My reading of the God Delusion was actually spurred mostly by the increased interest I've had in religious matters over the last while. This increased interest is because (mostly) of my subscription to the RSS feed at scienceblogs. A good number of them, as I've mentioned, often deal with stories relating to religious absurdity. Not that that is the sole reason I picked up the book, as I've heard Dawkins' name mentioned (as well as him speaking a time or two, I think) on CBC several times, and of course I've always heard the same stories that get mass media attention as everyone else about religion. You know, the wars, murders, rapes. That sort of thing.
Well, the last few days have been a hell of time for organized religion. We have a muslim girl beaten to death by her own father for refusing to think of herself as property, three jewish people were set upon by a crowd of "young civilians" (good christian children) for wishing "Happy Hanukka," and, the most stomach churning of all; Nigerian priests are killing children. Okay, so, technically, it's the parents doing the killing.
This is a select sample of what I've read about over the last several days - the worst of the bunch. I'll go into each a little.
The first one I probably have the most to say about, or at least the most that I have specific thoughts on rather than just "fucking religion". This girl was 16, and, as the quotes from her friends I've read online as well as heard on CBC have pointed out, she liked fashion. We all know (or at least are inclined to feel given our upbringing, even me with my... somewhat unique tastes in appearance) that a lot of the clothing that younger girls wear seems a bit inappropriate, even perhaps disrespectful to themselves. There is often conflict between the ones who want to wear the clothing and their parents, who see it as scandalous or downright slutty. This is a problem for many people in North America (probably most places in Europe, and who knows, maybe all over) regardless of their religion or culture. There comes a time, however, when the parents have to back off and let it be.
Aqsa was 16, and didn't want to wear the hijab, or any of the traditional clothing she was expected, as a good muslim girl, to wear. This rejection of her religious culture had caused conflict between her and her father in the past, and for whatever reason, it became too much for Muhammad. So he strangled her to death (*cough* allegedly. Nevermind that he called 911 and told them he had just killed his daughter. It's only "alleged" for now).
Now, obviously not all North American muslims are going to kill their daughters for not wearing the hijab. Clearly there was something tweaky in Mr. Parvez. But I hope you'll notice the "North American" bit in there, and reflect on the instances which you've heard of muslim women being circumcised (what's that, you like your clit? Psh. It's sin, off with it), shaved and stoned in other areas of the world. Blame it on the culture of those areas all you want, but they get their rules from their books.
To the jewish incident: this one is actually less horrific than the other two, but stands out because in a way it's almost uplifting. I won't go into specifics because there's too much to go over, basically: a passenger announces to the subway car: "Merry Christmas." A jewish guy replies with "Happy Hanukka." A group of "young people" begin insulting him and his companions with "anti-semetic" language. When he protests they start beating him. A muslim student jumps to his aid and gets his share, too. The best part of this is that the NYPD are "investigating" to determine whether to add hate crimes to the list of charges these dicks are getting. So... calling someone a jew while you beat the hell out of them isn't a hate crime? Oh, oh, wait, it just might not be a hate crime. Y'know, it's not like it's clear cut or anything.
It's also interesting to note that of those involved there are three jews, a muslim and a group of young people who were offended by the wishing of Hanukka blessings. So... christians, right? Who knows? The article doesn't state that. I guess it isn't important.
Obviously this one goes slightly deeper than religion, too. These morons may well have been entirely undecided about their religious beliefs, but raised on the opinions of a good chunk of North American society they still were compelled to act against this guy for whatever "war on christmas" bullshit reasons. Regardless of whether they were christians, they were acting on ingrained christian beliefs. (or, hell, maybe they're all just dickweeds)
The last one... Fuck. I don't know what the hell to say about that. Good thing christianity reached those poor backwards people.
These are the sorts of things I've been seeing for the last several months. I generally read through them when they come up for a few days, and then get sick and avoid anything even remotely related to religion for a while. The problem is, those headlines are always there. I could probably pull at least three incidences of these atrocities every day. Yeah, I could just ignore them, and most of the time, even when I'm reading them, I do. I know there's nothing I can really do to change any of this, but ignoring it isn't going to make it [cliche cliche].
And really, there is something I can do... I can do my best to get people not to tolerate this bullshit. There should be no one, not a single soul, sticking up for any of the perpetrators of these acts. I know that there won't be verbal support (or at least only a very small amount), but there are going to be people saying in the case of Aqsa Parvez "well, it's their culture," even if it's just in their heads. I want people to realize that it doesn't fucking matter! Yes, we should absolutely respect other cultures, but only so long as they stay within the boundries of humanity. If a woman wants to wear the hijab, good, great, absolutely. If she only wants to wear it because her husband/father will kill her, then somebody wake that bitch up and throw the offending asshole in jail.
*sigh* I'm losing my coherency, and allowing more and more expletives to fill in. I'll leave it at this: Any religion that encourages subservience, mutilation (of others or the self), self-loathing or hatred of any kind, and above all murder (whether or not it is practiced by "contemporary" followers) should be scoured from the face of the earth, with only their memories left behind to remind us of how goddamn stupid and gullible we are.
Thanks to Penguin for the reminder: this. Oh boy.