The Power of Religion

Yesterday I penned a very difficult post that allowed me to maintain my commitment to writing about my battle with a psychological disease.  It did not take long for a true, true believer to say something we all could have predicted.

The good thing about my G-d is that I have someone that I can turn to when things overwhelmed me, when my demons came out and wanted satisfaction, I know that I could not help myself, but I can call out to Him and my life focus changes…Where do you turn for help? yourself? you already said that you are flawed, as are we all humans. No one ever cares for you like Jesus. He dealt with inner demons in one simple way He took them out with a brick through their window with His blood on it and they leave….permanently, no warranty work needed.

Understandably, several people jumped on him for his insensitivity.  I did not.  Not initially.

If what he believes is true, then he is offering me a cure.  His intentions are as good as yours or mine.  Of course, what he believes is not true, and so he’s not helping.  Instead, he’s capitalizing on another person’s suffering to spread a position that cannot be spread through evidence or sound argument and so must be thrust on the emotionally weak or the mentally underdeveloped (read: children).  He is a predator.

This is the problem with religion.  It allows people to stick their evangelistic thumb into a wound and think they’re helping.

It allows people to oppose equal rights for others…and think they’re helping.

It allows people to fly airplanes into skyscrapers…and think they’re helping.

This is not to say that good intentions are irrelevant.  After all, we must want to be reasonable before we can be reasonable.  But good intentions by themselves, absent the influence of reason, are not enough to make somebody a good person.  In fact, good intentions unchained from rationality are frequently perilous to ourselves and to the world we all share.  It is the doorway to well-meaning madness.

And that is the problem with religion, not that it corrupts people’s intentions, but that it corrupts their reason and thus often makes predators (or even monsters) of otherwise good people, like the callous commenter who saw opportunity in the wake of my agony.

Now let’s talk about his comment…

Where do I turn for help if not to an  invisible man who cannot be bothered to show up?  I turn to flesh and blood human beings I can see, hug, and talk to.  I turn to professionals employing the sum of human knowledge surrounding the operation of the brain.  Did you really need to ask?

you already said that you are flawed, as are we all humans.

And so we are, and so we can only do the best we are able.  But a material friend and all their virtues as a person with a willing shoulder for me to cry on, however flawed, is a damn sight better than an empty room and prayer.

No one ever cares for you like Jesus.

Oh stuff it.

Jesus has never held my hand while I shook.  He has never hauled me out of my house, cooked something, and forced me to eat it.  He has never dragged me to the doctor kicking and screaming to get the medicine that wound up saving my life.  He did not invent that medicine.  I have enemies that care for me like Jesus.

The care of Jesus is indistinguishable from neglect.  You should have a higher opinion of the care you deserve.

He dealt with inner demons in one simple way He took them out with a brick through their window with His blood on it and they leave….permanently, no warranty work needed.

Read the comments of the post you chimed in on.  Read of all the people who had a mental illness and were told to give their problems to Jesus and subsequently suffered much longer than they should have before giving their problems to a doctor.  If what you say is true, then Jesus must really love you and he must really hate them.

Which goes hand in hand with what I was saying earlier.  What you call help, in this case, is actually harm.  You’re prescribing a placebo effect in place of something that will actually help, and so you’re keeping sick people sick.  This necessarily makes you and your beliefs the enemy of compassion, and thereby makes them my enemy.  It has transformed what could be gratitude for your care into contempt for you as an agent of human suffering.

This is the ‘power’ of religion.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.