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August 21st, 2007

The Religious Kool-Aid Litmus Test

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Memo to the believers: ARE YOU DUMB?

You might think you are. You might think I think you are. After all, religious stupidity does get it in the face here on a regular basis. And fuck knows, the odds aren't in your favor. But if you live your life right, it's possible to believe in an invisible sky daddy and not be dumb.

I've been trying to distill this into a simple, bulletproof rule for a while now, and I think I've finally nailed it down, with one glaring exception. The definitive religious litmus test.

If you truly believe that your God or Gods will like you better as a result of fucking up someone else's day, there is something wrong with you, your particular sub-brand of religion, or, most likely, both.

The one exception to this rule are young-earth creationists, whose harm is more long-term and societal rather than directed at specific individuals, but still have something very wrong with them.

The beautiful thing about the "fucking up someone's day" clause is that it eliminates the most common justification for shitty behavior amongst the godly: "It's for their own good." I don't care if you think that ruining someone's day is going to save their immortal soul. You're still ruining someone's day and thinking that Jesus is smiling on you for it.

The other nice thing about it is that it covers a wide variety of shitty behavior. Suicide bombings ruin people's days. Protesting funerals ruins people's days. Shoving bloody fetus pictures in a woman's face further fucks up a day that wasn't so hot to begin with. Handing out Chick tracts instead of candy at Halloween ruins a kid's day.

I'm not saying that it isn't occasionally necessary, or even fun, to fuck up someone's day. But when it's motivated by the idea that while they may be making other people uncomfortable, inconveniencing them, distressing them, or killing them, but their God demands it of them and will smile upon them, well, that strikes me as about as wrong as it gets.

The incident that clarified this all for me was the recent case of High Point Church in Arlington, Texas. It involved the funeral of one Cecil Sinclair, age 42, Navy veteran and homosexual. High Point, one of those huge projection-screen and gift-shop style megachurches, agreed to host the funeral, providing food and a video presentation featuring a montage of pictures of Sinclair. The day before the funeral, they pulled out. Reneged. Left the Sinclair family hanging. Guess why? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Some of those photos had very strong homosexual images of kissing and hugging. My ministry associates were taken aback." - Rev. Gary Simons.

If two men hugging and/or kissing qualifies as "very strong homosexual images", then there is no such thing as a weak, or even a moderate, or for that matter, even a strong homosexual image. Two clothed men hugging is the mildest homosexual image you can have. So apparently, High Point Church was willing to host the funeral for a gay dude as long as nobody ever actually mentioned he was gay.

This, of course, ruined the Sinclair family's day for the express purpose of pleasing his deity, a deity so great, so powerful, and so awesome that the graven image of a mansmooch under his large and lavishly-appointed mega-roof would upset him unduly.

And just in case you think I'm being unfair to Rev. Dumbfuck, enjoy this savory analogy from the Dallas Morning News.

"Perhaps a mother who is a member of the church loses a son who is a thief or murderer, Mr. Simons said. The church would surely volunteer to hold a service, he said. 'But I don't think the mother would submit photos of her son murdering someone,' he said. 'That's a red light going off.'"

That's lovely. Not enough that you cancel the funeral. Not enough that you make the family scramble for new accommodations at the last minute. No, you've got to make absolutely sure that her entire WEEK is fucked up by going to the newspaper and equating her son, dead in middle age from surgical complications, to a goddamned MURDERER because you saw a picture of him kissing another dude. And that's why Gary Simons doesn't just fail the test, he defines it.