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The Monday Sermon: What If What You Believe Is Really Just...Crap?

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Rev. Dan Vojir
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Belief is hallowed in our country.

Maybe a bit too much.

"I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows..." Nice. Inspirational. Not true, but who cares?(1) Statements of belief in any credo, philosophy, experience or person have always been sacrosanct to Americans. When "I believe" is uttered with any amount of intensity, it commands respect. "I believe in Joe Blow" rings with commitment. Sometimes "I believe" challenges the listener: NOT believing is decidedly wrong.

"It's what we BELIEVE!" is probably the most ubiquitous response to any criticism of religion. Visitors to the Creation Museum in Kentucky chimed "This is what we BELIEVE!" in defense of their prideful support. Many people divide the country into "us" and "them: "believers" and "non-believers." Belief has, in effect, become a catchall defense mechanism as well as a rally cry. It is a weapon for both defense and attack. And sometimes it becomes an unassailable fortress in war.(2)

It's no wonder that criticism of any belief system (especially involving blind belief) is almost immediately looked upon with an enormous amount of contempt. And if you can't stand the contempt, well, tough - you made a conscious decision to question the system and it's   your   fault if you're held in contempt. True believers (and they are all   true   believers) don't take criticism very well.

So what if some belief is such crapola, such bullshit, such cretinous crud  that its mere existence labels the believer as someone uneducated and out of touch with reality or -worse - an unmitigated moron? Young earth Creationism is perhaps a prime example: the Creation Museum in Kentucky, in its quest to somehow "adjust" science with belief, has a Tyrannosaurus Rex blissfully chomping on vegetation in the Garden of Eden. The idea that Adam and Eve may have romped with Pebbles Flintstone and Bam Bam Rubble has given legitimate scientists cause to call the museum's reasoning "Yabba Dabba Science."

The ensuing guffaws were well deserved, but they weren't enough to stop the Museum's creators from embarking on another piece of WTF: a "lifesize" rendering of Noah's Ark.(3)

Another example of belief that is absolutely ludicrous is snake handling. The practice of snake handling is still observed in rural parts of Appalachia and the South, with handlers believing that survival from snake bites gave evidence of grace and faith. Some handlers have imbibed poisons like strychnine to prove the New Testament's Mark 16: " and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." Needless to say, there have been some fatalities in snake handler churches.

The belief that satanic forces are at work in everything that the believer does not consider God-sanctioned are, for the most part, irrational and ludicrous:

- Evangelist C. Peter Wagner:
...asserts that Catholic saints bring honor to the spirits of darkness, and promotes the burning of their statues in   Argentina . Wagner asserts that the   Holy Spirit   came to his associate, Cindy Jacobs (a "prophet" in Wagner's Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders) and "told her that in [the Argentinian city of] Resistencia they must burn the idols, like the magicians did in Ephesus"

- The founder of Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, John Benefiel, has posited that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol (see video below)(4)

And the belief in a vengeful God always smacks of medieval superstition:

- Pat Robertson proposed that Orlando's Disney World having a "Gay Day" would result in floods, hurricanes "and possibly a meteor."  
- Cindy Japan-is--shaped-like-a-dragon Jacobs said that the unusual occurrence of a mass of birds falling dead in Texas was the result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Belief and Faith

And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. Belief is clinging to a rock in the middle of a stream. Faith is knowing how to swim.

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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books éČ" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
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