Ever hear a child put her hands over her ears, and sometimes also close her eyes, and chant loudly, "I can't hear you – lalalalala"?
Aside from the old adage that there are none so blind as those who will not see, there are different names for this concept, such as "selective ignorance" and "self-imposed ignorance". I often use the term "wilful ignorance", because it fits better, due to the fact that it takes a conscious decision to decide to stay ignorant about an issue on purpose – especially when there is so much information available. We are surrounded by it, and so as far as I'm concerned, to remain ignorant about some things must take a supreme effort of will.
Ignorance is not knowing something, and ignorance in itself is not such a problem – people closing their minds and being wilfully ignorant is. Some people are unwilling to accept facts or information that will either contradict their beliefs or relieve their ignorance – precisely because the facts or truth will disprove their beliefs. That is what happens when people become set in their ways, old and inflexible. It is the same with belief systems. The same could be said for languages – when they stop growing and changing to keep up with the people who use them, they become obsolete and die. Basically, what I am talking about here is resistance to change.
Likewise, it's amazing how fragile religion can be, how like a house of cards. When its continued existence rests on the continued denial of actualities and facts because the pillars of that religion have come to rest on assumptions, mistakes and outright lies instead of the foundations upon which it was supposedly founded.
Take an example. Some people who belong to a particular religion, say Christianity, hate gay or transgender people. They say that gay and trans people are evil because they are gay or trans, and they use their religion as an excuse for their hate, and drum up other people who feel the way they do into a frenzy of anti-gay and anti-trans sentiment – leading to exclusion, discrimination and persecution.
The gay and trans people say "Stoppie bus", protest – and say they didn't choose to be gay or trans, and in any case most feel they were born that way. Just ask Lady Gaga, she'll tell you. The haters refuse to accept this, maintaining that being gay or trans is a "sinful lifestyle choice" and see this as relevant and fitting because all "sin" is a choice. The ringleaders attempt to mask their hate by making idiotic statements like "hate the sin and not the sinner", clearly not understanding that our expressions of love or self-identification are precisely part of who we are as people, and obviously not realising the brute stupidity and implications of such a statement.
Then some highly educated scientists and doctors come along and present some compelling evidence to show that sexual orientation and gender identity issues are pretty much a fact of nature, not choice or "sin" – and the haters refuse to accept it. "False!" they cry, pointing at their holy books written 2 000 years ago by camel-herders in some Mesopotamian desert, and edited and modified by popes, politicians and incompetent translators over the centuries. Others point out, "Look – there are loads of gay and even bisexual animals in nature – and look, even some animals that change sex" – and still, they steadfastly ignore the facts. "There's no such thing as gay animals!" they insist, while trying to force said gay animals to breed in a zoo – or conveniently make them disappear on the quiet.
"The bible is ‘inerrant’!" they insist, "It's perfect, it's the Word of God! God doesn't lie." Hmm. surely not, but people certainly do – especially when they want to get rid of something – or someone – they don't like. As I have mentioned before, there is a myth that the Christian bible is unchanged from the original, if there ever was such a thing, and that it is "true and correct", when in fact it is anything but. The facts show how it has been altered by people who didn't like women to be treated as equals, and by people who didn't like sexual or gender diversity – creating all kinds of misunderstandings, either in mistranslation, or by design. But don't just take my word for it, have a look here, here, here, here and here. Even considering how some of these people still believe their "bible" to be “inerrant” and insist on using it as a weapon of hatred, there is a logical pattern by which all their arguments can be completely debunked, shot down, destroyed and buried. Here is an article written by a theologian that does just that. More Christians need to see more articles like that one.
Bearing all this in mind, I have to wonder two things: (a) how much do those who claim to be "true Christians" who act out of hatred against other people in the name of their faith, actually know about their religion? and (b) if they do know about these glaring disparities, how can they reconcile their actions of hatred and injustice with their faith?
