Jr posted a link to this article in a comment on my last post, but it had me so outraged that I think it deserves a post of its own. Here is a quote from the opening paragraphs of this eye-opening article:
EKET, Nigeria—The 9-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.
His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.
A month later, he died.
Can you imagine the excruciating pain this poor boy must have suffered over that month? This must be some kind of crazy, whacko religious cult, right? It is in reality Christianity, as brought to Africa by American evangelicals. And as shown by this article, this boy’s case is not an isolated incident.
So why on earth are preachers condemning innocent children to this fate? That’s the most shocking part of all: it’s good for business. The preachers and churches who identify the most “witches” are seen as being the most powerful, and parents actually pay them willingly to exorcise their children.
This is a great example of why atheists like myself can no longer accept religion as a benign belief that gives people comfort. Because when a person’s most cherished belief is something for which there is no physical evidence, they are susceptible to believing anything—including that their own children are witches and must be tortured, or that blowing themselves up to kill “infidels” will give them 72 virgins in the afterlife. Religious moderates and liberals will argue that these people are extremists, but their actions are a logical consequences of their belief systems, and are very often actually directly supported by their own holy books. Yes, these people are often poor and desperate, but certainly not always (most of the September 11 terrorists were actually fairly wealthy and well educated), and only religion could twist their minds so much as to do something like this. Indeed, the more poor and desperate people are, the more powerful the false certainty of religion becomes. This then allows business interests to prey on their desperation, as is so tragically the case here.
I also find it absurd that we condemn new religions as cults, while allowing larger, more established religions to do the same sorts of things, or worse. They are both equally delusional—and dangerous.