Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Recently I walked past a sign at a church on State Street that read “Is God trying to get our attention?” It looked like another religious sect was jumping on the disasters-are-messages-from-God-bandwagon. Phooey, I say.

I usually try to avoid national news and religion in my letters, but the ridiculousness of some of the things being said on a national level need to be addressed.

Okay all, here’s my big news flash: Shit happens. This means when a city gets flooded and destroyed, although it’s a tragedy it is not a sign of the end times. It is a sign indicating humanity should avoid building in flood zones and hurricane paths or, rather than building dykes to 500 year flood levels, we should follow Holland’s example and build flood dykes to 10,000 year flood levels. To carry this idea a bit further, when a Muslim country is devastated by earthquakes it is not retribution for worshiping the “wrong god” nor is it a sign of an angry Allah. Rather it’s an indication of the need for better building codes.

My frustration lies not with the gods of any of particular religion, but with those who have the trust of the general population to lead them on a spiritual journey. In my eyes this inciting of fear is the most disgusting injustice I have witnessed in my life time. This manipulation of a belief held by not just an individual, but by a community leads to discrimination (I’m right and going to heaven while you’re not), crusades and jihads and total disregard for the environment of our planet (after all, it’s just the valley of tears and won’t be around much longer).

Unlike racism, homophobia or domestic violence this injustice is much tougher to fight against. The First Amendment makes no distinction between discourse and fear-mongering and as such I do support these leaders right to say what they want. But, on the same note we have the right to say “No, that’s wrong.” We have a right to not listen. We have the right to withhold funds from anybody who says “it’s a sign of the end times” and passes around the collection plate. Why do they need the money if Armageddon is coming? And ultimately, we have the right to point out inconsistencies within the sources for these apocryphal prophecies.

Let’s end this epistle looking at one such source: the Bible. Last time I read the Bible there were quite a few passages indicating that it would be impossible to predict the end times – check out Matthew, chapter 24, and 1 Thessalonians, chapter five. Despite this, it seems Revelations has become very popular with televangelists and doomsday prophets. This final book if read literally indicates the end times will be herald by disasters. It also said that only 144,000 men would be saved on the condition that these men “have not defiled themselves with women,” (Revelations 14:4). Oh dear, is heaven only for homosexuals and virgins? I wonder what Pat Robertson has to say about that. If Revelations is taken figuratively, then interpretations depend on the agendas of the readers.

For those of you who don't know, I currently edit a weekly college newspaper. Recently, I published this letter from the editor. Any feed back on these is much appreciated.

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