We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year’s fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years. ~ Robert Green Ingersoll
I saw a list the other day of the Top 10 Foolish Beliefs. No, the list was not one of Dave Letterman’s but some of the beliefs were nonetheless pretty funny. The list I discovered was created by Sal Mangano on Blogspot.com. It was created to honor April 1st, traditionally April Fool’s Day in the U.S. and a few other countries.
Before continuing, have a little fun with this – make a list of what you consider popular but foolish beliefs. Jot down beliefs held by substantial numbers of people that strike you as quite foolish from the standpoint of not being even remotely evidence-based, scientific or consistent with common sense. Think of five right now and write them down.
Done? Ok, now have a look at the top ten foolish beliefs on the list below identified by Mr. Mangano. Note how many of your choices appear on this list.
The Top Ten – Plus A Few
In reverse order, from 10th to most foolish, here’s the Mangano’s Blogspot listing:
10. Perpetual motion is possible.
09. The Earth is flat.
08. My religion is correct, all others are wrong.
07. Dianetics (Scientology) is not a cult. Three alternatives for # 7: A – that the holocaust never happened; B – that the moon landing was faked; and C – that there is no global warming (although it is not foolish to debate the primary cause).
06. There is a Devil who lives in hell.
05. Astrology is a valid methodology for understanding your life.
04. Numerology has something relevant to say about our personal destiny.
03. Noah’s Ark existed and had two of every animal on board.
02. Intelligent Design is a rational model of the origin of life.
And number one – what else?
1. God (as in an intelligent animate being) exists.
I agree that all of the above deserve to be on a list of foolish beliefs. There are many other beliefs that could be on the list, including that:
* Religions do more good than harm.
* Voting for a Republican today can be a reasonable, decent, humane and/or rational act.
* George W. Bush is America’s greatest president.
* Seventy-two virgins await Islamic suicide bombers.
* Not pursuing at least a somewhat healthy lifestyle can be an intelligent lifestyle choice.
Billions of people throughout the world subscribe to one or more of the above beliefs. Many also believe in the existence of a Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, trolls, goblins, fairy godmothers, elves, the efficacy of prayer and so on. Evidently, our president thinks a god might bless America if he sticks that mantra on the end of a speech.
Paraphrasing Charles Farrar Browne, I’d be willing to risk the sacrifice of two cousins and my wife’s brother on a wager that not one of the above noted beliefs is anything but foolish.
The Foolish But Dangerous Christian Right
Some foolish beliefs are funny and relatively harmless, at least to those of us not burdened by the weight of carrying such convictions. However, some foolish beliefs are pernicious, even to those who want nothing to do with them. The tenth foolish belief, when it is accompanied by fundamentalist zealotry, is a prime example.
In America, Christian politics represent a threat to our personal freedoms and the survival of secular democracy. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains these words: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… This clause has served us well, keeping religionists from each other’s throats and the country from coming apart over creeds and dogmas.
Alarmingly, an aggressive Christian Right has taken over the Republican Party. It currently dominates the U.S. House of Representatives and dozens of state governments. Well-funded, well-connected Right Wing Christian organizations are aggressively promoting prayers in public schools, creationism/intelligent design in science classes, vouchers that direct tax monies to religious institutions (and thus away from secular public schools), pious god observances at government meetings, ten commandment statues on public property, book bannings, revisionist history (Christian nation propaganda) while opposing the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
The assault on our rights to freedom from religion has already made massive inroads with under god in the Pledge, god on our coins, in god we trust in courtrooms, tax exemptions of churches, synagogues and all religious institutions and taxpayer funding of chaplains in the Congress and the military.
Here in Florida, religious forces are working to eliminate the state’s constitutional ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools, half-way houses and other facilities.
Throughout the country, Catholic Bishops and a host of religious political action groups are seeking to end the reproductive rights of women while opposing equal opportunities for gays, opposing end of life and euthanasia options for those who wish such services and pursuing exemptions from public accommodation laws for religious zealots. The latter refers to business owners who would like to deny services (i.e., discriminate) based on their own religious beliefs.
This is the way the Religious Right thinks of “religious freedom.”
What Can a Secular American Do?
Beside speaking out individually about some or all of the Religious Right assaults on our god-free nation consistent with the First Amendment, link up with and thereby support organized efforts to resist the theocratic tide. There are many outstanding organizations doing important work against those that do not believe you have any right to freedom from religion – and are doing their utmost to see that you don’t.
Along with 20 thousand others, I belong to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, founded in 1978 as a state/church watchdog and freethought association. While there is nothing at FFRF’s website or in their literature about REAL wellness, they are very much engaged in advancing reason and liberty – two key REAL wellness dimensions. FFRF functions in a myriad of ways with exuberance, as well, a third REAL wellness dimensions. This is evident at their annual conventions and product offerings, including songs, posters and billboard campaigns. In other words, FFRF scores highly in three out of four REAL wellness dimensions – I only wish the National Wellness Institute were half as engaged in promoting true quality of life in this country and around the world.
For these reasons, I consider FFRF a REAL wellness organization – they have a distinguished record helping to preserve a strict separation of church and state.
Enjoy, stay well and guard against foolishness and the hazards of the Christian Right’s theocracy campaign as you shape and refine your REAL wellness mindset and lifestyle.