The Kemetic Religion is a Force for Good in the World
Debate Rounds (3)
I propose that my religion, Kemetism, is a force for good in society. Though it currently operates on a small scale, it is constantly growing, and likely will continue to do so for a long time.
I believe this will be a good thing, as Kemetism itself is a positive influence on what little it currently affects.
Kemetism - The modern-day revival of the worship of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. All sects and groups of Kemetism are included. Wiccans and non-specific pagans who adopt Kemetic gods for their rituals and worship are not included.
Force for Good - Having a positive impact on society and on the lives of individuals while having little or no negative impact.
Thank you in advance, and I look forward to a civil and friendly debate.
Thank you for accepting. My argument for Kemetism being a force for good in the world will be based on the following points.
1) It helps its members.
2) It encourages charity and kindness.
3) It is peaceful.
4) It does no harm.
I hope that by demonstrating these points, I can prove that Kemetism is a good religion that means only good for the world.
1) It helps its members
I know of many members who have troubles in their personal lives. I cannot give personal details out of respect for their privacy, but for one example, I know of an abuse victim who was "assigned" (there's a complex ritual involved to this) to the worship of Yinepu (Anubis). He had been abused as a child, and felt "broken" or "incomplete". I remember this individual recounting how this all changed when he began communion with Yinepu. From Yinepu he felt a sense of encouragement, a warm hand on his shoulder, a comforting reassurance that everything was alright. In Yinepu he found a parent who he believes cares for him deeply. Even if Yinepu doesn't exist in your philosophy, surely this is a good thing?
What's more, the Kemetic Orthodox Forums are always full of people asking for prayers and advice on personal issues, not even always related to the religion itself. From each other we feel a sense of brotherhood, that we are all part of the same big family, and we are constantly encouraged to help each other out because we constantly see each other doing it. I'll provide a link to the Kemetic Orthodox Forums at the bottom of my argument so you can see for yourself how we take care of each other in a loving, family environment. Being a member of Kemetism feels like having a very large second family, to constantly know that other worshippers and also the gods themselves have your back. It's an indescribably reassuring feeling.
I have seen people overcome anxiety, depression, and other such disorders with the help of their faith in the Kemetic religion, the help of its members, and their trust in our gods. For information on how religion may be good at treating disorders such as depression, please refer to the following:
2) It encourages charity and kindness
One of the most important concepts in Kemetism is the principle of Ma'at (which I will be referring to a lot during this debate). Ma'at does not have a direct English translation, but the closest way to phrase it would be "that which is right". Ma'at is a system of morality that is based on solid ground, but is flexible enough to change with the times. It is based on order, justice, charity and honesty as its foundation ideals, however it acknowledges that the definition of these things change with the time as society changes, and so does not give out specific rules. There are, however, areas that are strongly if not universally agreed on within Kemetism about the specific details of Ma'at in this day and age:
1) Showing kindness to others is Ma'at.
2) Honesty is Ma'at.
3) Charity is Ma'at.
4) Love is Ma'at.
5) Hatred, cruelty, killing, stealing and whatever else along those lines can NEVER be Ma'at.
Motivated by the principle of Ma'at, Kemetism teaches its members to value the lives of others, their wellbeing and their happiness above all else. There can be no putting religion before happiness, as Kemetism is a religion of happiness. If someone is made unhappy by an action performed by a Kemetist, then it is not an action that reflects the teachings of Kemetism.
Kemetism also teaches of a concept called Isfet, which is the opposite of Ma'at. Isfet means intentionally causing harm to others for selfish reasons, and it is invariably immoral. In many Kemetic stories, Isfet is represented by an army of demons, and the gods are portrayed as warriors slaying those demons. This represents the triumph of Ma'at over Isfet, and how being on the side of Ma'at will bring you to the side of the gods.
3) It is peaceful
Kemetism does not discriminate. There is no racial superiority (our members are from all over the world), no gender supremacy (our Nisut is a woman), no sexual discrimination (gays and transgenders are openly welcomed) or anything of the sort. We believe we were all created as equals, and any difference in our gender, race, sexuality or whatever else is simply a different form of Netjer's (God's) creation, no greater or lesser than ourselves.
Kemetism also teaches that every god is an extension of a singular entity, Netjer, the self-created one. Kemetism does not claim to be the "one true religion", and many of its members (myself included) believe Netjer extends beyond just the Kemetic gods. Many of us believe all gods are manifestations of Netjer, so not only do we all accept other religions, many of us also believe in the legitimacy of their gods (withholding belief in the legitimacy of any teachings that contradict ours).
So Kemetism is not a religion in which members can honestly pick up protest signs and say "Ra Hates F*gs" or something like that, nor can we be called discriminatory based on gender or race. Kemetism keeps its arms open to members of other faiths and encourages members to be loving and peaceful towards everyone, regardless of their gender, sexuality, religion, race or any other factor besides their own actions.
4) It does no harm
Earlier I referred to the concept of Ma'at, the ultimate guiding moral principle of the Kemetic faith. The very nature of Ma'at and Isfet, although vague and flexible, is surprisingly inflexible on issues of harm. While there are no set rules or commandments, it is accepted that Isfet is wrong, and that Isfet is intentionally causing harm to others, especially for selfish reasons.
