Does the Dark History of Christianity Have a Brighter Future?

I am the first to admit, I am somewhat closed minded with regards to religion. However, my mind is not closed with regards to faith in a creator deity, my mind is closed to the specific religious doctrines of slavery, torture and clitoridectomies. My mind is entirely open to evidence that supports God’s existence, there just happens to not be any. It would be very easy to change my mind about the credibility of your God, it would literally be as simple as supplying evidence. On the contrary, there is virtually no amount of evidence that pervades blind faith. When you’re not making a factual claim, no number of facts will prove decisive in changing your opinion. Whether or not their is a being in the sky granting wishes and committing genocides is of little relevance to this conversation. It’s virtually impossible to disprove the existence of an invisible, intangible being, due to its infinite resistance to the force of logic. Thus, instead of exploring the logical plausibility of God’s existence I’m just going to examine the illusory marriage of faith and morality.

 

Given the width and breadth of moral blind spots that the Church have demonstrated up to this point, Christian pro-slavery sentiments seems as appropriate a starting point as any. Admittedly, I don’t believe slavery was the product of christian ideology, despite the unrestrained support shown in the bible. Contrary to what many Christians say, the abolitionist movement wasn’t the product of Christianity, in fact the Christian slaveholders of the time could look to the bible as justification, with it’s only requirement being that you don’t beat your slaves so badly as to remove vital facial features. Perhaps the most disturbing instance of religion being a cause of slavery rather than force against it are the stories of missionaries running out of money and subsequently funding their missions by selling their native hosts into the transatlantic slave trade. This extreme response to African hospitality seems a perfect demonstration of their moral priorities, only working for the benefit of their fellow human when it’s religiously expedient to do so. Nothing about this faith-centric worldview, in which actions towards your neighbour are continually superseded by service to Yahweh, can be called “moral”.  None have put it better than H.L Mencken when he said “Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.”

 

Next it feels necessary to address the exacerbative effects of religious moderation in the fight against extremism. It comes as no surprise when people of mutual faith defend the same ground in the name of their religion, what always strikes me as distinctly concerning however, is when otherwise rational people side with religious lunatics, merely because they are of the religious variety. Religious demagoguery of this kind is being veiled, in spite of conformed ethical standards, merely for the protection of a two thousand year old religious institution. The notion being, that simply acknowledging the relationship between action and doctrine would cause a great unraveling of faith is an absolute non-sequitur, there are simply too many examples of faith not bowing to the pressures of reason for this to hold true. Furthermore, counter-factual but seemingly benign claims about the wants of God have a history of providing detrimental results. Just think about the long term effects of Christian doctrine in Africa: for every instance in which it bestows a terminal child with hope; there are countless examples of this optimism expiring as the body goes limp in their mothers’ arms. Another clear result of anti-contraceptive sentiments manifesting negatively is the effect on crime. It’s commonly understood within economics that a highly effective means of curbing crime is giving women control over their reproductive rights. This isn’t immediately clear but does become remarkably straightforward when duly considered. Restricting access to birth control and abortion, for explicitly religious reasons, causes a population boom. This boom in unwanted children, born to unprepared parents, causes a commensurate rise in crime. On the consequential backdrop of crime, disease and death emerging from African religiosity, it’s difficult to endorse the mental palliation of hope as a counter-balancing perk of Christianity. Instead of offering hope to the victims of this pernicious dogma, why not offer practical solutions instead?

 

In response to two thousand years of logical pressure, we have recently witnessed Christianity relinquish its dogmatic grasp on western society and reach towards a more tolerant existence. It’s difficult to say exactly when this occurred, one would be inclined to say it’s partly a product of the internet. This latest generation has been shattered by information, with some digging a trench and staying camped in their inherited faith, while others have strided beyond preconceptions and challenged the status quo of organised religion as a means of social and ethical optimisation. Christian extremists must be granted credit for finally turning back their ships, dismounting their cavalry, and dropping their swords in a bid to relax their societal influence, even if this concession only arrived in the aftermath of war, witch trials and a sordid wedding between church and state.

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