Happy Easter!

My recent article about South America contained a passage that was critical of religion. Some of my religious readers may have thought: “Well, that’s the atheist exaggerating again.”

But in no way and never do I exaggerate.

To underline my point, all I had to do was to leave the house on Saturday afternoon after the procession passing by it wouldn’t stop. Three hours of singing, drumming, dancing and trumpeting.

The Easter march was in full swing. In the few minutes alone which I dared to place myself in the stream of people apparently possessed by the devil, thousands of people clad in white whizzed past me.

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In the three hours before, there must have been tens of thousands. I mention this because after reading the following descriptions of a few of the absurdities I witnessed, some will want to assuage: “But that’s only a small minority.” No, it is not.

The hats said “Cristo viene pronto“, “Jesus will come soon”.

Theologians among my readers sometimes criticize me for using a rather simple image of God and prayer, which is then easy to criticize. Well, what am I supposed to do when millions of devout Christians (and their pastors!) believe in and preach exactly that simple image?

But let the Christians speak for themselves.

Schild Schulden Auto

This gentleman expresses his gratitude because Jesus paid off his debts of 7000 dollars and gave him a car. He also proclaims publicly that his whole family is looking forward to the “glorious rapture of Jesus”. He did however misspell “rapto“, giving further credence to my argument that education and religiosity don’t go together well.

Whether the other people in the crowd were disappointed that Jesus hadn’t given them a car too, I couldn’t find out, for the ladies, gentlemen and children were just shouting “Jesus lives” and “Jesus is coming soon” all the time.

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This lady thanks Jesus for having operated her head and for being fine now.

The next lady remains similarly vague, but in addition to migraine recounts rheumatism, stomach pain and a messed-up family, all of which God put in order.

Schild Magenschmerzen

That claim I found rather fabricated. After all, stomachache is often cured by a night of sleep, coca tea, Coca Cola, a cigar or the evacuation of the bowels. Unfortunately, constipation in the brain cannot be removed that easily.

Schild Wirbelsäule

This gentlemen thanks Jesus because his spine is in order again, which was oddly incongruent with his vehicle of choice. But logic was not widespread that day.

If you don’t know more than I used to know, you also stumbled across the term “rapture” above. As far as I understood it, this is an act by which God and/or Jesus rips people from their lives and transports them to heaven physically. Apparently, this is connected to the fact that Jesus is coming soon.

I was handed a pamphlet with the headline “WARNING!!!”, according to which Jesus, “the king of kings” will come soon. The reader is asked if he has prepared for that.

Flugblatt1

For those who are, like me, totally unprepared for this heavenly event, there are further instructions on the back which are “URGENT!!!”.

Flugblatt2

It further says that “millions of people will soon disappear from the face of the Earth” and that this process has been going on since June 2015. Since then “many paranormal things are happening and the Lord has prophesied to many people that Jesus will come soon”. As a non-local, I also found the information helpful that this would “not only happen in La Paz, not even only in Bolivia, but in the whole world”.

The eerie thing is that there are indeed a lot of people disappearing in Bolivia, but that’s not what the Christians mean. Instead, they point to lame people who can walk, blind who can see, cured terminal illnesses, those liberated from “dirty spirits” as well as “restored homes”. Then they draw our attention to the church-owned TV and radio stations. (Thanks to the donors from overseas who think they are supporting an orphanage.)

But at the end of the pamphlet, even the Bolivian Christians prove that they have the Bolivian sense of humor. “NOTE: We do not know on what day and at what time the rapture will take place.” Not that Bolivians would be punctual even if they knew the exact rapture hour.

Talking about humor, there was one odd guy in the sea of millions of people in Klan colors.

Maske.JPG

People praying and screaming themselves into a trance, all of them in white, proclaiming that they are ready for God removing them from this Earth as soon as possible remind me of ISIS and other jihadists. Maybe it’s the lack of jihadism in South America that makes Christians fill this void.

rapto.JPG

In the evening, all of them got together for an Easter show in front of the cathedral that was so crazy that I was worried to death.

 

(Zur deutschen Fassung des Ostergrußes.)

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Bolivia, Photography, Religion, Travel, Video Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Happy Easter!

