Religion is a funny old thing isnt it?
It probably wouldnt surprise many that I am an atheist, or a godless heathen as some would say. Unlike some like Richard Dawkins I dont believe this gives me a moral superiority over anyone. I dont think I am instantly smarter than anyone who believes in a god or gods and I dont think the worlds problems would be solved if everyone were an atheist like me.
So why am I an atheist? Like many religious people I am probably an atheist because that is the way I was raised. Chances are if mum and dad were devout Muslims, Jews or Catholics I would still be following the religion of my parents.
My father however had the intolerance of religious people that many religious fundamentalists have. When I was young I briefly started attending an Anglican church. I was ridiculed and belittled by my father for doing this. Even though I discovered organised religion wasnt my thing (I like casual sex, pork, my foreskin and sleeping in on Sundays thank you very much!) I tried consciously to banish my fathers intolerance from my thinking, and I think I succeeded.
So anyway nothing gets my goat than high up religious leaders using their influence to spread intolerance, mistrust and hatred. This year was different, it is usually sectarian name calling between followers of different faith but this year they seemed to be tag teaming on the atheists.
Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, made oblique mention of the recent scandals enveloping the Catholic Church.
He used his Easter message to tell the faithful that despite Christianity’s faults, it underpins our entire way of life.
”We often hear about Christian failures to live up to Christian standards – and there have been too many scandals and too many victims,” Cardinal Pell wrote.
”But the great majority of Christians continue to follow the commandments of love through regular service, tolerance, forgiveness and community building.”
Cardinal Pell also attacked atheism, by giving thanks for church-based community organisations, and noting that ”we find no community services sponsored by the atheists”.
Eh, that would be because atheists aren’t a legally recognised institution, with no hierarchy and structure to do such thing. Plenty of atheists donate and serve in charitable organisations and it is a lie to suggest we dont. But likewise although no community services is sponsored by “atheists” as a group, no pedophilia and child abuse is covered up by us either.
Bishop Fisher also got the ball rolling.
”Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating,” he said.
”Nazism, Stalinism, Pol-Pottery, mass murder and broken relationships: all promoted by state-imposed atheism or culture-insinuated secularism.”
Pol-Pottery? One could spend time debunking the “atheism is to blame for Nazi’s and communism” strawman that always pops up, but they have been debunked before.
But what is the point of all this? Do they want Catholics to mistrust atheist friends? If they wanted to get an atheist like me into church, blaming me for all societies ills isnt a good way to do it. The great thing about this country is the sectarian divides are very minor compared to many other countries, yet some of our “peaceful” church leaders dont seem to like this fact.
They could follow Christ’s example. If the sermon on the mount omitted “turn the other cheek” and instead used “Romans are pricks and have sex with goats” I doubt people would be talking about the guy 2000 years later.