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God is not Great:
How Religion Poisons Everything

by Christopher Hitchens


2007 Christopher Hitchens

Hatchett Book Group


The relationship between physical health and mental health is now well understood to have a strong connection to the sexual function or dysfunction. Can it be a coincidence, then, that all religions claim the right to legislate in matters of sex? The principal way in which believers inflict on themselves, on each other, and on nonbelievers, has always been their claim to monopoly in this sphere. Most religions (with the exception of the few cults that actually permit or encourage it) do not have to bother much with enforcing the taboo on incest. Like murder and theft, this is usually found to be abhorrent to humans without any further explanation. But merely to survey the history of sexual dread and proscription, as codified by religion, is to be met with a very disturbing connection between extreme prurience and extreme repression. Almost every sexual impulse has been made the occasion of prohibition, guilt, and shame. Manual sex, oral sex, anal sex, non-missionary position sex: to name it is to discover a fearsome ban upon it. Even in modern and hedonistic America, several states legally define "sodomy" as that which is not directed at face-to-face heterosexual procreation.

This raises gigantic objections to the argument from "design," whether we choose to call that design "intelligent" or not. Clearly, the human species is designed to experiment with sex. No less clearly, this fact is well-known to the priesthoods. When Dr. Samuel Johnson had completed the first real dictionary of the English language, he was visited by a delegation of respectable old ladies who wished to congratulate him for not including any indecent words. His response—which was that he was interested to see that the ladies had been looking them up—contains amost all that needs to be said on this point. Orthodox Jews conduct congress by means of a hole in the sheet, and subject their women to ritual baths to cleanse the stain of menstruation. Muslims subject adulterers to public lashing with a whip. Christians used to lick their lips while examining women for signs of witchcraft. I need not go on in this vein: any reader of this book will know of a vivid example, or will simply guess at my meaning.


pages 53-54

For those of us who have been wondering about a certain absence, it seems that Yahweh has been working as a checker at a Foodland in Honolulu. This particular appelation of the deity was probably used because "I Am That I Am" would not fit on a name tag.

(My thanks to Honolulu resident and old friend Mark W.for this information. I wouldn't think of using Mr. W's full name. "Terrible swift sword" and all, not to mention overcharges. Yahweh. Paper or hellfire?

Will You Please Repeat That?


"When Majed Afana needs to pray while attending classes at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, the 19 year old Muslim usually will duck into the campus library's bathroom, strip off his shoes and awkwardly strain to wah his feet in the sink.

Water often pools at his feet, he says, making it slippery to balance on one foot. Some of the sinks have started to pull away from the wall, in part from years of use by others like him—who, according to their faith, must clean their feet before praying five times a day." Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2007.



Editor's Comment: Opus Dei types have been suffering for years for their faith—being inconvenienced by having to use public toilet stalls to practice their rituals when they're out and about and get the urge to punish themselves. Doing the thing with the scourge, that Discipline thing, beating themselves on the back—so very cramped in a restroom stall. Adjusting the Cilice, that thing they wear around their thigh to mortify their (nasty) flesh. Tightening those babies. Ever hear them complain? Suffering inconvenience for years. A bathroom stall! Jesus! A bathroom stall! Suffering!

Of course Opus Dei types like to suffer. Well, why don't Muslims like to suffer for their faith? Other religions like suffering. What the hell is wrong with Muslims?



. "November 20, 2006. Write a piece about it. Old homeless woman, seen in the neighborhood all the time. Changes sides of the street according to the seasons, movement of the sun in the sky, north, south, finds the shade. On the day George Weller—convicted of killing 10 people at a street market in Santa Monica, running them down...On the day he was sentenced I see this woman, in her seventies probably, pushing her cart on Ventura Boulevard. As I walked past her she looked up at me—she's stooped, but she looked up at me. "Kills ten people, gets probation," she said. "Yeah," I said. Her cart is full of newspapers. I see her reading all the time, sitting in the shade, on a bench or on the sidewalk, reading."


The Opus Dei Cilice. Think about getting this baby tangled up with a toilet paper dispenser in a public bathroom stall while attempting to adjust it. Talking about inconvenient!

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