The two seem to go hand-in-hand, more and more these days.
As the world still reacts to the Charlie Hebdo killings, perpetrated by Muslim extremists, and largely ignores the continued slaughter of innocents by Boko Haram, a Sunni Jihadi group which embraces strict Sharia Law, religion continues its poisoned march to segregate, judge, and in its worst versions, exterminate.
Religion has long been a game of control. If one only takes the time to examine the true roots vs the place in time where it landed in the hands of "leaders," it is easy to see where subjugation, patriarchy, bigotry, fear, and punishment entered in.
Religion is far different from faith. Especially these days.
Religion is used as a cudgel, a weapon, a political litmus test. It should be none of these things.
Religion should be a home to its faithful. A place of comfort where the words spoken are words of love, encouragement, acceptance. It should offer respite, not rage. Emotional uplift, not emotional blackmail. It should provide community, not condemnation. It should foster depth, not discrimination. Your faith should be your faith. Something private, personal, that enriches your life, but does not deign to think it should influence, touch, or dictate another's.
As it stands, religion separates. At its extremes, in the hands of those who rape its core, it persecutes, plunders, and engenders a self righteousness among its faithful.
If you think yourself so very far removed from those who murdered in Paris, think again. At its heart, the driving force was fervor - that same emotion experienced by all believers - just on a larger, bloody scale. And this same thought process that permeates all belief systems:
We are so very right, and they are so very wrong.
In Colorado, this example played out recently when a planned funeral for a woman was denied at the last minute by the pastor because of her "alternative lifestyle."
Yes, she was a lesbian. Vanessa Collier was a wife, a mother - a beautiful, young (only 33) loving, giving, married lesbian. Oh, the horrors.
Imagine yourself, assembled at your church, ready to bid farewell to your loved one via the planned funereal service, and you are suddenly told, "Um. no." You see, the family had provided a video of memories to be played, and one tiny snippet was of Vanessa (please sit down or steady yourself) kissing her wife.
"We don't want overt, open homosexuality in our sanctuary," said Pastor Gary Rolando, the bigot hiding behind the robes of Jesus-love. "I love the family," Rolando added. "I knew the deceased and knew that she led an 'alternative' lifestyle."
Hey Rolando - PISS OFF.
If there is a God? I would hope those are His first words when you arrive at your final destination.
The family had to scramble to find a different church for the service. His Holy Highness Rolando even did the service - just not in his sanctuary.
This is as rank and wrong as the transgender individuals who die and are dishonored in death by their families who dress a woman in a suit or a man in a dress. Because they never approved.
If there is a God, I surely hope this behavior is what is NOT approved. This complete disregard for someone's humanity, their very being, just because religion has poisoned the minds of those who get to make the final decisions.
I find it funny, in a completely black humor kind of way, how those who hide behind "God" always seem to "hear" or "interpret" things from "Him" in just the way that supports their bullshit.
God telling politicians to run for office. God telling bigots that discrimination is holy, sanctioned. God supporting killings. Oh, how the fervent fringe warp, twist, and pillage their doctrines to support their triggers, lynching, blades, and bombs.
If there is a God, and that God actually high fives this shit? Well, then your God is an asshole. And so are you.
Vanessa deserved to be honored in death with dignity, love, acceptance. Religion did not allow that.
The untold numbers slaughtered by Boko Haram deserve to be alive, embracing one another, tending to their day-to-day activities. Religion did not allow that.
The staff at Charlie Hebdo deserve to be alive, churning out their next piece of satire. Religion did not allow that.
Homosexual couples deserve to be able to get married. Religion is still trying its best to not allow that. Pssst, marriage is a legal process, not a religious one. It is sanctioned and licensed by the government, not your version of "God." And in the end, IT DOES NOT AFFECT YOU IN THE LEAST. Just shut your damned pieholes and get on with sweeping your own shitstained doorsteps.
With each day that passes, each death in the name of some deity; each indignity dispensed while wearing a cross; these notions of "rightness" get more ingrained, grow more cancerous.
And with each act, it is repeatedly proven that subscribing to a religion does not automatically make one a good person, just as not subscribing to one does not automatically make you a bad person.
Examine what you believe, what you are raising your children to believe. No matter how much you may think it is all love and faith and gospel and enrichment, if anywhere within it you suggest, state, or even intimate that your faith is right and others are wrong? Give some thought to just how fervent you are about that.
Because if there is a God? My guess is there is only going to be one line to wait in because under those manmade rules, we are ALL wrong.
Just ask the person one church over.