Michael De Dora has a post at Rationally Speaking about why he doesn’t attend to baptisms anymore. He says he’d go to any other religious ceremony. I happen to disagree so I thought I’d translate my post about Why I Don’t Go To Any Religious Ceremony.
Some time ago (I think since I watched that episode of House) I decided I would never attend to religious ceremonies anymore. One reason should be enough, but there are several reasons why I will not.
First, being an atheist, I do not share any religious beliefs of any sect, cult or denomination. This results in that the invitation to religious ceremonies is not binding for me. I do not recognize any other authority over me, other than that of the State and even then I am convinced that in many cases, the State is wrong – not in vain I admire civil disobedience.
Secondly, religions hold a number of ethical positions that hardly fit in with my principles. It would be hypocritical of me to attend the ritual of a church that actively promotes discrimination against homosexuals and seeks a ban on abortion. I do not see how the feelings of other people -or rather, their emotional voids treated through an addictive superstition- are reason enough to abandon my Humanist ethics. And this point is bigger and more important than it seems:
I have asked some people close to me and, no matter if they are very religious or slightly religious, none of them would attend a satanic wedding. Why not? Were not all beliefs equally respectable? Well, apparently, Christian propaganda has poisoned society to the point that it is under the impression that Satanists sacrifice babies and drink blood (this due to a relation that, again, the Christian PR department did between worshipers of Satan or Lucifer and Dracula).
This remnant of the Inquisition (witches were chased by the Holy Inquisition under the charge of being worshipers or partners of The Lowest) has made its way to the collective imaginary, so many people who would go to a Christian wedding – “because it would mean a lot to their family or friend “- would decline the invitation of the same person, if he or her were to held a satanic wedding.
Is hypocritical to say ‘no’ just because they do not share satanic “anti-values”. Do they share Christians’?
Are they convinced that the Earth is only 6000 years old and was created in six days? Are they convinced that homosexuals should be discriminated against just because they don’t love those the religious leaders say they should? Are they against abortion, contraception, reproductive rights of women and gender equality?
Let’s take it up a notch. Some Catholic history. Would they support the Nazi regime? Would they support the Francoist dictatorship? What about the totalitarianism Videla started in Argentina? Or authoritarianism in Chile with that Pinochet fascist? Would they have befriended Mussolini? Would they have ordered that Adolf Hitler’s birthday be celebrated from the pulpit for every year until he died? Do they condone the Inquisition? Would they have taken part in a Crusade? Does it seem right that the Pope has concealed multiple cases of pedophilia committed by his subordinates?
In their scale of values, what number of cases starts to be repugnant when committed by a religious leader? As far as I am concerned, it’s crystal clear: no matter if you are a plumber, a prince or a pope, anyone who conceals a single case of pedophilia deserves the starkest contempt.
What about Muslim antivalues? Do they think women are inferior? Do they approve of women being forced to be covered from head to toe and that if they don’t, men should interpret that as an invitation to rape them? Do they agree with the testimony of a man being four times more valid than a woman’s? Again: Do they believe in the patently false creationist babble?
If they don’t, when they attend these rites they’re validating all that, which turns them into hypocrites.
And let’s take it up another notch: nobody would argue seriously that I just made up what I wrote on that list. Why? Because it has featured in the press, there have been found historical documents about it, there’s evidence. How many times have you read in the press that this or that member of a satanic cult, or the group in general, kidnapped or sacrificed a baby? And I’m talking about real press. Not chain emails or tabloids or gossip. I can count how many times I’ve read a headline like that: None.
So here’s something else other than “values” (unless someone actually has the nerve to want to compare the genocide of the Nazi regime which included clerical protection throughout Europe on one hand, and on the other, the Christian fables about satanic baby-eaters). That “something else” is what I like to call social acceptance.
It is that prejudice that people are automatically good because of belonging to certain religious congregations. Again: have they forgotten what they have read in the press and history books about such congregations? Well … social acceptance.
But I know my ethical standards are better than that. They are not subject to a democratic outcome, the public opinion, nor they are up to vote: they are completely arbitrary, taken by me, in the heat of Reason. Because that’s how I think it should be. Why would people’s opinions influence my values? Is it a matter advertising? Am I promoting myself? As far as I can tell, no.
So third, among the reasons why I do not attend religious ceremonies anymore, is that I don’t want to reinforce or participate in the contest about which religions are socially acceptable and which ones are socially ostracized. This I have very clear, all of them deserve the same amount of respect: zero (whoever wants to object that, please revisit the brief historical review)!
Fourth, I am an ardent opponent of the very thing that takes place in religious rituals.
Baptisms, first communions, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, circumcision and female genital mutilation are simply forms of indoctrinating children, some mixed with the most savage and primitive terrorism. Child abuse. Nor will it get along with my morals.
Marriage is a social construct. Furthermore I have a deep conviction that love is free and to that extent I do not need a third party to write it down for me nor serve me as a witness; I mean, under what kind of mental jerking-off is that third party above me and my partner as for us to declare our love before him? Before I ever get married I’d have to find a very good answer to this next question: Why would I promise how I will feel for the rest of my life? …Fuck! I don’t even know how I’m gonna feel tomorrow.
Funerary rites, extreme unction and conversions on deathbed: I understand that people need to grieve, but there is not the slightest shred of evidence that there is life after death. So it isn’t necessary for me to be entrusted to any imaginary friend who will be waiting for me on the other side of the tunnel.
To make matters worse, what’s the sense of being judged by one’s actions, if one can repent at the last moment and avoid conviction? I know the death of people who are close to you generates strong emotions that are sometimes difficult to handle, but that’s no excuse to take refuge in a memorial to idiocy and discard Reason.
And then there’s the threat thing. Eternal fire? Well, I am unfunctional when threatened or coerced. So, may it happen whatever has to happen but I will be the owner of my life and my existence until the last moment and that means the loving god can send me to hell to suffer for the rest of eternity, but I won’t be intimidate, even less by a fanatic bully, character of a fairy tale of the Bronze Age.
Fifth and finally, because they are all lies. I wouldn’t consider seriously going to a rite celebrated because of Pinocchio’s resurrection and I would certainly not sacrifice my critical faculties in the name of Harry Potter. I would not go to a satanic ceremony because there is no goddamned Satan nor Lucifer. And I think the right thing to do is to show the same deference to other beliefs. There is no god, there is no life after death, no divine “forgiveness” divine, neither divine “rage”.
I appreciate my time on the face of the Earth, the only life I have, and I will not waste it on nonsense. Now, that would be a good reason of regret in deathbed.