Can We Get an Amen?Many regular readers of this blog might surmise that we are anti-religion, anti-God, or anti-spirituality. While it is true that we take great pleasure in mortifying mullahs, poking at Pat, and jerking Jerry, we usually do it only when they've exhibited an unignorable degree of asshatery. We don't suffer political and social leaders gladly so we find it difficult to offer religious leaders a pass. After all, we do know something about this religion game - being an omnipotent being and all - so we're also intimately familiar with stupidity (even our own), wherever it comes from.
From a Suburban Methodist Tradition
We were raised as what we would call "suburban Methodist". Suburban Methodists subscribe more or less to the Ten Commandments - no killing, wife swapping, or stealing. Sometimes they forget about the coveting parts and they may "accidentally" pick up the occasional pad of paper from work. Some use the Lord's name in vain, but they usually feel bad about it later. Certainly they have no prohibitions against such dire sins as dancing or drinking and that makes them infinitely easier to get along with than say, your average Shove Your Head Under Water Until You Nearly Drown Southern Baptist.
Suburban Methodists put a premium on fellowship and socializing, with a little doing of good works thrown in. After all, it is a religion and such things are expected. However, sometimes what qualifies as a "good work" might involve a new air conditioner for the sanctuary or some nice altar drapes instead of say, an orphanage in Africa or a soup kitchen in the city. Sometimes their emphasis is on making the congregation feel good instead of making them want to do good, but we can't fault them for that. Ask any network executive. We all ultimately live and die by the ratings and making you feel obliged is certainly bad for attendance.
It might surprise some of you that the Poobah was duly baptized, took catechism classes, and served several tours as an acolyte (we really loved playing with those candle snuffer poles). It also might surprise some that we've read the Bible extensively, a bit of the Koran, some of the Book of Mormon, and even a smidge of the Torah. Great works of literature all, but not necessarily something we believe came directly from the hand of God. We're also familiar with the trappings of several religions, Snake Handlers and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a big shoutout to Moroni) among them.
We're All For Religion, Even If We Don't Believe
Far from disliking religion - which would be hypocritical given our upbringing and sense of open mindedness - we believe it is an essential element of society. It serves as a reasonably good social construct and is helpful to those who need something more than their own free will to get them through the night. Our attitude is live and let live. We've always believed that, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" rule is a damn fine one, whether Jesus thought it up or not.
This means we put some effort into not bashing religion so hard that it hurts, but it also means we're no more politically correct about it than we might be of say, Dick Cheney. In fact, we quite frequently back up religious types when we feel they have a valid position - not necessarily one we personally believe, but a valid one nonetheless. We feel our readers are sufficiently mature enough to not go around burning things or starting flame wars because we've said something which insulted them. And excepting a few minor incidents since we started blogging, this has been largely true.
So here's our official position vis a vis religion:
- We don't believe in God ourselves, although we freely admit we could be wrong. We believe that if there is a God, (S)He wouldn't be pissed off enough about our not believing that (S)He wouldn't slap on some God-sauce and cast us into an eternal barbecue. This position does not offer or imply carte blanche for any religious person to try to cajole, argue, beg, plead, or scare us into believing - especially when that prostilization involves trying to sway us to a single religion over all others. That is something we believe flies in the face of what God should be all about and probably pisses him off more than non-believers to boot.
- We believe that you have complete freedom to practice whatever you believe as long as those beliefs don't impinge on our freedom to do otherwise. This means that we don't want Intelligent Design taught as a science class (although we are open to teaching it as a religious theory if people in a particular locality can agree to that). We want abortions available for those who need them and you can opt out of that if you desire. We don't want the Ten Commandments or any other overtly religious items pasted to every available wall in any public building. However, we have no objections to the Pledge of Allegiance or the word God on our money. We also have nothing against Christmas or Hanukkah displays despite what Bill O'Reilly would like you to believe. Just don't prevent other religions from getting in on the act if they'd like to and we're all for you.
- We believe the vast majority of religious people are rational, reasonable people and that no religion (Islam included) teaches that killing people is OK. We would also expect that if religious people were NOT acting reasonable and responsible that other religious people would do there level best to condemn those actions without dragging all the innocent people from that religion into the melee.
- We believe that there are all manner of charlatans and crackpots who work the religion angle, but that not all religious people appreciate that any more than we do. Having said that, if you want to be stupid enough to hand over all your worldly goods to a smarmy, slick-haired, bling-bedazzled, sweet-talkin' televangelist, that's between you and said butt-munch. Just don't say we didn't warm you.
OMNIPOTENT NOTE: All positions stated herein are valid from the date you read them. If you find you do not agree with these positions you are free to read elsewhere or bring up your beefs at the complaint desk. Just don't assume we won't hand you your ass if you are too big a jerk about it.
We're quite religious about that.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, February 15, 2006