While much of my attention to people’s stupidity has focused on the coronapocalypse, I couldn’t help but notice a story from Indonesia about Muslims performing exorcisms to “cure” people from the LGBT community. A recent story at Yahoo! News reports these exorcisms could become law:
Now, conservative Islamic lawmakers have tabled a so-called “Family Resilience” bill, which critics decry as sexist and anti-LGBT.
Gay and transgender people would be forced to undergo “rehabilitation” — an umbrella term likely to include exorcisms and other “conversion treatments” — to purge what bill advocates say is a sexual deviancy...
Although now a Muslim-majority nation, traditional tribal animist and shamanist beliefs have been incorporated into the cultural and religious identity across the Southeast Asian archipelago, which is home to more than 260 million.
Exorcisms have long been used for everything from tackling mental illness to clearing villages of alleged apparitions.
According to the article, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia except in the province of Aceh which maintains strict Islamic laws. For example, the province’s laws sanction public whippings for same-sex relations. If you think that’s scary, consider “one 2017 study suggesting more than 80 percent of Indonesians support the country adopting strict Islamic law.” Keep in mind that calamities such as the current pandemic sometimes led to religious fanatics attempting to manipulate people into adopting ultra-conservative policies.
Speaking of mental illness, consider this sad account from a woman who shared a terrifying tale:
Dinda says her mother, who is deeply religious, tricked her into visiting for a family reunion — but when the 34-year-old lesbian arrived, she found a Muslim cleric there who performed an exorcism against her will.
“My mom believed I was possessed by ghosts and that if I didn’t have an exorcism then the evil spirits would stay with me,” recalls Dinda, who asked that her real name not be used.
Her sexuality remains the same but she no longer trusts her mother. “I get shivers every time my mum calls me. And I see the exorcist in my dreams. It left me very scared,” she reveals.
This woman’s experience isn’t limited to people living in Indonesian areas dominated by nutjob religious extremists. I’ve seen and heard some bat-shit crazy things from Christians too. I recall one a minister saying gays are possessed by demons and “smell differently.” There are some people with off-the-wall ideas and while it’s not limited to the religious (just go on social media for your daily dose of the delusional), my experience is that in some cases, people with untreated mental illness gravitate towards religious extremism.
On the plus side, I’ve had a tremendously positive experience with Christianity. In my prison memoir Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Robbery): How an Attorney Survived Prison I discuss how I found guidance and a moral center, I was sorely lacking before my escapades robbing banks. It also helped me with an addiction problem.
Along the way, I’ve been able to filter out (at least I hope so) some of the man-made crap i.e. religion that poisons everything. Ultimately, people need to look at whatever sacred text they use in their beliefs and see how it squares with what religious figures say. My argument is that in too many cases, we have self-proclaimed religious figures twisting these texts for what can only be described as some fucked-up thinking.