WARNING - contains honest opinion of the author about ChristianISM, righteous indignation, and some good, down to earth home truths. The wilfully ignorant may be offended.
That said, you really don't have to read this article. You could skip over to something else, read the comics, change the channel, turn the page, click another link, and exercise that democratic right to read something else. If you decide to read it anyway, you don't have to like it - and if that is the case, you only have yourself to blame. After all, you have been warned. No use screaming and shouting about it afterwards - you will only make yourself look like an idiot.
Class, the topic for discussion will be religious extremism - whether it be Muslim, Christian, or any other - and on how ironic it is that the more fanatics hate other people, the more alike they become.
Let's start with the Red Bull 'Jesus ad' recently removed from the air. The reaction of some people to this really laughable - first, they already got it off the air by complaining - now they are going for the throat, calling to boycott Red Bull. Seriously?
They clearly have no sense of humor - or any sense of what is really important in the world. This is to me nothing more than making mountains out of molehills. Erroll Naidoo - that all-round, loving man-of-God is leading a new charge of his light brigade - defending Christianity and the image of Christ from being tarnished by those gosh-darned capitalist atheists and liberal secular humanist bastards. I laugh at this irony, considering where this is coming from - for Naidoo is one who himself has spent years tarnishing and besmirching the very same image of Christ - and in a much worse way, by painting that figure who laid down his life for all people, preached love and tolerance and peace, and healed the sick and saved lives - with the stains of intolerance, hatred and persecution of human beings, whom it suits him to hate in Christ's name.
I wonder how many of the soap-box-heroes paying heed to his bellyaching and whining about trivial matters such as this, would contribute a cent to help starving street children, lift a finger to feed or house the poor, take a stand against "witch" hunts in SA, or act to save the lives of the children now being murdered in Iraq. And yet, by comparison, I have known practising witches and Pagans who spend what little free cash they have on feeding street kids - without the lights and fanfare of media attention or the warm glow of public praise - or the benefit of corporate or international funding and sponsorship. I've dealt with people calling themselves atheists, agnostics and Luciferians who work to save lives, draft petitions against genocide, and to expose the massacres of innocents in places like Iran and Iraq, who have a better understanding of what mercy and compassion are - than many who claim to follow Christ.
People around them are suffering and dying - but, oh no - those people from Red Bull are the real evil in this world - they drew a cartoon of Jesus, for all intents and purposes, missing a step and saying "Me!" *Gasp* Is there no decency left in this world? They dare to make a mockery of the "Christian" faith!
Hello pot, this is the kettle calling.
If it wasn't so tragic because of the loss of life which they seem to be oblivious to, this would be funnier than any Red Bull advert.
People who proclaim their supremacy over others and work to realize it in their twisted little Pinky and the Brain schemes, are what sicken me about "Christianity" and several other religions - and unfairly paints all the followers of these religions as anti human-rights fanatics with less than a passing acquaintance with reality, and who are in dire need of a straight-jacket.
Honestly, many people in the West, and here in South Africa, like to criticise Islamic countries for their fundamentalist histrionics and lack of personal freedoms - and their inherent and permeating absence of human rights values - and while I tend to agree that they would, quite literally, sooner kill you than look at you - being the object of the hatred and intolerance of religious minorities like ChristianIST extremists, has made me rather cynical when it comes to appraising people who call themselves "Christian" as well. What makes them think they are any better? Just because they worship a different monster who demands they kill anyone who doesn't agree with them?
Let's look at human rights values in South Africa, and in the "Christian" community in particular. I use the "" because there are many diverse sorts of people in the world who call themselves after Christ, but very few who actually live like the man, speak like him, or act like him - and even fewer who deserve the name.
As far as I'm concerned, if you want to earn it, then live like him, healing the sick, protecting the weak or the helpless - and the innocent. Save lives. And then, if evil comes to destroy you, let it - and even then do not hate. Then you will be "like Christ". Until then, you're just a wannabe.
Christian missionaries came to South Africa not just to teach their religion to the native ethnic population who expressed an interest to learn about and follow the "white man's God", but to forcibly convert them to its ways - and in the Victorian way we know so well, to destroy their ethnic culture and beliefs. Today, more than 150 years later, there is an epidemic of brutality and death left in its wake - a breathtaking legacy which is hard to ignore - unless of course you are arrogant and ignorant enough to believe the victims deserve it. I've seen the video footage, I've read nearly 200 articles about these horrifying acts already - and believe me, nobody deserves this.
