Those old time religions aren’t good enough for anybody

Ed Raymond

Think Jerusalem, Gaza, Berlin, Warsaw, Kyiv, Shanghai – and a thousand others  

If you want to enjoy some perplexing, argumentative opinions, Google “How many wars have been caused by religions?”   A few historians categorically say about 7% of all wars can be blamed on religions while many insist wars begin when Muslims are fed pork, when Catholics eat meat on Friday and some people happen to be darker than others.  

Stalin and Hitler killed about 110 million Homo sapiens in wars and “incidents” – while one claimed there was only one God the other said there weren’t any. I’m no historian, but I have read a lot of history, and I claim a majority of wars, if we look at the primal source, were caused by something caused by religion.  

As an example, was our Civil War started by slavery or religion? The Bible has a reference to slavery claiming it was OK – in certain circumstances. Want to argue that?   Here I am, in my ninth decade, and I have just learned about Robert Green Ingersoll, a 19th century American lawyer, writer and orator, who was nicknamed “The Great Agnostic” for his freethinking before Ford’s Model T hit the road.  

I guess we have virtually ignored him because he didn’t believe there was a Supreme Being. My info comes from an article by Robyn E. Blumner “What Would Ingersoll Think of America in 2023?” in Free Inquiry. She sums up his beliefs in just two sentences: “He was consistently a humanist, who stood for the rights and dignity of each person as an individual. He saw the power of reason as mankind’s greatest gift and the influence of religion as reason’s greatest enemy.” (I would like those two sentences inscribed on my cremains jar!)  

Ingersoll called himself an economic conservative who insisted that government protect human rights and economic equity of all. He advocated for social reforms constantly. He supported the growth of unions and the battle to get a fair wage and good working conditions. He supported the eight-hour workday when most workers put in 12 to 14 hours. He believed workers should attend public schools so they would have the communication skills to fight their economic battles.  

Ingersoll commented on his enemy: “Not long ago there were no teachers except the church, and the church taught obedience and faith – told the poor people although they had a hard time here, working for nothing, they would be paid in Paradise with a large interest.”   To sum up, Blumner wrote: “(Ingersoll) But when workers could think for themselves, when they were no longer shackled by the delusions of religion, and when the education they received was secular and not religious in nature, they would be more likely to reject their miserable temporal existence and demand a decent life in the here and now.” (End of secular sermon!)  

Science marches on, never digressing, while crossing religious borders  

No doubt religions have demonstrated through the centuries that they are a powerful, motivating and sometimes mystical force whether promulgated by the Tennessee Snake Handlers, the Vatican, the Great Spaghetti Monster or Mecca. Religions have been known, like law and politics, to defend the oppressed and to oppress the defenseless. Joseph Stalin was an atheist who became a dictator who closed thousands of Russian Orthodox churches and turned many of them into ammunition factories, prisons for the religious, army barracks, and restaurants.  

Vladimir Putin, like his soulmate Donald Trump who wooed evangelical Christians, has made a deal with what is left of the Russian Orthodox Church so that it supports the invasion of Ukraine. He has formed MAKING RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN (MRGA).   But the science of genetics and Darwin’s science of evolution marches on. If there is a garden of Eden, it has to be somewhere in darkest Africa because that’s where Homo sapiens “evolved.”

Archeologists, pathologists and all the other “ologists” have our species marching slowly over the globe from central Africa about 65,000 years ago.   Adam Rutherford, genetics lecturer at University College London, states it bluntly: “We are an African species. The rest of the world was peopled when a few left that pan-African cradle within the last 100,000 years. We know this from the old bones of the long dead and recovering DNA from those old bones.”  

If you still want to believe Genesis, then Adam was not made from dust but jungle mud.   Another science has defeated the spread of smallpox which had killed millions, although several religions have objected to laws requiring individuals to be vaccinated as a part of “herd control” associated with the practice. The death rate for smallpox itself is 3 out of 10 but if often causes other debilitating diseases to continue the killing.    

In the United States, George Washington required all members of his Continental Army to be vaccinated against smallpox. In 1902 a Lutheran minister challenged a Massachusetts law requiring vaccinations, stating he had a “religious” objection.  

The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it voted 7-2 to enforce the mandate. I think the majority opinion written by Justice John Marshall Harlan defines what real liberty is in a social compact among people:   “Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”  

This opinion can be used to explain why the Trump administration, supported by white religious nationalists and other members of the MAGA cult, led the world in the ratio of deaths caused by COVID-19.  

