I was asked a short while ago to pray for the nephew of a friend who was applying for a job he really wanted. Naturally I did nothing of the kind, and I thought nothing more about it until this morning - when I got a message (which assumed to my irritation that I had prayed) saying that the young man in question had got the job. The message thanked me for my prayers, and thanked "God" (the christian one, in this case) for his goodness in helping him secure the job. This was offered as proof that "God" is all loving and answers the prayers of those in need.
Now, as anyone who knows me might have gathered, there are many things about christianity and about religion in general that piss me off. But if I had to pick one particular aspect of each major religion that I find especially contemptible, the list would go as follows:
Islam: The oppression, degradation, abuse and murder of women and girls for no better reason than that they are women and girls.
Judaism: The exploitation of the world's sympathy to establish Israel making tens of thousands destitute, and the fact that it is impossible to criticise Israel when it acts like a bigoted psychotic bully without being branded antisemitic.
Hinduism: The caste system, which means millions of children are born into poverty and misery and can have no hope of ever bettering their lot.
Aaaand... Christianity: The conceited, selfish, irresponsible and simply sickening dismissal of the problems of the world as "God's plan" or "the result of free will" or "the result of lack of faith".
In parts of Africa, christianity accounts for as much as 95% of the population, and in the continent as a whole it is rivaled only by Islam. Africa is also one of the poorest and most violent places on earth, where rates of disease, murder, infant mortality and brutal crime stand at levels almost incomprehensible to us in the privileged world. How many people in Africa, right now, do you think are praying fervently to Jahweh to save their starving child, to cure them of disease, to protect their loved ones and bring them home in safety? And how many children in Africa will die today as a result of violence, disease or simple starvation? How many people will die of Aids and other diseases? How many will meet with violence, and how many loved ones will NOT come home?
This aspect of christianity, more than any other, sickens me, makes me feel that some people are genuinely less than human. These are people who will thank Jahweh for trivial successes and pieces of good fortune in their own lives, but will look at a photo of a sick and starving child and say simply that "it's all part of God's plan" or "punishment for sin". You know what that is? That's disgusting. It's a cop-out. It's a morally revolting excuse to ignore what is happening to people less fortunate than you, who were not lucky enough to be born in a wealthy country. There is NO FUCKING EXCUSE for thinking that way if you are a sentient human being.
So you know what? Next time you're sitting in your living room surrounded by your possessions, well-fed, comfortable, free from pain and disease, and you see a film or a photograph of people who are starving, sick and in pain... pick up the phone or go on line and do something to fucking help them. And no, praying does NOT count as "helping" - they've tried that because it's all they can do and it hasn't worked. YOU have other options, so use them.
I am comparatively poor compared to many people in the privileged world, but I am wealthy beyond imagining to people in parts of Africa and other countries of the world. For this reason, I give some of the little disposable income I have each month to charities, including:
Medicines sans Frontieres
Save the Children.
So next time you experience something for which you are grateful, by all means be grateful - even be grateful to a deity, if that's your kick. But don't deny the reality than millions of people all over the world have little or nothing for which to be grateful, and don't write them off as if their pain and suffering don't matter. Next time you feel fortunate or "blessed" (which should really be practically all the time if you live in a privileged society) pay it forward - pass on just a little of your good fortune or your "blessing" to help someone who hasn't any way of helping themselves.
Rant over. Fuck.