What am I talking about? Witch hunts of course. Ironically, the people who are murdered each year - and accused of being witches - are killed without a shred of proof, or mercy, or justification - by villagers, neighbors and family members - based mainly on the Victorian era and Middle Ages "Christian" teaching that "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". No matter how you look at it, it certainly casts a new light on the "Family Values" people like this cherish so much.
Killing people because they happen to be old? Or because you have had some ordinary bad luck and are looking for someone else to blame - that is, someone other than the same God you praise for all the good things you credit it with? Just as the religious fanatic swimmer who when interviewed for winning Olympic gold, gives credit to his god for "letting him win" a race, are we people so inept, so incompetent as to not take the credit for our accomplishments ourselves, even with humility, without suggesting that our every move or success is dictated by some bogey man in the sky who helps those it smiles upon and not the others - whom they are free to point out? Does Christian wisdom itself not employ the saying "God helps those who help themselves"? Is this delusional blame-shifting a consequence of all those pious church-pew dictators and the religious extremist missionaries bringing their supposed message of "good news" to the poor?
Or is this the result of seeing evil done by people to other people as something separate from ourselves - as something "we never would or could" do because we are identified as "good people" by our religious doctrine? Does calling oneself a "Christian" or a "Muslim" automatically make us a good and moral person who should be immune to adverse reaction to ones actions? Is this the consequence of seeing the "evil" in others as something to be hated, feared and eliminated, instead of something that is within all of us, and which should be faced, mastered and integrated - and then no longer feared? Yes, by all means - abuse, persecute, torture and kill other people you see as different to yourself, who don't believe as you do - people whom you associate with "evil" - because we all know that "Christians" are all good people who only do good things...
And the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity appear to be putting deeds to these words - only, they don't seem to have the intellect or ability to choose the 'right' victim. The vast bulk of these innocent victims are elderly men and women over 50, living alone in rural areas, who are brutally hacked or burned to death, lynched by mobs, and often in their own homes - having done nothing but be old or to live alone, and having been accused of "witchcraft". Their only 'crime' is having lived long enough to be older than those around them. I might point out that accusation is not proof, not that it seems to matter. Accusing someone of being a witch does not make it true - nor does it make it a crime in this country - but even so, people still kill them - in the most brutal and barbaric fashion - and then they are still of the arrogant opinion that what they have acted well and proper. I would like to say that this is "inhuman", but actually, it is very human. You see, human beings are nothing better than animals - especially when it comes to killing. Oh, they're good at it, more inventive than animals - but you see, animals kill to feed and to defend themselves - not for hate, war or pleasure, the way people do. So you see, my estimation of the human race is rather abysmal at this point.
What's that you say? Humans create art, music and beautiful things? They pursue knowledge and science? They live according to principle? "Principle"? Oh? Really? What principle is that? "My god is better than your god"? Or rather, "I am better than you, because my god is better than you and the god I think you worship". And "I'm going to build a better tool to kill you with." Yes, that seems to fit pretty snug - wear that as a hat.
Funny enough, whenever religious extremists come to power, heads always roll. It seems that without exception, it is those who make the world an interesting, diverse and beautiful place to live in, who are the first to be burned alive or hacked to death, or have concrete blocks dropped on their heads - all in the holy name of "protecting the family" and "in defense of the realm" against some or other improvable and entirely theoretic threat. Oh, and since when did "principal" - that is the Christ-like principle of neighborly love and compassion - stop the Christian Church's killing machine from fuelling its initial rise and maintenance of power in Europe with the blood of the innocent - or in South America and other places when it obliterated the ethnic people and cultures there?
In Iraq for example, just in the past few weeks, over 100 teenagers have been murdered by Islamist militants (you'll recognise them, they're just like the Christianist ones) who have engaged in a "witch" hunt of their own. The victim's crimes? Daring to dress in western fashion and not conforming to Islamic religious fundamentalist norms - charges which ironically enough, earn them the title of "satanist". If it were not so tragic and threatening, I would laugh. Evidently the "turtle-suit" style is out of fashion lately in Iraq, and I suppose times have been hard for the veil industry, so I suppose this might be taken as government institutionalized job-protection.
