Have you thought about (HYTA) why children should be protected from religion?

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            It has always struck me as peculiar that while we have basic laws protecting minors from drugs, alcohol and abuse, no such protection exists for religion. The rationale for drafting up the former set of laws is sound: children are unable to fully assess the consequences of their actions so the government intervenes on their behalf. But for the latter, religion is an indoctrination of the impossible and absurd, carried out at a time when a child has difficulty differentiating between her imaginary friend and reality. Shouldn’t laws protect children when their minds are at the most vulnerable?

            In a study (published in Cognitive Science) carried out by the researchers of Boston university to find out how religious exposure affects a child, they concluded that religious children have a much harder time differentiating fact from fiction. After all, if you believe Muhammad flew on the back of a winged donkey or that talking snakes are real, surely goblins and fairies had to be true. Religion severely impedes the ability to detect bullshit and fries the mental circuits of critical thought. Ironically, if there was an infection that targeted young minds and impaired their ability to reason, religious parents would scramble desperately for a remedy – but they will fail to see their faith as the disease.

            Additionally, it’s hard to be optimistic about religion: Mainstream religions like Islam and Judaism encourage the inhumane practice of male / female genital mutilation because it is seen as being in line with their religious ‘morals’; the hostility towards abortion, climate change and other religions is exacerbated by the increasing Christian fundamentalist sentiment in America; and all religions are terribly allergic to reason and logic, and therefore hostile towards the scientific method and those of a ‘sinful’ sexual orientation. Shouldn’t young minds be protected from such divisiveness and bigotry?

            Because children are yet to develop higher order thinking, many religious organisations hold conversion ceremonies disguised as social outings and festive parties because they KNOW it’s far easier converting a child than an adult, and if you can get them young, it’s easier to keep them trapped especially since religion has become supremely good at social blackmail. Don’t want to come for church? All your church friends will alienate you or spam your phone with messages begging for your return. Don’t want to pray at a temple? Well it will be hard for our leaders to help you if you are not on the same spiritual level as we are. These predatory practices should be outlawed. It’s nothing short of mental molestation.

            The call for children to be protected from faith is not new. Richard Dawkins has advocated for schools to openly protect children from being indoctrinated by their religious parents. Given the existence of faith schools, it’s doubtful how such a suggestion can ever be carried out. But there is another reason why such an implementation will not go through: Any intelligent leader will recognise religion as an important tool for controlling the masses. That it is absurd or highly likely to be false is of no concern as long as each citizen believes their lives to be meaningful so that they can keep working till death for the glory of the government and country.

So, Have you thought about (HYTA) why children should be protected from religion?

 

 

Have you thought about (HYTA) how language and numbers can deceive?

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          Christian televangelist Pat Robertson once polled more than a thousand of his followers on whether they would prefer having evolution or creationism taught in schools. After surveying the results, he came to the dramatic conclusion that most Americans universally preferred a biblical explanation of our origin story. The data was irrefutable. More than 90% of those he surveyed wanted creationism. The sample size was suitably large, and he reached out to the young and old alike. Yet, something’s obviously amiss. What went wrong? It turned out that he had deliberately chosen to survey only a very specific group of people: those who were completely brainwashed by Christianity. Poll the members of ISIS and ask them if they think Islam should be the ruling religion of the world and you will get unanimous approval even if you surveyed 100,000 members.

          In order to invest their claims with authority, you will find that cunning advertisers, religious loons and even our closest friends will bend and twist numbers in order to persuade us of many things. In fact, some of these arguments may sound very familiar: 4 in 5 dentists recommend Oral B; this belief is true because so many people believe it; or in the case of gamblers, they would think that if they lost 10 times in a row, they would surely win the next game. Everyone thinks they understand how numbers and probability work. Yet, as Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky showed, even esteemed Math professors and statisticians alike were just as terrible at overcoming statistical bias.

