Thursday, May 06, 2010

Religion is weird..

I find religion and belief in the supernatural generally a pretty weird state of mind, a couple of stories crossed my eye-line today that when you join the dots, you get an utterly baffling perspective on our modern treatment of it. The majority of people in our world venerate "faith", celebrate it, respect it, view it as a virtue, but is it really?

Take this story, here we have a chap who claims to have been instructed by the "devil", yes old Nick himself to set fire to someone's house, he also claims that God told him not to as well; anyway the devil must have won the debate in his brain and he did it. Quite rightly the authorities arrested him and have banged him up. He's undergoing assessment at a psychiatric clinic. So, the message is clear, believing that invisible entities instruct you to do things is a mental condition, there is something wrong with it and it's deserving of treatment. This all seems perfectly reasonable.

But, hold on a second, take a look at this story, it's about Philippa Stroud, an apparently high flying Conservative candidate who advises the party leader David Cameron; Ms Stroud is a Christian and founded a church that believes Gay people suffer from demonic possession and can be "cured" of their "condition" (presumably via the removal of the supposed evil spirits inside them).

I'm having real trouble understanding the difference between these two conditions and societies reaction to them; in the first case we lock the person away for having a dangerous mental illness and in the second case we (potentially) promote the person to become a member of Parliament. Yet the actions of both these people are harmful and driven by the belief that devils and evil spirits are actually real and have a real effect in our world. One side is protected by the apparent rule that we have to "respect" whatever bat-shit crazy ideas someone might have that they call "religion" and on the other side a loner who apparently has a mental condition that society needs to be protected from.


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