Typically, government and religious authority statements there have condemned the victim's and their acts as "threatening Islam" and *insert warning bells here* 'family values'. Yup. The more I look at religious extremists of any ilk - the more they all look the same. They are all obsessed with what you or I are thinking, saying, watching, reading, listening to, wearing, doing, who we love, what we might do if they stop watching us for an instant, and what we believe - and why it isn't the same as them. And believe me, they are all equally repugnant and ugly - and they all stink of death and its potential.
Despite the horrendous murders being called "witch" hunts being reported in media worldwide, how often do you hear "Christian" clergy speak out against these witch hunts and the murder of innocents in the name of their religion? How many "Christian" churches fund or support social projects working to educate rural populations out of the murderous superstitions perpetuated by the work of their forebears, or to find alternate housing for those who have become refugees in their own homes and villages? How can a church justify entertaining and praising self-appointed Nigerian pastors who have built their careers on acting as witch-hunters - and preying on children under the cruel delusion that they are witches and deserve to be punished? In researching for this article, I thought originally there was just one - Godwin Omatong, but I found that a second, Helen Ukpadio is also being feted as a celebrity in the USA by the same evangelists who peddle propaganda that gay couples raising children is "child abuse"! Interestingly enough, there has also been a marked increase in child murders around the world, where "Christian" relatives have tortured and murdered children in their families out of irrational fears of "demonic possession" - even as close to home as in Humansdorp and Mpumalanga. All the while, Christian figures remain silent. Nobody says a word against the slaughter. It seems the "Christian" religion is big on condemning "evil" - except when it is evil done in the name of the "Christian" religion, for whatever reason, but mostly to cement its power in this world. What a shock.
Religious extremism is fatal to those who don't conform to its values, or remold or submit themselves to its "principles". It craves control and power - and power is the one tool that enables it to wreak its characteristic havoc, destruction and cruelty upon those it chooses to label as scapegoats. Giving in to extremists enables them and empowers them - and worse, it encourages them.
In the past - and even this year - I spoke out against Naidoo's attempt to curtail the freedom of expression and public access to information when he brought a Christianist minority boycott to bear against Top TV - and earlier, against Multichoice. (*Snicker * - I find the name of that company curiously ironic, given the circumstances of this point. I'm surprised it wasn't re-branded Monochoice afterwards.) Some newspapers, while quoting me, decided to make it look as if I was in favor of pornography on TV, which I am not. They may have done this accidentally, through incompetence, probably - but who knows? As far as I'm concerned, porn has to be the most boring thing next to politics - only with less interesting plot turns, and better decor. However, my point - which was that the right to freedom of expression of paying customers was being infringed upon by a minority group which does not have to watch it anyway if it doesn't want to - was completely omitted.
Has Naidoo ever taken up an actual worthy cause where he may do some measurable amount of good? Something like raising funds for a homeless shelter or a feeding scheme? Has he worked against rape or child abuse or abuse of women's equality? Has he in any way promoted or worked to defend actual human rights?
Erroll Naidoo has committed himself to playing policeman and striking down liberal human rights values and secular pro human rights laws wherever the opportunity presents itself. He even has offices in Parliament Street, Cape Town, so that he can presumably keep an eye on those dirty secular humanists, plotting. For the past 20 years he has left a trail of evidence a mile wide, that he works very hard to undermine human rights and equality in this country - with particular reference to the Pink Community, but also against the rights of women and children to live free from religious oppression and interference. He steadfastly refuses to concede that women have full legal dominion over their own bodies, and bemoans the chances that children are in some cases still allowed to grow up free of religious indoctrination and brainwashing.
A poll posted on his website asks: "Should Prostitution be Decriminalised or Legalised in SA?" - and ironically, 93% of respondents voted "Yes", and only 6% "No" - but this revelation of how many of his supporters actually bother to read his site probably flew right over the cuckoo's nest - and still hasn't dissuaded him from trying, nor has it encouraged him to reacquaint himself with reality.
