To the editor:
Now that the clearly delusional Harold Camping has been shown to be an utter fraud and crackpot when his much-vaunted apocalypse, once again, failed to materialize, it is time we acknowledged that the more “moderate” sounding religionists, including many of our local ones, are also equally delusional and not to be trusted.
Whilst it has been amusing following the antics of Camping and his followers, there is a much darker side to this whole end-of-time and general religious mania. Thousands have been left not only disappointed and disillusioned but in many cases families have been left destitute.
And this mischief has been going on for centuries, always with the same result—once again, Jesus is a no-show.
How is it that we can recognize the stupidity of the Campings and their pathetic followers, yet fail to see that all religious apologists are deceiving millions with equally insupportable claims?
Though there are many books to choose from, Revelation is possibly the most ludicrous and bloodthirsty of the entire Bible, yet it is a rich mine of material for those who would pilfer the wallets of the gullible and simple minded. The execrable Tim LaHaye, and partner J. Jenkins, immediately come to mind as they have for years been garnering millions with their Left Behind series of books describing the eternal gory tortures awaiting nonbelievers.
Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, was only partly correct when he said, “to really make a lot of money, start your own religion.” LaHaye and Jenkins knew it could be almost as profitable and a lot simpler just to write books.
Rick Warren also chose the quicker route to fame and riches when he wrote one of the century’s more ridiculous books, The Purpose Driven Life. I paid $1 for a copy at a library book sale, thinking I’d scored a bargain, and only realized I’d been had when I started reading it. Something over 30 million copies of that particular piece of drivel have been sold. It’s amazing what people will spend their hard-earned money on.
There are numerous televangelists and faith healers preaching messages similar to Camping’s, with their grubby fingers ever in the pockets of the desperate and those only too willing to be led astray. These merchants of madness seem to have no sense of guilt or remorse in lying and deceiving in order that they may live in obscene luxury while travelling the world in private jets, all the time leaving tens of thousands disheartened and disillusioned and likely penniless wherever they go.
One of our more “moderate” promoters of Bronze Age beliefs, Lorna Dueck, creator and host of Listen Up TV, made the extraordinary claim in The Globe and Mail last year that all our troops in Afghanistan needed to keep them safe from harm was for the churches to pray for them, apparently because “sustained ardent prayer extinguishes evil.” Well, it seems God wasn’t listening since there has been no dramatic extinguishment or even lessening of evil that anyone has noticed, in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
A similar claim was made last year by a pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in West Kelowna after homes and farms were destroyed by a mud slide in Oliver. Again, prayer was the best he could come up with. A couple of hours work with a shovel clearing some of the muck would have been more effective and probably more appreciated.
Vancouver’s Bishop Ingham, in a sermon following the earthquake and tsunami, stated that: “Not even religion can explain the tragedy in Japan.” Not even religion? What a ludicrous statement. Since when has religion offered any reasoned and rational explanation for natural events? That’s the job of science. Religion has never been in the business of reason and rationality, it has always relied on myth, magic, fear and superstition. Martin Luther well understood the dangerously educating power of reason: “Reason is the Devil’s harlot, who can do naught but slander and harm whatever God says and does.”
Much closer to home we have fundamentalist pastor Tim Schroeder of Trinity Baptist Church, ($68,000 in tax exemption this year) who apparently has inside knowledge of “how people are treated in heaven” and is not in favour of freedom of speech when it casts doubt on religious beliefs. Writing a recent column, he complains about the local sceptic group, Center For Inquiry, putting advertisements on local buses “openly challenging religious beliefs.” His use of the word ‘openly’ is telling. It is understandable that he may not like the ads, but does he really think it right that freedom of speech should be limited only to whatever supports his beliefs and opinions? Surely, that is not a very desirable Christian attitude.
Why do so many listen to the preposterous proclamations and promises of these self-appointed gurus when they cannot justify anything they claim except by reference to the questionable and frequently forged scribbling of ancient holy men? (Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are, by Bart Ehrman).
It really is time to recognize that we no longer live in the first century. Let’s move on to the 21st and drop all these silly superstitions and the silly people who promote them. Maybe then we could make real progress in solving the numerous problems our modern world faces. Progress is difficult when so many, who often have considerable influence with politicians hungry for votes, would prefer to keep us firmly stuck in the ancient past.