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Satanist

April 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Friday night I met Lucien Grieves, the founder of the Satanic Temple, at the CFI Headquarters in Buffalo. The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious group (meaning they are defined by law as a religious group) that has a couple of goals. The first is helping to maintain the separation of church and state by suing over laws that favor one religion over another or that privilege religion over non-religion. The second was the purpose of the talk on Friday night: to expose an ongoing pseudo-scientific strain that has infected the study of psychology since the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s and 90s.

Their focus has primarily been on the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). This is a group that focuses on dissociative identity disorder (what we used to call multiple personality disorder) and the relation between that condition and abuse related trauma. On the surface it seems like this is actually science or at least a proto-science that they are seeking to gain credibility with. I’m not a psychologist so I can’t speak of the truth of DID only to say that the general consensus amongst experts is that it is a real condition but it is controversial as to what the condition actually is. The problem lies in whether the alternate personalities (alters in the literature) are socially constructed or a direct result of the trauma itself. In either case, again, I’m not qualified to weigh on this part of the debate.

What I am qualified to speak about is where it comes from or where it doesn’t in actuality. How DID manifests is a difficult issue, but we know one thing: that Satanic mind control, Illuminati training, and witch rituals aren’t the origin. This is what the Grieves spoke about: that this otherwise normally sounding organization, the ISSTD, looks on the surface to be tackling a legitimate subject just below the surface are the panic mongers instilling fear of groups which do not exist who have powers beyond the scope of the normal world.

This is all related to the Satanic Panic. The allegations during the panic where that children could be psychologically abused in such a way that the abuser could force their minds to forget the abuse and to create an alternate personality that would shield their true self from the memory. The members of the ISSTD, medical professionals, all believe that this is true. In 2014 Rachel Thomas presented on patients being abused by lizard aliens, which I suppose is one step above David Icke’s theory since they at least live in this dimension.

The general problem is not whether DID exists, it is not research into childhood trauma, it is in where that trauma originates. Aliens, Lizard Aliens, Satanic Cults, and Witch Covens do not kidnap children for these purposes because these groups do not exist in this fashion. The hysteria over it does, and a culture that believes in these things will treat them as though they are real. ISSTD presenter Neil Brick, claims that he was a programmed psychic assassin by a joint operation of the Illuminati and Freemasons (because why not check all the boxes in my conspiracy bingo card). None of this is happening, it isn’t now and it wasn’t in the 80s.

I remember that the original panic well. I followed it on the news because it was weird and to be honest I can’t honestly say that I was doubtful about it. When people those days said something on television, I didn’t have my skepticism/cynicism that I have today. I do remember the church that I attended taking it much more seriously than they should have. However given the current Pope’s endorsement of the exorcists I guess nothing has really changed. They gave us a work sheet full of Satanic symbols, lectured us on the necessity of being aware of Satanists in our neghborhoods, and then brought a local cop out to inform us about the legal ramifications. I will note that the cop was not buying it but she said we should look out for drug use and vandalism.

The biggest mystery of the panic to me is where it came from and why it took hold. My research has it starting with the book “Michelle Remembers” by Lawrence Pazder and his former patient/future wife Michelle Smith about her experiences of being a sexual abuse victim in a Satanic cult. The book has been thoroughly disproven not only by the incredibleness of the claims but the impossibility of them as well (Events in the book could not be corroborated  by outside sources but also it would require Michelle to have been in two places at the same time given the 61 day ritual described in the book). Fiction is usually the place to look, and with the popularity of The Exorcist a few years prior that seems likely, just as reports of alien abduction immediately followed the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (similarly fear of nuclear power following the movie The China Syndrome which just preceded the Three Mile Island accident [of which the latter harmed no one]).

