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Another way religion harms children

May 18, 2011

The New York Times reported today on the dangers of mercury poisoning when followers of Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion, sprinkle mercury on the floors in a home purification ritual.

Purifying the home with mercury, a substance that damages the lungs, kidneys, and brain. Makes perfect sense.

Apparently the mercury capsules, called azoque, can be found in Hispanic markets across the U.S. and are frequently purchased by migrant workers in Texas, California, and Florida.

According the NYT article, within months of one family moving into their house, “the family’s 3-year-old daughter began getting blisters on her hands. Soon, the toddler’s skin began to peel off, and her mother rushed her to the hospital.”

Good thing this particular mother took her daughter to the hospital rather than try faith healing.

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5 Comments
  1. Jonathan permalink

    While a number of criticisms can be laid at the feet of some religious belief (because, after all, an infinite number of beliefs could be held, justifying to the holder an infinite number of choices), don’t overlook how easily many non-believers have justified absolutely reprehensible behavior. Adolf Hitler, in spite of his political usage of religious terminology to sway his people, is an obvious example of a non-believing man of few morals. Even more obvious would be Josef Stalin who actually imprisoned religous clergy for nothing more than being religious, and stamped out much of Russia’s cultural heritage to enforce an atheistic society. His morality is just as limited. And many atheists have committed iditotic or heinous acts with motives just as unacceptable as those religious zealots. People are people, and the sad truth is if the whole world left religion behind, it would still be a sick place.

  2. NoriMori permalink

    Jonathan, Hitler was, by his actions and his words, aggressively Christian, and nowhere in your post do you give evidence that he wasn’t. In fact one could argue that he was more Christian than you are, seeing as the Bible explicitly advocates violence and genocide in the name of God.

    You can ignore how religion, and religion ALONE, harms people everyday, that doesn’t make religion less harmful.

    Yes, non-believers commit heinous acts. Yes, non-believers believe ridiculous things, too. The fact is, idiotic and heinous acts are committed when people believe things that aren’t true. Whether it’s that vaccinations cause autism, that some ethnic groups are better than others, that mercury is purifying, or that it’s okay to molest children, it’s false beliefs that ultimately give way to harmful actions. But guess what? There is no better breeding ground for false beliefs than religion. QED.

    • NoriMori permalink

      Just to clarify, when I said “religion, and religion ALONE, harms people everyday”, I did not mean that religion is the only thing in the world that harms people. I meant that there are cases where religion alone — not psychopathy, not politics, not economy, not social climate — is the root cause of harm.

  3. Jonathan permalink

    While I admit that my source is largely Wikipedia, that infinite fountain of all knowledge, it seems to me that Hitler used religion as a tool for manipulation. According to the article, he ultimately intended to wipe out Christianity, and if he held any object in true reverence, it was the Third Reich. Though you may not trust Wikipedia, feel free to check the sources.

    Stalin and the Soviet Union, by virtue of their theological affinity for atheism and ATHEISM ALONE (in the same sense that you intended) persecuted and murdered people of faith. Could discuss Mao as well, but you get the point.

    Do non-religious people cause harm every day? Yes they do. Has a belief that their is not God justified immoral behavior? Yes it has, on a daily basis, from the simple humiliation of someone who believes to the outright murder of a believer.

  4. Al Anon permalink

    Does atheism contribute to heinous acts? Let’s see what a serial killer had to say in relation to this…

    ‘If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…’

    Jeffrey Dahmer, in an interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, Nov. 29, 1994.

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