Warning: Religion can be hazardous to your health

In NGNG I wrote

“your religion is a cruel, terrible, and sometimes deadly joke on you”.

If you need proof for this, look no further than today’s story of a teenager who suffers from a life-threatening disease (Hodgkin’s) and refuses life-saving treatment because of the twisted, sick religion that his parents and priests poisoned his mind with.

Here we have a young man who is ill, who needs help, and whom his community abandoned because they are willing to sacrifice him on the altar of their superstition: Jehova’s Witnesses. To sum up, this particular Christian sect was invented in the 1870s; it believes that the ‘end of days’ has already happened in 1914 (they have to, otherwise a holy prediction of theirs from 1877 would be false), that the end of the world is imminent, and – which is relevant here – they are opposed to blood transfusion.

As a boy he was so heavily indoctrinated by his parents that today he refuses life-saving blood transfusions. Since he’s only 17 and legally a minor, a court ordered the treatment be forcibly administered – at least until he turns 18 in January 2014. Given the history and level of brain washing this youth has undergone I think it is likely that he’ll die soon after his coming of age.

Now, cynics may argue that we really shouldn’t bother: grant his wish now, and put him on the list for a Darwin Award (posthumously awarded to people who removed themselves from the human gene pool by means of stupendous stupidity). But this is really a tragedy.
Our society has failed to protect this youth. I believe that Religious Freedom must be curtailed when it endangers an innocent’s life. Now, even though I am against religion, I still think that Freedom Of Religion is one of society’s highest social achievements, so I do not say this lightly. Everyone should be free to do to themselves as silly as they wish.

Yet, brainwashing an impressionable child into self-sacrifice for a religion should be a crime. Telling a child that basic modern medicine is harmful is a morally bankrupt act of religious selfishness. You may believe it, but your child suffers the consequences. Society must step in and prevent this cruelty.

A crime was committed. The boy’s parents and his priests are the perpetrators. They should have been stopped when there still was time.

Ours is a guilt of omission.

“Please forgive me, we are not monsters.”

During the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi (emphasis mine):

Elliott’s 35-year-old mother Amber was reportedly able to grab two more children – including a wounded 12-year-old boy whose mother had been murdered – before exiting the shopping mall and taking the children them [sic] to safety.

As the group turned to leave, the gunman allegedly called after them saying the jihadists only wanted to kill Kenyans and Americans, not Britons, pleaded with Amber to convert to Islam and begged “please forgive me, we are not monsters.”

Here’s a hint: if you need to say that, you usually are.

Burqas and Whaling on Lake Zürich

Last week, the swiss canton Ticino voted on new legislation that makes it illegal for people to wear garments that hide or obscure a person’s face in public. While the text does not mention Burqas specifically, the new law is squarely aimed at them. The proposition passed.

While there is only little controversy in Switzerland in this regard (the overwhelming majority regards Burqas as a hideous piece of applied misogyny. So do I), the media did try to drum up some controversy in the weeks leading up the vote.

In an interview (see here, warning: in german) Nora Illi, member of a radical islamic group in Switzerland, stated that the proposed legislation was about as sane as prohibiting whaling on Lake Zürich.

Mrs. Illi loves the Burqa, and therefore strongly opposes the new legislation. In the same interview she goes on to say that prohibiting the Burqa would curtail a woman’s freedom, and that she knows no woman in Switzerland who is forced to wear a Burqa or Niqab.

In a word: Bull. First, there are women in Switzerland who are forced to wear that abominable garment. The reason Illi doesn’t know them is probably because those women aren’t allowed to venture outside alone or meet other people.

But there is more. It is important to remember that Mrs. Illi has converted to Islam, and hence is indeed wearing the Burqa voluntarily – or for fun. In this she is literally the one-in-a-million exception; the rest isn’t that lucky. Unfortunately, Illi is ignoring that fact.

When she likened the new legislation to ‘prohibiting whaling in lake Zürich’, though, she hit the nail on the head. For two reasons:
First, if there were whales in Lake Zürich, whaling would be prohibited in a heartbeat: to save the whales.
Moreover, Illi forgets that in this regard she’s only a make-believe whale. She, unlike the others, can stop any time. This make-believe whale is doing the rest no favor in advocating their hunt. In other words: Illi is prepared to sacrifice women’s liberation around the world for her privilege to wear a hideous piece of clothing.

Being “Christian”, but not really…

My name is Christian. I don’t believe in gods. This has, given occasion and my propensity do discuss religion, also given rise to some unfortunate misunderstandings: ‘But didn’t you just say that you are Christian…’ Likewise, the question ‘Are you Christian?’ presents me with an immediate dilemma, and (admittedly) a strong urge to make a pun where I really shouldn’t.

So just how do you introduce yourself if your name is the exact opposite of what you are? “Hi, I’m Christian, but not really?” will result in some raised eyebrows and more not-so-subtle backing away. Who wants to talk to a guy who isn’t really what he says he is?
Writing “I’m Christian but not a Christian” may be a clever line in print, but in a spoken conversation it isn’t.

On the flip side, it gives me a perfect introduction should I publicly speak on this topic. And the ideal opportunity to give soon-to-be parents some important advice: don’t give names to your children that reflect your beliefs. They have to live with it, and may come to regret it. Admittedly, I don’t resent being called ‘Christian’ – but if my parents had called me ‘Fürchtegott’ (German for ‘god fearing’, once a common name in Germany), I’m sure I’d have hated it – along with the beatings in the schoolyard such a name engenders. Just don’t do it. Keep religion out of names.

Let There Be Type

So many things to write about, so little time. Since my first title ‘No Gods, No Glory’ went online, not a single day has gone by where I did not want to comment on something religious. The great thing about living today is that we have technology like blogs, Twitter and eBooks. The bad thing about living today is that we must master these technologies.