          Our minds are not good at measuring impartial outcomes or circumventing statistical bias. Consider that when we run into a friend we have not met for a long time, we are often quick to chalk it up as an incredible coincidence, or even a miracle. We have chosen to remember this one event of meeting him / her but have conveniently neglected the millions of times we saw other unfamiliar faces. It wasn’t really a miracle. Statistically, it was a likely occurrence. Likewise, it’s easy to assume that if you won 8 out of 10 rounds of blackjack, it might be due to your fervent prayer to a deity. But you will find that if you did the measurements over a much larger sample size, say ten thousand rounds, you will find that prayer or no prayer, the results don’t vary much, if at all.

          It’s also partly why it’s important to call out prayers, ‘blessed’ amulets or ‘sacred’ words for the bullshit they are. Like cheap horoscopes, deceptive advertisements and ‘reputable’ fortune-telling, these religious ploys and cons prey on weak minds that are already determined to see what they want to see. If the prayer works, God is real and listening. If nothing happens, then apparently God has other plans in mind. By either manipulating numbers or failing to understand their implications, we can be too easily misled by those who claim to have proof, or are trying to convince you to part with your money.

          But it doesn’t just end with numbers. As George Orwell once warned, languages can also be as cunning, if not more. The two sentences below express the exact same idea but are phrased differently.

Muslim injures 20 civilians. What do you feel about it?

Muslim terrorist inflicts carnage on 20 unwary civilians. Should you be angry about it?

          The phrasing is extremely powerful. In the second example, it unconsciously plants ideas and suggestions in the respondent’s mind and only pushes him / her to give the answer the surveyor wants to hear. The careful manipulation of language is especially true of most national newspapers. Headlines are often written in a way so that one’s beloved country is rarely the conflicting party or the aggressor. Even if the government was inefficient, numbers and words can be phrased in ambiguous ways to hide the hard truth. It’s an effective method of mass control, especially if the intent is to incite or breed patriotism.

          Though it is easy to understand the above examples, real world situations are often far more complicated. A pastor for example, may distract you from his many fallacious arguments by speaking louder and more confidently; someone might put you under a great deal of pressure in order to prevent you from thinking clearer; and even businessmen know how to use numbers to falsely generate scarcity or to appeal to your emotional irrationality. It’s inevitable that we will, at one point or the other, be an unsuspecting victim of such deceptions, perhaps even repeatedly. However, what matters is that each mistake continues to fortify our guard so that we can quickly sieve out those who are sincere from those who trade in falsehoods.

So, have you thought about (HYTA) how language and numbers deceive us?

Have you thought about (HYTA) the religious implications of Trump’s Muslim ban?

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          The executive order signed by Trump which targets 7 Muslim countries has more inconsistencies and language loopholes than a toddler’s half-finished English essay. It’s not just that he conveniently provides exceptions to the Muslim countries he has business ties and connections to, but he also specifies under certain clauses, a measure of leniency if you are a sheep of the Christian faith. And so, it’s reassuring that in light of such myopic religious discrimination, many people and rights groups have taken it upon themselves to insist that Muslims (and refugees / immigrants) are always welcome no matter what happens.

          It’s great of course, that we are willing to support religious pluralism rather than to commit the grave fallacy of associating an entire basket of apples with a few bad ones. Canada’s prime minister and their cabinet members have gone to special lengths to make rousing speeches, and so have many individuals who feel that such a ban is not only unconstitutional, but a direct violation of everything that once represented America’s liberties and possibilities. And ultimately, we are doing the right thing. Harmony, tolerance and kindness will go distances that violence, discrimination and hatred would never reach.

          But it’s important to remember that despite these unkind persecutions faced by Muslims, this in no way proves that their religion is acceptable, nor logically coherent. In fighting for religious freedom, it’s too easy to also accidentally (or purposely) acknowledge the validity of the faith. The danger now is that in advocating religious freedom, we are all also silently giving the OK to religious appeals, even though in the context of modernity, many religions are nothing short of nonsense, or are in almost every case, completely incompatible with logical thought or the scientific method.