  1. Pingback: Frohe Ostern! | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Jamie Carter says:

    One of my areas of cultural studies was the concept of Semana Santa (Holy Week) it’s largest celebration is in Seville; but it’s become a widespread tradition throughout the Spanish-speaking world. I would have counted myself lucky to have been there to witness it all; but I guess that’s what I get for being stuck in the middle of the states. I know it was probably inconvenient as some cultural rituals can be, but that’s not something one would expect to see all the time.
    Particularly worrying though; is the increasing popularity of faith healing doctrine that’s spread like wildfire. It seems to be alive and well among the down and out in Bolivia. I wish they had better access to medical resources where they had more options. Who knows how many people died before they had a chance to show off their good luck in the procession.

    • It was actually really interesting to be in the middle of it all.
      Just sad to see so many people believing they will be called to heaven soon. When people believe and actually hope for that, there is less incentive to engage in academic studies or to learn another language. They are only “studying” the Bible every day.
      And when somebody dies, people shrug their shoulders and say “it is God’s will”. I even know medical students who believe this.

      • ensnaturae says:

        I’m pretty sure “being called to heaven”..Is an expression of release from almost any/every kind of pain or tragedy. A kind of abstract and wordless release, different for each person, just the common phrase ..means the same for everyone. Which is why the biggest crowds are poor and uneducated. They may have no way to imagine what that release may be, but that it is *possible* in singular and personal ways for each person, is true. Just as you note that for many education..or inspiration to change…must be a better path.
        I don’t doubt that causes many people to ‘disappear-…An own path, found….Might take anyone to every or any corner of the earth….Which is …Sort of.??? ……What happened to you…

  3. Carla Alejandra Morales Martínez says:

    Haha I wonder how was it inside the Christian church. Might have been hilarious.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Happy Easter!!!

    • I don’t believe in Easter.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wouldn’t you be much happier in the Middle East. There is too much noise for you to read in Latin countries, Latinos are devoted Catholics, Christians who believe in God and Semana Santa is one of the most celebrate time throughout Latin America. Since you hate Christianity you can go visit Iran, a beautiful country that is quiet country and you will not see Christians.

      • I have been to Iran twice and of course there are Christians too. I am not sure it’s very quiet, though. definitely not in the cities.

  5. -a-d- says:

    Hello everybody……i live in Bolivia, my country is a laicist nation from 5 years ago and 6% are atheist 60% believes in pachamama-catholic mixture religion……sorry for my bad english, regards

    • Hello,
      your English is great! Definitely much better than my Spanish, although I lived in Bolivia for almost one year.
      I am glad about the 6% atheist and I actually think there might be more. I have met quite a few Bolivians who tell me that they are atheist, but they wouldn’t want to say it publicly to not hurt the feelings of their parents or grandparents.

  6. DIANA SPENCER says:

    Hello Andreas
    I will admit that was a bit much going on. I would not have went outside so I give you credit for braving it all. I was raised in church all my childhood. I can remember being chastised when I was 12 by the pastor for asking what I thought was a rather simple question. My question was If Adam and Eve were the beginning of populating the earth then wouldn’t that mean incest was running rampant? You can imagine how that went over. I also questioned why my mother would give our last dollar to a church when the car we drove barely made it but the pastors drove a shiny cadillac. And it made me angry when my mother went to this church among these church people who gladly accepted money and requested time but ignored my mother’s bruised face from the beating she received from my father.
    As I grew older and left my parents house I studying every organised religion I could to include Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, so on and so forth. A part of me realized later in my life something very simple. I have faith, I believe in God, however I do not agree with organised religion. I feel like pastors, preachers, spiritual leaders, and whatever else they want to be called enjoy leading sheep. Once you question something you are blasphemous. People would rather be fed information rather than seek and truly study for themselves.
    I understand you are Atheist and that is your choice. No one can judge you for your beliefs. I would welcome you in my home with open arms. I would respect your choices without apprehension. I have trusted you to help me and give me information and I will continue to do so. Your beliefs are yours and yours alone and you have the right to stand in your truth. The Bible is very clear about the fact that as a believer I am NOT to fight His battles (Exodus 14:14 ,2 Chronicles 20:17) So when so called Christians choose to argue or fight with someone who believes as you do they are clearly going against scripture. Not only are they going against scripture but they are also being judgemental and therefore going against scripture even more. This comes from being fed and not studying.
    All the fanfare and antics I am good without. All the laying on of hands and falling out I can do without. As long as I know what I believe it is not for anyone to judge. So with that being said I will not insult you or bait you by saying Happy Easter. I will simply say I respect you and your beliefs and enjoy your travels friend.
    DIana
    btw I forget what article I read that you had written but you are right the bible does not mention dinosaurs!! LOL

    • I also found the Adam and Eve story rather incredulous. The offspring of all the animals on Noah’s Arc also would have had to be incestuous.

