The Halo Halo! Column from the January 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
There’s nothing the devout Christian likes more than a righteous feeling of guilt and sin. Fortunately Christianity gives its punters plenty to feel guilty and sinful about.
And although their god, like most others, is all-seeing and nothing escapes his attention, guilt-ridden Christians happily torment themselves with their sinfulness to their heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that although the invisible man in the sky is fully aware of every guilty secret, every bit of illicit pleasure and every sin committed, he will forgive them.
To regularly remind him, though, that their sins are to be forgiven, they occasionally need to demonstrate their repentance and remorse. Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, for example, is traditionally spent miserably fasting and reflecting on these sins. And the New Year offers a wonderful opportunity for further repentance and misery by the drawing up of lists of New Year’s resolutions to torture themselves with.
And this year, for any Christians sanctimoniously agonizing over what New Year’s resolutions impose on themselves, the Halo-Halo column is here to help. Forget about giving up fags and booze, it’s not very original and you’re not going to stick to it anyway. Here’s something you can really feel guilty about. How about giving up your religious delusions? It seems you have more to be ashamed of than you thought.
A recent study by the University of Chicago indicates that children from religious families are less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families. A religious upbringing is also associated with more punitive tendencies in response to anti-social behavior.
The results ‘challenge the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior, and call into question whether religion is vital for moral development – suggesting the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness, in fact it does just the opposite’ said Prof Jean Decety (Science Daily, November 2015).
And a previous, but similar study by Royal Holloway, University of London found that ‘When subconsciously exposed to religious ideas and concepts, religious people are far more likely to actively punish those they believe are acting selfishly and unfairly’ (Science Daily, November 2010).
It’s a funny old world. As any socialist who has ever tried to reason with a Christian knows, if you try to describe a future society without poverty, hunger homelessness etc. and call it socialism, the Christian will call you a dangerous communist. Ask them to describe heaven and, if they can give an answer at all, they’ll describe pretty much the same thing. (Except with harp-playing angels and temples with pillars of gold).
The Christian, it seems, (in spite of his self-declared sinfulness) expects to go to heaven and be forgiven, but at the same time, reserves the right to be selfish, and to punish those of us who argue for a world without poverty here on Earth.