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Curb Your God

Our humble Doctor has just returned from a working vacation in Hawai’i, and is feeling both rested and disturbed. The disturbance came from a nature walk I took. The guide pointed out a low-growing thorn bush. It was, he said, introduced to the islands by missionaries, he said, to force the native Hawai’ians to wear shoes.

I was, of course, horrified by such an act on the part of evangelists. I was horrified, but I wasn’t surprised. I have always maintained that religion frequently brings out the worst in people, and the past several years have unfortunately borne out that thought. The evidence is in: the more religious an industrialized society considers itself, the higher will be its rate of crime, as well as therates of things that religion is supposed to discourage, like abortion and divorce. While the media has concentrated its religious criticism on Islam, the Christian world has little to learn from Muslims in the application of religious violence. Tim McVeigh, by all accounts a God-fearing man , was responsible for the single greatest act of terrorism in the US up to that time. While Fox News warns us of “eco-terrorists”, Christian activist Eric Rudolph single-handedly killed more people than Earth First!, the ELF, the ALF, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the Nature Conservancy all put together—and he’s just one operator in a movement that includes the Army of God, the late Paul Hill , Rachelle Shannon, John Salvi III , Michael Griffin, James Kopp, and Operation Rescue/Rescue America. Not that you’d hear any of that watching the news: most outlets are busy giving spooky accounts of the doings of “Islamofascists” (a misreading of what fascism really is) in an attempt to make the current administration’s military adventure smell like World War Two (see also: Axis of Evil).

When not busy inciting violence, religious leaders seem to enjoy preventing the teaching ofscience and reason (, disrupting funerals (msnbc), and calling for the assassinations of people in other countries ( Meir Kahane’s body lies a-mold’ring in the grave, but his politics keep marching on.

I have nothing against religion, nor religious faith, nor attempts to gently spread one’s religious beliefs. It’s impossible, however, to overlook the damage done in the name of religion. It’s past time that all religious communities took their eyes off the metaphysical and start examining their effects in the physical realm.

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