i know i post a lot of criticism about religion. i understand that it may seem sensationalist, obsessive, and unnecessarily profuse.
i’ve heard plenty of people ask, “why does it matter? let them believe what they want, it doesn’t hurt you.” i’ve even heard people broadly try to argue that it doesn’t “affect” me.
to briefly diffuse this assertion: i’ve been back and forth about my father’s death- more aptly, his choice to die. after four weeks of being diagnosed, he was suffering through cancer, and found solace in the idea that he will live on after death. his chemotherapy doctor came up with an aggressive regiment of drugs that had the best possibility of reducing the cancer, mind you, pancreatic cancer has an extremely low survival rate. my father had done his research and found out that his chemo regiment (folfirinox) would reduce his red blood cells to the point that he’d need a blood transfusion, which was deemed unacceptable by his religion. he refused the treatment because he would refuse the transfusion. the doctor, having obligations to accept religious-based decisions, made it as clear as he could without being overtly damning that this was a poor decision, but that he respected it. he even went so far as to say that he respected some religious people based on the idea that they would die for their beliefs.
my father made his choice, stopped treatment prematurely, and fell asleep until he died. i watched him say his goodbyes to his children, and we personally had that “last” conversation four times. he wasn’t sure that we’d ever “find” each other again, referencing my atheism. he wondered if he’d be looking for me forever, or i, him. he meant it. it negatively affected me. he was trying to live in this moment, but didn’t believe that this moment was really what it was- the last time we’d see each other. this moment was all i had left.
religions sell a product, and that product is eternal salvation, and etc. terms. they don’t pay taxes for their sales, and their product never sells out. they use the profits to recruit more customers, and one form this process takes is lobbying in government. they broadly influence laws that affect entire populations of people who aren’t customers, and in fact are devoted to natural ways of life that inherently contradict the religion’s opinion of life. it negatively affects these people. they aren’t saying “if you don’t buy our product, we’ll go out of business.” they’re saying “if you don’t buy our product, you will suffer for an infinite amount of time.”
what we have is a financial force akin to, and many times larger than, any corporation with a product and strong will to sell this product.
in any other context, this is broadly considered dangerous or unethical by the public, or anyone who isn’t a supporter of the company, corporation, etc., and that’s how we can make it easier to see why religion affects people in a noticeable way. not everyone supports this entity, and their influence spreads to not just the superficial aspects of our lives, but the most intimate and existential aspects. this creates a sense of infallibility. this creates the idea that going against their beliefs, their orthodoxies, the way they believe all of life should be lived, has dire consequences- but not at just one point in time- for ever, for eternity. this is a concept that we, as human beings, cannot fully grasp. and, history has shown, grasping unfathomable concepts can create fear, which induces a compromising of beliefs, and that’s one of the most powerful things that religion has harnessed.
this is a photo i made of my father on april 9th 2013, a week before he died. i don’t normally take photos of people, or life events, but i felt it was important to document this.