The why question is more mysterious though, why did this take hold at the time that it did rather than any other time before or after? The majority of Americans seem to recognize the crazy now. People are getting smarter, but before the 80s this didn’t happen either. A couple of sources I’ve read point to the rise in television evangelism, but that seems to be a symptom rather than the cause. What drove the profitability of television evangelism to the point where they could push a paranoid view of a world where Satanic cults kidnap and murder children? Why was it accepted? These are the important questions as we ponder how this incredible phenomenon still has ripples that affect the world today.

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Hell is Other People (Apparently)

April 2, 2018 Leave a comment

The Atheist news sphere was abuzz last week about the Pope’s apparent declaration of two things: that the soul is not eternal and that hell doesn’t exist. These comments were made to La Republicca reporter Eugenio Scalfari, a frequent interviewer of the Pope, atheist, and editor of the newspaper in question. He’s also 93 years old and doesn’t take notes or record his interviews (we’ll put a pin that for now).

So, this creates a problem because the typical story that has been happening since Francis has been in obvious is that he says something reasonable like Hell doesn’t exist, that God isn’t a wizard who can make creation out of nothing, or that atheists aren’t intrinsically bad people: then people cover the comment upon which the Vatican, not the Pope himself, begins walking back the comment.

Scalfari reported that the Pope said, “Hell does not exist–what exists is the disappearance of souls.”

Let’s assume he’s quoting faithfully. What are the implications? Well, first off this would be in line with the Renaissance belief noted in Dante that upon final judgment those in Hell are oblivated. They suffer their punishments in Hell, but then everything is washed away and those souls no longer exist after that event. This is noted in Dante as the souls in Hell can see the future. It’s an ironic punishment because they can see the end and know that though they wish their suffering to end, they also are aware that when the suffering ends they do as well.

As a philosopher it’s hard for me reconcile the comment that “what exists is the disappearance…” I mean, how does a disappearance exist? First off it’s an event, not a thing, but secondly it’s a lack not a presence so it can’t truly exist. None of that is important right now, so we will have to move on.

The problem with Hell is that it is a punishment that does not fit the crime, and this is true no matter what the crime actually is, simply because the length of time is infinite. We take this eternal situation and we place it against the notion of divine justice and we are thrust right into the Euthyphro dilemma. Divine justice would necessitate that punishment not only fit the crime but that it is done for the purpose of atonement. If I am a perpetual thief, I spend my entire life stealing, then I should be punished for it. In the afterlife, I should spend a certain amount of time being chased and bitten by reptiles. There has to be a certain amount of time by which a rational being would say that I have atoned for that crime. To say that I deserve eternal torture at the hands of these reptiles isn’t justice it’s vengeance.

Now, the apologist may claim that vengeance is the privilege of the Divine. Alright, that’s a fair point but it can’t, under any circumstance, be weighed against the crime or be called justice. The two are not related, and it is more reminiscent of Thrasymachus’ claim that justice is whatever the powerful say it is than some other metaphysical notion of justice.

Now of course, I as an Atheist, have a bias interest in their not being a Hell and for there not being a eternal punishment. I have to accept that, but I also have to accept the numerous conflicting crimes that get a person into Hell, in the words of Reverend Lovejoy, “Have you ever actually sat down and read this thing, we’re technically not allowed to go to the bathroom.” I’m pretty sure that it’s all a role of the dice anyway.

The problem with the comment is that we can’t assume that it’s the actual words of the Pope to begin with. The Vatican does have a point and this reporter doesn’t take notes or record the interviews. We can add that he’s 93 but some people, even nonagenarians, have sharp minds so let’s leave aside his age. The pope may have said something wherein he was clarifying the notion of Hell, i.e. saying that “Hell doesn’t exist the way people have imagined it” denying that “Hell” exists, but not the Hell of Dante. The popular view of Hell is not one that appears until John’s fever dream of Revelation anyway so the Pope could just be clarifying.

The most important point is that if he said it, and it was reported accurately the Pope isn’t making a doctrinal statement nor is he pronouncing the sentiment ex cathedra (invoking his infallibility). From the Catholic position this means he’s merely offering a personal view but not indicating a policy shift regarding the beliefs of the millions of Catholics in the world. While a shocking thing for a Pope to say, it’s not important as far as reflecting the beliefs of the Church itself.

