Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Indigestion Tracts

So, someone near my workplace is in the habit of stapling religious tracts to things. Telephone poles, trees... slow moving people... They're all in approximately the same style - two folds, about greeting card size; they're all printed by a company in Edmonton. The front often asks a question, or presents a statement, with a picture meant to be vaguely disquieting, whether through despair, uncertainty, or fear. The back invariably features a prayer by which the reader can use to "come to God":
Dear Heavenly Father. I come to You, confessing that I have sinned and broken Your laws. I am sorry for my sin, and believe that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for me and my sins and rose again from the dead that I too might have eternal life.

Please forgive me. I invite You into my life, and give Jesus Christ the right to take control of my life. Please help me to be what You want me to be.. I thank you for saving me and accepting me and I pray this in Jesus' name

Emphasis mine, because it's horrifying. No self-actualization, no personal responsibility. Anyone fervently reading this incantation honestly believes that the have transgressed against the selfish rules of an invisible voyeur, and in penance wants to hand over control of their life. This is sick.

Worse, the tracts themselves give short shrift to good works, kindness, pride in one's accomplishments, or personal motivation; those don't keep the donations rolling in, after all! Instead, faith alone is necessary and sufficient to keep you out of hell.

The bible is the only source for the statements presented as fact, but that's nothing new. These are, however, not publications intended to lift the heart or illuminate the mind. Instead, they are meant to frighten or confuse a credulous individual into swearing fealty to a virulent ideology. They are meant to inspire guilt, fear, or horror. They are an excellent example of the tactics (and morals) of faith.

On the other hand, gathering them up and putting them where they belong, that they might be reborn as something useful like toilet paper, is kind of like a scavenger hunt, so at least that much enjoyment can be derived from them.