We've padded our death totals in another way that brings to mind the problems of the Dark Ages -- plagues. Back then, it was the bubonic plague that dominated headlines, understandably. But an equally awful successor to that pandemic has caused 39 million deaths and counting.
Huge death tolls aren't the only thing the two diseases have in common. Around 10 percent of Europeans are thought to be resistant to HIV infection, and it's because they carry a gene that first appeared sometime around when the bubonic plague was spreading. One thing these people all have in common is that they have ancestors who lived in plague-ridden areas. So shout-out to the bubonic plague for finally doing some good in the world, I guess.
Religious Superstition Is Definitely A Problem Today
The influence of the Christian church in the United States today isn't quite what it was to the people of the Dark Ages. The church was essentially the government in Western Europe at that time. It's hard to top that kind of power. But it's an easy comparison to make nevertheless, especially when evangelical Christians are still one of the key voting demographics that Republican candidates have to appease on their path to the White House.
Over the years, that particular segment of society has been wielding power and influence in all sorts of public places where religious beliefs ought not to be imposed on people. From abortion to teaching evolution in schools to any number of things in between, especially devout Christian types have been one of the driving forces behind the biggest social and political debates of our time -- usually as the side that wants to force its beliefs on the lives of others.
Same-sex marriage is a fine example. It's not like we were waiting to find out if it was a carcinogen before we decided to make it legal.
What a crazy plot twist that would be if it did.
The people fighting that very obviously necessary change were/are basing their decision to do so on nothing more than what they believe their particular strain of religion says about how people should act. For decades now, their influence has been blatantly obvious in the actions and decisions of some of the people we've elected or who've otherwise been appointed to positions of power.
So no, the United States doesn't have a government that forces one religion on its people, but it's damn sure felt that way at times. We don't currently have an evangelical Christian in the White House, but we've had one as the Republican sometimes-frontrunner for a few months now. We had one in office for eight years not that long ago. It happens, and when it does, this country can sometimes feel like it is indeed ruled by religion.
Especially the part where we start making foreign policy decisions based on how likely they are to make Jesus come back.
Adam hopes you'll come argue about this with him in person in San Diego on 2/19. In the meantime, please follow him on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
The sad thing is that the Dark Ages might be better than present-day America. See how living in the Dark Ages meant that you had a pretty decent healthcare plan in 5 Ridiculous Myths You Probably Believe About the Dark Ages. And learn how you probably smell worse than a Middle Ages commoner in 6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages Everyone Believes.
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