          Islam, even if subjected to modern interpretations, and even if entire sentences and paragraphs in the Koran could be outright omitted or given a generous inference, is still a religion that, like every other religions, relies on unsound and dangerous reasoning, as well as stirring hostility towards Science and modern cultural norms.

          In a religious survey carried out by the Pew Research Center in 2013 across the globe, the executive summary found that a majority of Muslims say that their faith is the one true faith to eternal life in heaven, and that their religious leaders should have an influence over political matters. This by the way, is an argument for Islam to be infused into politics, a regression to the dark ages where religious figures had more power than rulers. While the survey does show that Muslims are positive towards Science, it is likely that while they may accept the evolution of species, most would reject the proven notion of human evolution.

          The results of the survey also showed that 1 – 7% of Muslims support violence against civilians in the name of Islam, with this percentage being much higher (as much as 20%) in areas like Bangladesh and Egypt. Consequently (from the remaining survey questions), it can be stated categorically that Muslims often support dangerous ideas: death for blasphemy, misogyny (the belief that men are superior to women) and various forms of repulsive behavior. There can be no doubt the same resistance to Science, abortion and critical thinking can also be found in Christianity, and to varying extents, in other faiths.

          However, Trump’s ban is in no way an effective method in reducing the influence of religion. Whether it’s politics, friendships or romantic love, you simply cannot win by force. It’s not just that his ban targets a specific faith while falsely raising the credibility of another (Christianity), it also doesn’t establish any logical coherence about faith in general. And in the face of such unfair treatment, psychology has taught us that it only fosters a greater resistance and self-affirmation of one’s convictions. It’s also important to begrudgingly admit that even in the face of overwhelming evidence, people rarely change their minds anyway, but for sure, violence and persecution are the lowest denominators in changing perspectives.

So, have you thought about (HYTA) the religious implications of Trump’s Muslim ban?

Have you thought about (HYTA) whether we have a duty to speak out against religion? (Saudi Arabia’s ban on public cinemas)

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          Perhaps as far as I can remember, powerful religious figures of no small rank have always been the most dangerous and sly. Whether they are high priests, grand clerics, ayatollahs, bishops or reverends, their agendas are unmistakably similar: they seek to impose their religious (and moral) views on others. And just in case such an assertion may prove too blunt and unfairly disparaging, I would like to point out that almost all who ascend theistic ranks do so on the premise of absolute obeisance to their Gods. In short, the title is awarded to those who have so completely lost their ability to reason and the appellation becomes further reassurance of one’s blind faith – you will never see Pope Francis admit to any margin of error that his religion could be utter rubbish nor will the Islamic council members ever entertain the possibility that their faith is a gross violation of human rights.

          Yet for all the contradictions and societal harm brought about by different faiths, these powerful religious heads often carry themselves with a beatific smile, seemingly kind eyes and an outrageous notion of being able to cure you of any worldly ills. Whether the solution comes in jade beads, the mindless repetition of a sutra, or a routine march to the confession booth, you can be sure that a godly prescription of sorts awaits. Failing that, believers are strongly encouraged, if not reprimanded, to live appropriately ‘moral’ lifestyles in line with their Gods. And now, the latest reminder comes from Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority who made clear his objection to the proposed legalisation of cinemas and concerts (they have been banned since 1980s because of the so called Islamic ‘values’)

          This is not the first in a short list of absurdities. Pokemon Go was also called out for being unislamic for the same perfectly sane reason that emojis were considered as going against proper Islamic behaviour. There’s plenty more but suffice to say, this religious head, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, whose name is far more complicated than the lousy line of reasoning he gave for prohibiting the legalisation of cinemas, explained that such public performances allowed for the inappropriate mixing of genders as well as the possibility for ‘atheistic or rotten’ influences. How is it that such a powerful man is allowed to get away with such sweeping remarks without even putting forward statistics, research or any meaningful number crunching?

          More disturbingly, why do religious people accept such blatant claims, and perhaps what I consider the absolute worst offense, why do almost all religious people let a book, a religious authority or an ancient tablet do the thinking for them?

