In recent times I began pondering more deeply about religious matters. Having come from a Christian background, I am more familiar with the way things work in what Pagans tend to describe as a "book religion" - by this is meant - a religion which is defined by a set of rules in a book, and a dogma which is taught and enforced in its temples, homes and wherever its adherents go.
The concept is firmly aimed at extending control over its adherents. You're not allowed to question or challenge anything. You're not supposed to innovate or find your own path or "cherry-pick" which principles in the book you're going to adhere to, and which not - which oddly enough is precisely what the fundamentalists do, even though they certainly won't admit to it. You're not supposed to think, argue or challenge anything - and least of all, to test it for yourself. You're supposed to do nothing but follow, keep your mouth shut, trust, have faith - and above all, to obey the doctrine.
Anyone who doesn't comply is outside the church, outside the law and out of "the grace of god" - or so they clam. When you begin to pick at the stitching holding this bag of nuts together of course, it begins to unravel somewhat dramatically.
The entire concept of a book religion is a house of cards - built on the foundation of the book itself. Therefore it can never be more firm than the foundation upon which it is set. It is claimed that the book is the work or writing of the foundational god of the book religion itself - and once you realize that "hang on a minute, some blokes wrote all this stuff down" - it's pretty much a domino effect from there. That's right - for a book to be entirely produced by the central deity of the religion - i.e. a set of laws given by it to Humanity itself, would amount to tantamount proof of the existence of that deity. Unfortunately, not one single copy of the Christian bible (or any other holy book) has been found with any signs that it was written by anything other than ordinary mortal men - no matter what their adherents claim. Oops.
Of course, most evangelists and missionaries today try to skirt the issue by claiming that the Bible is "inspired by God" - but of course this little argument can also be neatly torpedoed by pointing out the detail not every telephone directory in the world today is the Word of Alexander Graham Bell either. Oops again. Of course, when they go so far as to claim that this book is "inerrant", they are really saying that those who wrote it were perfect - and the document written entirely by the ancestors of the Human beings who designed the Hindenburg and built the Titanic, and invented the A-bomb were incapable of making any mistakes. Riiight.
Now before I begin to generate accusations that I am anti-Christian and "persecuting the Church" (again, lol) let me continue to say that this is an exercise in logic - and an argument about the validity of certain groups claim to have the "right" to force their views on other people. They claim they have this right because it is written down in a book, which was written down - by other people. Convenient.
Dogma. Dogmatic. According the freedictionary.com, "1. Relating to, characteristic of, or resulting from dogma. 2. Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles. See Synonyms at dictatorial." Dictatorial? Hmm. Somehow I'm not surprised.
Let's look at how some modern figures apply dogma today: The current action against ETV on the matter of "Naked News" simply demonstrates a few things to me: 1) That a man who runs practically a one man show such as the FPI can claim to represent "the People" as well as "all Christians" as he so often does (particularly when speaking against gay rights) is a demonstration of his supreme arrogance - and 2) that he can show the temerity to decide he is going to prevent other people from watching something he doesn't want to watch, instead of pressing a button to skip over to GodTV. 3) Some people clearly have too much time on their hands to focus on trivial little things. Imagine if they had actual problems to occupy their time? Bliss.
According to the Family Policy Institute run by homophobe and human rights opponent Errol Naidoo, "ETV is no longer welcome in my home" and "E-tv has defiantly dismissed the valid concerns of tens of thousands of SA citizens." Well, good for ETV. Funny, I don't see anyone holding a gun to the heads of "tens of thousands" of Christians with "valid concerns" and forcing them to watch it?
But of course, there is no room on TV for adults anymore - everything these Big Brother wannabe's don't agree with is randomly labeled as "exposing children to pornography on television". Naked news isn't on the kiddy shows time-slot, it's done late at night - why are your kids up that late? Of course, we could hold a debate on which is more damaging to the mind of a child - watching naked people read the news, or killing each other, blowing blood and guts up in an action movie? Funny, I never thought seeing people of the same sex kissing, or reading the news naked amounted to "pornography", at least not until some conservative wanker tried to wrap its mind around the concept of creativity and self-expression, and failed. I wonder if Naidoo would protest an exhibition of "the Thinker" or Michelangelo's "David" if it ever came this far South?
I don't see anyone holding a funnel in John and Jane Q. Conservative's clenched jaws and pouring a liberal dose of - um, liberalism down their all too parched conservative and authoritarian throats? Though, I admit, having been a long-time critic of basement religious fundamentalist conspirators, human rights opponents and christo-fascist Pinky and the Brain imitators, the idea does have its own appeal to me.
Not too long ago, Naidoo was bragging in his newsletters from the FPI about the extent of his influence over the department of Home Affairs in that he was steam-rolling an anti-pornography bill through Parliament, in order to prevent people from watching what they choose to on their own paid-for TV, internet and mobile phone services - but which would also give the government the excuse it badly needs to extend censorship laws over all electronic communications - which would probably happen anyway if the POI, currently under debate, comes to fruition.
It seems Naidoo doesn't like people having the freedom to ignore his dictatorial message of control. His intentions seem rather transparent when you look at his past efforts to limit freedoms of speech, expression and religion in the media and in society in general - and in our own homes. It seems remarkably like the ANC's Protection Of Information Bill - to control what YOU see, read, do and think - to be allowed to dictate to YOU what they want YOU to find acceptable, and to be allowed to THINK for YOU.
How about that new song by Lady Gaga? The Judas song of course. Due to religious fundamentalist outrage, all the radio stations in my area have banned it. Lol - is this the Old Regime of the apartheid years where songs were banned simply because one or two people didn't like them? Ironically enough the "Give me hope" song still made it through that, even though it basically thumbed it's nose at the Apartheid regime. At least 5fm still plays it. Some people have too little real actual serious problems to worry about. Whatever happened to "if it offends you, just don't listen to it"? After all, I had to change stations every time that bloated homophobic fossil and know-it-all James Dobson came on in the mornings, and they didn't remove the show just because I complained - or because he has been waging an anti-human rights war on people like me for the past 40 years. Nobody gave a continental shit about my feelings.
Thus we have people of just a few of the major religions in the world who are perpetually at each other's throats - not just because of disagreement - but because of dogma and the rigidity it brings, and the refusal to allow free or independent thought, expression, speech, conscience and so on.
People who think and act as these religious extremists would not be satisfied with minor victories over human and civil rights, in fact I don't think they will ever be satisfied until they rip our Constitution to shreds and replace it with a Southern Baptist-approved copy of the Levitican bible.
And let's not forget about the folks who really fly off the handle and blow shit up because they disagree with people not sticking to their dogma - the folks who blow up cars, trains, planes, buildings, other people - and themselves out of sheer rage, hatred, faith - and face it, brute stupidity. But at least they seem slightly more interesting and probably wouldn't bore us to death watching Benny Hinn, or Ray McCaulley asking for more money - or another risqué episode of the Golden Girls.
Go back to your basement, Pinky and The Brain. Leave us tax-paying, law-abiding citizens in peace to decide for ourselves what we want to read, watch or listen to - or not. Nobody died and made you God.
If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.
If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to email@example.com or use the Contact form.
All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.