Lo and behold, we have another another thinly-disguised attack on Christianity from Paula Kirby, a "former Christian" who's latest rant can be found on the Washington Post blog:
Her fangs are out immediately with this little gem:
"If you value freedom, you should flee from religion as the antelope flees the lion. Religion is the very antithesis of freedom, insisting on our complete subjugation to the unachievable demands of an invisible but supremely powerful overlord."
Unfortunately, Ms. Kirby, despite all the venom she musters, seems to think that couching an obviously anti Judeo-Christian-Islamic attack with a generalizing term like "religion" somehow makes her opinions balanced or fair. In my opinion, she just comes off as trying to hide her obvious prejudice towards certain faiths in a very gutless fashion.
The fact is, "religion" encompasses a wide variety of beliefs, from Christianity, to the Hindu Pantheon, to the ancient religion of Native Americans, Paganism, and even the benign beliefs of Zen Buddhism. I doubt highly that Ms. Kirby has issues with Buddhism or even the Navajo Kachinas. She would display a tad bit more integrity if she would drop the "safe" terminology and simply admit she hates the Abrahamic religions and blames them for most of the evil that occurs. It doesn't take an advanced education to see through her words.
Even worse is that, despite calling herself a "former Christian", her understanding of Christian theology is mediocre and tainted by feminist groupthink. And what does she mean by "unachieveable demands"? Is learning to respect your neighbor and treat him as you'd like to be treated "unachievable"? That happens to be the 2nd of 2 commandments from Jesus, the 1st being to love, honor and respect God. In Christianity, the "unachieveable" stuff was fixed by the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
Judaism, although more complex and ritualistic, does not have "unachieveable demands" according to an orthodox Jew. I cannot speak for Islam, but I imagine Muslims don't consider their God's requirements unachievable, either.
If learning to love your neighbor is an "unachievable demand", why is this principle taught in secular public schools?
Ms. Kirby then delights us with this comment:
"The Abrahamic god even enthusiastically endorses the vilest of all negations of freedom: slavery. In Leviticus 25, there is a direct quote from this supposedly perfect deity, specifically permitting the Israelites to take and keep slaves, the only proviso being that they must be from the neighboring tribes and not from their own people. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were, and hardly a shining example of freedom as a religious ideal"
Ms. Kirby, of course, doesn't provide context or explore the history of why this was so. She just assumes that God takes joy in enslaving people, instead of bothering to tell us why slavery of non-Hebrew tribes was permitted. Slavery was a judgement upon other nations who would frequently attack the Hebrews and take them as slaves. Slavery was a historical fact and not a religious belief, but unfortunately, there was a purpose behind it a long time ago, and as time passed, involuntary slavery began to disappear.
"Religion delights in petty rules and the exercise of power over its followers. What theistic religion does not attempt to curtail believers' freedom with nonsensical decrees about foods that may or may not be eaten, fibers that may or may not be worn, days on which they may or may not work, coverings that must or must not be worn on their heads, books that must or must not be read, images that may or may not be created, words that may or may not be spoken, ideas they may or may not explore, actions they may or may not perform, rituals - whether physical or symbolic - they must perform in order to cleanse themselves of impurities of religion's own invention?"
What religion doesn't curtial believers' freedom with "nonsensical decrees"? That religion, Ms. Kirby, would be Evangelical Christianity, a religion you are supposed to be something of an authority on. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross was the substitution for all the rituals. It was a means by which mankind could have same access to God as Moses and David. It's amazing that Ms. Kirby could make such a glaring error in her assessment of Abrahamic faiths.
"There is no aspect of our lives, no matter how intimate, which religion does not unblushingly insist on its right to control. Whom we may love, whom we may desire, with whom we may physically express those feelings: in such restrictions on our freedom religion is at its most insistent and intrusive."
Ms. Kirby is ranting against the traditional stand on homosexuality of course, without bothering to mention that the very same religions also forbid bestiality, incest, and relationships with minors, which nobody has a problem with. Like a typical antitheist, she just broadbrushes.
"...the invisible Thought Police of religion do not scruple to pursue us even into the innermost recesses of our minds and there to stand ready to condemn us for our very thoughts. Not even the most heinous ruler or most brutal slave-owner ever achieved such extremes of tyranny; yet religion grants us no privacy, nowhere to hide, no freedom to entertain even a fleeting thought without its being immediately known to - and judged by - a cosmic dictator."
I guess Ms. Kirby has never had the privilege of living in an atheistic Communist regime, which is pretty darn close to what she described, with the additional possibility of being imprisoned or even killed for practicing religion.
She also doesn't understand that The Christian God isn't a dictator, but a judge. All evil and wrongdoing starts with a thought, and all of us would be judged for every thought were it not for our redemeption through Jesus Christ. Human law judges us and monitors our behavior in a similar fashion.
"And yet we are invited to credit religion as the source of true freedom? It is a laughable claim, a disgraceful claim, a claim that makes a mockery of language as well as of truth and of human dignity. As such it is on a par with other religious claims, such as those that define perfect forgiveness as something dependent on the barbaric sacrifice-by-crucifixion of an innocent man, perfect justice as consisting in the innocent being tortured to death so the guilty can be let off scot-free, and perfect love as something that would damn us to hell for all eternity if we refuse to accept such grotesque monstrosities as evidence of a perfect and loving god."
Yet liberal atheists like Ms. Kirby would also be the first to tell you that eternal punishment is too extreme, even for human monsters like Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin. She also doesn't get why the Crucifixion is perfect justice: because the Judge sacrificed a part of Himself to satisfy His requirements. No other sacrifice is needed or will ever be. Compare that to human sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs, where human hearts were cut out and eaten, or the terrorism of the Hindu Pantheon, neither of which Ms. Kirby feels is worthy of mention.
Ms. Kirby proceeds to lecture us on freedom, the supposed "antithesis" of religion:
"...True freedom involves the freedom to think, to explore, to grow; the freedom to pursue knowledge and learning, wherever they lead; the freedom to be different, not to conform; freedom from bigotry; freedom from ignorance; freedom to love and to express that love as we choose; freedom to be ourselves, to accept ourselves, warts and all, and to accept others on the same terms; freedom to choose our own meaning and purpose in life, and to make our own decisions on the basis of those free choices; freedom to make mistakes; freedom to change our mind; freedom from fear..."
Ms. Kirby, in case you didn't get the memo:
As a Christian, I DO have the right to pursue learning and knowledge. I am also encouraged to be different, because Christians are not to behave like their heathen counterparts, using foul language or trying to get away with whatever you can. We do NOT have total freedom to "express" love as we choose, as there are legal limits to certain types of expression, especially concerning minors. I am ecouraged to accept myself as I am, warts and all, becsue that is the way God made me, and I was made for a purpose. We also don't have total freedom to choose our meaning and purpose if that purpose entails harming others. But I DO have the freedom to change my mind, although that choice doesn't free me from suffering the consequences of those decisions. Freedom from fear? NOBODY has complete freedom from fear, unless they're a mental vegetable.
Ms. Kirby makes one final jab:
"There can be no true freedom so long as religion still keeps the human mind in shackles."
Ms. Kirby, you still have the freedom to be an unbeliever, now don't you? By the way, you atheists are no freer than I am, in any sense of the word.