I recently watched God Loves Uganda a couple times and got all riled up have had many thoughts. So I wrote them down. I hope they’re not too offensive to anyone. Here they are.
The problems with religion and science are few. I believe strongly in parts of both and am wholly disappointed that society makes me feel like I have to choose one. Religion offers an answer to all of the unanswerable questions about life and reality. This does very little to inspire a thirst for knowledge and proof. And this can lead to problems for some people, i.e. accused witches, scientists who prove something contrary to scripture, etc. Religion also insists that you are either in or you’re out, with us or against us. This is a problem because the rules of these establishments are decided by men and, as most major religions agree and state explicitly, men are flawed and should not be the ones to cast judgment. But look who’s running the show here! There hasn’t been a legitimate apostle in like 2,000 years! (meeting religion more than half way here…) These are flawed men with ulterior motives setting the moral compass for most of the world! And you go to hell when you die if you don’t believe it! They are as good at interpreting the Bible as the Supreme Court is at interpreting the constitution. But at least we have the freedom to criticize the Supreme Court and still be Americans. With this “with us or against us” policy, a handful of hateful people can decide that now the Catholic Church is against homosexuality and everyone has to either agree whole heartedly to hate gay people or be cast into burning pits of hell for all eternity. It’s a pretty easy choice for them. Their hands are tied.
There are many really clever groups that have learned how to use this immense power to benefit themselves. One of which is called the Republican Party and they consist of Americas few richest, smartest people and most of its poor and undereducated. They are masters of manipulating people into voting against their own self-interest and they usually facilitate their agenda under the guise of religion. You’ve gotta vote for the guy who wants to cut your welfare program and pollute your water ‘cause the other guy believes in gay marriage!
Now let’s talk about the flaws of science. Where’s the appeal? What, so I get no eternal afterlife, I just rot in the ground when I die and there’s no fun music and dancing and awesome buildings with pretty windows? Actually, the death part won’t start weighing on me for at least another decade and there are a lot of beautiful university buildings, but still not enough stained glass. My real issue with science is that it’s undeniably and by its very definition as close to truth as we can get, but nobody is crusading for it. It’s terrifying and impressive how effective the religious model is. I’ve heard it compared to a virus, but I disagree because a virus this deadly would kill off all the hosts before it could spread too far. Mormanism is the poster child. They keep their communities sheltered from foreign ideas and base all parts of life around the church. If you try to leave, your family gets a downgrade in afterlife accommodation. They encourage people to have as many children as possible and then, when they are fully on board, they send out mission groups to places as far away as Uganda to spread “The News”. There is nobody traveling across the world to passionately speak about the beautiful miracle of evolution or plate tectonics. Nobody is crusading for string theory.
I like most parts of many religions in regard to how we should treat each other and conduct ourselves. What I BELIEVE is that there is nothing wrong with me picking and choosing the parts of religion that I think are best for myself, my society and the children I will have one day while still trusting in and acting on empirical evidence. And I don’t think I’m alone here. So, to bring it full circle, here is the problem. These religious groups send their well-rehearsed missionaries out to the most desperate parts of the world with the intention of spreading their views (most of which I believe in, but still think it’s kind of lame to “help” the developing world while having a secret agenda to change their beliefs), but they are bound by their corrupt institutions to spread this little bit of hate that goes a looooong way. I know, having lived as a white man in Uganda for 2 years, that if I could preach with enough enthusiasm, to the right people that the sky is falling and we’ll all burn in hell unless we kill all of the lions without modern weapons, in no time I would have an army behind me, ready to fight prides of lions with sticks. So when people like Pastor Scott Lively, a crazy evangelical who was too radical for Americans who is now being tried for Crimes Against Humanity for what he did in Uganda, come and tell Ugandans that gay people have taken over the United Nations and are trying to recruit their children to be gay and eat each other’s shit all day, it becomes a problem. You can’t spread even an ounce of hate into the faith of a people who still regularly practice mob justice on the accused, without trial, often resulting in murder and not have a serious problem. You wouldn’t know this as an evangelical missionary here for a few weeks to build a fence for some orphans and spread the good word. How could you? It’s really complicated and all you’ve ever been taught is that spreading your religion can only do good.
I really don’t think anyone believes this crap. I think that deep down even these missionaries know that Jesus wasn’t out teaching people to hate people. They know it was exactly the opposite. And I think that most people going along with all of it, in the back rooms of their mind, think to themselves: “I really don’t hate anyone, this moral confliction is just kind of the entrance fee for a really great club that I’m a part of. I sure as hell won’t trade eternal salvation for everlasting hellfire for a few people I’ve never met. My hands are tied.”