How good’s your moral compass? Mine’s all right. I think. The major standards of reference I have in life for whether or not I’m doing the right things include, but probably aren’t limited to: my father, one of my siblings, my late grandparents, and my ex-girlfriend’s mother – and not in like a look-up-to kind of way, but more an oh-my-god-you-are-so-very-batshit-insane-and-childlike-and-I-never-ever-ever-ever-want-to-be-like-you kind of way. Honestly, the latter had a pretty huge impact on me in a way I don’t think the rest did.
I’ve never properly entertained the idea of God. My mother went through a phase after almost dying of going to those new-life churches – y’know, the ones with the live bands, and the projector-Powerpoint services and where priests in gowns and white collars are replaced by chino-clad 50-somethings donning gingham shirts and their wives who talk way too much about that most amazing hiking holiday they took last year in Scotland, or something.
I went along to a couple. It didn’t do anything for me. But I remember the convictions of a few people there that seemed genuine. A faith in God that they believed guides them to do the right thing. And I suppose I can respect that, at a stretch. But when, years later, Prime Minister Theresa May says the same thing in an interview with a major weekly newspaper, I have to say, I’m rather alarmed.
When asked by the Sunday Times how she steeled herself for her job and the tough decisions she faces, Mrs May, the daughter of a Church of England vicar, said: “It’s about, ‘Are you doing the right thing?’ If you know you are doing the right thing, you have the confidence, the energy to go and deliver that message.”
She added: “I suppose there is something in terms of faith. I am a practising member of the Church of England and so forth, that lies behind what I do.”
And to be fair, Theresa, you’re not alone! Here are some other people who believe their faith leads them to act virtuously:
You definitely guessed it – first on the list is murderous death-cult Islamic State, whose members cite their faith as the inspiration to do things like: murder 130 people in a horrific attack in Paris; behead elderly priests performing Sunday Mass; shoot up a beach in Tunisia with an AK-47 – to name a few.
THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH
You probably forgot about this lot, as they don’t really pop up much in the media anymore. Old Fred’s long dead and Shirley’s getting on, but the god-fearing, sign waving, mouth-foaming, fanatical, maniacal, bonkers-astronomical Westboro Baptist Church believe their mission from God Almighty is to protest, demonise and abuse LGBTQ+ people, picket the funerals of soldiers and repeatedly inform everyone in the most impolite of manners that they’re going to burn in hell for eternity. I wonder if the God guiding them is the same one guiding Mrs May.
Sticking close to the theme of contempt for the LGBTQ+ community now and we come to US Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Mr Pence is a self-described “born-again, evangelical Catholic” who has stated he is, before any political belief, a Christian.
Mr Pence, who will leave his position as Governor of Indiana in January to become Donald Trump’s second-in-command, is an outspoken and enthusiastic advocate of something called “conversion therapy”.
For those of you who don’t know what conversion therapy is (but can probably guess that a) it’s awful, and b) it doesn’t work just by looking at the name), it’s a controversial practice that aims to turn a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. It’s banned in five states – California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont and New Jersey – and has a history of using methods such as electro-shock therapy, and porn exposure therapy.
But all that doesn’t matter to Mr Pence, who backs diverting taxpayer’s money to support it. Which I guess, in a shootout with public healthcare and cheaper university education, it obviously wins.
ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE CRUSADES
All right, I know they’re not around anymore, and it all happened a bit ago, but the most conservative of estimates claim at least one million people died in the Crusades. That’s a lot of people for which the moral guidance of god is to be held responsible. A lot.
Maybe not in a god as such, but seriously – need I say more?