Freedom from Religion

Did I tell you about my own personal cult? It’s cool. We revere the natural world. It is a truly wonderful place. For this reason we don’t like photographs. It’s offensive to nature to even attempt to capture its beauty on film. I find photographs personally offensive, and so do all of my followers. Whenever photographs appear in newspapers, magazines or television, I feel physically sick. I will write to the owners of these magazines and demand that their editors be sacked because of the offence caused. That’s entirely reasonable.

Obviously, the above is clearly stupid. Just as the idea of a man rising from the dead is to non-Christians. Just as the idea of reincarnation is to non-Hindus. Just as the concept of not doing ‘work’ one day a week is to non-Jews. Just as banning depictions of Mohammed is to non-Muslims.

The problem here isn’t freedom of the press, it’s freedom from religion. There is no way for any authority to complain about the behaviour of the Muslim community following the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed, because of the ingrained idea, force-fed by society, that religious beliefs must be ‘respected’. No, they mustn’t. It’s fair to be polite and to let people think and do what they like providing it doesn’t harm anybody else, but once that line is crossed and their nonsense starts to interfere in secular society, it must be treated with the disdain it deserves.

The problem with Islam is that plenty of people are scared of its militant wings. With good reason:

the leader of Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hizbollah said the row would never had occurred if a 17-year-old death edict against British writer Salman Rushdie been carried out

Just because Islam has more than its fair share of psychos doesn’t mean we should roll over and capitulate to its every demand. It is not reasonable to demand that your made-up ideas be followed by all of society, and that’s all there is to it. It is entirely appalling that the French editor was sacked – it sets a ridiculous precedent, and only encourages this sort of behaviour.

Nothing good can come from ‘respecting’ religious belief to the extent that it can affect the behaviour of people outside of its circle. Religion pulled off a massive PR campaign to convince the public that beliefs founded on nothing should have merit, but this simply isn’t a tenable situation. What happens when religions have contradictory beliefs?

It’s time for logic and reason to take back the middle ground.