'Might our religion be killing us?' That's what a Baptist minister was asking recently in an editorial in USA Today.
Rev. Oliver "Buzz" Thomas writes:
Be fruitful and multiply," says the book of Genesis, and Lord knows we have. To the tune of more than 300 million at home and more than 6 billion abroad. But as we go about the heavenly task of multiplying, a poignant question arises: Might our religion be killing us?Insert the deep dark foreboding music.
We all remember the Aztecs. Some say their religion, with its penchant for violence and human sacrifice, played a critical role in the destruction of their civilization. We moderns are far more sophisticated, of course, but if we persist with some of our religious practices, we could be heading down the same disastrous dog trot. Sort of a reverse Noah story. Noah is credited with saving humanity during the big flood. We could be the ones who get blamed for destroying it.Now " Reverend Buzz" doesn't understand that he just hit on the most truth he's going to find in this piece. By comparing America to the Aztecs who destroyed themselves with violence and human sacrifice he actually hit on the truth of America today. But he's after a different kind of truth, you know the kind that doesn't make any sense to anyone not named "Reverend Buzz."
He's frightened that Christians are having too many children.
Of course, much of our environmental problem is due to overpopulation. There are simply too many people for the planet to sustain — at least the way we expect to be sustained. Each new person requires more food, water and oxygen. At the same time, each is producing more carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane (the big culprits of global warming). For each additional human, planet Earth (and the rest of us) pays a price.Your baby is just a methane producing machine! Stop them now!
Here's the part where goes anti-Catholic. You knew it was coming, didn't you?
Now, consider the Roman Catholic Church's continued opposition to modern birth control or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (i.e. Mormons) encouragement of large families. This might not alarm you unless you realize that nearly one in every five humans on the planet is Roman Catholic and that the Latter-day Saints belong to one of the fastest-growing religions in the Western Hemisphere. Many Orthodox Jews and some Muslims also eschew birth control.Additional divine revelation...from someone named Buzz, maybe? So much for sola scriptura.
In the interest of preserving our planet and our species, shouldn't religious organizations be encouraging smaller families? Do our spiritual leaders need additional divine revelation to realize that our current doctrines — which threaten to take the entire world down with us — have become ethically and theologically questionable?
Population growth hits hardest in the poorest nations, and as poverty increases, public health declines. I am quite certain that God is not the author of human misery, but by preaching against birth control at the same time we are preaching against abortion, it seems that we're making God out as cruel, a buffoon, or both.Oh come on. You knew it was coming. First it was global warming, then it was poverty. You knew women being ordained was next right? What? It follows.
I recognize that religious organizations tend to be conservative institutions. Their continued resistance to equal rights for women and gays is a good example. A woman may be president of Harvard or speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, but in the largest religious organization on the planet, women still can't get ordained as parish priests. It's even worse for gays and lesbians.
How should people of faith respond to this gathering environmental storm?Is he out of his mind. Doesn't he read? The reproduction rates of mainly Christian nations in Europe are currently sub-replacement levels. The United States hovers just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation.
First, we must stop having so many children. Clergy should consider voicing the difficult truth that having more than two children during such a time is selfish. Dare we say sinful? The average American might not listen to his elected representatives, but he darn sure listens to his pastor. Every week. This will be a hard message for pastors to preach and parishioners to hear, but without it we court disaster.
In addition, Americans should be having important policy debates as we anticipate a hotter, more hostile natural environment. Instead of providing tax breaks for having more children, shouldn't Congress be providing incentives for having fewer?
Now with that information, does Rev. Buzz still want us to have less babies. Muslim countries by the way are having about six babies per couple. Christianity needs a baby boom.
Now you're gonna' love his conclusion.
When Aztec society was threatened by disease and military defeat, their religious leaders appear to have let them down. Most likely, these leaders encouraged even more human sacrifice to appease the gods, thereby further weakening the society and ultimately facilitating its collapse.Well, if he's making a list I can point to at least one religious leader who's letting people down.
Let's hope we can learn from their mistakes.