Why can’t you do Yoga? Because it mimics Hindu worship.
Why do you not use contraceptives in family planning? Because the Bible.
Why can’t you eat pork? The Koran says so.
Why do you perform genital mutilation on your baby? The council.
Why can’t you offer services to homosexuals? Because religion.

          And then, since religions have to be respected, the following becomes true:

We can’t offer a Yoga programme because some of them are Christians.
You can’t talk about contraceptives because you risk offending the Catholics.
The event you are planning for must have halal food.
Don’t talk about what they are doing to their baby. It’s their choice.
This job doesn’t employ atheists or homosexuals. It’s not discrimination. (It is)

          And so, while religious freedom and plurality have to be respected, the same concession is never made in favour of people who tick the ‘I am not associated with a religion’ checkbox. More scathingly, why do we allow powerful religious figures to express disagreement with evolution, climate change and critical thinking? 

          Wouldn’t it then be within our moral duty to point out the absurdities of a faith? If you see a couple agreeing to genital mutilation on their baby boy, it isn’t a matter of ‘respecting the faith’. It becomes a gross human rights violation, and everyone is obligated to shame such a horrible practice. Silence is a perpetuation to a blatant crime. Whether it’s yoga, sexual discrimination or various forms of dietary abstinence, these are not even remotely acceptable. They’ve become the norm because everyone has become psychologically adapted to downplaying these as ‘supporting racial harmony’. But racial harmony only harmonises very specifically recognised faiths, and does nothing to protect those who would rather not be associated with a faith.

          Whether it’s America, Saudia Arabic or a small country like Singapore, why do we allow religion to get a free pass again and again? If people could see just a bit clearer, the Pope would be nothing more than a raving madman, pastors would be unintelligent but gifted speakers, and the clerics that govern the top Islamic council would just be a round table of sex obsessed old men clutching a tattered book to their chests.

          So, have you thought about (HYTA) whether we have a duty to speak out against religion?

Have you thought about (HYTA) why “freedom to believe anything” has limitations? (Female genital mutilation in Singapore)

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          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?

Have you thought about (HYTA) how the world has crossed a dark & dangerous line of no return?

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          Exactly who and what the Americans voted for cannot be overstated enough. Donald J. Trump, president elect of the United States, has on an unprecedented level, ran an open campaign built on racial discrimination, sexism, proven lies / exaggerations, and won convincingly in a landslide victory. Neither Mussolini nor Hilter, both nefarious dictators, began their parties’ campaign with bigotry as an opening statement. At  the very least, Mussolini had the decency of pretending to be democratic and inclusive before he went on setting up a legal dictatorship.

          And here is Donald Trump who during his campaign, has been recorded on video saying that there was no point following the Geneva conventions (a universal war treaty to be humane towards innocent civilians and prisoners of war), who wants and accepts any form of torture as a means of interrogation and investigation, and who thinks that in order to deal with terrorists, we should target and take out (kill) their families. Can it get any worse? Apparently, yes, because he also went on to say that we have to be more barbaric than ISIS’s methods of beheading people. So, to deal with the bad guys, we have to be more cruel, more heinous than them. Violence begets more violence. It is a perpetuation of hatred, incitement and rampant discrimination. And he’s fine with it.

          This is the person who has access to one of the most powerful armies in the world, the public face for the young to follow, the role model which other countries may emulate and worst – he has the codes and rights for use to America’s nuclear arsenal. He has already famously declared that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if South Korea or Saudi Arabia had nuclear weapons. In a country as ritualistically religious as Saudi Arabia, where its practices, beliefs and ‘laws’ closely mirrors that of ISIS, he doesn’t see an issue with giving an ‘American ally’ the rights to own a nuclear weapon. As it is, Saudi Arabia leading the United Nations human rights council (an unfunny joke) is already a legitimate cause for anger, and now it’s ok to give them nuclear weapons?

