Monday, 29 September 2008

I'll Pray For You

I've noticed many times when talking with theists online that eventually I'll see the line "I'll pray for you" and they'll be gone, well most of the time anyway. Some seem to come back for another round, possibly checking to see if their prayers actually worked. Of course, if they are praying to an omnipotent deity in order to change my behaviour, they don't need to tell me they are praying for me. In fact it would probably be better for them if they didn't tell me they were praying for me and instead just used it as a marker of falsification. So why mention it at all? Because it's not for me to acknowledge your grand gesture, it's to condemn me by using a passive-aggressive invocation to a moral authority.

Yes, it's all a big farce; implicit condemnation masquerading as a positive gesture. It's a means of ascertaining the moral high ground, to allow one to act with moral superiority. Judgementalists For Jesus™ we can call them, ones who will leave God as the eternal judge but secretly wish they had the gig. Maybe they are putting together a resume now for the afterlife, trying to show God just how Judgemental and cruel they can be while trying to appear loving and concerned. It seems to be the Christian way. Of course it could be worse, at least we aren't expecting some kind of Spanish Inquisition. Now it seems guilt is the chief weapon. Guilt, persecution complex... No wait, that's two weapons. The two chief weapons are guilt, persecution complex, a delusion that religious moral code is still relevant. Three, three chief weapons. Fuck it, let's start over.

I can see why the religious cling to it as their weapon of choice, but it makes no difference to an atheist. It's basically an appeal to the authority of God, that scary dude in the sky who will torture you for all eternity if you piss him off. Having that up your sleeve as a weapon of condemnation can only be effective against those who believe in such rot. Instead to those immune from God's judgement, this exposes a defensive frailty in the caster of the incantation. It exposes their fear of judgement; that their behavioural code is not based on the kindness of their nature, instead it's the fear of punishment that is the force behind their sense of right and wrong. These aren't good people, they are petty, weak people who need God to fight their battles for them. Instead of being able to make any decisions of their own, they leave it up to an invisible force (or more accurately a holy book, or even more accurately what other people tell them the holy book means) in order to guide their sense of right and wrong.

So what does it matter to me? On a personal level, it doesn't. If people want to pray for me, to light candles, use a voodoo doll, or even sacrifice a goat (though I'd prefer no animal cruelty), that's their choice. None of it is going to affect me one bit. If they want to use it as a passive-aggressive means of ascertaining the moral high ground in a discussion, then I have a problem with the expression. Those four words coming from a close relative who only wants your safety is sweet, from a complete stranger on a semi-anonymous medium is underhanded. If any of you genuinely believe that casting an incantation will rouse an omnipotent sky-daddy to come and change my ways, you are more than welcome to try. Just don't tell me about it please, I don't want you to rub your insecurities onto me.

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