Monday, February 27, 2012

Religious Consumer Protection

Earlier this month the Agnostic & Atheist Student Association of UC Davis held an event titled, “How to Get into Heaven (According to Mormons),” presented by Ted Cox, an ex-Mormon turned atheist.  Apparently a whole bunch of people got seriously butthurt by all this, if this article in their local paper is anything to go by.  Reading all the comments really had me perplexed.  Why was everyone so upset?  They were calling it "offensive" and "bigoted".  The Mormons were outraged, even some people claiming that they were atheists and totally not Mormons claimed to be very upset by such insensitive and bigoted talks discussing the actual inner workings of the Mormon Church.  Absolutely no part of that makes any sense to me.

Unless you have something to hide. 

Turns out the Mormons totally do.  In fact, their church even has a practice called "milk before meat", meaning that many of their actual beliefs and doctrines are hidden from outsiders and even new converts.  Much like with Scientology, you don't get to learn the actual story until you've committed a whole lot of time and money to the church.

You don't see Buddhists calling a discussion of the Four Noble Truths offensive and you won't even see Muslims calling an event explaining the Five Pillars of Islam bigoted.  Provided your information is accurate and factual, none of the major religions have any problem with you knowing what they believe in.  Say what you will about the different religions of the world, at least they're not this sneaky.  Islam doesn't present itself as a motivational speaking and leadership program where you only find out it's a religion when you reach level 18.  Christianity doesn't wait until you've given a certain amount of money before they spring the Virgin Birth and the talking snake on you.  Nope, the guy handing out tracts on the street corner will happily inform you of every belief, no matter how weird.  To do anything less is to admit you have something to hide.  That's never good.

Look, to me it comes down to consumer protection.  If you are going to sign up for something, don't you have the right to know what it's really all about?  Especially if you are going to have you change your lifestyle and sacrifice your time and money when you sign up for it.  If there is a brand of toaster that makes your whole house smell like burning leaves and the salesman doesn't tell you that up front, you would have every right to be upset.  But if you happen to be the kind of person who likes the smell of burning leaves and toast and you know this model will give it to you then you can buy it and enjoy it.  The important thing is that you at least got to make an informed decision. 

Or to use a more serious example that's recently been in the news in my part of the world.  Let's say there is this camp for young men that claims to be for game ranger training.  However it does a lot more than that, it's actually a cover for a bunch of white supremacists who teach race hate to the students after pushing them to their mental and physical breaking point.  Would you want to know that before you send your kids there?  Would these same people so shocked and outraged at Mormon laundry being aired in public also be arguing that what happens at these camps should be kept private and personal?  Somehow I doubt it...

I don't know what your opinion of religion is, it may very well be that you find all religions equally silly, but you would have to concede that any group that has to hide what they actually stand for is all sorts of creepy!

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