Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Illegalize Religion Poll Results

I wanted to go over the results from the last poll : If you could, would you illegalize religion?
Here is the breakdown:

Yes - 17%
Only for those under 18. - 29%
Only fundamentalist religions would be illegal. - 7%
I'd  illegalize Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. -  1%
No - 41%

91 total votes.

In retrospect, the numbers are what I expected even though I had thought that No would've broken the fifty percent mark.  Before I post the next poll I'm going to write down my prediction, squirrel it away, and then compare with the actual results. Have no fear, I have no shame and will gladly admit if (when) I'm wrong. On the plus side, if I'm wildly off with the prediction you may laugh, chortle, and mock my failure in the comments.

How did I vote?

For long time readers it comes as no surprise that I make frame decisions primarily in the negative. It isn't why I voted for such and such, rather it's more about why I didn't vote for such and such. Let's begin.


I didn't vote yes. Why? I am afraid of the accumulation of power in any one societal structure whether it's religion, corporations, or the government.  Though I'm not a bomb throwing anarchist, per se, history is strewn with examples of societies being driven off the rails by some group accumulating too much authority. In the Roman Republic armies became loyal to their commanders and not to the state. In post-Revolutionary Russia the Bolsheviks (who became known by the generic term Communists) possessed power to willingly starve vast portions of the *population. During the Dark Ages the Catholic Church, well, most of us know that story.

I don't want to whitewash the downside of not illegalizing religion, either. As Dan Savage, a gay writes activist, stated on an NPR today (to paraphrase): Why do LGBT kids get bullied? The Religious Right has been on a twenty year hate campaign.

Indeed. It's tragic.

However, if the State can assume that much power than think of all the deviltry it could do? When human beings are given absolute power they act like absolute a**holes.

Only for those under 18.

Obviously, this garnered the second highest percentage of votes and for good reason. Children are often times at the mercy of their parents.  Even the most competent father or mother can only hope not to have traumatized their kids in some way. As Hitchens states in God is not Great: religion makes any situation worse. Mentally unbalanced father? No worries, for him at least, the good book tells the children to OBEY! Child sick? Bring out that faith based panacea - prayer. Heaven forbid that the violently homophobic father (ie. a repressed homosexual) has a son who is gay. Adding religion into that mix is like pouring gasoline onto fire.

I didn't vote for this either. But, as you can tell, I am conflicted about the decision. The commentator who closest got to my thoughts on this topic was someguy (something tells me that isn't his real name).
Ideally, I would like to see a religious police force with the power to police religion. Any proven case of violence or fraud would result in penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment to the loss of their tax exempt status. They would investigate all claims of religious abuse and every child bride or person in fear of being stoned to death would know help is available.

The agencies would also maintain a strict separation between church and state. People would not be restricted from prayer or religious activities, but the government would not support or endorse religion in any way.
Of course, in Real Life any such agency would quickly become a corrupt mess, so it'll never happen anyway unless Gort the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still (the real one, not that awful remake) shows up.
Some of you may have thought someguy was me. After all, there is the geek reference at the end as well as a skepticism towards authority. But I am against producing a completely different police force. We have institutions in existence that should be protecting the young. Take the courts - they are not working well enough. My post Kill your Kid and Get Probation illustrates this point. Two uber-religious parents let their two year old die because God didn't want any heathen medicine touching the boy. The penalty? Ten years of probation.

What's the solution?

Atheists need to become more active politically.  Look at the state networking that American Atheists have placed up on Facebook and go out and organize. Put pressure on politicians.  Call your state child protection agency if you see something wrong.

Only fundamentalist religions would be illegal.
I'd illegalize Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

By now it must be fairly clear that I didn't vote for these two options. There are two points I'd like to make. First, even though the Abrahamic faiths have caused much deviltry, I hold Hinduism in just as much contempt. *Prepare for Hinduism rant* Hinduism has been an autocratic system that has systematically enforced an evil caste system on India for centuries. Even today grooms and brides are sometimes killed because they marry outside their caste. It's madness, pure and simple. Secondly, I agree with several commentators that illegalizing a thing, whether it's drugs, prostitution, or religion simply causes that thing to submerge into the black market. Ultimately, it's better that these crazy Sky Fairy ideas compete openly in the marketplace of ideas. As Flonkbob put it in his comment: Let stupidity choke itself.


I voted No. Didn't like it, but what are the options, seriously?

I'm used to doing things I don't like.


this is Purgatory.

*I'm reading through Hitch-22 and found this limerick by Robert Conquest about the Bolsheviks and had to share.
There was an old bastard named Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
That's a lot to have done in
But where he did one in.
That old bastard Stalin did ten in.

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