As the Friendly Atheist blog points out, just last week the Pope urged members of the Italian mafia to repent less they be condemned to Hell. Further the Pope’s endorsement of exorcisms seems to bely at least the tangential belief in the place since that must be where all the demons and monsters live.

It’s important that we take this comment and the implications of it with a health dose of the same skepticism we apply to everything else. It’s a literal fallacy to accept the words of an individual that we normally would deny just because he’s saying something that we want to hear.

A Religious Duty?

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Well I’m impressed, we’ve managed to keep the latest mass shooting in the news for more than a week. If not for the effort of the school’s students this thing probably would have gone away by now, but those plucky young high school students have bitten back at a lobby group and the gun fetishists. What those people forget is while they might be good at verbal sparring, passive aggressive and aggressive social interactions, that’s all these kids know–they are in high school. If their high school experience was anything like mine, that’s four years of constantly having to come up with insults and rejoinders, it’s their life while their opponents just have to remember what they said two weeks ago after the last shooting.

This however isn’t a political blog, though sometimes it steps into that territory–and this post will be one foot in and one foot out. I want to talk about the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day, but I will do so by asking a question: why are Christian evangelicals so in love with firearms?

For those who consider themselves Conservatives, I get it, I don’t agree because they have lauded the 2nd Amendment to a status where it overwhelms all other rights, but it’s part of their political platform. For the conspiracy theorists with the delusional Red Dawn fantasies playing out in their heads, again, I get it–you’re wrong but I get it. It’s these Christians that I don’t understand. How is it that owning an assault rifle has become part of your religion?

One church had scheduled a blessing of assault-style rifles before the shooting but then refused to cancel or reschedule the event after it. Which, fine if they want to keep it going that’s up to them, my confusion is why this is even a thing? I’m willing to bet that there’s a strong overlap between the type of church that does this, the type of preacher that supports it, and the type of parishioner that attends and Apocalypse preaching. After every shooting we can count on these types to offer the same type of reasoning: taking god out of the schools, gay marriage, abortion, etc. They have a knee-jerk reaction to blaming access to these types of guns and want to blame it on literally anything else (even when the shootings happen in churches).

When I was religious, I wasn’t into the Apocalypse stuff. I read Revelations, a few times, but that was mostly because it was so weird. I was into D&D and mythology so that book fit in, though it wasn’t as well written. Being raised Catholic, I was taught that the book was not a literal check list of things that were going to happen before the end of the world but that it was just some of the usual metaphorical literature that was universal amongst end time religions in those days. My “New American Bible for Catholics” is specific in its introduction: “This much, however, is certain: symbolic descriptions are not to be taken as literal descriptions, nor is the symbolism meant to be pictured realistically.”

That’s the general message of every time I was taught this book. Interestingly, this book is where I started to realize that my religion was full of numerology which, at the time,  I did not know was a bullshit pattern recognition coupled with some good old fashioned consequent affirmation. Everything in the book has a number in it: Jesus is a seven horned, seven eyed, lamb for example. If I still had them, I could scan copies of my doodles of these monsters, the beast with seven heads, seven horns on each, and seven crowns on each horn was probably just a mess…especially if I was trying to fit it in the margins of a single subject spiral notebook.

Yet we know that there are those that take this book quite literally and I wonder if the reflexive defense of guns is related. The enormously popular “Left Behind” books and movies by La Haye and Jenkins seem to agree with me. Portraying a world in which all the real true Christians are raptured while those that are not wage a guerilla/terrorist war against the one world government fuels the idea that weapons are needed to fight the Anti-Christ. If this is so, then why is the focus on the war part of this kind of Christian theology rather than on following the teachings and then hoping to get raptured? It seems that this type of Christian has just given up hope and latched on to a “warrior for god” mentality that they, for some reason, believe will grant them eternal bliss in heaven.

