I know me a thing or two about history, at least certain parts of it. One of those parts happens to contain an abuse that was a common compliant of the protestant reformers and today, not an uncommon thing to hear in the jibber jabber about religion being whatever the secular equivalent of the devil is. The abuse in question is the sale of indulgences. If you don’t know, at one time some enterprising clerics stumbled upon the idea that they could sell indulgences. It’s actually brilliant, but that’s not the point, because it’s also dastardly.
An indulgence is what you get when you do something sinful, confess it, and are forgiven, it’s not at all unlike what happens when you have completed a sentence given for a crime. In theory, you have paid the debt created by your commission of a crime. It’s a sound theory and although people, especially atheists and some protestant denominations, will hate to admit it, the concept of the indulgence is put to use everywhere in our society.
The abuse of course, was not the existence of indulgences, the abuse was the selling of them. Obviously we wouldn’t want a situation where you could merely pay for a 10 year prison sentence instead of going to jail, if we allowed that, there would be no Chicago politicians in the jails!
The only reason I decided to post about this, and the reason I’m not going to go on forever about the pros and cons of selling indulgences, is because in the past decade or so, indulgences have been being sold once again! Atheists should be outraged! Catholics should be outraged! Protestants, Muslims, Jews, everyone! Outraged!
It’s not a church doing this, its the companies selling “carbon offsets”. A tiny amount of research will show you that the various carbon trading schemes have become nothing more positive then a extortion racket backed by the legal force of many governments.
If Martin Luther were around, he would kick Al Gore in the balls, and maybe have more than 95 things to say about it.