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God called to help Detroit, likely to decline

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on December 10, 2008


I’m sure you have seen the silly pictures: yesterday’s New York Times ran an article entitled “Detroit churches pray for God’s bailout,” accompanied by a photo of a prayer meeting at Greater Grace Temple, a Pentecostal Church, where worshipers surrounded three SUVs (one for each of the big three automakers, though the SUVs at least were hybrids…). What a waste of human energy and potential, and what a bucket of hypocrisy. These are hard times for many families in the United States and across the world, and my heart sinks when I see once again how superstition is the common resort of people who feel so little control over their own lives.

Cardinal Adam Maida, a Roman Catholic archbishop in Detroit, wrote that “At this darkest time of the year, we proclaim that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope.” Well, yes, the days are indeed getting shorter until December 21, so this literally is the darkest time of the year, though I doubt that’s what the good cardinal was referring to (he would do well to remember that axial tilt is the reason for the season…). Ever ready to exploit tragedy, a church outside Corpus Christi (which is nowhere near Detroit) invited people to go inside and hear about “God’s bailout plan.” Hmm, do we get to fire him and withdraw his bonus if the plan fails? At the very least God should give up his private jet and start driving a hybrid.

Pentecostal Bishop Charles H. Ellis III was quoted in the Times as saying “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we need prayer.” We do? Why? What we need is a sensible government intervention (as opposed to a free handout) to save the backbone of America’s manufacturing infrastructure. What we need is to fire the CEOs of the big three and to ask both the companies and their unions for significant restructuring and concessions respectively. What we don’t need is to bamboozle people by anointing SUVs with “consecrated oil” on an altar.

“We have done all that we can do in this union, so I turn it over to the Lord,” said a U.A.W. vice president for Chrysler. Are you sure, mister? Or is this an easy way to discharge your own responsibilities as a union leader? A Dana Corporation worker refrained “We’ve got to keep the faith … All my hope is in God.” Except that unfortunately there is hardly a worse place to put his trust.

But Massimo, why do you want to take hope away from these people? Aren’t they desperate enough already? Because hope based on illusion is cruel, and it is a chief instrument of oppression and exploitation (at the cost of sounding quasi-Marxist here). These people’s energy and dreams are being channeled into the socially harmless (and absolutely useless) form of religious fervor, while what they should do instead is to strike against the automakers and march on Washington to demand rationally based action from the bands of thieves and morons who have respectively been running America’s corporations and government. But I guess that would truly be too much too hope for. Thank God I’m an atheist.



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