Why do so many religious people hate themselves so much?

Judging by some of the comments on my blog posts, I have  to conclude that many religious folks practise a form of self-loathing that could only be inspired by scripture, and reinforced through frequent worship sessions, by the clergy or other religious instructors. The proclivity to undermine ones personal self through various forms of self-denial, self-hatred, self-loathing, penance etc. seems to be very evident among Christians, but is by all accounts, absolutely intrinsic to Islam. Although not so openly evident in other religions, it is surely practiced to some degree.

Take this recent comment on my post Viva la Vida – What does it all mean?, “None of us deserve God, yet He gives us that opportunity, none of us deserve life, yet He gives us life and a chance to seek Him and become One with Him. Chris Jesus died for us; God became what we are that we might be what He is.” Why would a normal, sane and rational person believe that he does not deserve life? It could be expected of a person with psychological problems to have such insecurities, but what triggers such atypical thoughts in a normal, healthy person?

Here again, a commentator on my post The More You Learn, The More You Realize How Little You Know, maintains that you don’t know what’s best for you, only god does: “He IS the Creator after all. He knows what’s good for you. and you’re only ONE out of how many people on this planet??” Unless someone is deliberately taught this piece of imprudence,” how would that person come to believe such an absolute which is impossible to verify or prove, with or without science?

And on a blog I posted, Hate Not the Believer, where I made reference to a Melbourne cleric who advocates that beating your wife is acceptable, the same (female) Muslim commentator had this to say: “and in terms of the whole wife/husband..woman/man thing..there’s always a reason in Islam. cause we don’t see Islam as a religion…rather, it is the way of life” Is it normal for a women to allow herself to be beaten, because an archaic text in a religious book condones paternalistic thuggery? What sinister force compels a women to deny herself any self-respect, by accepting that there is always a reason for her being mistreated and maligned?

Time and time again you will hear clerics screaming from the pulpits (and now from every kind of media imaginable) that man is a worthless sinner. Man is damned and can only obtain “salvation” if he accepts the “word of god” and “gives his life” to one “creator” or the other. Some religions (one in particular) even go so far as to proclaim that only total and unrelenting “submission to god” is a pre-requisite for a “life in heaven,” whatever that is. And the key to making people believe such nonsense is in creating a terrifying fear of the unknown; the unknowable, unprovable, irrational, mother-of-all-fears, HELL. Other religions may not have the concept of HELL, which is probably why self-hatred is not that evident there. Such is the work of clerics; to perpetuate and maintain the fear of a punishment after death. For without this fear, people would have no need to hate themselves so much while they are alive.

Perhaps Ayaan Hirsi Ali was referring to secular Europe when she wrote so eloquently in her book Infidel, “Life is better in Europe than it is in the Muslim world because human relations are better, and one reason human relations are better is that in the West, life on earth is valued in the here and now, and individuals enjoy rights and freedoms that are recognized and protected by the state. To accept subordination and abuse because Allah willed it – that, for me would be self-hatred.”

What are you giving up for Lent on this Ash Wednesday?

For the benefit of those who don’t know, non-Christians mostly, Lent is a 40-day fast and prayer, preceding Easter, which begins on Ash Wednesday, and supposedly represents the time spent by Jesus in the desert resisting the temptation of the Devil.

Traditionally, those Christian denominations which observe Lent,  indulge in some form of self-denial; usually fasting, abstention from meat, sex, alcohol etc. I’m no big fan of self-denial, or any form of self-inflicted punishment (not even S&M), simply because it reeks of irrational behaviour. However, just this one time, I’m willing to give up something, for a month at least…well maybe forty days. You’re probably wondering why I want to do something like this?

Over the past month or so, I’ve been feeling kind of guilty about lambasting a few Christians who have been peppering me with religious e-mails; you know the cutesy kind that tries to motivate you by making all sorts of unfounded claims, while somehow being threatening at the same time. Then there are the religious mails that spread plain old lies, hoaxes; some of which I have exposed on this blog. Well, over the last few months, I have brutally refuted most of these mails with cold scientific critique and sheer derision, and called the senders’ rational abilities to account. But no matter how much scorn I piled onto these mails, they kept coming, until I finally laid down an ultimatum: I will respect your right to believe in strange things if you will respect my right to not be bothered by it. The mails stopped coming.

So, with the advent of Lent, I am throwing up an olive branch to my Christian cor-responders: send all the cutesy religious mails you want, during this period, and I will give up my right to respond with contempt. (Offer only valid during Lent)