religion & power

i have a good amount of downtime here at work. especially in the last stretch of the afternoon. i can usually get almost all my assigned tasks down a little bit after lunch. my supervisor is an awesomely lazy guy who knows that giving me more work is more work for him, so i’m given a lot of free reign.

most of the time, i just end up reading newspapers, my twitter feed, and facebook. usually, i end up getting caught up with what’s going on in american politics, especially now that we’re in the throes of pre-election attention-whoring by potential GOP candidates. michele bachmann and rick perry are my two favourite sources of entertainment, with an occasional dash of rick santorum (who just offered an incredible solution for affordable healthcare: lower your mobile bill — http://t.co/Zxyhuhh), and of course, for dessert, a sprinkle of obama’s painfully ineffectual term in office thusfar.

now that rick perry’s ridiculous ‘prayer rally’ is over with — which happened while a hundred thousand impoverished texans were lined up trying to get free school supplies, of which a vast majority got turned away because they got 5x more people than they expected (http://bit.ly/n40cjV) — i’m wondering if it’s just my cynicism, or do people actually genuinely believe that prayer can actually solve real problems in the real world?

i’ve never been a particularly religious guy. i was raised catholic, and did all the proper catholic things up until i was around 12 years old and decided i hated the smell of old people and being told i’m probably going to go to hell because everything that seemed fun also happened to make god want to smite you. my parents were surprisingly abiding about my journey toward religious independence (it probably had to do with the my dad’s buddhist influence wearing down my mom’s conservative catholic beliefs).

i remember distinctly praying from time to time for things that i really wanted. god was not so much some omniscient deity as a kind of parallel entity akin to santa claus for me. but i don’t remember at any point — even at that age — being entirely convinced that praying would ever work for anything, ever. mostly because god kept shutting me down every time i asked him for video games.

it’s hard for me to think that politicians like rick perry & michele bachmann (among others) believe prayer works as a force for change. my cynicism tells me it’s just a ploy driven by a populistic need to rally the evangelical right. the religious right in america has grown unbelievably powerful in the decade and a half since i’ve started paying attention to politics. it almost feels like the movement started off as an inside joke that has since spiraled out of control.

i understand that religion can be a very powerful force in one’s personal life, but when that religious beliefs starts fucking around with people’s lives, i can’t help but worry about what this might lead to. it seems like ‘prayer’ has become an actual, real, tangible policy choice by a growing number of politicians and their supporters. instead of actual healthcare reform, they suggest prayer. instead of poverty reduction, pray. instead of stopping famine, pray instead. and we all know what happens, from countless examples in history, when people in power think they have been put there by god…

i try to be tolerant and open-minded about religion, and i’m sorry it has come to this, but please do some actual work, and most importantly, fuck your prayers.

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