By Al Stefanelli
Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, George Bush and many other well-known politicians who are also members of the religious right are often branded as “stupid.” This is largely due to their irrational beliefs such as God watching over us, Jesus answering prayers, the earth having been created in six days approximately six thousand years ago and a plethora of other supernatural silliness. However, most of these people are not stupid, per se. They are willfully ignorant, and unlike those of us who have managed to escape the shackles of religious belief, these people continue their progressively fundamental indoctrination as it slowly erodes their sense of what is real until their delusion results in the dismissal of some very important facts in favor of fantasy.
The proliferation and public acceptance of willful ignorance is evident when we realize there are millions of history revisionists and creationists among us, many of who hold graduate and post-graduate degrees and occupy high-ranking positions in academia and the political arena. As Atheists, many of us are inundated with a flurry of irrational and illogical statements made by our current crop of celebrity fundamental Christian politicians and educators. We are also aware that there are literally millions of lesser known but equally educated people (and voters) who also believe in creationism and that the United States is a Christian Nation founded on Biblical principles. This is in spite of the existence of historical documents in our national archives that attest to the secularism of our Constitution and founding principles, as well as the veritable cornucopia of facts that make up evolutionary theory.
Likewise, even though there are hundreds of religions in the world, many of which both mimic and pre-date Christianity, believers remain convinced that Christianity is unique among world religions because their savior was born of a virgin, was crucified, arose in three days and that Christianity is the only true “religion” in world, extant since the beginning of time by virtue of another preposterous fairy tale known as “the Trinity.” They are, effectively, trying to “dumb-down” the United States.
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They hold these irrational and illogical beliefs because they have been indoctrinated through various evangelical formulae. These beliefs subsequently become the foundation for their worldviews, which allow them to exist simultaneously in both a fantasy world and reality. Consequently, we have willfully ignorant school teachers who refuse to teach evolution, willfully ignorant businesses professionals that regularly intrude on the private lives of their employees by forcing as a condition of employment to sign documents that regulate their behavior outside of the workplace, willfully ignorant politicians who organize prayer rallies and regularly ask their constituents to pray for rain, and willfully ignorant legislators who spend the majority of their career trying to enact laws that interfere with everything from what goes into textbooks, what a woman can and cannot do with her body and the official government recognition of sectarian beliefs and monuments.
However, basing one’s concept of reality on fantasy and fairy tales is an unstable existence, requiring “work-arounds” that baffle the mind. The mental gymnastics that it takes to reconcile religious beliefs with the facts of life are often unreachable, and much like the bad apple that spoils the bushel, it is the fantasy world that usually corrupts reality and results in the mental destruction of the human mind.
Thus, the birth of “superfundies.” The activities of these few, spurred on and supported by the less educated but more abundant indoctrinated masses are what generates all the lawsuits that are filed to challenge the abrogation of the civil rights of those who lack a belief in God and find the morality associated with religious belief to be immoral and reprehensible.
Ultimately, it is the mind that defines our species. The ability to discern fact from fiction is what advances our society. Religious indoctrination of our educators, legislators and political leaders only serve to dilute our collective evolution as a species, stymie our collective intellectual growth and come at a great cost to our mental and physical of existence, especially in the realm of education and politics.