Every time he whines about the evils of prostitution and stamps his little foot about making it even more illegal than it already is - has he EVEN ONCE offered workable solutions to the personal and societal problems which drive people into that industry in the first place, other than "they should just stop doing it, because 'god' says it's wrong - and do something else instead"? Well, has he?
Yes, I know the sex industry is bad for the people working in it - but has he shown any real concern for them, other than describing them as "victims" of exploitation? Reading between his lines on the topic - which are full of moralizing and finger-wagging - he never talks about finding alternate employment for these people wanting to get out of the industry, or solving their issues - but he expects them to just turn their backs on a lucrative way to avoid starvation and homelessness and be happy with their lot in life - which in any rational mind is nothing more than wishful thinking. I think his bellyaching is just a childish fantasy in which "bad people" should just "stop being bad and play nice" - because, well - it's that simple and that easy.
I have heard real experts on biblical literalism describe such people as having a "fifth grade understanding" of their own holy book - and it pains me to say that most of these people also have the same level of understanding of the world we live in, and also of human suffering and the realities they face on a daily basis, just trying to make ends meet and survive.
Anyone who thinks like this, and expects people to languish in the gutter rather than work and earn money the only way they can - just because it offends his personal sense of "morality", has no grounding in reality, not an iota of compassion, and no shred of integrity. Such people using "morality" as a weapon often provide wonderful insights into what "morality" really is to them - a convenience. In fact, anyone who does these things and claims to be a good, "moral" person - a "Christian" - one who is "like Christ" and representing him, is a fraud, a charlatan and a liar. You want to earn the claim of being a "good person"? Then save lives - even the lives of your enemies, and then you will have made a good start.
All I have ever seen Naidoo whining about, is the exact opposite of the Christian love and charity I grew up hearing about as a Christian teen. What such people are really big on, is pushing ChristianIST ideology, supremacy, intolerance and hatred of "the other" into family life, school, educational curricula, and government. Naidoo - like James Dobson and other haters of their ilk, intimidates politicians, chain stores and companies into bowing to their ChristianIST ideals, and pressures them to tow their unforgiving party line. As a recent example, a chain store made an economic decision to remove a publication - which is a hate-mongering, anti-human rights, religious fundamentalist rag anyway - from their shelves (as is their right) because it doesn't sell so well - and all of a sudden the issue isn't that the faithful are not supporting the brand enough, but rather that the chainstore is "persecuting" the Christian church! What?
And so the chain store bows to pressure from this demagogue and his loopy followers who foam at the mouth because a magazine most of them don't buy or read anyway is no longer being stocked by them - and the publication (of which, as a matter of detail, he is a member of the editorial staff) sits gathering dust on their shelves every month, making a mockery of the example set by the Christ they so vehemently defend as their intellectual property. Fine and well - the "Christians" are happy - but ask yourself this: Do the chain stores sell publications and periodicals of other religious communities and religions? Well, do they? I don't see any. And yet in this town, they all seem to have that hateful little rag somewhere, right next to something with Angus Buchan under a silly hat on the front cover, saying something bloody stupid, offensive and nonsensical about women or "real men". (I've met so-called "real" men, honey - and let me tell you, they would all scream like little girls contemplating half the experiences I've gone through in my time.)
More to the point - when last have you seen a bunch of Muslims picketing Woollies, or a group of irate Hindus toyi-toying outside CNA because their religion is not represented on the magazine rack between the Solly Ozrovitch and Harry Potter? Ever hear about Jehovah's Witnesses boycotting CNA because *gasp* they dared place their magazine on the same shelf as Exit? People whine about porn mags being on a shelf low enough for children to reach - but Christian bibles - full of violence, glorification of murder, incest and infanticide and destruction - are just fine and given away to children without any appropriate warnings not to take the content too literally? When last have you seen a bunch of hostile Buddhists bellowing intolerance, hellfire and damnation over a bullhorn at passers-by in Rink Street on a Saturday morning? Or Rastafari writing nasty letters to the papers, condemning other people to death, hell and eternal misery simply because their religious "convictions" make them superior to everyone else and gives them license to cast judgement - and immunity to not be taken to task for it? But yet Christians have been doing this for so long that they see it as a RIGHT and they see being prevented from doing such, and being told to step back and sit with the rest of the kiddies, as "oppression". It's insulting. It's ridiculous. And tragic. But then, religious extremism and fundamentalism - and elitism - always is. Especially to those on the receiving end of their cruelty and mindless mob mentality.
