Oppurtunity to screw religion

Paladin's picture

My debating team and I have managed to make it into the finals of my school's debating competition, which is going to be held this Friday. The motion is "Relgion has done more harm than good". I'm first speaker for the proposing team. This is the debate that I and several other atheists have been waiting for.

I've got a rough list of general points, with more specific examples accompanying somee. I didn't write these. The best part is that I will be able to use this as an oppurtunity to lecture the audience on homophobia and its roots in religion. I agreed not to tell anyone I was gay, but that won't stop me from talking about homophobia.

•The Crusades.
•The Inquisition.
•Witch trials in Europe and America.
•The Divine right of Kings (valid until killed by another Divinely-appointed King).
•Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, "heathen" religions and cultures.
•Missionaries such as Mother Teresa.
•The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans ("They're devil-worshippers!"), the Romans demonizing Christians ("They're atheists and cannibals!").
•Persecution of Heretics - e.g. Galileo for daring to suggest that the Earth orbits the Sun.
•Children dying because their parents refused them medical treatment on religious grounds; relying instead on faith-healers and prayer.
•Slavery, supposedly supported by scripture ("Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, just as you would obey Christ.", St.Paul, Ephesians 6:5)
•Holy wars - followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
•The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
•Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.
•Persecution/punishment of blasphemers (Salman Rushdie still has a death sentence on him), and blasphemy laws in general.
•The requirement of theism in order to stand for public office or to testify in court.
•Serial killers believing they are doing the work of Satan (or sometimes Jesus).
•Often-fatal exorcisms by priests believing they are destroying the work of Satan.
•People suffering dreadful injury or death in the belief that their faith has made them invulnerable (e.g. people climbing into lion eclosures at zoos, with a Bible as protection).
•Whole societies divided by minor differences in belief or doctrine, often resulting in violence.
•Mass suicides of cult-members following a charismatic leader who believes the world is about to End (most recently, the Heaven's Gate and Solar Temple cults - there will be more as we approach the year 2000).
•The attempted genocide of followers of a particular faith (e.g. the Jewish Holocaust, "ethnic cleansing" in former Yugoslavia).
•Blood sacrifices to appease the Gods, or to ensure a good harvest. (The Aztecs made daily human sacrifices to ensure that the Sun would rise. Or did they? )
•The practice of "female circumcision" (more accurately termed genital mutilation).
•The discouragement of rational, critical thought (resulting in young-earth creationists, for example).
•Uncontrolled population growth caused (or at least helped) by churches prohibiting birth-control and abortion. (You can also add : unwanted pregnancies, ill-fated forced marriages, and pregnant teenagers condemned to a life in mental institutions to avoid embarrassing their families.)
•The spread of sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. AIDS) due to churches prohibiting the use of condoms.
•Believers whipping, impaling, poisoning or crucifying themselves during religious festivals as a demonstration of their faith and piety.
•Suicide bombers taught to believe that martyrs go straight to Paradise.
•The indoctrination of children into the religion of their parents, giving them an arbitrary, life-long belief that is almost entirely dependent on their place of birth.
•Women treated as second-class citizens or even slaves (article : Islam's Shame).
•Pentecostal snake-handlers (Augusta Chronicle news article)
•Persecution of homosexuals (Genocide of gay and lesbian youth)
•Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
•Minor religions ("cults") stockpiling weapons to defend themselves from the Armies Of Satan (i.e. the police and the government).

Chances are my team won't win since most of us have comparatively limited debating experience. Of the 4 members of the opposition, 2 have been judged best debater in past years and the other 2 have won my school's public speaking competition.

Anyway, should be some good fun.

Dave

Comments

the mouse that roared's picture

That sounds cool :)

Don't forget lack of sexuality education advocated by many religions. And remember that the other side will argue for all the charity and shelter that has been provided (nunneries taking in orphans, etc.) and how the monks preserved ancient texts during the Middle Ages...

You've probably already thought about that. Good luck in the debates! :)

suffragettecity's picture

Mention the Inter Cetera Bull

Mention the Inter Cetera Bull of 4 May, 1493, which was a Papal Bull used by the Vatican to justify forcible conversion and murder of Native Americans.

I would use it to replace the part of about serial killers - those people may be claiming religious justification for what they do, but serial killers are driven by anti-social personality disorder or schizophrenia, not religion.

"Sometimes a little brain damage helps."
-- George Carlin

Dan84's picture

Ouch...

That list just went on and on! Makes you really think about religion, its role, and its outcomes... Hmm...

Given all that, why are so many people religious? What is it that makes people cling to their faiths, or even get back into religion if they feel they've "lapsed"?

Always wondering,

Daniel

suffragettecity's picture

religion

I don't think that religion or even organized religion are the problem, but rather, people who are in or who desire to be in positions of wealth and power perverting religion to serve their own interests.

