saying/doing horrible things because their faith leads them to it.
For example, I’m sure Mike Huckabee is a great father and a reliable friend. And yet, when he talks about gay people, I’m always disgusted by his remarks. So is he a horrible person? On that issue, yes. In general? I don’t think so. I’ve often felt that way about people I’ve met who don’t share my views: “They’re really nice; they’re just wrong.”
Or let’s look to the Bible: Abraham is consider a good, devout man… who is willing to kill his own son because he thinks it’s what God wants him to do.
Was Abraham evil? Or did his devotion to God push him to nearly commit an undoubtedly evil act?
That’s what Weinberg was talking about. Faith can lead otherwise decent people to do really horrible things.
In a recent interview with Irish TV host Gay Byrne, Richard Dawkins brought up another example of this phenomenon. He referenced the 9/11 hijackers who killed thousands of people (and wanted to kill more) all in the name of their God. Were they always evil, or were they driven to evil by their religious beliefs?