Posted by Jeff on February 8, 2009
Far be it from me to criticize peoples’ religious views. So I’m not going to in this post. Instead I’d like to talk a little about inappropriatebehavior which people seem to use their religious views to justify. Now I know that all religious people don’t do this and I’m not making any broad generalizations here, but the ones who do get under my skin and piss me off in ways that are difficult to describe. I’m on this rant because recently a friend of mine wrote about a tragic and painful experience on her blog. It was terribly sad and something that many people can relate to and have sympathy for. Naturally I logged on to leave a comment wishing her well only to see that someone else had anonymously posted before me, not offering condolences or sympathy, but offering judgement and declaring that this only happened because she was a sinner or not following god’s word or some other such nonsense.
I got really pissed off at this. Not only was this a cold, insensative, and completely crass thing to say to a person who is struggling emotionally (not to mention that it’s my friend that is being so rudely insulted), but it reminded me of an event of my childhood.
Now, I was only 12 or 13 when this happened, but my cousin was happily married to a Vietnamese man who had given her two beautiful children. One day her husband was killed in a horrible car accident and her and her daughters were devastated. As would be expected. The part of this story that applies to my point is the funeral. See, my cousin was a Christian and her husband was a Buddhist. At the funeral, everyone else was offering condolences and showing their support for her during such a horribly trying time. These are appropriate things to do at a funeral, right?
After the service while everyone was socializing this woman from my cousin’s church walked up to her and said – right in front of her two young children – “Your husband was such a nice man. I’m so sorry about your loss and that he will spend eternity in hell for being a Buddhist…” I know what you’re thinking. There is NO DAMN WAY someone would have the balls to say something so absolutely harsh and insulting to someone who had just lost her husband. But she did. I was there and remember thinking, even as a kid, that I couldn’t believe she had just said that. But what was most disturbing is that she seemed to have no idea why her words upset my cousin enough to send her into a renewed crying frenzy. She acted like she was being severely mistreated when all the people who heard her immediately insisted that she leave.
I think what I’m ranting about right now is how dogma and perceived righteousness can warp a person’s view on what is means to be a caring and sympathetic human being. Or even just a ‘good person’ for that matter. ‘Love thy neighbor’ never meant to constantly remind thy neighbor of the pit of firey brimstone they are condemned to play in if they don’t start aggreeing with you. No matter how devoted a person is to their faith or their views, there is such a thing as tact. Now a person is entitled to believe whatever they want about the damnation of the soul of a woman’s recently departed husband. What they are NOT entitled to do is to flaunt their self-important black-and-white world-view in such a way as to kick a person while they are already down. It just seems like the most intolerant opinions and the most harshly unfair judgements of people are done in the name of faith. And while I know that this doesn’t apply to everyone, it so happens that the ones it does apply to are the most vocal with their rhetoric.