      • DIANA SPENCER says:

        Andreas prepare me before you bring on the sarcasm😂😂😂!! Yeah I guess it was one big party on the Ark. I almost spit my cappuccino out!
        Thanks to you I have actually started researching what being an Atheist means. There seems to be different paths under the Atheist umbrella. It is very interesting but Andreas although half of me agrees that education and intelect plays a part in how suseptible someone is to believing in religion the other half disagrees.
        I cannot deny the fact that church played a large part of me becoming who I am today. Despite the zealousness I did learn things that have stayed with me and have helped mold me into the woman and mother I am today. In the south black churches are not just for Sunday services. Especially, during the Civil Rights movement the church was a gathering place. Information was disseminated and issues were discussed. Going back to slavery when literacy was not common, churches were used even more for the same reasons as well. Unfortunately, the role of the black church has been used and abused by many unscrupulous individuals. Members of the congregation will very rarely challenge information coming from the pulpit. So many preachers/pastors will run their agendas. Also, unfortunately members make the pastor their god. Growing up in Southern Baptist churches I will say the education levels of a good percentage of the congregation was at most High School. However as an adult, I know many people who are dedicated believers who have beyond masters and Ph. D levels of education. They are intellectual individuals who observe what is going on in this world. They want change but do not hide behind religion to decieve and bait people. Can you see where my conflict comes in? I wonder if rather than making a blanket statement of

        people who believe in God or who are religous have low intellect or low level of education

        would it be more accurate to say

        the level of “extreme blind religiosity and fanaticism” correlates to the intellectual and education level? Any thoughts?
        I think if people remember to respect boundaries and stop trying to convert people discussions about organised religion, Atheism, and whatever other truths people hold can be had in a civilized manner. If someone believes that their dog is the next coming of superman GREAT!! I may think its crazy but who am I to judge them?
        Religion and race need to become topics that are MORE discussed. OPENLY discussed. RESPECTFULLY duscussed. I am so tired of people skirting around these issues. I may not agree with you but I will try my hardest to be open minded and listen.
        Even on your blog some comments are so inflammatory. Did you go out and recruit people and hold them at gun point and force them to read YOUR blog? Because of the ignorance their point of view is completely invalidated. Can they not just click onto something else? You are definitely what I like to refer to as “an acquired taste”. You may not be palatable to everyone however they have a choice to simply leave your site so why do they spew hatred? Oh I know why because they are keyboard gangstas.
        At any rate, your date to return to Europe is fast approaching. Have you ever been to the cities of Gdynia or Gdańsk Poland? These two cities made me fall in love with Poland. The people, the peaceful feeling I had, and the history and culture have stayed with me for 15+ years. I went when the DMark was still used so at that time I was able to truly enjoy myself without breaking the bank.
        Enjoy your travels and be safe😊
        Diana

      • Good point on Southern black churches! And this leads to another example, coincidentally in the country you mentioned: Poland, where the Catholic Church was a bastion of opposition against the Communist governments. Unfortunately, now the Catholic Church there is more a bastion against women’s and gay rights.

        I have actually never been to Poland, which is one thing that I would very much like to rectify. I think it still isn’t too expensive. I have been in some countries in Eastern Europe that even use the euro and they are still much cheaper than Germany or Western Europe in general. A currency alone doesn’t change the prices, just like Mississippi is probably still cheaper than New York or Palo Alto.

  7. ensnaturae says:

    …..And a guess……A lot of the religious hullabaloo…May well have been created deliberately to scare/impress the unjoined into joining the church ..Threats and promises are built in to almost all religions, I remember being threatened with frying in oil because confirmation classes had zero appeal.It must be inevitable that emotional displays of ecstacy and terror follow as the natural result of attempting to crush minds into boxed beliefs.

  8. ensnaturae says:

    That’s one of the most terrible and terrifying aspects of religions…That little children are raised in fear of terrible punishment, for behaviour their church teaches is wrong. Convincing anyone that he or she is a wicked sinner, in need of the organisations support and forgiveness…Keeps the dosh rolling in.

    • DIANA SPENCER says:

      Exactly right. Putting “the fear of God” into a child contradicts the point doesn’t it?

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