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  • James Tam

We are being dangerously polite to religionists

I am a dangerous guest to invite to polite dinner parties because I refuse to pretend religionists are mentally sound or harmless. They are not.

Though some pious individuals are indeed innocuous, even nice, enthusiastic about love, religions which controlled many parts of the world for centuries remain a potent and ambitious political ghost, desperate to be reincarnated. Their power depends on the faithful followers, renewable in the schools with Government support

Perhaps I should first highlight the definition of religion. My dictionary says it’s “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods”. According to this reasonable definition, Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions. Buddhism and Daoism are fundamentally atheistic and irreligious. Confucian teachings are simply irrelevant in this context. Labelling them religions was perhaps just ignorance on the part of those who cannot accept the existence of a godless ancient civilisation. But for the SAR government to continue with this perplexing classification is . . . I have no polite word for it.

But why can’t I keep my mouth shut and respect other’s “Freedom of Worship”?

Let me tell a story about the origin of mankind:

Long long time ago, after Pan Gu sorted chaos into heaven and earth, Goddess Nv Wa made humans out of mud. Mud was an abundant and popular raw material among creative gods. Realising that it took numbers to create a vibrant community, she made many, all Chinese I suppose. She was aware of the undesirable effects of incestuous procreation. Having created a sizeable inception population, she sexed them, and gave them a marital convention to follow.

The creation of mankind by Nv Wa was well documented in Chinese ancient texts.

If I believe this to be the indisputable truth, and that Pan Gu and Nv Wa should be worshipped in temples built on freely provided land, and their stories taught as facts in schools, what would you think?

Stupid? Mad? Uh . . . Please bear in mind you are supposed to respect my religious belief, giving it the same credibility as, say, physics. Well, if you don’t, I’d have no political voice box to condemn your intolerance. The Chinese had stopped believing their ancestral version of Genesis at least a couple of thousand years ago.

So I change my story:

A few thousand years ago, a God of Middle Eastern origin similarly sorted out chaos. He first created light so that He could see what was about to happen. Then day by day he separated land and sky, channelled water and so on. He even made fish. On the seventh day, God was pooped, so He rested. He enjoyed it so much he blessed the seventh day.

Ah, before the Lord God started rain, He made a man out of dust (not as coherent and workable as mud, but water was scarce where he was manufactured). Being the only guy on earth, he was unnecessarily identified as Adam. Subsequently, the Lord God technically stole a rib from him to make woman Eve, presumably to conserve dust.

Here you go, the creation of mankind, clearly documented in the Bible.

Henceforth God has been worshipped in synagogues and churches and mosques. His name is constantly on the lips of clergymen and kings and presidents who designed and executed Crusades, Inquisitions, Witch Hunts, numerous persecutions, wars, and modern invasion of resource rich countries. The Bible is taught in many schools. The story goes on.

If you question anyone’s sanity because of his unquestioning faith in ludicrous ancient stories, you would be spat on for religious intolerance. And tolerance is not even enough. Superstition is now a human right to be respected, not weakness to be pitied or enlightened. The Freedom of Worshipping an approved deity (taking oath with a copy of Harry Potter due to personal belief, for example, is not approved) is a key value promoted by the Empire of Democracy, therefore one that many unthinking Hongkongers eagerly embrace. That’s why Hong Kong religionists are against National Education. It threatens to dilute the holy water with which they wash the kids’ brains, a prerogative they have historically enjoyed.

Of course the religious should be tolerated; but to continue faking respect for their preposterous superstition would only encourage growth of a stupefying and meddling influence.

Note that not all religious folks are full-time lunatics. Ever wondered why some otherwise intelligent individuals pray for God’s intervention when they are constipated? Thanks to colonial missionaries, most of Hong Kong’s old brand-name schools are religious. Children are being brainwashed and psychologically intimated to depend on God. Exploitation of emotional insecurity and other human weaknesses is the expertise of religionists, refined over the centuries. They also know it’s best to start when the brains are young and tender, hence the penetration of the education system. Half of Hong Kong schools are run by Catholics and Protestants, excluding the 127 Protestant nurseries. If we count old brand-name schools only, God's market share would be even more overwhelming. This is insanely close to the learning environments of theocracies.

A truly civil society is about checks and balances, not being blithely manipulated into mindless politeness. Those who don’t believe in Nv Wa, Pan Gu, and the Lord God owe their kids a duty to speak truthfully and openly about the absurdity and risks of religious dominance in the school system.

For the brain and soul of future generations, let there be light.

Guo Du 28.10.2012


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