‘Tis the season for bloodletting in the Philippines:
Many Filipino devotees perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday as a form of worship and supplication, a practice discouraged by Catholic bishops, but widely believed by devotees to cleanse sins, cure illness and even grant wishes.
And so they carry their 60-pound crosses while inviting bystanders to beat and kick them. Others whip themselves for hours until their backs are raw and bloody.
“Priests often tell us that we should not be doing this,” Melvin Pangilinan, an organizer of the annual Lenten ritual who carried a cross in his younger days, told Reuters. “But it has been our tradition for decades and we have to honor it.”
Goodness — decades. Well, Melvin’s right then; people have no choice.
But honestly: If blood sacrifice is the goal, why isn’t the local tradition to go to a hospital and donate blood, helping others? Wouldn’t that be a little more in line with the Golden Rule that believers claim is at the heart of their God-given morality?
The same goes for Shi’a Muslims and their Ashura, the annual ritual in which the faithful cut and flagellate themselves — and sometimes young children — with swords, chains, and knives. If you have the stomach for it, this is what it looks like. It’s a waste of perfectly good blood — and brains.
(Thanks to Kristi for the link)