Ma'at, on the other hand, can never involve the harming of another. In such cases where the harming of another is necessary (for example, going to war to defend yourself from an attacker), it would not be considered Ma'at or Isfet.
You see the extremists of other religions, the minority of Christians who protest gay marriage, the minority of Muslims who kill in the name of God, that can't happen in Kemetism because there is absolutely no way to justify it. While militant Christians and Muslims may use old, outdated texts now considered irrelevent by the majority of their religion's community, Kemetism has no such texts. Ma'at can never be used to justify murder, oppression or hatred, as those things fall directly under Isfet in any instance. The concept of a militant Kemetist is self-contradictory, as no Kemetist can possibly justify such actions under our belief system.
While Kemetism operates on a small scale at the moment, what little it does is good. It helps its members, it encourages them to be good, generous and charitable, it is loving and accepting of all people regardless of race, gender, sexuality or religion, and cannot justifiably cause harm to anyone.
As a final example of Kemetic charity, I would like to link you to a post on the Kemetic forums in which members encourage each other to donate to a cause providing shelter for homeless people. Threads like this on the forum are common, and I advice you to check out the "Serving the World: Ma'at in Action" section of the forums for more examples.
Serving the World: Ma'at in Action:
FIRST- truth. Kemetism is not an active lens for discovering truth about the world.
For one, the Kemetic belief is completely unfounded-- there is no evidence that the claims it makes are true. Indeed, much of the Egyptian faith was founded in beliefs that now can easily be explained. Ancient Egyptians used the god Set to explain lightning-- yet we know now the natural processes that cause lightning. And we know the Egyptian creation account to be false, since we know the natural processes that created our world billions of years ago. Having an empty belief, without evidence, in Kemetism is contrary to how we should seek knowledge. Faith is not an acceptable mode of reasoning, since it teaches belief without evidence. Empirics, not blind belief, is how we evaluate the world.
Kemetism distorts truths in its beliefs. The Declarations of Innocence, part of the moral guidelines that Kemetism uses : "I have not been sacrilegious in thought or deed." Even religions like Christianity allow and encourage doubt as a way of refining beliefs, but, if a Kemetic was truly sticking to their beliefs, they would never even question them. Moreover: "I have not spoken against the sacred teachings". If my opponent is right, I'm going to hell just for having this debate. Using fear about the afterlife to intimidate followers into not questioning their beliefs is wrong. And, perhaps the worst advice for discovering truth: "I have not betrayed my leaders". This is really just horrible. Imagine if Kemetics lived in Nazi Germany, yet refused to stand up to Hitler, because their religion told them not to.
None of these statements even have a justification; the follower is expected to believe for the sake of belief. These are specific guidelines under Ma'at, which my opponent refers to consistently. Ma'at cannot be a philosophy for living life on earth. Ma'at is a list of beliefs. It doesn't teach us how to evaluate problems. If I have a problem that isn't on that list of 42 things, Ma'at isn't going to help me.
SECOND- exploitation. Kemetism is a cult designed to take advantage of people and make money. The history of Kemetic Orthodoxy is pretty shocking . Tamara Siuda is the founder of Kemetic Orthodoxy. She also is serious in the Haitian pagan religion as well, as a preistess there. The Orthodox Kemetic religion charges for many of it's services, and the profits go straight to Tamara Siuda. Moreover, though the Kemetic Orthodox structure claims that they're a non-profit who works towards improving child welfare, there's zero evidence they actually spend the money on what they say. The evidence points towards Tamara Siuda using Kemetism as a front to line her own pocket,s exploiting people who are looking for answers.
My third point is skewed beliefs. One needs only to look at the beliefs themselves to realize how flawed this religion is. For example, another Declaration of Innocence: "I have not allowed myself to be abused." . Really? "Allowed myself" is victim blaming. It is not the victim's fault EVER when they are abused. Rather than provide comfort, it provides guilt for something uncontrollable. And, the Kemetic texts say "I have not been an adulterer, homosexual or child molester.", which hatefully puts homosexuality on the level of child molestation.. Now, I know my opponent doesn"t see homosexuality as wrong-- but in doing so, she is doing good by DEVIATING from Kemetic beliefs. There's no grounds for her to pick and choose what parts of Kemetism she believes in, she's just making the correct decision to give up a horrible belief because her own moral compass is superior to Ma'at.
Kemetism also promotes sacrifice . First, this is wasted food- sacrifices, including bread, fruit, vegetables, and animals, are given "to the gods", when that food could've easily been donated to a homeless shelter. Second, I believe (and I think my opponent would agree) that it is ESSENTIAL to try to minimize all suffering and harm that could occur. Animals experience pain, and thus have rights. Killing them causes more suffering. At least in the case of killing animals for food, a human is nourished and benefited. With animal sacrifice, nobody is benefited, and the animal is harmed.
Now to look at my opponent's case.