"Sometimes a little brain damage helps."
-- George Carlin

Meta's picture

oh, baby

i wish i could go to your school! this sounds like so much fun. have a great time, and remember (and i know this sounds patronizing): even if you don't win the debate, you will have made a stand, and you will have spoken from your heart. that's what counts.

meta
"Only you can decide what path to take. Only you can decide who you want to be. Others can give advise, they can guide the foot, but only you can chose where it falls."

NovaCat's picture

Um, why is Mother Teresa on y

Um, why is Mother Teresa on your list of bad things about religion? Mother Teresa, as far as I know, was as close to a saint as you can get.

Oh, and don't forget to talk about how the first Crusade was actually a political maneuver by Pope Urban disguised as religion. In order to get the support of several excommunicated kings back and the continued support of the Byzantine Emperor, he guaranteed salvation to any who went to cleanse the Holy Land of the evil Saracens. However, before the forces arrived, the previous occupants of the Holy Land (an Arab kingdom that was actually quite friendly to Europe) had retaken it from the other, less friendly Arab invasion force. This didn't stop the crusaders, who killed the EUROPE-FRIENDLY MUSLIMS despite the fact that these were not the ones that the Byzantine Emperor was really concerned about. And of course, you must remember the slaughter of Jerusalem, where so many were killed that the streets were flooded with blood.

Yeah, and that's just the first Crusade. But technically, it was a success . . . Pope Urban regained European support.

NovaCat's picture

And technically, the Holocaus

And technically, the Holocaust was not a religious crusade against another religion. It was a perversion of Nietsczhian writings into a cult-like nationalism that allowed a madman to take control of a country simply by blaming all of it's problems on Jews. And it wasn't so much that Jew's were religiously Jewish, but rather racially Jewish, meaning that they actually decended from the Jewish race rather than converted to Judaism. Though I'm sure they didn't hesitate to kill "ethnic Germans" who were Jews as well. Or homosexuals for that matter. But Nazism wasn't really a religious belief, but rather, a nationalistic, political one.

Paladin's picture

suff. said: "I don't think t

suff. said:
"I don't think that religion or even organized religion are the problem, but rather, people who are in or who desire to be in positions of wealth and power perverting religion to serve their own interests."

Well I disagree. I do think that to some extent religion is the problem, in itself. Maybe one could read the Bible thinking that one should generally be tolerant of others, but I also think that the Bible cultures a mindset of arrogance. I'm sure there are other things and this is is not unique to Christianity.

meta said:
"i wish i could go to your school! this sounds like so much fun. have a great time, and remember (and i know this sounds patronizing): even if you don't win the debate, you will have made a stand, and you will have spoken from your heart. that's what counts."

Yes, thanks. I'm a little surprised that none of the powers that be haven't deemed this debate too likely to ruffle the feathers of the muslim community. I was expecting to be lamenting (again) how my school, expounds all these values of tolerance and dignity typical of other international schools, and yet always seems to be kowtowing to fanatics, none of whom send their children to my school.

Novacat said:Um, why is Mother Teresa on your list of bad things about religion? Mother Teresa, as far as I know, was as close to a saint as you can get.

If you do your research, you might find MT is actually a little more controversial than meets the eye. Among other things, she's said to have baptised the dying (mostly non-Christians), socialising with dictators, and running a cult. She practiced double-standards when it came to her health as opposed to the health of her sisters and patients (MT would get sent to the top clinics in Western countries). She's no anti-christ, but no saint either. I admit, I only learnt about a little over a year ago, and I'm not entirely sure of where I stand on her. Here is a good place to start reading about her if you want. Anyway, I'm probably not going to mention these things unless the opposition mentions them.

"And technically, the Holocaust was not a religious crusade against another religion. It was a perversion of Nietsczhian writings into a cult-like nationalism that allowed a madman to take control of a country simply by blaming all of it's problems on Jews. And it wasn't so much that Jew's were religiously Jewish, but rather racially Jewish, meaning that they actually decended from the Jewish race rather than converted to Judaism. Though I'm sure they didn't hesitate to kill "ethnic Germans" who were Jews as well. Or homosexuals for that matter. But Nazism wasn't really a religious belief, but rather, a nationalistic, political one."

Nazi Germany was gripped with religion in the lead-up to World War 2, just that the people were not praying to Jesus in larger numbers, they were hailing Hitler. I'm going to try and define religion as "a particular system of faith and worship", which would allow a personality cult like that surrounding Hitler to be included in "religion". And even if one defines religion as a belief in some supernatural power, then it's reasonable to assume that if the Jews had intermarried with the rest of Europe, there wouldn't be the racial/religious difference there was and still is today. The reason why they didn't is because they had a different religion. Were it not for religion, its forseeable differences among different people would be less, and things like the Holocaust occur less often

Dave