Remaining Tolerant

Among today’s headlines, an Indiana state legislator has introduced a bill that, if enacted into law, would allow local school boards to force teachers to teach Creationism in science classes.

The legal niceties of this don’t interest me. I’ve read that such a law would clearly be unconstitutional, based on an existing Supreme Court decision — but on the other hand, I don’t trust the current Court not to overturn that decision. I regard the legal situation as essentially fluid. If the law were passed, and if a school board chose to act on it, the lives of teachers and children would be disrupted for years, whatever the Court’s eventual determination.

What I am concerned about is whether it’s possible, or desirable, to remain tolerant of religion, given the fact that a person who is so manifestly a dangerous lunatic (a) has a passionate commitment to a religious faith and (b) has, in the 21st century, been elected to high public office.

I try to be tolerant; honestly, I do. I have friends and professional colleagues who are deeply religious, and I almost never discuss religion with them. Such a discussion would only lead to bad feelings. I know that people sometimes abandon their religions, and it’s wonderful that they do, but I also know that most religious people are persuaded by emotions, not logic. If they were readily swayed by logic, they wouldn’t be religious! So a logical demonstration that their beliefs are absurd is more likely to lead to hostility than to enlightenment.

However, the sheer weight of religious bullshit in public life today is getting to be too much to bear. I just don’t have the patience for it anymore. Not all religious people are sick or dangerous, but quite a lot of them are — and the ones who aren’t sick or dangerous are conspicuously failing to clean up their side of the street. They are failing to denounce and ostracize the sickos.

On the contrary: The sickos are given a free pass. They get a wink and a nod, or maybe a polite “tsk-tsk-tsk.”

I have also grown more than a little suspicious of religious people who express their beliefs politely, without advocating discrimination, cruelty, ignorance, or oppression. I can’t help wondering what they say to their peers at Bible study. Their pleasant, uplifting expression of faith may be a public relations ploy — a sham. Anyone who attempts to defend religion ought to expect to be put to the test. Respect for religion is not necessary.

Right now we have a leading candidate for President who is a Mormon. On a strictly personal level, most of the Mormons of my acquaintance are very nice people. On the other hand, their religion is batshit crazy. It’s absurd, and it’s sick. How can nice people possibly believe this shit? I don’t understand that. Among their other failings, Mormons are adamantly opposed to equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgendered people. The Mormon Church pumped quite a lot of money into the campaign for Proposition 8 in California, which stands as a giant roadblock in the way of homosexual and transgender rights. And the probability that Mr. Romney will disavow his church’s stand on this issue is precisely zero.

What we have here is a large and very well funded social institution that is actively supporting and encouraging hatred, discrimination, and outright violence. Not simply by implication, either. Prominent Mormons have, in recent years, publicly advocated criminalizing homosexual behavior, and if you don’t think being thrown in prison is a form of violence, you’re as sick as the rest of them.

A member of that charming institution may very well be elected President next year — and even if he isn’t elected, his views are mainstream. He’s not way off on the margin of political discourse. In point of fact, some of his rivals for the Republican nomination are more dangerous on the issue of gay rights than Romney is, and for precisely the same reason. They’re not Mormons, but they’re religious zombies. They’re preaching hatred actively, every day. You would think somebody would sit them down and say, “Folks, you’re giving religion a bad name. Get over this love affair with vicious hatred and cruelty.” But no, that’s not going to happen. Why not? Because the non-crazy religionists (assuming there are any, and I view that as an unproven assumption) are playing kissy-face with the lunatics rather than confront them.

This is why I’m losing patience with the nice, well-behaved people who espouse a religious faith. Fuck you all.

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