          And that’s not forgetting his intent of building a wall to be paid for by Mexico and his insistence that Muslims should be barred from America until ‘we can figure out what’s happening’. How he intends to manifest these claims remain to be seen but Mexico has already said it would not foot the bill. What people seem to forget is that Trump is a failed businessman. He’s gone bankrupt six times, and all the businesses he has done has either been fraudulent or complete failures. Trump university? It’s been proven to be a scam. Trump airlines, Trump steaks and Trump wine? All failures. And Trump has been found guilty of using charity money for his own expenses. And he claims to be able to fix the economy?

          To add on to an already burgeoning list, it is likely that one of Trump’s agenda is to obstruct women’s rights to abortion. He once said that women who go for abortions should be punished though he later backed down on it. But it’s clear what he genuinely believes in.   He also doesn’t believe in climate change, brazenly calling it a ‘Chinese hoax’ and has no intent of respecting the Paris agreement – a unified global effort to tackle global warming. And if we move away from the man himself, Trump’s VP, Mike Pence is an ultra religious and loony evangelical Christian. Pence signed for the most restrictive abortion regulations. Even if the fetus had genetic defects, it would be illegal to abort, and if you do, you are required to bury or cremate the remains (presumably in a Christian way). His efforts of closing and defunding Planned Parenthood led to a resurgence of HIV in one county.

          Pence is also anti-gay, has signed laws that allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, and diverted $53 million dollars towards public religious schools for the promotion of creationism. And like Trump, Pence also denies climate change. A campaign investigation has revealed that Pence used political donations to pay for the mortgage on his house, credit card bill and to buy a car for his wife. With both Trump and Pence, it’s a cataclysm waiting to happen. And that says nothing of the people Trump has picked to serve under his administration. They are all  either ultra-religious crazies, eccentrics or bigots. Even as ISIS and Saudi Arabia try to create an exclusive Islamic empire ruled under Sharia law, under a Trump Pence administration, the Christian version of Sharia law is not far away.

          But we are also seeing a regression in many countries across the world. China has built a firewall to restrict what its citizens can learn from the internet, employed human censors to quickly remove unfavorable content posted through apps and sites, forced the media to follow what the communist party wants, and will soon determine (through a scoring system) what’s right and wrong for all its citizens. Turkey’s no better off. President Erdogan has shown that he will arrest school kids for daring to insult his majestic splendour and he has already violently seized control of Turkey’s press.

          Let’s not forget the Philippines who voted President Duterte into power , a maniac who claims to hear voices and take instructions from God, and runs a vigilante campaign of mass murdering drug addicts and dealers. Under his administration, you are perfectly legalised and duly rewarded for the daylight murder of any suspected drug trafficker or user. No court proceedings required. And not only is he infamously vulgar and crude, his recent diplomatic actions  have been openly hostile towards America and any country that dares to criticise his ‘righteous campaign’. And does it help that in Asia, both Malaysia and Indonesia are gaining more support for Islamic fundamentalism? Or that Crimea’s prime minister, Sergey Aksyonov, has an alleged criminal past, is widely considered Russia’s puppet and rules that homosexuality is a crime?

          Because of America’s influence and sheer might, the Trump/Pence victory is likely to mark a genuine regression of all of mankind’s hard won victories. Separation of religion from politics / education? Giving everyone basic human rights regardless of race or religion? Allowing women to have control over their pregnancies? Acceptance of homosexuals? Support for critical and scientific thinking? These issues, which many people have given their lives for, are now poised to be moving ten steps backwards, with no clear path forward. It’s hard to believe that in a modern civilisation, where technology facilitates new modes of thinking and experimentation, we would choose to recluse ourselves to the dark ages. And sheer optimism won’t be enough here.

          So have you thought about (HYTA) whether are we past the point of no return?

Have you thought about (HYTA) whether deeply religious people should be exempted from positions of power?

