One of the simplest ways to point out the absurdity of modern faith-based religion is to replace commonly accepted deities with the names of those who long ago proved they couldn't withstand the march of progress. In other words, maybe demanding that people pray or adhere to the edicts of Jesus Christ and the God of Abraham doesn't sound utterly insane by today's standards, but if we imagine somebody preaching fealty to, say, Zeus and Athena, it puts the whole notion of worshipping supposedly all-powerful invisible sky people into perspective. There's no difference whatsoever between Jesus and Zeus: both are myths created by people who knew relatively little about the world, certainly compared to what we know today, and both have their own holy texts and works that were considered objects of reverence through their respective eras of cultural dominance. The difference is that the worship of Greek myths fell by the wayside while Emperor Constantine of Rome was able to in large part ratify the Bible and keep it alive for all those who would be influenced by the passing down of Roman culture. Centuries later, we still have Christianity while believing in the Greek gods would get you laughed off the planet.
I bring this up because sometimes it's easy to forget just how ratshit crazy faith really is. So many people espouse it -- so many base their lives around a belief for which there's absolutely no evidence and cite the popularity of that belief as a defense for it -- that we've just come to take for granted that it's a part of our lives. But when we take a step back and really examine an incident like the one that happened on the floor of the South Carolina senate on Monday, hopefully the sheer lunacy of an abiding faith in bronze age superstition becomes just a little bit clearer. I'd like to believe that America is finally starting to make a change for the better, that it's moving slowly away from Christianity and religion in general -- and a recent poll backs that up -- but it's not as if this country is in danger of abandoning Jesus altogether anytime soon. Still, you can't help but watch South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright rant and rave about what the Bible supposedly demands, in the middle of a special hearing on the fate of the Confederate battle flag in front of the South Carolina state house, and not wonder how much longer America's going to tolerate this horseshit. If you thought it was depressing enough that a bunch of lawmakers had to gather to debate whether or not to hold onto a symbol of racist oppression and Southern resentment in the year 2015, imagine what happens when fiery old time religion is suddenly injected into it.
You really have to see this thing to believe it but it goes like this: during the few minutes he had to offer his thoughts on the flag flap, Lee Bright stood up and began railing against the "abomination" of "the homosexual," specifically about the recent Supreme Court decision to make same-sex marriage legal across the country. First he bemoaned the "abomination colors" that lit up the White House in response to the decision, then he dug his teeth in and started chewing. "It is time for the church to rise up! It's time for the state of South Carolina to rise up! Romans Chapter 1 is clear, the Bible is clear!," he shouted. "This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you!" It got better from there. “Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front," he said, acknowledging why the hell he was there in the first place, but then demanded that he and his fellow state senators "deal with the national sin that we face today!":
"We talk about abortion but this gay marriage thing. I believe will be one nation gone under like President Reagan said, if we’re not one nation under God, we’ll be one nation gone under! ... To sanctify deviant behavior from five judges, it’s time for us to make our stand, church! It’s time to make our stand and we’re not doing it! The devil is taking control of this land and we're not stopping him! We cannot respect this sin in the state of South Carolina!"
So, to recap, a grown man spent more than three minutes in his capacity as an elected official in charge of making laws in the United States screaming at the top of his lungs about sin and devils and quoting lines from a book of stories written 2000 years ago. Lee Bright isn't some escaped mental patient standing on a street corner shouting at a telephone pole. He's one of 46 ostensibly very special people elected to help determine the course of an entire state in the year 2015. And yet there are things coming out of his mouth that even the most wide-eyed 5-year-old would scoff at and call bullshit on. It's easy to question religion's assault on reason or to notice the inherent lunacy of it when it's being preached by a rotund carnival barker like Bright, but it's important to remember that the message here is as ridiculous as the messenger. Whether the aim is to outright discriminate or to simply draw moral boundaries for our culture at large, taking as divinely inspired fact an ancient book written by people who thought the world ended at the edges of Italy, Persia and upper Africa is ludicrous. Well over a millennium after the initial circulation of the Bible began, we still have clowns like Lee Bright taking every single word in its text as the holy truth. We have grown adults going back to a book so outlandish it's impossible to imagine anyone but a complete idiot basing his life around it and using that book's supposed teachings to sanction their intolerance of people and to justify robbing those they they fear of their civil rights.
Again, it's 2015 and there are plenty of people in our culture still bleating on about devils and sin. That's fucking bananas. Objectively, it's completely fucking bananas.
I'd like to believe that America can at some point put its faith in fairy tales aside, but who knows -- those fairy tales have proven to be shockingly resilient. And, if you'll pardon the ironic reference, God knows American stupidity sure is.
By the way, the South Carolina senate eventually did vote to remove Confederate flag from the state house.