Essay:Get out of jail free

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So, cases of faith healers ending up killing their kids are in the news again. Well, really its a case of the same few popping up when they're arrested, convicted and sentenced but still, its getting quite frequent. A recent article from the Washington Post submitted to RationalWiki's blogosphere had some interesting points in it, however. Namely, that if you're a "faith healer" or you put faith in something, you get less punishment than someone else. In a sane and just world, this would be considered madness.

So, time to jump into "shrill angry atheist" mode and satisfy the stereotype that so many of the religious right seem to hold. I make no apologies or excuses for this, it genuinely does make me angry that a prosecutor could shout "they're not vegans, they're baby killers!" when parents let their kid die of malnutrition but wouldn't dare say "they're not Christians, they're baby killers!" when a couple does exactly the same by praying over their sick and dying child rather than seeking medical help. So this anger is for a bloody good reason - this pisses me off royally. So, lets start with a concluding defence speech made by the recently convicted mother:

I do not regret trusting truly in the Lord for my daughter's health. I am guilty of trusting my Lord's wisdom completely... Guilty of asking for heavenly intervention. Guilty of following Jesus Christ when the whole world does not understand. Guilty of obeying my God.

So they get let off - basically, that's what it is. These people are pretty much guilty of manslaughter and they get off and THAT'S the excuse. They show no remorse or regret, they still hold these beliefs and they're unshaken; in other areas, this would be considered psychotic. You hear so often on the news almost every time a killer is caught; they show no remorse, just cold and brutal acceptance that their beliefs are right and their actions therefore justified. But here, we have a difference; just because we're all about the "tolerance" and "respect" for religions over everything. We can't offend people, we have to respect their cherished beliefs, their important beliefs, the beliefs they hold so dear that to question them wouldn't just be rude but immoral.

You know what? FUCK to tolerance and respect! A child is dead because of this bullshit, there is nothing to respect and tolerating it would be a crime. I could even roll out the Godwin and ponder if we should have "tolerated" or "respected" Hitler's cherished beliefs about what to do with Jews, disabled people or the mentally ill - he certainly cherished his views pretty much. So, back to the that little "I'm guilty of obeying God" speech above, which I'm sure will have Christians around the world crying their eyes out with how much "faith" someone could have in a difficult situation (since when the fuck has faith been virtuous anyway? But this is probably best left for another time). What if we replaced all the references to "God" and "Jesus" above with, for example, "The FSM", "the Invisible Pink Unicorn" or "My mate Terry down the pub"? Certainly if we replaced it with "Allah" or whatever religious figure you can bring to mind people would see no difference, but if take the identical reasoning but swap the superficial details we see a much different picture (indeed, the fact we can swap out "God" for "Allah" proves that it pretty much is a superficial detail in the reasoning). Would people respect that as an excuse? Unlikely. Anyone saying something like that would be declared a monster. To risk ramming a point even further, what if it read like this:

I do not regret trusting truly in Charles Manson for my daughter's health. I am guilty of trusting Charles Manson's wisdom completely... Guilty of asking for the Manson Family's intervention. Guilty of following Charles Manson when the whole world does not understand. Guilty of obeying the Manson Family.

If they'd said that, the judge would almost certainly be like "yeah, you're insane, you're getting more time behind bars for this" - justifying it that way would magically lead to the accused being treated worse, and the tearful individuals, awed by virtuous faith to God in the first example would be horrified by the same amount of faith in Charles Manson - and people still try to claim "it doesn't matter what you have faith in"! It's still a belief in exactly the same way, why the difference? Why the unprecedented amount of protection and defence for these excuses compared to other ones, which if you were truly "tolerant" and "respectful" you'd accept just as much as any other. Perhaps there is a difference between what I wrote above and having "God" in it, its certainly the reason that the two make a good contrast to show the absurdity of the reasoning; Manson is a criminal, and one of the more notorious ones at that. Well, that may be true, but RationalWiki has an extensive article on how much of a dick the Lord can be, and it's pretty damn psychopathic - possibly even worse than Manson by far if you go by body-count alone. Of course, the argument can be distilled to absurdity even more; what if we said "Stephen Hawking" instead, or just replaced it with our {{noun}} template; that'd produce some seriously interesting reading.

Let's take another god-bothering quote:

The secular government is afraid of God because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away God, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a atheist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to trust God to defend themselves against secular control.

Yippie for the religious cause! Right? Well, maybe, if you want to read it that way. Except those on the ball who will realise that this is actually a quote from Timothy McVeigh, just with all the socialist/gun based rhetoric swapped for a atheist/god based rhetoric - suddenly, the ravings of someone who is widely considered to be the most cold-blooded domestic terrorist of modern times sounds almost identical to something you'd hear from mild-mannered Ray Comfort. Its are the exact same reasoning, but isn't it all nice and better when I'm quoting the Big Sky Monster that you have to "tolerate" and "respect" instead?

It's about time that faith stopped being a reason, yet alone a legitimate one for killing and maiming, there's nothing in it worth "tolerating" or "respecting".