You hear this question all the time from Christians who read atheists’ blogs. Why do you write against religion or against the beliefs of people of faith? Why not just let it go and mind your own business? Why do you care who believes what? What’s the harm?
The harm, my friends, comes in many different forms. It can come in the form of prejudice, where you treat people differently just because a book said that God said it was okay. It can come in the form of one’s apathy to reality. Why should I care about the environment? God’s just going to create a new world anyway? Why should I help someone in person, when I can just pray for them instead? Some even go so far as to ask “Why should I vaccinate my child? That shows a lack of trust in God to heal.”
Some cases are mild, as in personal bigotry where people think things about a group of people, but don’t outwardly show it. They may talk about the sinfulness of certain people in their churches or small groups, but don’t let it affect others in a noticeable way. Some cases are more intense, such as the Westboro Baptist Church that pickets funerals of Veterans and shouts hateful things at Pride Parade attendees. They are more bark than bite and are more of a nuisance than an actual threat. Then there’s this story:
This story really bothered me and should bother every person who reads it, regardless of your religious beliefs. This person, a person of power and influence in the community has declared that gay people are deserving of death. Here are some things he said about the LGBTQ community in a video clip from a sermon he shared at his church:
“They are worthy of death.”
“God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to the LGBT freaks and arrest them and have a trial for them, and if they are convicted, then they are to be put to death.”
“We have a bunch of them we’re going to get convicted because they have all their pride junk on, and they’re professing what they are, that they’re a filthy animal.”
About his views on gay rights, he says his views are not unique and that a lot of people think just like him:
“The world looks at it like, there’s Pastor Fritts, there’s that lone wolf,” he said. “There’s Pastor Fritts, that one guy. That one Baptist pastor that’s just a lunatic. That’s just crazy. Guess what? There’s a lot of people that believe exactly like I believe.”
And you know what? He’s right. A lot of people out there do believe just like him and that’s scary. There are others out there that believe someone is not a person, but rather an animal, because of who they are attracted to. Because of who someone loves, they are deserving of death. And why? Because the Bible says so. The church where Grayson Fritts preaches has a website that says this:
“We believe that sodomy (homosexuality) is a sin that is against nature. A person will only burn in their lust toward the same gender if they have been given over to a reprobate or rejected mind. God said homosexuality should be punished with the death penalty, as set forth in Leviticus 20:13. No homosexual will be allowed to attend or join All Scripture Baptist Church.”
So what’s the harm in belief? Nothing, if it is just belief. But very rarely is it ever just belief. People who are committed to their faith change their behavior to be more in line with what their god would want according to their holy books. I tried to change in that way as well. As a believer who wanted to be closer to God, I stopped eating forbidden foods. I stopped listening to music with inappropriate lyrics. I avoided alcohol and holidays. One thing I could never bring myself to do, was to treat another human being with disrespect. Regardless of what the Bible said, I just couldn’t do it. I really believed in God, but I couldn’t do it. I guess I had doubts all along or else I would have also been calling for the death penalty of homosexuals, adulterers and whole list of other people.
The harm is that people are taking literally words that are potentially deadly to others. People are taking literally words that liken people to animals. People are taking literally words that are put together so preposterously, that they are obvious works of ancient men with limited knowledge and understanding, yet they are attributed to a god. The harm is that people who should be allowed to live carefree, happy lives are being treated like animals or second-class citizens and denied basic human rights. The harm is that we are taking into our own hands what a god should be doing, if in fact a god actually existed who believed those things. If God really hated gay people, why does he allow them to live, love and create beautiful things on this earth? If he despises them so much, why does he remain silent? I’ll tell you why. Because if he’s there, he doesn’t care. He remains silent because of his nonexistence or his disinterest. Either way, that doesn’t give us the right to be judge, jury and executioner of others based solely on who they love in this life.
Belief, strong religious belief especially, leads to action and often inaction. It could lead to the persecution of innocent people just looking to be happy in life or it could lead to people looking the other way when people are causing others harm. I am amazed and disgusted that in this day and age we are still following the ancient words of hatred and oppression in order to determine our morality. Shame on us.