No matter the explanation there is an intrinsic relationship with ownership of a gun and a particular strain of religious belief. If Jesus is love, then why do I need an AK, AR, or HK?

This strange bed fellowship is more than likely related to the false sense of persecution that these people feel whenever other groups are granted the same legal rights that they felt were exclusively theirs for the longest time. Pointing out why that perspective is flawed has been the subject of numerous other entries on this blog.

Then again, it could be much simpler. It could be that the religious right is just that in name only. We’ve already seen that they are willing to endorse our current president in the name of family values when he’s defaulted on that several times. It could very well be that these religious extremists will say anything that tightens their control and they’ve been using religion as a cover story for the last several decades. I wish I had an answer to this question, because it sure is mystifying that these sectarians who push a “Jesus is love” message have a unique and directed fetish for a weapon of war.

 

The Limits of Omnipotence

February 20, 2018 2 comments

So my country has had another mass shooting, and I thought it would be relatively easy to speak on that for today’s post, but then I wondered what was the new thing that I could say. Basically, I could just repeat what I’ve said before and just switch out the places. Instead of X I could say “school” or in the case of the Connecticut shooting I could keep the place and just change the age of the victim (my country has a lot of these kinds of shootings). However some politicians and commentators offered  me a new take on it. I was going to come up with the examples but enough people have made the comment that the list is too long and I don’t want to be accused of cherry picking so let’s just say Todd Starnes said it (because he did) and then a whole bunch of other people agreed with him that school shootings are the result of kicking god out of the schools.

Ignoring the fact that “god” wasn’t kicked out of the schools–forced prayer was–let’s examine this claim in detail.

If there is a law which tells me I can’t do X, that doesn’t mean that I cannot do X what it means is that if I do X I can suffer consequences for that action. A law which mandates that I stand for the pledge of allegiance doesn’t force my action by virtue of the law itself, it forces the action by causing me to weight the consequences of the action. If I deem the penalty as too severe I will stand for the poem, if deem it not severe enough than I can choose to sit and possibly suffer the consequence. The same goes for any law or rule. The compulsion is only from consequence avoidance. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn once commented that freedom of speech existed in the USSR as well as the USA, the only difference was that in the USA we had freedom after speech. The difference is important especially when we consider what people like Todd Starnes are saying.

Their belief is that the US passed a law by which “god” was no longer allowed in schools. Now, I doubt that they are so devoid of rational thinking that they believe the literal being was denied access to the school…maybe…but that it was illegal to pray, bring a bible, or anything religious based. So a student “John” cannot pray. This has caused a blanket ban on all religious thought, consideration, or feeling in the school. As a result the omnipotent being that John would have prayed to can no longer find His (because we know what god people like Starnes are talking about and it ain’t anyone other than Jesus) way into the school, or even on school property. As a result, this means that the school shooter gets to unload a few clips of his AR-15 style rifle into some students. QED making prayer forbidden in school caused this.

The implication here is that god is bound by US secular law. Once the law is enacted and the court passes its ruling it’s like Gandalf on the bridge of Khazad-Dum forbidding the supernatural being from passing. What Starnes and his ilk seem to believe, again because it bears repeating, that god is bound by US secular law. That’s the first possibility. The second is the one they actually aren’t saying aloud and is pure speculation on my part, that, they believe god is causing the mass shootings because we don’t allow enough Jesus inside the school. The second, of course, is not something that most religious people believe and should, indeed, find quite offensive. The problem of evil trilemma is almost never solved by eliminating the Omni-benevolence portion in this manner.*

That returns us to the first possibility which severely limits the power of god to even speeding. This would explain a lot of the absence, but it also means that every person living within the US legal boundary has more power than the divine being that Starnes wants back in the schools. Especially those that are not legally citizens, since their mere presence is more powerful than the creator of the universe. This is not a god worth worshipping since its power is so limited, in fact it’s not a god at all.

