“Religion” – including Christianity and Judaism – is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.” At least that’s according to the No. 1 New York Times bestseller “God is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything” by journalist Christopher Hitchens.
But how does a religeon like Wicca fit in with this quote which I humbly thieved from a very interesting christian blogger?
In my personal view, a lot of the negative stuff attributed to the Big religions like Christianity and Islam would be the result of relying on texts that were written thousands of years ago, saturated with the values of that time and the subtle re-editings that people in power enjoy making. I’m not going to pretend to know what I am talking about when it comes to the bible as I have only ever known snippets, but it makes sense to me that a book written in a time when women were supressed for political reasons too deep to question would have a fair amount of female subjugation in it and that a book that has been through countless editions would vary from it’s original manuscript somewhere along the line.
I can see the truth in Mr. Hitchen’s quote up there – a major attribute of “religious folks”, which in our western world we see as Christian (or, nowadays, Muslim) is often, sadly, intolerance, violence, racisim and bigotry. I am reminded of the Top Gear episode I watched yesterday, when Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James went through the very religious state of alabama with offensive (but hilarious) slogans written on their cars. (“Man Love Rules”, “Country and Western is Rubbish, and “Hilary for President”) Pulling in at a petrol station, a woman came up to them, shouted at them and said she was “calling the boys”, and the top gear guys were chased along the highway. Of course, the christian sterotype nowadays is a white southern american who hates blacks, immigrants and rap music and keeps a shotgun in the back porch.
The whole point of Christianity as I have experienced it is God’s love, recieving God’s love through Jesus Christ and through that being special enough to get into heaven. (I get that the people who hassle us heathens to convert are doing it because they care about us, if sometimes tempered with a bit of very human righteousness, which is fair enough. there is only one jesus after all, unless you are mormon, where it gets complex). There is also all the stuff about being kind, helping thy neighbour and supporting charity. All in all, there is nothing wrong with this.
I find it hard trying to find an angle with which to approach these kind of Christianity based debates. Usually I say nothing at all, unless some fellow pagan with Issues jumps up and starts Christian Bashing, when I usually stand up and tell them to stand down. Because it is a hard religeon to defend, I guess.
I understand the positive aspects of Christianity, and these are the ones I always focus on – Jesus Christ was, of course, an incredible man, and as I see it the point of christianity is to try and follow in his footsteps, act as he would do, which is very admirable. I just trip up on the negative bits, such as the relentless persecution of so-called “witches” in the medieval times, centuries of anti-semitisim, crusades against other religions, the stuff about homosexuals being evil, all other religions being false, and innumerable other little things that I can’t recall at this moment.
Wicca is by no means free of the negative sides – we’ve all heard of the sexual predator haunting the beltaine fires, kids disregarding the god-focus of wicca to go around demon hunting and claiming spirit possession and whatnot, but Wicca is a very young religion, so we are going to have to give it time to see what atrocities will be committed in it’s name.
Because, In response to the quote, it’s people who are intolerant, violent, messed up, bigots, hipocrites and righteous psychos. As with any religeon, people shape the way the religeion progresses and changes, and there are a lot of disillusioned, violent, hypocritical, hatred-ridden and just plain mean people out there who have shaped the progression of religion. The problem is that the bigoted, hypocritical, violent and sexist people of the past found a voice that is still being applied to and used in what I believe is a culture and society which has outgrown the -isims.
I guess it all depends on how you perceive religion. My answer would be – God is Great, but not all people are.