Before you sharpen your pitchforks and light the torches, let me qualify that title with:  Not all of them!

Those who are child molesters, or knowingly aid such vile excuses for humans deserve all of the scorn and contempt they get from any thinking human.

That said, I was thinking the other day of how religion is basically a mind virus that has permeated and infected much of humanity for millenia.  Then the thought struck me that if that is the case, should we not feel pity and compassion for those whom it has infected?  And further, should we not feel that same pity and compassion for those whom it has infected the worst... the carriers... the priests, rabbis, imams, etc.

I'm not saying there aren't the contemptible among them who are in fact con artists and vile creatures who willfully take advantage of the gullible masses...

but is it not possible that many of them have simply bought into the religion so much, become so infected with the mind virus, that they truly believe what they preach?

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that makes preaching hatred, bigotry, willful ignorance, etc. somehow forgivable or in any way 'right'.  What I'm saying is that I don't think it's right to treat every religious leader as a con-man or charlatan.  Isn't part of being a con-man knowing that you're running a con?  Shouldn't their ignorance be pitied and treated with the same compassion as you would treat the victim of any con?  

I mean, if my grandmother were to fall for, say... one of those Nigerian "I'm a rich political prisoner who wants to give you a share of 10 Million dollars if you help me get it out of my oppressive country" scams.  I wouldn't hate her for it.  I wouldn't lash out at her idiocy and act like she must have somehow known it was a lie and willfully put on the blinders anyway only to lose all of her savings.  I would pity her, and try to educate her on why it was a scam, how to spot similar scams, etc.

Now, what of the scammer?  What if the scammer themselves were actually convinced, by someone in authority, society, or even family tradition, that they actually were a political prisoner with money who just needed someone's help to get their money away from the oppressive country?  Would that make what they did right?  Of course not.  Would it at least explain their behavior and make them deserving of some compassion and/or pity?  I think perhaps so.

I realize that's a bit of a stretch, but I do feel like that's how it might be for some religious "leaders".  They've been convinced of the "truth" of their religion.  They've "drunk the kool-aid" so much that they actually believe they're helping people when they spread their mind virus.

I guess I just feel that I cannot hate or deride someone whom I view as a victim of faith.  As much as I hate an organization (such as the Catholic Church) for it's history of oppression, bigotry, and more recently come to light, child molestation and harboring known offenders... I cannot hate those victims of the mind virus who did not participate in such activities, nor who continue to support such an institution that did have such a high occurrence of such activities.  While I despise the organization, I am compassionate and take pity on those who are so infected by the mind virus, are such victims of faith, that even now they cannot tear themselves away from their dependency on religion to give their lives meaning and hope.

Not sure if there was a point to that post other than to vent and maybe spread a little compassion for those still infected with religion in a world where it is all too easy to get so caught up in the fight against religion and the religious hucksters and scam artists, that the victims get swept into the net of anger along with those charlatans who truly deserve scorn and ridicule.


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Comment by Jas Brimstone on February 29, 2012 at 11:34am

Very good point, Loren.  It was just an odd thought I had the other day and I wasn't even sure how I felt about it.  Thank you for responding, that gives me some more perspective and a different angle to think about it.  That's what I love about this place.  :-)

Comment by Reason Being on February 28, 2012 at 2:28pm

I have a hard time pitying someone who is still handing out the Kool-Aid, while at the same time actively refusing to look at all of the evidence that implies the Koo-Aid expired several hundred years ago.  I do not actually hate priests---in fact I play tennis with one about once a week and we have had some great discussions, but pity them...not sure I can get there.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 28, 2012 at 1:50pm

I would give them a variation on the same line they have given us in the past:

You have been told the truth, yet you persist in disbelief ... of the durable and verified discipline of science ... and cling to your untenable belief in what amounts to a fairy story.  If you wish to gain our respect, first demonstrate your understanding that you have been systematically lied to.  Acknowledge that you have denied your own reasoning in favor of those who insist on your subscription to a book whose stories strain credulity and which requires extraordinarily selective reading to gain what little good it holds.

Show us that you can think for yourself, rather than swallow whole the myths of an unsubstantiated book, and therewith will open the possibility for discussion and perhaps a meeting of the minds.

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