Is there a bigger bunch of failures in human history than religious leaders? If it wasn’t for their legacy of promoting fear, ignorance, torture, oppression, murder, warfare, ignorance and suffering, they’d be hilarious. Their take on God as a megalomaniacal schizophrenic would be a comic’s gold mine if not for the evil they fostered. The idea that a human incapable of comprehending the workings of the mind of a dog, or even a frog for that matter, can speak authoritatively on the mind and the intentions of God, by definition the most complex and incomprehensible mind of them all, is funny as hell.

Not only that, they would have us believe that the only reason humans have to be good to one another is that God commands it, thus rendering our inborn human goodness a forced and artificial impulse, an optional kindness on our part instead of the grave duty that it is for our survival. Now that’s funny!

When the only reason to be good to people is because it’s a religious rule, then if other people follow a different religion, that rule becomes more of a loose guideline, if that. Then it’s only a short mental walk to burning them at the stake, conquering their land, stealing their stuff, ravaging their women and destroying their civilizations. These things are almost always done in the name of God.

Consider these contradictory teachings that only compel reasonable and moral people to leave God out of the equation when it comes to doing what’s right:

•God is an all-merciful, forgiving being who loves and cherishes each of us deeply. And if you don’t return his love, perform time-consuming, uncomfortable rituals and keep him on your mind at all times he will smite you with plagues and condemn you to a lake of hell fire for all eternity. Ouch. Sounds like a candidate for powerful medication.

•Here’s a Promised Land for you, my Chosen Ones, a land of milk and honey that will be yours forever. Oh, by the way, there’s people living there now. I’m going to need you to slay them down to the last man, woman and child, and their farm animals too, which you can then sacrifice to me in a very long, elaborate and wasteful ceremony. Then inhabit their cities and steal their farms. Be a dear and do that for me, willya, Chosen People? Those infidels are really starting to grate on my nerves.

•Jesus Christ was a Jew, often called rabbi by his disciples. He died a Jew, too, and Christianity is basically a reformation of Judaism. So, what better way to celebrate Jesus’ Jewishness than by centuries of oppression, murder, and exile of Jews by Christians! C’mon, Yids, it was all a joke! Get it?

•The word Islam means “peace.” A thorough examination of the Koran has so far failed to find the passage that says “Only kidding!” In the jihadists defense, however, there are no specific instructions from God not to strap explosives to your body and blow yourself up on a crowded school bus.

•The Hindu religion regards violence, even against one’s oppressors, as a demonic quality. They do, apparently, make liberal exceptions in the case of the minority Muslim population in India, whom they savage on a regular basis, and the Muslim nation of Pakistan, with whom Hindu Indian armies have fought several bloody wars and uncounted border skirmishes. Now that that pesky non-violent scold Gandhi is dead, all bets are off!

•After centuries of dispersal, inquisitions, pogroms, oppression and the Holocaust, Jews returned to Israel in 1948, once again having a place to hang their yarmulkes. But, just like the first time they showed up in the Holy Land, there were people already living there, a lot of non-Jews who had been there for many centuries. Well, no prob, Bob! We’ll just co-exist, the non-Jews existing in poverty behind barbed wire while we exist in your former houses and farms, and deny you citizenship in your homeland. Don’t make a tsimis! At least we’re not slaughtering you to the last man, woman and child like the good old days! And you even get to keep your farm animals for transportation! Nothing warms the heart like seeing a people emerging from 2,000 years of oppression becoming oppressors themselves in a single generation. Well done, God guys!

•Then there’s the real buffoons, the born-again Christian Fascists of the good old U.S. of A! Is there anyone they don’t hate in the name of a loving God? Is there any nation they don’t want to destroy in the name of the Prince of Peace? Is there any stronger reason to be grateful to our wise Founding Fathers for mandating a separation of church and state now that these former outcast loners and shopping mall-wandering Jesus freaks have somehow organized themselves and gotten into politics? When their leaders pray to an all-merciful and loving Christ and shed crocodile tears for the benefit of their numbskull followers, then demand that our government torture Muslims, deny civil rights to non-Christians and drop bombs on everybody, is there any better comedy theater out there? Black comedy, to be sure, but pretty funny if that’s your cup of tea. Coming soon to a theater near you: “Kill Your Way To Heaven!”

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