Earlier this week, I encountered four extremely disturbing stories of religious folk being very, very bad. I am not saying that religion was the only or main cause of these despicable acts, but rather the people doing them are religious and they certainly seem to be motivated by religion or at least would claim some justification from religion. I don’t want to blog about topics like this but I feel I need to. I feel I need to write “WTF” in ten thousand-foot letters of fire across the sky.
I will start with the worst headline I have seen in years. Child bride in Yemen dies of internal bleeding on wedding night: activist. It first needs to be said that marriage at the age of eight is not generally considered permissible by mainstream Islam. Also, that this particular story still needs more confirmation. (I have delayed this post a few days and the story seems legitimate.)
That said, it is generally accepted that the Prophet Muhammad married a girl named Aisha when she was six or seven and consummated the marriage when she was… nine.
I cannot help but think that the man who married this couple, and the husband as he raped this child to death, thought this otherwise disgusting practice was authorized by Islam. If not, what in the name of little green apples could justify this?
There should be no need for debate or discussion in here. No one should marry or have sex with anyone before they can consent, regardless of what any book, tradition, or deity might imply or what we feel it has written in our hearts.
Now, if I lived in Bangladesh, I might face ten years in prison for publishing the above. So, need I say more about this headline? “Bangladesh Court Indicts 4 Bloggers For Allegedly Posting Derogatory Comments About Islam”
Then there was this: Yes, a Christian Shot and Killed an Atheist… but There’s More to the Story. I agree that there was more to it and that the murder was in response to a nasty comment by the atheist. But the murderer did testify under oath that on the day of the murder “I thought I was the closest man to God alive” and that he truly believed at the time that the victim was the devil incarnate. He swears to God that this was what he thought as a good Christian when he went to his room, got his gun and proceeded to shoot his roommate to death.
It is really interesting to note that his defence was not that this view was true or inspired by an all-loving god, but that it was insane. If God exists I think he could and would want to stop this kind of thing. He didn’t. Either because he did not want to, or he had some other good plan for which this was necessary. If such an alternative rationale exists, none of us really understands what is truly right or wrong. I cannot conceive of a greater good that could justify this or any of these stories. Can you?
Finally, in the “this-would-be-funny-if-it-was-not-true” category, is the story of this family. Mom and Dad took their kids, which included a newborn and a 3-year old, and with no navigation skills decided to sail a small craft thousands of miles into the Pacific. They were upset at the US state control that allows people the freedom to marry the same sex and end their own pregnancies. Mom says they believed God would guide sail them safely during the thousands of miles into the Pacific to a Micronesian island. He didn’t. He sent “squall after, squall, after squall.” After 91 days the and facing death, they were not saved by any god but by people. The saddest part of this is that they see this disaster as a miracle reinforcing their belief.
We hear stories like this all the time. What struck me was these all came to my attention one day, before lunchtime.
If religion played any role in the decisions resulting in these real nightmares, I think it was mostly harmful.