Last night, Vicky and I were sitting out on our patio, talking. (Something we seem to be doing less and less of as we get busier and busier.) We were talking about the new book I’m working on, where I mention the religion is a dangerous distraction, up there with materialism, social order, and pop culture. Now, Vicky was raised in a nice, Lutheran church filled with nice, Lutheran people. She has some difficulty as seeing religion as being anything but a power for good.
But she’s not so naïve that she can’t. “I guess I’d be okay with a religion that didn’t teach hatred.”
“Which one’s that?” I asked.
“You know. One that taught love.”
“Which one’s that?” I honestly wanted to know.
(I wouldn’t include Buddhism, because Buddhism isn’t even a religion in the Western sense, with a personal deity to worship.)
Sadly, even her nice Lutheran church filled with nice Lutheran people taught hate. Just look at the Bible. It’s filled with hate. And, as much as you might want to claim that the God of the New Testament is a God of Love (see the Sermon on the Mount for some really good sentiments), you honestly have to admit – at the very least – that the hate taught in the Bible dulls the shine just a bit. As for myself, I wouldn’t want any child of mine being taught that a book of hate should instruct them on how to live.
You can toss out the Old Testament right away. That book is filled with hatred towards non-Jews, women, and nearly everyone else. And believers in an Old Testament god are still out there, which is scary enough. But then, you get to the New Testament – the “feel good” Bible. Almost immediately, however, you have to throw out Revelation, a book based on the Return of the Old Testament God. Revelation, which was never written to be about the end of the world as we know it, says that if you don’t love a loving god, he will FUCK YOU UP! Okay, so that’s gone, then.
Surely, the remaining bits of the Bible must be filled with love?
Matthew has Jesus saying he’ll destroy families (10:34-37), condemns those who don’t care for his preaching (11:20-24), talks in “Bush Speak” (12:30), condemns questioners (12:31-32), and justifies anti-Semitism (27:25). John has Jesus giving some of that old-time religious hatred: if you’re “unclean” you go to hell (3:29), if you don’t kowtow to Christians you get fucked (6:11), and non-believers go straight to hell (16:16). Luke casts God himself as a violent slave-owner (12:46-47), says that only a few people actually get saved (13:23-30), and other viciousness (19:22-27). Finally, John casts people into hell for thought crime (3:18, 36), is anti-Semitic (5:16, 18) (7:1) (7:13) (8:44) (11:8) (19:7, 12, 14-15) (20:19), says that non-believers will go to hell (8:24) (12:48) (14:6) (15:6).
And those are just the Apostles… makes Jesus sound like a hell of a guy, doesn’t it?
Then, we get into the rest… I won't bore you with the details suffice it to say there are more than 80 more bits of anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-unbeliever crap.
I, too, would probably have less of a problem with a religion that didn’t teach hate.
But what of those nice Lutherans? What of nice people of faith who are good despite their religion? Well, that’s the answer, isn’t it? They aren’t good because of their religion but, rather, in spite of it. I’m not saying there are no good people out there. I’m saying that good, religious people are overcoming a handicap. For that, I am grateful.
But think how much better we’d all be without our handicaps and without anyone teaching us to hate…