Just because the poison isn’t lethal every time…
“Honesty pays, but it don’t seem to pay enough to suit some people.” ~Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard
It is no secret that the supposedly moralizing force of religious belief doesn’t seem to stop people from pulling amazingly sleazy tricks while considering themselves champions of the lord. Today’s example out of many comes in the form of Bradlee Dean and You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Ministries. Here’s how the agents of their group solicit donations.
“He was a pretty good salesman,” Miller recalls. “He asked if I wanted to donate to suicide prevention. I usually don’t make donations on the street, because I don’t know where it’s going, but I had recently lost a friend to suicide, so my guard was down.”
Miller walked over to a table where the man’s partner was sitting with a jar for donations. They wanted $20. Miller gave him $5, and in return was given a pair of fliers.
Sounds like a noble enough cause. That’s probably why it was an effective lie.
Yet the group’s most current 990 tax filings confess to an altogether different mission:
“To reshape America by redirecting our youth morally and spiritually through education. (Hosea 4:6) The ministry’s street teams spoke to over 250,000 people last year concerning their spiritual destiny and our nation’s religious history.”
It is often said that the noble cause has no need of lies. Of course, these people are fully aware that for their righteous cause to succeed, they must lie. To what degree, you may ask?
Soon the major news outlets were discovering what many bloggers have known for years: Dean and his ministry are spectacularly homophobic. Dean has called for gays to be arrested and jailed, and has said Muslim extremists are “more moral” than American Christians because they call for the execution of homosexuals.
This is the danger of loopy, unsupported ideas: they’re a crapshoot. Sure, they can motivate people to do some good things. If you think feral smurfs are going to gnaw off your legs if you don’t give $20 per week to the United Way, you’re going to perform a weekly charitable act even though that belief is positively stupid. But people do not do only good things for bad reasons; they often do bad things. Often, very often, people (whether atheist, Christian, or whatever) are driven to malice by bad reasoning: the same bad reasoning wielded proudly and defended by every Christian, Muslim, and faithful follower of a religion. Bad reasoning is not rescued by pointing out that it doesn’t produce bad results every time. Bad reasoning is our enemy, which is why religion is our enemy. It bears repeating: irrationality is poison, and faith has taken the poison and flavored it with all kinds of artificial sweeteners.
The sad thing is that most people who do good through religious motivation were going to wind up being humanitarian anyway, and so religion acts as a pick-pocket selling them their own good nature.
Anyway, my blogs on religion always seem to have a Jerry Springer-esque surprise at the end, and this one is no exception. Guess who is raising money for the liars for Jesus stumping for the execution of people doing legal things: it’s a federal representative of the United States Government.
Rep. Michele Bachmann will be headlining a fundraiser in November for controversial ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide.
It won’t be Bachmann’s first time at a YCRBYCH fundraiser. At a Minneapolis hotel in October 2006, she offered a powerful prayer for the ministry and praised the group’s work of sharing the gospel in public schools.
“Lord, I thank you for what you have done at this ministry… how you are going to advance them from 260 schools a year, Lord, to 2,600 schools a year,” she said. “Lord, we ask thy faith that you would expand this ministry beyond anything the originators of this ministry could begin to think or imagine. Lord, the day is at hand! We are in the last days! The day is at hand, Lord, when your return will become nigh. Pour a double blessing, Lord, a triple blessing on this ministry.”
A federal official knowingly raising money for an organization that knowingly breaks the law, urging them to continue breaking the law and praising them for breaking the law. Can there be any doubt that faith is the catalyzing factor in this situation?
This is the other side of the irrationality crapshoot. So, dear Christians, whenever you tell me your church group cleaned up a street because your reasoning sucks (i.e., you think a dude who rose from the dead and speaks to you from…wherever, told you to clean up the street), remember that you have no more reason to believe you have the ear of god than these people, and the influence of delusion is just as strong in their camp. The counteragent to bad reasoning is not a different form of bad reasoning, it is logic and evidence delivered with all of the obdurate force available to us, and we should not lament for a moment that the antidote purges all participants in the faith gamble.