The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Religious privilege needs a kick in the head

And here’s why.

Last week, in Sydney, a man was flogged for 30 minutes in the middle of the night, by four bearded men of “middle eastern appearance”. I first read about it in the Sydney Morning Herald, where the author of the article seemed determined to mention the assailants’ exotic origins and hirsute appearance as many times as possible, without explicitly stating what everyone else was now thinking: that the victim had hired the famous late-night bondage service, “Beard to the Bone”.

Imagine my surprise, then, when it turned out that the poor man’s savage beating had come via the ever-merciful hands of Allah’s “Islamic Justice Squad”, whose motto, “Whips be upon him”, now makes perfect sense. He was apparently a recent convert to Wahhabism (currently the only thing protecting Saudi Arabian society from women drivers), and had broken one of their most sacred rules. Did he shoot someone? Sleep with the imam’s third wife? Add “ito” to the front sign of every mosque in Sydney? No, what he did was much, much worse – he had a drink. Perhaps he should have chosen Christianity, where drinking is perfectly acceptable, especially on Sunday morning. Hair of the god, indeed.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the Catholic Church is in serious trouble. Once considered beyond political reproach, the Church now finds itself under unprecedented attack due to the recent release of the Cloyne Report into “priestly abuse”. Lest this ubiquitous euphemism confuse you into thinking I’m referring to enforced viewings of Beverly Hills 902010 re-runs, let me be more explicit, and accurate. The report details, in gut-wrenching detail, the institutionalised enablement and cover-up of child rape. I dare you to read even a small excerpt without feeling sick.

Unfortunately for the Church, their lack of introspection and unwillingness to change has led one Irish politician (the Taoiseach, no less) to do what was once unthinkable – he’s called for the abolition of the “Sacramental Seal” of the confessional. Under this long-held and fiercely-protected tradition, if a person confesses a serious crime to a Catholic priest (basically, anything except the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments), the priest is forbidden to inform secular authorities, or anyone else for that matter.

Enda Kenny has now said “Enough is enough”. The Church’s response? Get fucked.

Tying these two incidents together is young Niko Alm, who demanded, and won, the right to wear a colander in his drivers’ licence photo. Wait… did you say colander…? But… but… that’s ridiculous! Unless it’s justified by religious belief, that is.

You see, Niko is a Pastafarian, the term for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And his religion requires him to wear a colander on his head. Silly? Undoubtedly. But when you think about it, isn’t it just as silly, and religiously legitimate, as a Sikh’s turban, or a Jew’s Kippah, or a Muslim’s hajib?

Do you see the problem now?

If you have a holy book, anything goes.

Want to claim that wives are their husband’s property? Invoke religion. Want to whip people into a bloody pulp for the non-issue of drinking alcohol? Point to your holy book. Don’t feel like aiding in the prosecution of confessed paedophiles? Just tell ‘em the Pope said you can’t.

If all religions are equal, then religion can be used to justify anything.

But here’s the rub. Christians will point to the Muslims and say “You can’t whip people for drinking alcohol”, and Muslims will point to Christians and say, “You can’t protect child rapists”. Each will condemn the views of the other, while demanding respect for their own brand of revealed dogma.

And all the while, the Pastafarians just wish that everyone would put down their holy book, and use their noodle.

Category: Bad, Hypocrisy, Politics, Religion

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