by Eric Jayne
The religion I’m most familiar with is Christianity since that is the religious faith I was brought up in by my parents. I got a good religious instruction with Sunday School, youth ministry, weekly church services, bible school, and family bible camp. My understanding of the other two biggies, Islam and Judaism, are less familiar but I do understand that they sprouted from the Abrahamic garden that provides a bounty of bloodshed, rape, infanticide, and ethnocentric attitudes endorsed by God.
An honest reading of the Abrahamic texts—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—reveals that this popular, wide-reaching, “vague concept” instructs believers that it’s okay to sacrifice your son to demonstrate your love for God (Genesis 22:2-13). It also promotes the eternal torture of children (Exodus 20:5), beating of slaves (Exodus 21:20-21), hatred towards LGBT community (Leviticus 18:22), killing boys and raping girls (Numbers 31:17-18), holy wars (Deuteronomy 3:22), and so much more.
Mark Twain analogized the Christian Bible as an old fashioned drug store, “its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes.” Twain goes on, “There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hellfire is gone, but the text remains.” As the nation wrestled with slavery, Twain pointed out that people “began to stir against slavery…. There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one – the pulpit.” Twain correctly concludes that “the world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it, and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession and take the credit of the correction.”
Today in the 21st century religion continues to guide our nation’s public policy. Transgender people are forbidden to use the public bathroom they are comfortable using because religious folks in powerful lawmaking positions are uncomfortable with it. Furthermore, women’s reproductive healthcare is a constant fight because of moral busybodies eyeing a restricted sanitized afterlife instead of the reality of this world we live in.
Religion teaches believers that they are superiorly designed with souls and some are specifically “chosen.” Earlier this year, the artist known as Father John Misty released an album entitled Pure Comedy. The opening title track sums up the problem of religion in our society and I encourage readers to give it a listen. In it, Father John Misty sings: “Oh their religions are the best. They worship themselves yet they’re totally obsessed with risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits. And they get terribly upset when you question their sacred texts… Their languages just serve to confuse them.”
I will continue to be an unabashed foe of faith because I know what it’s like to be brought up with these strange, archaic, toxic beliefs. Whether or not religion is a vague concept or not, it’s a tool used by people to control thoughts and actions for a particular vision of how the world should be ordered and organized. Being a foe of faith is a decent thing to be.
Eric Jayne is the former president of Minnesota Atheists, where he still sits on the Board. A contributing editor to Atheist Voices of Minnesota, he currently lives and works in the Twin Cities area.