When I see stories like this I'm reminded why I reject the notion of religious belief.
Members of Iran's feared Basij militia forcibly marry female virgin prisoners the night before scheduled executions, raping their new "wives" and making it religiously acceptable to execute them …
Question: Who would claim this is moral behaviour? Answer: Those who committed this atrocity.
And in their own twisted little context, they’re right.
After all, under strict Islamic law, the greater immorality would be to execute them as virgins, so raping them prior to execution is the greater moral act.
And this, dear friends, is what religious belief does.
It tells us our natural and evolved sense of right and wrong can’t be trusted. It tells us our moral sense comes from without, bestowed upon us by an all-knowing God. It tells us to deny our innate sense of justice and submit to a greater will, even if we don’t understand it.
Of course in practice that “greater will” is the Word as interpreted by the priesthood and clergy.
If we’re lucky, the clergy in question will trust their innate sense of justice and selectively promote the truly good messages from their scriptures. We see this, for example, in Christian ministers who leave out the bits about burning in hell and concentrate on Christ’s social justice message.
But all that’s happening then is that the religious message is being manipulated to ape the simple message of humanism. The religion becomes subject to the person.
If we’re doing that, then why bother with the religion at all? If the message has value, then all this supernatural window-dressing is just a distraction.
And it can be a dangerous distraction, because sometimes we’re not so lucky.
Combine that “greater will” instead with a dictatorial theocracy and a brutalised culture, and all of a sudden the person becomes horribly subject to the religion.
The person is considered nothing more than a tabula rasa for the clerical moral code. The individual’s sense of right and wrong is rendered wholly irrelevant.
And before you know it, raping virgins is perfectly OK.