 

*Though sometimes it’s eliminated by way of “god works in mysterious ways.” Which implies that even the worst tragedies are to some greater plan that involves such intense human suffering and our feeble minds will never grasp the true meaning. It’s not a satisfying answer by any respect but if you hear it enough times as a child you learn to stop asking why (at least that was my experience).

Dispatches from the War on Christmas

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

To: Legal (cc: Political)

From: Agent 7083264617

Subject: I thought this was a fixed issue

I’m not sure who I am supposed to be writing this to so I’ll just send it to both of you. One of our field operatives just reported to me that they had an experience in public. Upon instituting a private transaction at a public institution, today (I’m writing without filing the proper report as I feel this is of supreme importance) they failed to hear any of the twelve Christmas songs that we have been authorizing for the purposes of over saturation and they were told ‘Happy Holidays’ upon leaving the place in question. I don’t know if these are facets of the plan that I am not privy to or if something has gone wrong. Since the election of this new guy (which I know wasn’t us, our devils are much more competent) who has publicly said that America will begin saying “Merry Christmas again” I thought that would be part of the over-saturation plan. Am I to redouble our efforts again or is this part of the plan?

Please advise,

D

______________________________________________________________________________________________

To: Agent 7083264617

From: Political

Subject: Everything is Fine

Ok, we’ve got some explaining to do, you were supposed to receive the memo on this plan but we were so caught up with other things (religious segregation bans and the like) that one of the interns must have forget to send it out. Don’t worry we’ve got nine Hells to spare for punishment.

First off, yes this is part of the plan. As one of our seasoned veterans surely you are aware that none of this is really about the words themselves. Focusing on the words, making the debate about the words or the phrase in question is all about severance. It doesn’t matter whether this person thinks he can mandate what people say and when (he can’t, we can’t make him and his courts won’t allow him–this is, of course, on purpose). The point is to make such promises hollow showing the flaccidity and impotence of the Christian outrage. Basically it’s just sowing discord.

It’s vitally important that no one ever realizes the triteness of this outrage which is why we have been, for the last eight years pushing hard on making sure that no commercial enterprise endorses the “Christmas” message (with the exception of a couple) but now refocusing on what these people ironically think as “change.” Look at what Commercial has done with the Starbucks cup, last year it was just an utterly inane red cup and still they freaked out. This year it’s a weird conglomeration of celebration images (we guess, it would be right at home every other day of the year as well) and still the extremists are freaking out because the two hands might (and I stress might) be two women. At this point those people are digging the grave of their own movement as this constant panic about not being reassured of their tenuous grasp of their own belief system is going to alienate the moderates next. Soon, and hopefully very soon but our psychohistory models say it will be further away, they’ll begin to realize that mandating such rote phraseology is more akin to their perceived enemy than they are likely to want to believe.

This year, as last year, we have no plans on authorizing a new Christmas song. Makes no sense to do so, we’re down to about three that actually mention the meaning of the holiday while the rest are just winter songs.

Keep up the good work,

L

 

The September 23rd ridiculousness

September 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Did you know that the world was going to end on Friday the 23rd of September? It isn’t, but there enough people that think it will that garnered an article on Fox News “Science” page. My first question is: how many apocalypses have I lived through? Is it five, it feels like five. It’s been at least two in the last three years, and then there was the 2012 bullshit. I definitely remember one having to deal with a red heifer. It’s hard to keep track of all these things. This is only counting the ones that made the news. I’m sure the world is supposed to end every day according to someone.

The prophecy is the usual mess of cherry picking quotes from whatever text fits. In this case it’s Luke 21:25-26 and Revelation 21:1-2. The latter reads: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

The break down of this is: John, the author of the Revelation, was clearly in the midst of a fever dream. Setting that aside, the interpretation has to with numerology and astrology. The backbone of every bronze age religion that is still kicking. The passage is cited because on September 23rd, the astrological sign Venus, will contain the sun, moon, as well as the planet Jupiter. Get it? The sun will be in the constellation (though not really because the sun would have to be a lot further away in order to be “in” the constellation) metaphorically “clothing” it. The constellation will be over the moon’s position, so there’s that. Also three planets and nine stars will be above it. Except that literally billions of stars are going to be both above and below the constellation. This interpretation just concentrates on the nine stars so there you go, really that’s all I could get out of the Revelation passages. Our first question is how did we arrive at the date?

