Ranting against religious ranting
Just last month, the mayor of New Orleans provoked outrage by calling Hurricane Katrina God’s punishment for invading Iraq. But, before that, various conservative Christians were blaming it on a whole multitude of sins. Some of these opinions are summarised in the Medical Leader:
Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, argued that the hurricane was God’s punishment for homosexuality, bestiality, pornography, the removal of Ten Commandments monuments, and the United States’ support for Israel’s withdrawal of Gaza.
Michael Marcavage, who leads the anti-homosexual group Repent America, argued that the hurricane struck just before Southern Decadence, the annual gay rights parade in New Orleans. Marcavage also linked the destruction with Mardi Gras and the “Girls Gone Wild” videos.
The group, led by antihomosexual preacher Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., said, “New Orleans, symbol of America, (is) seen for what it is: a putrid, toxic, stinking cesspool of fag fecal matter.” And they concluded, “It is NOT a sin to rejoice when God executes his wrath and vengeance upon America.”
Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also thanks God for Hurricane Katrina. “New Orleans now is abortion free,” he explains. “New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free.”
The next major disaster to be attributed to God’s wrath was the earthquake in Pakistan. Some Islamic fundamentalists blamed it on ‘immoral activities’, some suggested that the ‘first gay marriage’ in Pakistan was to blame. Extreme right-wingers in the West said ‘Allah decided to punish you during your very holy month of Ramadan’.
There is just no end to the way in which religious zealots and bigots will manipulate information and events to suit their own agendas even though their opponents will be manipulating the same material to suit their own agendas. You have to wonder how they manage to convince their supporters to go along with their transparent manipulations. If all their followers were poorly educated and lived in parts of the world with little access to balanced opinions, you’d be able to understand it but significant numbers of their supporters are well-educated citizens of the developed world.
And now, with the explosive worldwide situation resulting from the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, you have Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stating that the publication of the cartoons was an Israeli conspiracy motivated by anger over Hamas’ win in the Palestinian elections.
Is he deliberately missing the point that they were originally published in September last year whereas the Hamas victory is a mere few week’s old? Will any of the people listening to him be aware of that insignificant little fact the next time they’re blaming the West for all the problems of the Middle East?
And while we’re on the subject of those cartoons, it incenses me to hear that there seems to be evidence proving that the whole situation was deliberately manipulated to create maximum discontent in the Muslim world. It appears that extra, more offensive cartoons were added to the original 12 by Danish Muslim activists then systematically distributed to mosques and governments around the world, starting in Egypt.
If you think that I’m not too keen on religious fundamentalism, you’d be perfectly right.
For an excellent post on the cartoons, have a look at the Religious Policeman