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In superstition we trust

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It's well known that America has taken the Christian religion to a level of bovine credulity that really hasn't been seen since the Middle Ages, so I was a little surprised to hear this week that the country is becoming less religious. Back in the 1950s, 99% of Americans said they believed in God. Now it's only 93%. What a shocking spiritual and moral decline. It must feel as if the place is falling apart. In reality, of course, compared with other western countries, America is still rabidly religious. Aggressively and insanely religious, some would say. It has, in fact, elevated religion to a dark comic art form. It is, after all, the home of the Bible Belt, a kind of atheist heart of darkness. It's the home of sideshow Christianity with its fake healings, creation museums, and slippery conmen speaking in tongues, all of them forked. It's the home of corporate Christianity and the televangelism industry. Send money now, in Jesus' name. What was that third commandment again? God is on the money, and he's very much in the money, and he had better be on every politician's lips, if they know what's good for them. It's hard for us to imagine an American politician making any kind of fundamental statement about their country without invoking God. And we're likely to be hearing a fair amount of that in the next few months because the presidential campaign is now under way, and it looks as if Jesus is getting the Republican nomination again. Wouldn't it be nice if, just for once, the Republican Party could find a credible candidate who isn't walking around with Jesus on their shoulder like a goddamned parrot. The current front runner is Texas governor Rick Perry, whose budget is balanced, but we're not so sure about his mind. He believes in teaching creationism in schools, and he opened his campaign with a prayer rally organised with the help of some fundamentalist wackos who want to see a Christian army take dominion over the American government and ultimately the whole of society - in Jesus' name, of course. Kind of a Christian Taliban deal. Oh, and they're also very big on demons. So, given all this, if I was an American voter, I wouldn't care if Rick Perry could balance a budget on a high wire over Niagara Falls, I wouldn't want him in the White House. Mind you, I wouldn't want the current guy in there either, because he's a European by instinct, and he wants to take the country in that direction. Big government, high taxes, and a massive welfare state is the European way. We call it social democracy, and you can see what it has done for us. If you looked at the size of Britain's welfare bill you'd think half the country was disabled. It's a rotten system and a drain on society, and that's why, if I was an American, I'd vote for Satan before I'd vote for Obama. But Jesus? That might be a step too far. Obama or Jesus? It's the choice from hell. I remember when Obama was first elected, he had a halo just like Jesus. Whatever happened to that? Anyway, despite the shocking decline of religion in America, at this stage the only thing we know for sure about the next president is that they will not be an atheist. 49% of Americans say they would not vote for an atheist candidate, which makes an atheist president about as likely as a Protestant pope. It also makes the United States a country where politicians are afraid not to believe in God - or to pretend they do. Although the Constitution makes a point of keeping religion and politics separate, in practice, it's impossible to be a successful politician without sucking up to religion. You know, that thing that's in such decline. As if to underline this, in another poll this week we hear that 30% of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God. That's like hearing that 30% of fifteen year-olds believe in Santa Claus. Well, it is to me, anyway. A further 43% believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, and only 17% think it's just a book of fables and legends. So 83% of adult Americans believe the Bible is either directly or indirectly the word of God, which makes you wonder how many of them have actually read it. If the Bible is the word of God it's bad news for humanity, because it shows a god who is contradictory, ill-focussed, and incoherent. A god who finds it impossible to simply state what he means in plain language. In short, somebody who can't be trusted. Fortunately, it's not the word of God, for two very good reasons: One: Because God doesn't exist. And I can say that with authority. Well, with as much authority as anyone who says he does exist. And two: Because the Bible is self-evidently a collection of different books written at different times in different styles by different people. It's entirely of human origin. It was written by men, and put together by men. Some books got in, and others didn't. All the editorial decisions were made by men for the purpose of controlling other men. That purpose has now been served. Everyone involved is long dead and buried, and their ideas have no more jurisdiction over us than our half-baked ideas will over those who will live a thousand years from now. Imagine us trying to dictate to those people from our pit of ignorance how they should engage with reality. And now imagine the withering contempt they would rightly show for that suggestion. Given its history and format, I'd say the Bible has less chance of being the word of God than just about any book you could think of. But then again, surely 83% of Americans can't be wrong. Oh, I don't know. More than 83% of Americans vote Republican or Democrat, and they've yet to pick a winner between them, so I don't know what to think any more. Might as well look on the bright side, and the good news is, of course, that only 49% of Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist, which means that a clear majority would. What a breakthrough. At this rate it might only be a couple of hundred years before you don't need to pander to superstition and juju to become electable in the world's most powerful country. This could be the beginning of a whole new enlightenment. Oh happy day. Peace.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 5 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 13,753
Posted by: patcondell on Sep 7, 2011

America's religion fetish.

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