Purdue University student Jen McCreight was more than a little offended when she read an Iranian cleric's explanation of the recent spate of earthquakes...
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.
To test Sedighi's theory, McCreight encouraged women to dress as immodestly as possible on April 26, letting it - er, well - all hang out for the sake of science. The moniker "Boobquake" was chosen as the event's name, seeking evidence that scantily clad women are at the root of adultery and God's wrath that results in natural disasters.
Now, McCreight is a self-confessed nerd - a scientist at heart. And she's kept us abreast of her quantifiable analysis of data from the Boobquake event.
Not only did Boobquake not produce more earthquakes - the mean magnitude of all reported earthquakes on the event day was less than average! I think it is safe to say that science has laid bare a mountain of misconceptions regarding cleavage as the root of all evil, impropriety and natural disasters.
All kidding aside (because Sedighi certainly wasn't kidding...), this is the sort of garbage we are used to from religious fundamentalists.
A "pact with the devil" - an urban legend about the establishment of Haiti's self-governance - was Pat Robertson's explanation for the massive earthquake there in January.
And we can't forget similar statements from Robertson and other dangerous manipulatives who found it easy to blame the San Francisco earthquake, the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina on the pervasiveness of "immorality" - especially hoe-moe-sex-you-ality and abortion - in US society.
We shouldn't be surprised. But we should be alarmed.
As progressive, rational, science-loving (not fearing) believers - Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. - we owe it to society and the world to stop blaming God's wrath for disasters.
Bertrand Russell - my favorite author of my favorite book, "Why I Am Not a Christian" - targeted religion, specifically Christianity, as a fear-based system.
I read him while in seminary and really understood what he said. He's unfortunately right in many ways. So many people use religion as a means of control - and employ fear (fear of hell, fear of punishment, fear of leaders, blood sacrifice, etc.) as their primary weapon - that I really couldn't disagree with his analysis and reasoning.
But I do disagree with his conclusion - that all religions are necessarily rooted in fear. I'm one of many people (ordained or not) who really sees it as our mission to dispel fear from Christianity - we like to call it "progressive" Christianity, others have called it "liberal" in the past. We believe that love, not fear, can be the root of religious belief - hope, not cowering, can be a response to a God who in some way, shape or form, ordered the universe and gave us examples of the holy to learn from and follow.
So thanks to all of you who participated in Boobquake 2010; for laying bear the twin peaks of reason and truth - not only for science, but in helping to redeem the character of God with your lovely lady lumps.
(Thanks to Marcy D. for modeling. Other blog post titles that didn't make the cup were "Boobquake experiment an udder failure" and "Boobquake finds massive outpouring of support".)