So the past few days religion has managed to stay mostly out of the headlines. At least, directly. The effect of religion is still there however and therein lies the problem. Even when religion isn’t making an ass out of itself, it’s proponents are.

This week a Canadian cabinet minister has stated that he will back a motion from a backbench conservative MP which seeks to re-examine the issue of when life begins. To the uninitiated, this is exactly the type of subterfuge the pro-life, far-right politicos have been using for years in Canada whenever confronting the issue of abortion. An issue squarely in the eyes of Canadians that has been dealt with but one that the religious minority continues to drag into the political ring.

The biggest problem I have with this type of ‘social conservatism’ is that it almost always amounts to a restriction in freedom for those affected and rarely for those who would enact such legislation. 

Also in the news today was this little sidebar notice about US President Barack Obama addressing the UN regarding the independently produced and youtube distributed film that’s causing all the fuss in the middle east and other Islamic countries right now. It is a genuine shame that a person who has serious, real issues at home and abroad to deal with including a major economic crisis, is wasting his time and the time of every UN ambassador trying to alleviate the problems caused when an independent filmaker produced a really bad movie that insulted some one’s religion.

We really need to take notice of how pervasive religion is in our daily lives and how it affects us and those around us, even when it may not be immediately obvious.

In an article today on BBC news there is a story regarding a 4th century piece of papyrus which clearly states Jesus had a wife. Now normally I wouldn’t care about such nonsense, but there was one line in particular that caught my eye.

Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: “A statement on a papyrus fragment isn’t proof of anything. It’s nothing more than a statement ‘in thin air’, without substantial context.”

Now pardon me, but isn’t the entire bible nothing more than statements in thin air? Aside from a very limited number of facts contained in the bible stories almost none of it can be verified in any way at all. Even the very existence of Jesus is highly debatable, let alone the question of his being the son of god… were god to exist.

I find it fascinating when bits of history such as this note appear thousands of years after the fact – a historical snapshot of a past age, but I find it disturbing that religious scholars can’t even see past their own prejudices and explore the past more openly. The early church made a great many decisions regarding the nature of man and god and the relationship between them. Many characters were left out, many documents ignored and many decisions based solely on politics were made to ensure the survival of the church.

It’s a curious thing indeed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19645273

So the latest on the crappy YouTube movie “The Prophet” comes to us from Egypt where government officials are calling for the arrest of several people supposedly involved in the making of the film including serial ass-hat Pastor Terry Jones (the idiot who decided that burning the Koran was a good idea).

Now I don’t particularly care for Mr. Jones and quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn about the rest of the accused either, but for a foreign nation to demand the arrest of a foreign national over a film that is not only incredibly poorly produced, but that has no distribution aside from YouTube is outrageous.

The accused, if in fact arrested and charged could face the death sentence for their crimes.

The worst part of the whole fiasco is that we should all know that the film itself has little or nothing to do with the protests and the leadership in almost every country where these protests are happening is helping to fan the flames of discontent leading to injury and death as protesters become more agitated.

So the biggest question I have is, “Why is it that the nations with the highest percentage of religious people seem always to have the most violent societies?” And again, I am talking about more than just Islam here. The US is one of the most religious countries on the planet. The US also has more violent crime than virtually any other industrialized nation on earth.

Welcome to my first post at To Hell in a Handcart.

This week, protesters throughout the muslim world have been raising a ruckus at US embassies and consular offices. In Libya, four members of the consulate were killed when protesters stormed the building and burned it down.

The protests, which started in Cairo at the US embassy, are said to be the result of a US made film which disrespects the prophet Mohammed. And truth be told, that is likely the line used to recruit many of the young men who were responsible for these violent acts. People have been using religion to influence the masses since the beginning of time and the political leaders in the middle east today are no different. Religion provides an absolute authority to those who wish to use it that denies any opportunity for argument. It is the ultimate political weapon because who after all can argue with god.

This approach is not limited to muslims though. Take a look at the current political climate in the US. Religion is front and center in nearly every discussion, perverted to gain political favour by both republicans and democrats, most of whom, given their educations, should most likely be taking a more reasoned approach to the issues of the day but instead are preying upon the fears and prejudices of their constituents.

It’s time for the educated people of the world to stand up, unafraid and speak their minds. Make reason and logic our signposts, not fear and superstition.

That’s all for today. Please feel free to add to the discussion.

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