Religion folks, is open to interpretation. And how YOU interpret the message you find in your religion says a lot about YOU.
I take my hat off to people who call themselves Christians and show in their hearts and deeds nothing but a message of love, peace, serenity and welcoming to others, the way Christ did. I see no fear in them. The others, well - that's easy - they are full of ignorance, fear, paranoia and misdirected anger - and well, this whole article is about them, anyway.
Just a pity nobody ever seems to stand up to the hatred and the rhetoric and the violence within the faith itself, isn't it? A pity people support this madness with their silence, and with their Rands. Some people prefer to enjoy the power and glory of "being right" and acceptable. Some would rather be the right hand of the devil than in his path. I condemn their cowardice and their silence.
Naidoo himself likes to use the quote "evil triumphs when good people do nothing" - and in my view, when a religious leader vents hatred and incites it in his followers, that is not just a paradox, or a plea asking them to help him do "good" or stand against "evil" - but a paradox which proposes a direct challenge to those who sit there, nodding as he vents his hatred and intolerance for other people - and a mockery of their silence and lack of resistance to him.
A minister friend of mine used to say "If people speak of God without speaking of love, then that is not God of whom they speak - but the Devil". I couldn't agree more.
A few years back, before the 2009 elections, I engaged with a lot of ChristianISTS on local Facebook groups for political parties on matters such as their policies on human rights, separation of church and state etc. It was revealing and disturbing to say the least - but it was useful to show what we are facing when it comes to right wing extremist religion in South Africa, and I turned these debates into a book. It was sickening to see not just how little these people knew about other people - or how little they cared for the suffering of other people - but how much hatred they displayed proudly and openly towards others whom they did not consider equals at all - and in the name of their religion.
Several individuals stand out to me in that time, distorting statistics, twisting facts and distributing propaganda - and peddling hate. Oft-times these people even said they intended to advocated for a return of the death penalty - and that among others, gays and "satanists" would be first in the cue. And here I was, thinking that the Middle Ages were over? I couldn't be more wrong.
Aside from his famous quote a few years ago when he admitted in a newspaper interview about the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras in Knysna, that he hates gay people, Naidoo outs himself as a conservative when he repeatedly criticises "liberal media" - or the Constitution - as being secular (or liberal) - either of which appears to be an unpardonable 'sin' in his view, if you look at it from the point of view that YOUR religious values will not be represented in it - because, DUH - there are other people in the world around you who are being forced to share things such as news media and the national broadcaster, or the bus seat, with you. I don't know what makes these people think they have the right to intimidate private companies, government bodies and ordinary passers-by into conforming to their views - but I'm pretty sure this is all a sign that their complaints are not in line with a minority group seeking equality - but with a minority seeking to regain the oligarchy and power it once had under the Apartheid government.
The hatred the "Christian" right wing harbors for the SA Constitution is not there because of an absence of "God" in state machinery and the missing phrase "in humble submission to almighty God" - but because it no longer places THEM in a position to claim that THEY represent the will of that "God" and to act as though it were true.
Now, I don't hate conservatives. It's my right to, given all they have done to destroy individual freedoms and human rights - all of which affect people in my position, and would if they ever regained political power - but I choose not to. Hate never solves anything. It's a given that in a diverse society there will always be conservatives as well as liberals.
It's your right to hate me and to be conservative with your OWN rights and freedoms if you like - it's a big world and we could all live in peace and harmony if you stopped arrogantly trying to force your attitude onto me that I should believe what you believe, and act according to YOUR beliefs, "just because" you say so , or because you hate me for not doing so - but try to clamp down on MY rights, try to deprive me of MY freedoms - and you will face my wrath. Respect other people's beliefs, and they might actually respect yours too in return. Try it sometime. What you send out into the world comes back to you - treat people like dirt, and the wind will blow it back in your face.
IMHO Naidoo and other people like him should "stand" less and sit more, speak less and listen and read more. They could learn a lot from the Christ whom they use not as a light of compassion, but as a warhammer - about whom Gandhi said: "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians - your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Case in point.