Religion, Secularism and Basic Decency
I take the “humanist” part of being a secular humanist quite seriously. As my sons were growing up, I tried to teach them to always help another person in need whenever they could. Not because they would reap the blessing of some deity by doing so (that’s the “secular” part), but simply because helping your fellow man/woman makes you a better person and makes the world a better place. And yet there are people in this country and in the world who would automatically assume, without knowing me, that I do not act in a moral and ethical manner, simply because I do not believe in any god. And vice versa; the assumption being that belief in a god (in this country primarily the Christian god) automatically confers moral legitimacy on the believer. This irks me no end, and recent events have only added to my bewilderment as to why religious people can act so badly and still automatically be considered morally superior to me.
Of course, we all know of the unspeakable horror that recently unfolded in Orlando. May all of the victims’ loved ones somehow find peace in the weeks and months to come. At least I feel that way. But some very religious Christians do not. We can start with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who tweeted on the Sunday morning after the massacre, quoting the Bible from Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”. It boggles the mind that a human being could be so vile. We know what this piece of human garbage is talking about: the massacre was God’s punishment against gay people for being who they are and loving whom they love. Late Sunday morning, as the heat grew, Patrick removed the post and his spokesman told the Texas Tribune that the post had been pre-scheduled. Please, spare me such mealy-mouthed prevarication from a punk who rails against the LGBT community on a constant and ongoing basis. It begs incredulity to believe the post was pre-scheduled, but if it was, it also begs the question as to how no one in Patrick’s office thought that, in light of Orlando, it might be a good idea to skip this little message from someone who was elected to serve all Texans, including gays and non-Christians, but acts and talks more like the faith-head of state. And by the way, isn’t there something in the Ten Commandments about not lying? I guess in the minds of Patrick and his ilk lying is okay in the service of getting away with hateful bigotry. I’m not perfect by any means, but is this guy really a better person than I am? Really?
Of if you want something a little more direct, there’s Baptist minister Roger Jimenez of Sacramento, California, who told his flock on the Sunday morning after Orlando, “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um, no, I think that’s great. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die”. Words fail me. The fact that this miserable excuse for a human being did not immediately get hit with a lightning bolt from above is proof enough for me that there is no god. Now, just to be clear, I certainly do not ascribe such base thoughts to all religious people. And you might say that this Jimenez SOB is an outlier, a nobody who doesn’t have much of a following (I don’t know one way or the other). But you certainly can’t say that about Dan Patrick, who is Lieutenant Governor of the second most populous state in the Union. Now think back to the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina a year ago. Did any secularist of the stature of Dan Patrick contend that the victims of that tragedy got what they deserved for believing in a non-existent deity? No, absolutely not. And yet believers like Dan Patrick are presumed by a large section of this country, even those who are not ultra-religious nut jobs, to possess moral superiority over rational secularists like me. I, for one, am tired of it.