Of course, this is another point where wilful ignorance comes into the equation. How long are Christians going to sit idly by – or worse, actively persecute other people out of wilful ignorance before they open their eyes and smell the bullshit? How long are they going to sit in the pews, pretending it is the Middle Ages, as though they are not allowed to question their pastors and ministers – or their denomination's integrity, actions or motives for preaching falsehood, lies and hatred in the name of their faith?
I have to add to my list of indignations the point that it is supreme arrogance for anyone to feel that who somebody else forms a relationship with, or whether they want to express their gender as male or female, is any of their business. It also raises a question for me: Is this issue so important a part of their religious beliefs that they will revel in hatred and even encourage genocide in the name of their faith? Are sexual orientation and gender identity cornerstones of their religion? Is maintaining a male-dominated, heterosexual and cis-gendered, non-diverse, non-shellfish-eating society all they focus on in their religion? Because they sure seem obsessed with it. Never mind global warming, earthquakes, tsunamis or the economy, folks – if you wear nail varnish, son, you're going to burn in hell!
Funny, I always thought that religions were based on more serious matters, concerned with where people will spend their afterlives, or being non-judgemental, making a better world, or acting out of love for their fellow creatures – not out of hate, or intolerance, or trying to control governments, or telling people what to think and how to think it.
No really, take a look at the sort of things these people claim to hold dear in their faith, and the things they buck against and conspire to destroy – and how many times they are caught out lying or covering things up, and then weigh their actions against the actions and utterances of the alleged originator of their religion – and then think about it.
Many of the people claiming to be "Christians" today who indulge in anti-human rights activities – opposing equal civil rights for other people, and even acting to deprive people of their humanity – appear to be more like Leviticans than like Christ. They don't seem to realise they have usurped their religious foundations, dethroned their god, and turned to the Old Testament book of Leviticus for their so-called fundamentals. Most of them will refer more to these sections than their wholly unauthorised and un-commissioned New Testament. They're not Christians at all, but über-pharisees – imitators of the Old Testament religion. And in the same breath, while they appear to be pharisees on steroids, they are most often simultaneously also anti-Semites. Go figure.
"Salvation" has become a multi-million-dollar industry all around the world – and that's right, I said industry. Religion has hit a boom as a thriving business, and like in any business there are key points, marketing strategies, and buzz words. Like "the family", for instance – and they use it as if non-Christians were hatched out of eggs, or beamed down out of space and never had families without their version of god, or brand of Faith™ – and threaten to destroy them. Funnily enough, they also lay claim to certain words and concepts, as if they somehow "own" them – like "Marriage" for example – note the capital "M"? Perhaps they would like to put a "™" next to that as well? They paint those they don't like as a threat so that they can justify their existence – or their hatred – to their followers, by pointing at them and using these pariahs as scapegoats and rallying or unifying points to cling to power and keep their little nightmare alive.
More followers means more money, and as these evangelistic fanatical elements grow in size in the world, the older, more traditional denominations are having either to follow suit or to consider a going-out-of-business sale. As it is, many folks I know are despondent about the sheer numbers in the hate churches versus the tiny congregations that follow an inclusive, tolerant approach. Some ministers have lost hope for the organisation called the Church, but they go through the motions because it pays their salaries. Even though they want to, few have the guts to stand up against the ingrained system of intolerance and hatred – which has no real biblical basis, but just an institutional one. And so it goes on, a system of institutional denial, circular debate, social indifference, apathy, misinformation and disinformation, hypocrisy and wilful ignorance.
This trend of being wilfully ignorant, closed-minded or blind to facts and truths about the world around us seems to me to be remarkably fitting for the religious fundamentalist. Kind of like whittling down of a big old book containing around 2 000 pages to a couple of paragraphs, telegram style – and then claiming that is the supposed essence or core of the religion. Believe this and this, don't do this or that – comply – and hate everyone else who doesn't, and you're guaranteed a place in the big white 144 k-seater bus. Lastly, it is also hilarious how the fundies also most often seem to pick exactly the wrong fundamentals, innit?
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