When people try to defend certain shady religious practices of selling ‘miraculous’ holy water, the Islamic allowance of underage marriages, or a messianic cult demanding its right to a sizeable cut of your income, this defense is often accompanied with a dismissive and slightly arrogant shrug of the shoulders. After all, as I am often told, everyone is free to do what they like and how they want to live out their lives should be beyond anyone’s interference – there is no right or wrong but merely whether you want to believe or not. Unfortunately, belief isn’t the private affair it seems to be. Those who believe fervently, have always insisted on imposing their religious laws, customs and phobias on anyone who isn’t a fellow sheep.
In a recently run BBC article, it was revealed (though known for a long time) that Singapore, a country often associated with multi religious pluralism, had remained quiet on an abhorrent but common muslim practice: the mutilation of female genitals. As young as the age of 2, these female babies would have certain skins and flaps on their genitals cut or sewn up. Why, would someone in a modern and progressive society, be willing to subject an infant to such horrific barbarsim? For that, you will need religion. Such a practice of mutilation is considered an Islamic merit if performed, and believed to reduce a female’s romantic desire so that they will remain faithful in marriages. Worse, some advocates insist this is a compulsory process that’s part of Islamic law. And Singapore has no legal ruling on this. Rather than relying on education or parental guidance, these poor babies have their life’s decisions made for them.
So, no, you are NOT free to believe anything you want if your fervent beliefs will hurt those around you or infringe on the basic human rights of others. If you believe killing yourself is the fastest way to achieve holy communion with a divine being, that’s fine. Just don’t impose your unscientific and unsound beliefs on perfectly healthy minds. As it is, do we not make concessions for the absurdities of religion? There’s the need to respect a Muslim’s unfounded insistence for halal food, a Christian’s sensitivity for the treatment of Jesus Christ and a Buddhist’s belief in the existence of various dimensions of ghosts and demons. But on what grounds and evidence? There’s none to be had but a meek, servile and unthinking mimicry of ancient traditions that have no place in a modern society.
Whether it’s the Jews practicing their version of male genital mutilation (also known as circumcision) or Christians conveniently denying services, employment or association towards gay people, these terrible and demeaning behaviour don’t stop there. In a wide survey done by Pew Research Center, a significant percentage of Muslims would prefer to see the country they are in be governed by their religious laws, and see no issue with implementing various punishments (such as stoning adulterers to death) associated with ISIS. And in present day America, Vice-president elect Mike Pence has already stated he wanted to overturn legislation he deemed non-christian and reinstall the country in a glorious tribute to Christianity. And so he (among many others) imposes his religious morality by depriving others of abortion and gay rights.
Religion doesn’t come in peace, nor will it leave in peace. It is not content with merely what it has but must seek to bring others in the fold, whether by choice, subterfuge or violence. You are free to believe what you want but to what end? What does it take for someone to look at an innocent baby and proclaim “allow me to do the work of the Lord” and bloody its genitals? For that, again and again, you need religion. This is strictly wrong, and no matter how we tussle about the gray area of morality, such abject nonsense must be subjected to ridicule and scorn. At one point, it was revealed that a majority of British people thought that religion caused more harm than good. Looking at such heinous practices, and the way religious beliefs destroys one’s ability to think logically, isn’t it about time we called out religion for the terrible blight it is?
So have you thought about (HYTA) why you are not free to believe anything you want?