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          Anyone remotely affiliated with religious ideology will at least concede one point: they claim to have some form of intimate connection with God(s) which may include, though not limited to, the ability to sense his presence or hear his divine directions. Under the specter of religion, a chance meeting with an old friend becomes ‘divinely ordained fate’; personal tragedies become interpreted as ‘part of God’s greater plan for you’; or as it’s too often the case, chalked up to ‘the work of the Devil’. So let’s be clear: religion (or the supernatural) of any form is entirely invasive and like creeping vines, will find its way to parasitically coexist with the mind of its host.

          Would you hire someone who tells you he can hear voices, feel an unexplained spiritual presence or fervently believes the world will eventually come to an end? If you took religion out of the context, this person would be immediately labelled as fully dysfunctional, with a short phone call away from being housed in a mental asylum. Yet, under the wrappings of religion, what’s definitely abnormal becomes fully functional, if not acceptable. In the name of religion, it becomes possible to get away with nonsensical claims, and lousy anecdotal stories suddenly become moments of great divine revelation.

          And yet, some of the most powerful people in the world are deeply religious, almost fundamentally so. The Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, infamous for his brash trash talk,  heavy-handed vulgar language, and his horrific campaign of mass murdering drug addicts, said that he would abstain from swearing because God spoke to him and told him to clean up his language. Take a moment to think. It’s really as ridiculous as it sounds. What happens if he ‘hears’ God telling him to conquer nearby Asian countries or being reassured that murder is an acceptable form of justice? It would be but one hair trigger from an irreversible tragedy. And yet, nobody really minds that he ‘hears’ voices. It’s apparently quite normal to hear voices.

          Or what about Antonin Scalia, the American supreme court  justice – an extremely powerful position that most aspirants won’t reach, let alone dream of – who believes resolutely in the existence of the Devil? A judge who presided on issues of law, morality, and government policies, asserted in an interview that the Devil was a real person. He went as far as to say that non-believers were under demonic influence – a convenient (and faulty) way of defending religion while downplaying logic. In a system of laws where secularism speaks first, how could someone so religiously twisted be able to pass down effective judgements? Yet, in America, though not constitutionally enforced, it’s explicitly made clear that in order to hold a government position, belief in God (the Christian one) is necessary.

          It’s easy to point out that these are merely glaring missteps. But they aren’t isolated cases. For example, Pakistan was unable to ban child marriages (some as young as 6 years old) because its Council of Islamic Ideology, a bunch of genuine lunatics, decreed that it was ‘un-Islamic’ and blasphemous. A British chancellor occupying some of the highest scientific position believes in the absurdity of Astrology (not to be confused with Astronomy); climate change, evolution and right to abortion, continue to find incessant obstructions from religious groups; and of course, there’s Malaysia’s recent furor when authorities insisted that hot dogs (the food) be renamed because Islam considers dogs dirty. They also tried to ban and change the name ‘root beer’ because Islam prohibits alcohol. Root beer has no alcohol.

          Are these newsworthy stories worth kicking up a storm over? Absolutely. The front page headlines could beCrazy Philipines President claims to hear voices from the great unknown’ or ‘Supreme Justice should be fired for belief in Devil’. Yet the media response is far too often muted. It often considers religious transgressions and absurdities as social norms. It claims to respect the faith and belief of every individual while undercutting one’s capacity for deeper thought and reflection. The media, because it’s ultimately the mouthpiece of the government (it shouldn’t be), will always continue to promote its country’s main religion and blind nationalistic loyalty. Admittedly, cohesiveness of any kind is dependent on a sort of necessary blindness.

          Regardless, far too many religious people who have no business being in positions of power, are allowed to dictate laws, rules and regulations. And at a minimum, they continue to hold back, blockade and interfere with Science, logic and human rights. To be clear, with or without religion, mistakes will still be made and corruption will still seethe by the side. While religion can be a catalyst in encouraging people to abide by a certain moral code, it’s achieved with hostility towards science, towards other faiths, and a complete misrepresentation of how the world truly works. For these people, their confidence in their religious views are often such that “I could be wrong” doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. That should be enough grounds for a full disqualification.

          So have you thought about (HYTA) whether deeply religious people should hold positions of power?