I recently created an App that allows one to engage and debate Bible Punchers rather than dismiss them. The App was rejected by Apple on the grounds that it may cause offence.
Apple were not alone in their rejection of this App. I was surprised to find that many non-theist acquaintances maintain that while Bible Punchers may be misguided, they are harmless, and should be left untroubled as they go about their business. While most would agree that BPs are misguided the assertion that Bible Punchers are harmless is troubling. One could elaborate at length on the harms associated with religious fundamentalism. I will mention only a few such harms.
They retard advances in science and medicine. Fundamentalists refuse to have their children taught the wonders of evolution because it does not accord with the scriptures.
They are united in opposing stem cell research. The dissemination of the belief that condoms have holes and therefore do not protect against the HIV virus has placed naïve followers at risk of contracting AIDS.
Fundamentalists would refuse others the right to die with dignity preferring them to endure the pain and suffering that goes with many terminal diseases.
They peddle dangerous practices. Many sects, such as Christian Scientists, and Pentacostalists teach their followers to refuse the benefits of modern medicine relying instead on faith healing. When faith healing is not successful the blame belongs to the afflicted individual on the basis that they lack faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that it is preferable to die rather than accept a blood transfusion.
They may engage in dangerous practices that can lead to death or disfiguration such as the handling of venomous snakes or the ingestion of poison. The sect of Serpent Handlers has lost more than a few members due to these scripturally inspired practices.
They bring up children in closed communities. The adults and children in these communities may be deprived of contact with the outside world. They miss out on common pleasures such as meeting others, being exposed to different views, choosing their own dress, reading books of their own choosing, music, dancing, TV.
Believers are frequently requested to part with significant amounts of money. Some are encouraged to pay as much as a tenth of their income even if this places a significant burden on their finances. Believers may feel that the donation of monies to their sect/God excuses their bad behaviour.
Believers are taught to take comfort in the knowledge that criminal or anti-social behaviour can be addressed by fasting, accepting Jesus, repenting or confessing. Does this send a good message?
Females are oppressed. Women are told to obey their menfolk. Fundamentalists oppose women’s rights with respect to terminating their own pregnancies. Many fundamentalist sects oppose contraception.
Sexual abuse of followers, in particulars, minors, has been an issue not confined to the Catholic Church.
Fundamentalists are intolerant. They believe that homosexuality is simply a bad choice of behaviour. Fundamentalists adhere to the notion that only their beliefs are correct and all others are wrong. It is standard for each fundamentalist group to insist that only followers of their particular belief system will enter heaven.
Religious fundamentalists have a long history of endorsing slavery based on scriptural passages. A recent example is the support given by certain religious sects to the repression of the black population in South Africa.
The notion that a better world awaits us can result in believers thinking that there is no point in striving to improve themselves or conditions in the present world. Why care about the many troubles that beset us when we need but wait a very short time in the present world and then gain eternal bliss?
In short, while Religious Fundamentalists are indeed misguided they are, in my view, not harmless and should be challenged whenever possible. The App Punchback:The Atheist’s Ally, is available for Android devices. Should you own such a device you can download the App by googling Punchback:The Atheist’s Ally . You will then have at your fingertips the means to engage, debate, and enlighten religious fundamentalists.