“Don’t generalize; we’re not all like that!”
This might be the biggest copout line ever used, right up there with, “It’s not my fault”, and, “It’s not my job”.
It is used by well meaning Christians and Muslims everywhere (yes, everywhere).
When someone says, “Reindeers have horns”, it is not a generalization; it is a fact. Sure, there are exceptions, but if someone were looking for reindeer horns for, I don’t know… reindeer horn soup, they would not be silly or naïve to go looking in a herd of reindeer. And to say that reindeer are generally brown in colour would not be spiciest or derogatory – again, it would simply be a statement of fact. The white reindeers without horns would not define the group; instead they would give cause to consider whether these exceptions are reindeer at all.
When I speak out against the Catholic Church and their many atrocities against mankind I usually get an onslaught of angry individuals who boldly state that I have no right to paint all Catholics, or all Christians with the same brush. Instead of considering the claims against the church, they separate themselves from those claims and pretend that they are entirely innocent of anything they were not directly involved in. Ironically, these same people have no problem feeling proud or taking glory for some distant feeding or philanthropical programme the church is running that they also have no direct involvement with. They claim that their tithes and offerings support the feeding programme, but deny that those same coins support all the evil propagated by the church. These people say things like, “Not all Catholics are bad”, or, “Not all Catholics abuse children”. What do these statements have to do with the moral state of the church? Nothing. Do these statements absolve individual Catholics of their part in the whole thing? Not at all.
Let me break down the fallacy of this type of logic (I have no misconceptions about the uneasy relationship faith has with logic) with a parallel.
Most people agree that the Nazi party was a corrupt, even “evil” institution that did great wrong in the world. Most people also agree that not all Nazi’s were evil. Most Nazi’s were probably just following orders out of fear or some misguided ideology. Did those who were innocent justify the existence of the whole organization? Absolutely not. Most people agree that the Nazi party was too evil to continue existing and had to be shut down. It makes no difference how many “good” Nazi’s there were, the whole thing had to come to end for the good and safety of all mankind. The “good” Nazi’s were the support base of the whole evil organization. Their “good” money was used for evil purposes. Their “good” support politically and numerically gave power to an evil structure. Every one of those “good” Nazi’s is responsible for their own actions and how those actions contributed to one of the darkest times of human history. Many “good” Nazi’s went to church and prayed and claimed to love God, but none of that is a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.
This is true of every sinister group and organisation you can think of from the Mafia, to suicide cults, to… yes, many religious groups! Just because individuals claim to be unknowing, or naïve, or “good” does not take away from what their organisations are doing in the world.
You may be thinking that it is my own logic that is faulty – that if we applied this principle to Atheists, then Atheism is responsible for the atrocities of Stalin or Mao, but this too is flawed. If Atheists all over the world supported these individuals [in the name of Atheism] then I would agree and would certainly NOT continue to consider myself an Atheist; neither would I support Atheism financially or otherwise. But these men did what they did in their own names, or in the name of some broken ideology (forms of communism). Maybe they didn’t believe in God, but that was not their motive or their goal. To say that Mao and Stalin were Atheists is to say they were males, or chess players; all of which may be true but none of which has anything to do with the evil of their organisations. No “good” person could support these organisations with a clear conscience in full knowledge of what was being done by them; and all should agree that they needed to be resisted and ultimately closed down for the good and safety of all humans.
If I was an employee of a large company, and held a good position there, and I discovered that this company financially supported the blood diamond industry in Liberia, or that they were supplying weapons to pirates in Somalia, could I in good conscience continue working for that company? Would I not resign rather than have blood on my hands? Or would I claim ignorance and plead innocence based on the fact that I’m a hard working employee that pays his taxes and goes to church – and furthermore, take offence at the accusations and fight to keep the company open. Maybe, at the very least I would attempt to expose the corruption to see the company continue without those that made the evil decisions. Would it matter that the company also gave a percentage of its earnings to charity? Whichever way you look at it, you could not merrily go to work every day and sleep well at night.
So why is it that the Catholic Church, or Islam, or Protestant churches that do sinister things in the name of Jesus and Christianity, continue to thrive and find support despite all the evil they do? These organisations have the full and knowing support of millions of “good” people. Millions of people turn their eyes from the sins of their churches and selectively dissociate themselves with the dark deeds of their organisations. “Innocent” Catholics, humble family folk, support with weekly attendance, submission and finances the great evils of their church, and take great offence when these dark matters are brought to light. The Pope (their Pope) supports these crimes either directly, or by willingly covering up the actions of his clergy. The WHOLE WORLD knows what the Catholic Church has been up to and STILL people don’t cry out to have the whole thing shut down??
Today in Africa millions of people have contracted AIDS, a death sentence, because the Catholic Church insists that contraception is evil, and “good” Catholics everywhere believe them. This is not the act of one insane Mao, or Stalin, this is the decree of a church that has the support of millions of deceived sheep; all in the name of Jehovah God, the Pope and the Bible.
Thousands of paedophile priests who ought to be in European prisons doing useful community service have simply been relocated to Africa where they have even easier access to all the small boys and girls they could dream of; swept under the rug in the name of the church.
Muslim females today in many Middle East countries are subjected to brutality and inequality comparable to the worst medieval conditions you can imagine; all in the name of Allah, Mohammed and the Kuran.
Lower middle class Protestants in English colonies all over the world are manipulated to give 10% and more of their hard earned cash to Pastors and Reverends and Bishops who drive BMWs and have every need taken care of, while the givers would do better to take care of their personal debt; all in the name of Jesus, scripture and promises of personal financial return.
So, telling me that, “not all Christians are bad”, is completely irrelevant. I have no desire to bring down good Christians or good Muslims, nor do I care how many soup kitchens and feeding programmes you are personally involved in. Feel free to keep feeding the world – we surely need it. What I want to see is the dismantling of religious organisations involved in corrupt, sinister, harmful and evil actions in the world. If that means your particular corrupt organisation needs to be dissolved, it’s really not the end of the world, join something friendlier and less harmful, like the local gaming club
Of course you could always become a Humanist and put your energies and finances to better use without all the holy middlemen.