At times, religion has a bad name, and at times it deserves it, or more accurately the people who espouse it deserve a bad name. The abuse of religion has been used as the pretext for all manner of inhumanity from ancient times. Although the first Christians were all Jews, the origin of what might be called classical anti-Semitism can be laid firmly at the door of the Church.
Religion has been used to justify slavery, wars, and much more. Currently, Islam is the bad guy in the eyes of certain people
, the political philosophy of Islamism or Islamo-Fascism being used to tar all Moslems with the same brush. Religion is not the only dogma in town though, and not the only one capable of denigrating its fellow man. Last month, the following headline appeared in a theoretical journal:
The time is right to strike a mortal blow against the Catholic Church
No, this was not in some Protestant or Islamic publication, but The Freethinker
Founded in 1881 by George William Foote (1850–1915), The Freethinker
makes no secret either of its goals or of its utter contempt
not only for all manifestations of religion, but for everyone who practises it in any way, manner, shape or form. For some time, the magazine has had a regular cartoon strip called Jesus & Mo
, yes, that Jesus and the other bloke - peace be upon him.
Here are a few sample titles of articles from recent issues: Mohammed Merah: yet another monster created by 'backward' Islam
- June 2012.
Merah was the spree killer
who went on the rampage in France in March. What sura in the Qur'an
says "Though shalt take thy automatic weapons and slay the children of the People of the Book" ?
From the front page of the April 2012 issue: Afghan Koran-burning: why did Obama apologise?
- because unlike you he is not an insensitive pig?
Andrea Yates: monster or compassionate mother?
from November last year. Andrea Yates is an American woman who drowned her baby daughter and four young sons in the bath tub. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, but on retrial she was found not guilty by reason of insanity
According to the magazine's correspondent, Yates killed all five of her offspring "after falling under the spell of a manipulative evangelist".
Or maybe she just went mad?
This plea for compassion for a woman who kills her own five children including a baby is in stark contrast to the mocking of American actress Donna D'Errico on the magazine's website only yesterday. She is said here to be pretty … dumb
because an accident on a mountain led to her bruising her face severely - as can be seen from the before and after photographs. What was she doing on this mountain? Looking for Noah's Ark.
This may sound quaint, but Miss D'Errico is hardly the first person to have made this trek, indeed many people with scientific training have gone in search not only of Noah's Ark but of the Loch Ness Monster, UFOs and other manifestations of extraterrestrial life, ghosts, psychic powers, even Bigfoot. They may have all been unsuccessful but that does not make them either deluded or mad.
Why then is it apparently so funny that Miss D'Errico suffered a nasty fall? Would it have been equally funny if a parapsychologist had tripped over in the dark while investigating a "haunted house" and busted his face, or is such contempt reserved only for the supposedly superstitious and ignorant? The Freethinker
may be contemptuous of superstition, but when it comes to ignorance, like Socrates, it is in a class by itself.