Well remember the Eclipse? That was on August 21st, and September 23rd is 33 days from that. Jesus lived on Earth for 33 years, simple addition and boom! Apocalypse. Yes, like the ancient world that thought an eclipse was a portent of doom, we’ve apparently not advanced passed this superstition in the last couple millenia. Also the whole thing also revolves around the mysterious Earth shattering planetoid/planet/meteor Nibiru–which doesn’t exist, but if non-existence were a barrier to belief I wouldn’t need to write this blog.

This leaves us with the aforementioned Luke passages 21:25-26 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 26: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.'”

How did we arrive here. Again refer back to the Eclipse on the 21st, the Hurricane hit Texas on the 25th and then the flooding on the 26th. Yeah, that’s it. Here we can see the obvious cherry picking because there’s nothing to indicate why it would be Luke and not any of the other three gospel writers…or perhaps any other book in the Bible, in Exodus we just miss the “eye for an eye” speech. Perhaps that’s why it gets tossed out.

This is obvious bullshit, but it shows the arbitrariness of numerology. Just pick one day, something significant, and then find everything that fits the pre-ordained conclusion. What’s more interesting is this article, in which the author tries to explain how “No True Christian” would believe this. The first thing he does is argue that there is no such thing as a Christian Numerologist, and then deftly explains why these bible code prophecies are prima facie false. On the latter part I agree, but on the former: afraid not buddy.

I was raised Catholic, which is one of the more scientifically literate versions of Christianity, and I was taught the numbers thing. I was taught that the numbers 3, 7, 8, 12, 40, and 1,000 were significant which is why the bible uses those numbers so often. Revelations uses 3 a significant number of times. This makes sense given the time it was written and the impact of Pythagorean philosophy on Greek culture. The “thousand” is an interesting concept because, again in ancient Greek, there are no numbers above a thousand. Anything beyond that was considered “innumerable” such as the number of atoms in the universe. This sometimes gets confused with “infinite” and I take umbrage with some of those interpretations (looking at you Aristotle).

Claiming that there are no Christian numerologists is a claim you can only make if you’re falling into the “Scotsman” fallacy and make the terms “Numerologist” and “Christian” mutually exclusive. As I just said in the previous example, and setting my religious education aside–you can’t make this claim. You can minimize the impact of numerology by saying it’s an old superstition, but that leads to a dark road where you have to begin admitting that prophecies based on numbers (the entire book of Revelation) are irrelevant. Though, to be fair, this too can be dismissed reasonably but that leads to the splitting of hairs so that only a certain type of belief is permissible. Which then gets us back into the differences of sects and what it means to be an actual Christian. We probably don’t want that…again.

*I neglected to link the actual prophecy page on purpose. It will become irrelevant in a few days anyway.

Defending a Religion

September 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Again, I have to point out that Noah Ludgeons on this week’s Scathing Atheist put it much better than I could, when discussing the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar of the Rohingya Muslim minority. A group of people that are denied citizenship on the basis of them being the members of the wrong religion. That is to say, the victims are Muslim and the perpetrators are Buddhists. A couple of years ago, I related a story about a group of Buddhists who burned down a Muslim orphanage, this was back in 2013–also in Myanmar, and the problem has only continued.

