An agnostic’s rage early Sunday morning
Religions waywardness and misbehaving have major consequences for civilization. Callers and e-mailers routinely vent about their disdain and contempt for organized religion. They ascribe words like hypocrisy and hate-mongering to faiths. They predict the downfall of the human race will be a result of hardcore, one-minded believers who will insist on having their way come what may.Between 4:15 a.m. and 4:27 a.m. Sunday, a man called my voice-mail three times with a doomsday message and bragged how he had abandoned religion in his youth without regrets. But he’s frightened at the mischief all the believers may be up to.I was an altar boy in Prescott in the Catholic Church in 1949, said the caller who did not give his name. I knew right then and there, after listening to various sermons that this church, and even religion in general, is about the sickest thing I had ever encountered in my young life. He said all he heard was condemnation of other religions. He witnessed the sickest, most terrible example of demagoguery that I have ever seen in this world. He was appalled by the threats and warnings that poured from the pulpit. Across the nearly 60 years, he has never had a day that he wasnt overjoyed that I had nothing to do with religion. He singled out Catholicism as religion that is a throwback to the stone ages and called its ceremonies pathetic. Describing himself as a Republican, he criticized President Bush as a sociopath out to destroy America, one of the most wonderful societies in the history of civilization, with the the president wearing label of a compassionate conservative. He noted that Bush, while governor of Texas, went forward in 1998 with the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, 39, accused of a murder in 1984. Much had been made of her becoming a repentant born-again Christian while in prison. Then, the world watched to see whether Bush would commute her execution. Instead, he had her put to death, the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.It is unthinkable that any man would flaunt his power as governor of Texas over a woman who professed her unfortunate conversion to Christianity, he said. The caller said it was highly telling that a man, now president of the United States, condemned to death a woman who might have chosen a correct interpretation of life at the last hours of her life. I hope you dont have any children to have to endure this life that is remaining here for the United States, said the self-proclaimed agnostic who had to make three phone calls to make his points. Ironically, he mentioned the divine: Thank God I have lived my life without this albatross around my neck.What is disturbing is that this mans outrage is common. If religions are working together to increase understanding, bridge cultures, nurture tolerance, speak out against injustice, seek to tame the human beast and work for peace on earth, the skeptics are not seeing it. And theyre fed up and scared that snorting, entrenched religious fanatics and zealots seem bent on risking everything for their dogma.Theyre seeing ideological camps lining up for Armageddon. Theyre seeing religionists putting preservation of their faiths over the lives of people, including, and especially, the innocent.