When it comes to religion, one treads from the calm pools of reason to the dangerous currents of high emotion. It seems that some religious beliefs are so fiercely held, that to challenge them invites an almost primal response. We’re all very familiar with the massive and violent demonstrations in the Muslim world at any real or perceived slight of the Qu’ran or Muhammad. Many in the west are appalled such displays, but, apparently, only because it’s not their religion that’s being disparaged. When a college student absconded with a Eucharist wafer, for example, it earned him instant Catholic vilification and calls to kick him out of school.
I was reminded recently of this tendency toward emotional overreaction, abeit on a milder scale, when chancing upon a recent blog entry from a Christian remarking on an atheist “de-baptism”. It seems some atheists are marking their deconversion from Christianity by having themselves blowdried, a mocking counterpoint to baptism’s immersion in water to signify the washing away of “sins”. This Christian found the event “sad,” “sarcastic,” “insipid,” and “uninspiring” because “baptism is a statement and commitment to humility, growth and change. The de-baptism…is simply about declaring ‘unfaith'”.
This is the religious myopic mind at work, which categorizes all its sacred practices and beliefs as “good,” and, therefore, every other practice or belief as automatically “bad.” The real point of the event was ignored on this Christian, which was to bring atheists out of the closet and demonstrate to politicians that we are voters too.
You see, the religious mind allows no possibility that its cherished beliefs may be false. The entertaining of such a notion is even held to be evidence of the devil’s influence and a sinful demonstration of one’s lack of faith. This is why even the most innocuous expressions of mockery toward religion are met with disproportionate outrage and disdain. All religious followers may not be so dogmatic, but the teachings of the major religions logically lead to absolutist, albeit incompatible, paradigms. This fact explains religion’s tendency to fracture, even within sects, and the concordant violence which periodically erupts among them (Catholic vs. Protestant, Sunni vs. Shia, etc.). If you believe you hold The Divine Truth, it follows anyone who disagrees is “evil”.