How many deaths did President Trump cause by refusing to wear a mask?

We again proved we were exceptional when we led the world with 1.1 million deaths in the pandemic that swept the world. And Covid-19 is a parent of other viruses.  

We had the worst record of all high-income countries with 300 deaths per 100,000, compared to France with 230, Germany at 170 and Canada at 110.   We also have the lowest life expectancy rate of these countries because we do not have any kind of universal health care. We lack a social safety net, paid sick leaves and paid parental leaves all other industrialized countries have.  

But that is only half the reasons we led the world. Donald Trump and many of his followers refused to wear masks, refused to practice social distances (six feet), refused to be vaccinated when they were finally developed, refused to close private schools, refused to go to virtual learning through laptops and computers, shutdown businesses and schools, pushed certain drugs and treatments that were totally useless to treat human beings, and insisted on going to church when they were closed by local authorities. (Is it possible that one can only practice your religion in a building that has a steeple, playroom for kids, an altar and collection plates?)  

The MAGA cult, religious institutions and individual troublemakers filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against restrictions and mandates. The Supreme Court, loaded with originalists, textualists and Catholics, often paid little attention to the guidance offered by Justice Harlan a 100 years ago. Some court members did not seem to understand what constituted “real liberty for all.”  

One case that eventually went to the Supreme Court boggles the mind and literally destroys any idea of real liberty. A group of Navy SEALS violated a Pentagon rule by refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because such an action “is an affront to the Creator who has direct, divine instruction not to receive such vaccinations.”   Wow! What BS!   SEALS are probably the highest trained special forces group in the world because SEALs are trained to fight in water, on land, in the air and on beaches. A federal judge agreed with them and told the Navy that religious liberty outweighed any harm to the Navy or the country.  

The Supreme Court refused to accept the case and it finally died a natural death, but Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, in their desire to cause “bad” trouble, wanted to take the case. Those three are really religious.  

Accept abortion and the LBGTQIA+ community? Why not? Nobody’s perfect!

Yes, I know. Life begins at conception. But, for real, the baby is not living until the cisgender – or whatever it is – breathes on his, her or its own.  

I’m sure that somewhere you can find a judge that will “find” for the fetus when it is suing Mama for neglect, murder or drinking too many martinis – but life is too complicated for the living to make that kind of separation.  

I have always wanted to play the piano, but I grew up in a house that didn’t have one. I didn’t sue my mother for not increasing my desire to play the piano while she was pregnant with me.  

Trumplicans say Homo sapiens have only two biological sexes and that abortion is murder. The Bible says God checks out everybody in the womb. Genetic scientists say that approximately 7% of the Homo sapiens born are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and many other “sexes,” including others who claim they are asexual (have no interest in sex). A few babies are born with both male and female genitalia.  

A woman born with two uteruses has received a lot of publicity lately because she had twins born on different days. She was pregnant in both uteruses, so one baby was born vaginally and the other was born by C-section. Having two uteruses is a 0.03 chance in a million deal. It could happen that one of her babies will be a transgender and the other a lesbian.  

At least 1% of all births will be transgenders. As we share 99% of our DNA with our close relatives the chimps, the policies of the Republican Party depend upon objections to abortions and the LBGTQIA+ community is based on 99% white political power and 1% religion.   The Vatican, without any advice from 50% of the human race, is still screwing around with sex and the medieval idea there are only two biological sexes – and they shouldn’t enjoy copulation. The cardinals in their skirts and beanies should remember that gay Leonardo Da Vinci was the only engineer in Rome smart enough to complete the dome on St. Peter’s, and gay Michelangelo is the painter of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel that draws a minimum of one million tourists each year. They must drop a cool penny in Vatican collection plates.  

The critical facts regarding abortion are based on family planning, economic inequality, medical emergencies for both mother and fetus, miscarriages, accidents, gene malfunctions and many other reasons. In the Divided States of America, 60% of patients who have abortions are already mothers – and more than half of them have at least two children. People who have abortions will later have, or will rear, children.  

Irish Catholic women finally decided to send Vatican representatives back to Rome after the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for denying Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old immigrant and her husband, an engineer, an abortion. Expecting her first child, she fell ill and was hospitalized with a 17-week fetus that would not survive birth.  

The Catholic hospital refused to abort the child, and Savita developed septic shock, which killed her in four days. Women and doctors should decide abortions, not popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, judges and politicians.