5 of the Worst 'Religious' Organizations
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This story first appeared on the Buffalo Beast.
A common response to criticisms of religion is that its adherents can sometimes do good things, even if it’s for irrational reasons. That’s fair enough, but at the same time it’s useful to remember that while some good can be mixed in with the bad, sometimes religions create institutions of pure evil. Here are a few of them:
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
You thought Mormons were sheltered human barnacles desperately clinging to a nostalgic vision of the past which never actually happened? Well, they are, but that’s nothing compared to their even-more-inbred fundamentalist counterparts in the FLDS.
If you’ve ever asked a Mormon about polygamy, you’ve probably heard that the mainstream church discontinued the practice in the early 20th century, following a manifesto by then-Church President and “prophet” Wilford Woodruff. The manifesto is now considered to be prophecy -- the word of God translated by the Dear Leader of the Church himself.
Warren Jeffs was the President / Prophet of the FLDS Church, but since 2007 he’s been busy tending to the matter of his 10 years to life sentence for being an accomplice to rape. Church leaders currently won’t tell who is the President, probably because that would be a pretty strong indication of who’s been filling the role of dungeon master / “marriage” arranger since Warren Jeffs has been in prison.
And most recently, this past week a former FLDS member testified in court that waterboarding infants to get them to stop crying is “quite common” amongst the community. They call it “breaking in,” which I thought was a term usually applied to boots and horses. Look, I hate babies as much as the next guy, but you can’t torture them. You just can’t. No. STOP IT. But that’s their “family values,” you know.
Sri Ram Sene
Sri Ram Sene translates to “Army of the Lord Ram.” They’re a right-wing Hindu nationalist group in India which was founded by a politician named Bal Thackeray. In the late 1960s, Thackeray started a “Maharashtra is for Maharashtrians” campaign against non-Hindus migrating to Mumbai. And in 2002, he infamously called for Hindu suicide squads to fight those darned Muslims. See, America’s not the only place where right-wing whackjobs get off on hating Muslims. Here’s a nice quote from him in the Asia Times:
“Trouble-making Muslims should be wiped out from the country … kick out the four crore [40 million] Bangladeshi Muslims and then the country will be secure,” the Shiv Sena leader said. Urging Hindus to start calling India “Hindu rashtra” (Hindu nation), he maintained that only “our religion [Hinduism] is to be honored here” and then “we will look after other religions.”
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, so far Thackeray has failed to take his own advice and start up his own suicide squad.
In August of 2008, Sri Ram Sene sent some vandals to smash up an art exhibit by controversial artist Maqbool Fida Husain. They didn’t like his artwork because it depicted Bharathmata nekkid and depicted other Hindu gods in a way they considered derogatory. So apparently the only thing they could think to do in response was to smash up his art, leaving notes explaining why they did it on the off chance that somebody missed the point. Even Bill Donahue has the decency to limit his anti-art fuckwittery to press releases.
In October of 2008, Sri Ram Sens activists attacked the offices of the democratic socialist Samajwadi Party. Someone at the SP had insulted a police chief the Sena liked, so they ransacked their central offices, damaging cars, furniture, and “hoardings,” according to the Sena’s own national general secretary Binay Kumar Singh.