November 12, 2019

The Subtle Poison of Religion

 On the 12th of November 2019, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said on TV that:
 I acknowledge that the two people who died were most likely people who voted for the Green party, so I am not going to start attacking them. That's the last thing I want to do.
Why does the politics of the deceased matter and why would Mr. Joyce make such a speculation? I can't help but think that Mr. Joyce did it because, on some level, he thinks those people deserve it. I think this is the subtle poison of religion: that those who do not believe as I do deserve less than I do.

This idea is widespread across all variants of Christianity: you are saved if you believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit but damned if you don't. You deserve salvation only if you Believe. It is this idea that motivates the Evangelicals: they must Save you by spreading their Belief so you, too, deserve salvation. It is this idea that underpins the prosperity gospel: those who Believe is deserving of wealth and therefore the harder you Believe, whether by praying harder or donating more to the Church, the more you deserve wealth. Conveniently if you are wealthy then obviously it is because you deserve it due to your faith.

Once learned and integrated into one's world view via religious instruction, this idea, that those who do not believe as I do deserve less, poisons the lens through which an individual interacts with the world. When a core part of your identify requires you to accept that, on the basis of believe alone, not everyone is equal, then it is a small step to thinking that those who hold different political beliefs deserve less then those whose beliefs align with yours. Maybe they deserve less sympathy. Maybe they deserve less government support. Maybe they deserve less compassion or concessions. Whatever the case may be, on the basis of their political belief, they are Other and they are Undeserving -- and in politics this is a problem.

Some would claim that it is possible to separate one's religious beliefs from one's political actions. I reject such claims in the same way I reject any claims one can be racist and still be a fair judge. Some would claim that some people think thusly even without religion and I would agree. However some religious requires such thinking. Some would say not all religions features undeserving unbelievers and claim my title is inaccurate and I would concede their point but also point out that the major religions do not fall within this category.