I’d like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: to the Muslims, Christians and Jews. It’s just a little thing really, but do you think that when you’ve finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could, sort of, have our planet back?
I wouldn’t ask, but the thing is I’m starting to think there must be something written in the special books each of you so enjoy referring to that tells you it’s alright to behave like precious putulant pugnacious pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistant power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off.
It’s mainly the extremists obviously, but not exclusively; it’s a lot of main-streamers as well. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about, ok?
Muslims: listen up, my bearded and veily friends: calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that’s said about you is an attack on the Prophet Mohammed and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out! I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with a strongly worded letter to The Times?
Christians: you and your churches don’t get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all; they’re your bloody rules: either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral; oh and stop pretending you’re celibate as a cover-up for being a gay or a nonce.
Right, that’s two ticked off…
Jews: I know you’re God’s chosen people and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent psychopathic bully and someone mentions it, that doesn’t make them anti-semitic. And, for the record, your troubled history is not a licence to act with impunity.
Now, when the letters come, and I’m guessing they will, I can guarantee that each one of those faiths will be utterly convinced that I’ve singled them out for special criticism.
“Why did it have to be us? Islam is a peaceful faith.”
“I don’t see what’s wrong with being Christian, we’re a peaceful loving faith.”
“How dare you, after all we’ve been through? We Jews know how terrible violence can be.”
You see: all of them will be convinced that they’re the ones being picked on. The Abrahamic faiths are like Scousers, they’re always convinced that ‘yeah, it’s harder than everyone else’.
Right? And why is it that all of these faiths claim to be peaceful, when even the most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise? The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Dec: you could have one without the other, but I’m not sure anyone would see the point.
I wouldn’t actually like it, but it would at least be refreshing to hear one of them come out and say:
“Oh, our faith’s vile as you like, we love a scrap us lot, we do: our special book says ‘fight fight kill maim fight smash destroy fight murder kill fight and fight. That’s why I signed up, to be honest, I’m a bit naughty; know what I mean?”
But no: all of them claim to be ‘peaceful religions’, yeah, peaceful right up to the point where someone takes something they think is theirs, or says the wrong thing, or looks at them funny — then it’s fighty smashy kicky punchy all the way.
I know this will upset a lot of people but frankly I don’t care. I’m getting so sick of religious people screwing it up for the rest of us. Please don’t kill us. Seriously. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only chance we get; when we die, it’s all over. There’s no virgins and pearly gates waiting for us; no big beardy man saying:
“Right, so how do you think that went, then? Bit mixed? Ooh, killed a lot of people in my name, I see. Yeah, yeah: not really what I had in mind, actually. Tell you what: have another go, as a worm.”
While we’re at it, I’m sick of religious people forcing their children to define themselves by their parents’ faith. A four-year-old is no more a Christian than he is a member of the Postal Workers Union.
“We want a fair working wage, decent working conditions and time allotted to see the new Transformers film.”
… said a spokesman.
This week, Lydia Playfoot, who took Millais School in Horsham to the High Court so she could wear jewellery to prove she’s staying a virgin for Jesus, lost her case. Good. I’m glad. I don’t care how many times her parents claim it was her idea: rules is rules, and if you want to wear a ring that tells everyone you’re not having any sex you can get married, like the rest of us.
Now, the lawyer for the chaste Miss Playfoot said a question the judge would have to answer was:
“What are the religious rights of schoolchildren in the school context?”
Well, I’m no judge: not yet, anyway. But if you want my opinion: none. No rights. No religious rights whatsoever. School is for learning, ok? So if you want to have a little pray before Maths so that God will prevent Mr Figgis from setting too hard a test, or prevent the PE teacher from being a colossal pervert, then go ahead. Fill your boots. If you want to pop on a feathered head-dress and chant and mumble and sacrifice something you can do that in your own time, or take a drama course and pretend it’s art, get a Degree in it — that’s what I did.
The lawyer, Mr Diamond, argued:
“Secular authorities cannot rule on religious truth.”
Hmm. Well, Mr Diamond, I’m gonna assume you’re not related to the Neil Diamond, because he rocks. Yes, I like Neil Diamond and Prince — and I’m married. Go figure.
But my point is religious truth is a foxy one, because religion, by its very nature, doesn’t tend to concern itself with truth. There simply isn’t time for truth; by the time all the singing, and candle lighting, and toadying, condemning and hiding from science is done, Truth has given up and gone to the pub for a pint. Here’s the truth, right: faith is about as interested in truth as I am in hanging out with Anthony Warrel Thompson, ie not very.
Now, I know that most religious folk are moderate and nice and reasonable and wear tidy jumpers and eat cheese like real people. And on hearing this, they’ll mainly feel pity for me rather than issue a death sentence. But they have to accept that they are the power base for the nutters. Without their passive support, the loonies in charge of these faiths would just be loonies, safely locked away and medicated — somewhere nice, you know, with a view of some trees where they can claim they have a direct channel to God between sessions making tapestry drinks coasters, watching Teletubbies and talking about their days in the Hitler Youth.
The ordinary faithful make these vicious, tyrannical thugs what they are. See, I get very angry that shows like Big Brother and Celebrity [insert title of wretched show here] still fill our lives with vapid, pointless emptiness, and I wish the producers and development executives would crawl back under the rocks they emerged from: but the truth is, they sell stuff that people consume. Without the audience to prop it up, Heat Magazine and fundamentalist religious fanaticism goes away.
Imagine what humanity might be capable of if we had that much spare time. We could explore space properly, have a decent look in the sea, find a cure for James Blunt: anything.
Thank you very much: letters to the usual address.