The point being made in the diatribe was that because Buddhism is a religion, it’s just as bad as any other religion. The only reason we don’t hear about it is because they aren’t a majority religion in a majority of countries. Buddhism gets a good rap because the Dalai Lama seems like a decent person (then again so does Pope Francis), and we’re apparently still dealing with the leftover waves the Asian fascination that this country went through in the 70s. Again, though it’s a religion and every religion, once it gets the majority begins a campaign to slowly get rid of those pesky other modes of thought. We need look no further than the Mormon story. Oppressed, outlawed, and in some cases it was perfectly legal to hunt them: once they settled in Utah they began their own purity programs. Puritans driven out of England for their beliefs ended up driving their own dissenters out in the Colonies. Perhaps the Rohingya Muslims would be doing the same if they were in power, but we don’t need hypotheticals to wonder what Muslim majority countries do to apostates, heretics, and even those that believe in the wrong kind of Islam.

Among the theme of his diatribe though was a secondary point that he dwelled on but that I want to tackle a little more in depth: Why do atheists defend Buddhism?

I’ve known a few legitimate Buddhists. I say legitimate to differentiate from those people that have an unread copy of some pop-philosophy Buddhist book on their shelf which they are “totally going to get to someday.” The problem that I’ve had is that for some reason there is an assumption that Buddhists and Atheists are on the same side. A claim, which I absolutely do not understand. I’m an Atheist, I don’t accept unproven claims, and Buddhism is full of them. Sure, they have that whole non-violence thing going on, but so do most religions…and I’m not a pacifist. They still ask for money for the sole sake of existing, they have numerous supernatural claims, and most importantly: as is the case in every religion, they regard existence on this planet as a bad thing. They don’t have gods…except that they do, it’s just the gods aren’t like the other religions in that the deities aren’t at the top of the food chain, but they’re still gods.

I suppose one of the reasons is that Buddhism holds no power in this country and thus is shielded from the bad press in a way that the Christian theocratic evangelicals earn. They haven’t committed terrorism here so they don’t get the PR that Islam gets. As far as I know they have never been the target of conspiracy theories like those of the Jewish religion. Perhaps all of that is why the Buddhists think the Atheists are on the same side.

Atheists on the other hand have an annoying tendency to defend this religion and that’s the most infuriating point. They’ll talk about how the Buddha preaches love and how most Buddhists are peaceful regular people but the same can be said of literally all religions. Most religious people are not the Pat Robertsons of the world who think homosexuality causes hurricanes, yet we Atheists will paint Christianity with that brush but excuse Buddhism when it does nearly the same thing. Islam is more prominent for it’s treatment of women but Buddhism has the exact same problem with women. When I bring this up to other atheists I get push back, and sometimes not polite pushback either.

Sure, Buddhism, in many respects is not as bad as other religions. There’s not been any Buddhist Crusades, as long as we don’t count Mongolia in the 14th century. Even if we agree that putting the religions in a spectrum where one religion is clearly the best, it’s still a list of bad things to worse things. If we assume that Buddhism is the best of the bunch it’s still just the least bad of a bad thing. Why then are atheists defending this religion?

The only religions that do not have a problem with murder, sexism, homophobia, or various methods of thought control are the ones that no one practices anymore. Sure Wicca doesn’t have the history but if they had the control you’d start seeing in fighting amongst the various sects. You can find articles that talk about what a “real Wiccan” does and that’s just the taste because if you gave them the authority they’d make a meal out of it. All religions do this.

Perhaps Buddhism gets the pass it does because it’s so utterly foreign. In the US we have the saturation of the Abrahamic tradition which means that we’re used to it, while Buddhism is something we know from movies where a monk can punch through a door. We know them from the Wu-Tang Clan and are unfamiliar with the drawbacks of the religion and that they are literally like every other religion once it gets into power. A good explanation but once the historical facts are pointed out that gets waved away as being not representative of true Buddhism. Which, sure, but we don’t drop the same allowance on any other religion–as well we shouldn’t, it’s just the no true Scotsman fallacy. In fact, we go nuts when some Christian nut throws a bomb in a planned parenthood clinic and other Christians say, “that’s not a true Christian.”

Buddhism is just as bad as the other ones we shouldn’t be pretending otherwise, and most importantly we shouldn’t get offended when someone points out their problematic history as well. We’re not Buddhists, we’re atheists.