To the Editor:
This is from a recent NBCnews.com article: “Pope Francis suggested there are limits to freedom of expression, saying in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attack that ‘one cannot make fun of faith’ and that anyone who throws insults can expect a ‘punch.’
“The pontiff said that both freedom of faith and freedom of speech were fundamental human rights and that ‘every religion has its dignity.'”
Dignity? Religions are based on revelation claims involving supernatural entities; claims which cannot be substantiated. As a result, all religions (except one, at most) are ultimately superstitions, and some of us are convinced that all religions are superstitions. Where is the dignity in superstition?
Virtually every religion, past and present, is based on a supposed revelation where some god or another has told some human that it must be revered, and just how that reverence is to be shown.
Remember, there have been thousands of religions in this world’s history; thousands which contradict one another; thousands which no one believes in any more; thousands which led people down blind alleys of superstition.
If we know for a fact that thousands of religions have been mere superstition, aren’t the odds pretty good that they all are?
Now, Pope Francis tells us that the right to liberty of expression comes with the “obligation” to speak for “the common good.”
Maybe so, but what the Pope misses is that “the common good” can mean different things to different people. I believe that superstition is, and has been throughout history, the single greatest impediment to man’s understanding of how the world really works, and his control over the dangers of that world. Thus, I believe that to speak out against the dangers of religion is to speak for the common good.
The Pope says that “every religion has its dignity,” but exaggerated respect for religion has enabled the Catholic Church’s (and others’) cover-ups of clergy child sex abuse world-wide, and cover-ups of the atrocities of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland and similar abuses.
The desire to prevent sullying the reputation of the Church is behind these cover-ups. Over-respect of religion has also led to blasphemy laws in 32 countries, including eight European countries; laws which override freedom of speech and imperil anyone with the courage to speak the truth about religions. In many countries I could be jailed (or worse) for merely writing that religions are superstitions.
Because of the exaggerated respect for religion in this world, the Pope’s words will be read by millions, while my words will be read by a few hundred at most, but, I don’t believe for a second that I am doing anyone a disservice by speaking out about the dangers of religion. Like those cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, I am a firm believer in the power of ridicule.
People are being killed over religious nonsense, nonsense that deserves to be ridiculed, yet the Pope wants us to hold our tongues and pencils and play nice? No! We cannot allow him or anyone else to silence us. The future belongs to those who accept reality and seek to understand it.
Superstition should always be aggressively discouraged and shown for what it is – a destructive impediment to the intellectual progress of mankind.