Religion Makes You Stupid, Part N

The Washington Post has an of a type that’s all too common. It involves the Holy Sepulcher church in Jerusalem.

For those who don’t know the background, Holy Sepulcher is a church in Jerusalem that’s controlled by an alliance of six religious sects. And when I say “alliance”, I mean warring factions and an uneasy mix of all wanting to be at the same place, but hating each other’s guts. So over the centuries they’ve mapped out the church down to the inch to determine who controls which parts.

A ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century, for example, has remained there ever since because of a disagreement over who has the authority to take it down.

So you know it’s going to be stupid. Epic stupid. An Iliad of stupid and an Odyssey of petty.

They won’t put in a fire exit.

Because everybody wants a fire exit (the church can hold thousands, but only has one door), but nobody wants to give up any space to put in the door.

The most likely location for an exit would require the agreement of the Greek Orthodox, Copts and Ethiopians. But wherever a new exit is located, one of the churches would have to cede part of the sacred space under its control. “I don’t know where they’re going to do it,” said Father Samuel Aghoyan, the senior Armenian priest at the church.

Adding a layer of political complexity, some of the space directly outside other potential exit points in the church walls is controlled by an Islamic religious body known as the Waqf, which does not recognize Israel’s control in Jerusalem and is therefore unlikely to cooperate.

This is what religion does to people: it divides them into in-group and out-group. Saved and unsaved, sheep and goats, faithful and infidel, us and them (just ask a Muslim in Israel, a Jew in Palestine, a Catholic or Protestant in Ireland, or anyone who’s tried to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons). Even if it doesn’t directly cause enmity between groups, it certainly encourages this sort of tribalism.

Grow the fuck up, people. This isn’t kindergarten. Lives are at stake.