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Faith No More

by The Staff on March 24, 2011 · 1 comment

To the editor:

“Give faith a chance?” [Reckonings, March 10.] Give me a break! Faith has had many chances: in the Egypt of the Pharaohs, in the Dark Ages, in the Aztec Empire, in Franco’s Spain, in the Iran of the ayatollahs, etc. In the Middle Ages, Christians would have burned Rev. Ms. Page at the stake for some of the mildly liberal opinions she publishes. She is, as I recall, a Lutheran minister. Luther would have been the first to condemn her to hell and see to it that she got there as soon as possible.

Jo Page says exactly what the televangelists say: that Christians are an oppressed minority, when in fact they control almost everything. They are elites impersonating the oppressed. Church property is tax exempt. Churches can discriminate in employment against gays if they claim their faith requires it. Rev. Page has only to remove a coin from her pocket to notice that the state promotes theistic religion.

If people at dinner parties, knowing that she is a cleric, avoid the subject of religion, that is because they have better manners than Christians, and there is no way to discuss religion intelligently without at least implying how malevolent it is.

I could not help but chuckle that this pious person defends religion because it is useful, not because it is true. That’s why Voltaire would discuss atheism with his friends only after he sent the servants out of the room. But the reverend doesn’t even claim that religion is good for everybody, only that it is good for “developing countries.” In what way? It reconciles the poor and oppressed to their lot. The people of the Third World need revolution, not revelation; rights not rites.

And it reflects the intellectual shambles of Christian apologetics that an ordained minister can only defend religion by attributing (on doubtful grounds) social benefits to animism, Buddhism and Hinduism. She doesn’t even pretend that her own religion makes the world a better place. Lutheran missionaries in Africa, the Pacific region and elsewhere are doing their best to stamp out animism and destroy the cultures of tribal peoples. The godly can no longer get away with forcibly eliminating heretics here, but they seek out places where that can still be done, and they do it. They always do as much as they can get away with. That is why they must be resisted, refuted and ridiculed at every turn.

Believing that faith can be socially beneficial is itself an act of faith. The evidence of history is overwhelmingly to the contrary.

Bakunin wrote (turning Voltaire on his head): “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.” I have written: “Get thee behind me, God.”

Bob Black

Albany

{ 1 comment }

Colin M March 25, 2011 at 8:35 am

I can't imagine why Bob Black thinks that Martin Luther would condemn Rev. Jo Page to hell. It is pretty clear to me that Luther himself was very capable of critical thinking, and he certainly didn't hesitate to challenge the status quo when he posted the 95 Theses on that door in Wittenberg, Germany. Mr. Black seems to want readers to believe that Lutheran churches somehow support the continuance of a spirit of feudalism. That certainly doesn't reflect the ELCA Lutheran Churches in Albany and the surrounding region, particularly those that are Reconciling In Christ. These ELCA churches locally have proven to be extremely progressive in their social ministries, sharing a witness of the inclusive love of Jesus Christ. These churches are helping their members become better disciples of Christ, not helping to stamp out animism or wreak havoc on tribal cultures, to the best of my knowledge. My own Luthercan congregation's (First Lutheran, Albany) international outreach focuses on health care in Chile, ending hunger through support of Bread for the World, and supporting sustainable agrarian communities through the Heifer Project. Fortunately, our Constitution ensures freedom of religion, because I prefer the vision of a future I hear in my community of faith, to the one described by Mr. Black in his letter. I'll take the love and support of a community of faith that is working to make the world a better place. Mr. Black's message doesn't sound like it has a fuure at all, and makes the present sound pretty bleak.