She first claims that it provides comfort to it's members. Her example is one victim of child abuse. She could have made this up, but even assuming it is true, since we aren't looking at his direct description of his experience, we have no cause and effect. For all we know, he could've been getting better when he joined Kemetism, and the two have no relation. And she also doesn't look at the examples of people abused as children who hate themselves, because the Kemetic beliefs state that, if you are abused, it is your fault. Being more religious is actually linked with MORE, not less, depression . She even undermines her own point, claiming that much of the benefit is not "related to the religion itself", but to the community. A sense of community easily exists in a world without Kemetism, be it through Christianity, the Greek Neopagans, or even a fan community for a popular TV show. This is not good that Kemetism is creating. Without Kemetism, there would be more good.
Second, she claims it encourages kindness, honesty, charity, and love, the foundations of Ma'at. She seems like a pretty nice person-- I would bet that she isn't kind because some god in the sky told her to be, but because that's just her personality. Countless atheists exhibit these characteristics, because altruism is hard wired into the human brain . And nearly every religion and philosophy adheres to these beliefs. If she was Christian, I bet she'd be just as moral. If she followed a philosophical framework for making decisions, something more nuanced than just "striving for kindness", that explains how to actually acheive kindness (say, Kant or even a Buddhist-leaning philosophy), she'd probably be even more moral still. Atheists donate MORE than religious people to charity .
Unfortunately, Ma'at is more than just kindness. It includes victim blaming, suppressing questioning, and blindly questioning authority. Ma'at can't answer philosophical problems like the Trolley Problem, or any moral dillema.
Her third claim is that Kemetism isn't as bad as other religions, such as Westboro. This is not a reason it is a force for good. Losing $100 is worse than losing $10, but losing $10 is not good. And, though SHE may not discriminate, I've provided clear evidence the basis of Kemetic beliefs are discriminatory, and she just chooses to abandon those beliefs.
Her fourth claim is that it does no harm (yet again not proof that it is doing good). Yet, in addition to the harms I listed above, if we look at the history of the Egyptian faith, Egyptians kept slaves for thousands of years; Ma'at never stopped them. Ma'at allowed oppression.
I must say I was thoroughly disappointed with my opponent's argument. He has clearly done a good amount of research into a lot of basic Kemetic ideals, but his research is extremely lacking. Not only that, it is not just lacking in detail, it is FULL of outright fabrication.
My opponent has outright lied about Kemetism in his response. I would now like to demonstrate how.
My opponent's first fabrication is to state that Kemetism enforces the religious mythology as absolute fact that is unquestionable, by punishment of Hell (my opponent refers to this place by name, which is another fabrication.)
This simply is not true.
Any small amount of research on modern Kemetism will show that the mythology is NOT taken as literal truth by the vast majority of Kemetists, if by any at all. I have never met a single one who took the ancient myths as fact. They are allegories, stories told to help us understand the nature and personalities of our gods.
These stories were indeed used in ancient times to explain what was unknown, but what my opponent has so conveniently ignored is that they are NOT used in this fashion anymore. My opponent has not given any sources to indicate that modern Kemetists still take these myths as truth. For my opponent to make this claim without basis is outright fabrication.
As for my opponent's criticism of the 42 Negative Confessions (AKA The Declarations of Innocence), I would like to make two points here.
The first being that my opponent has failed to take into account the Kemetic attitude towards these 42 declarations. They are NOT solid "I must do this or go to Hell" (again, more on the "Hell" thing later) rules. They are guidelines that one should try to adhere to, but nothing is lost if you fail to do so. In the end, judgement relies entirely on the Weighing of the Heart, a ceremony in which one's heart is weighed to determine if it is full of Ma'at or full of Isfet. In modern Kemetism, this ritual is what determines the judgement of the individual, NOT the 42 Negative Confessions. For my opponent to state, without evidence, that modern Kemetism uses the 42 declarations as criteria for who goes to Hell or not (again, more on that later) is outright fabrication.
The second point is that my opponent's interpretation of the declarations is very much skewed in his favour. "I have not been sacreligious in thought or deed" does NOT mean "I have not questioned the idea that the Kemetic mythology is 100% true even the parts that go against scientific understanding."
Sacrelige, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means "violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred". My opponent's claim that the mythology of the Kemetic religion is sacred and unquestionable is a bold-faced lie, nothing more. To claim the mythology isn't literally true is NOT sacrelige, as my opponent has made a very baseless claim to say, instead it is the default of modern Kemetism.
As for my opponent's claim he is going to "Hell" just for having this debate, this is just ridiculous. Kemetism does not have a "Hell", or any such place of eternal torture, nor would my opponent be sent there for questioning things that we Kemetists question ourselves all the time in hopes of understanding them better.
As for "I have not betrayed my leaders", this is simply advising that loyalty is an admirable trait. It doesn't say "Unless they murder millions of people out of racial hatred" because it assumes we're smart enough to know that. My opponent's argument seems to assume Kemetists are mindless sheep incapable of thinking about these ideas any further than what's written.
My opponent has fabricated claims about Kemetism enforcing strict, unquestioning allegiance to dogma without providing ANY evidence to support them. He has not fulfilled his burden of proof, and thus this point is invalid. Kemetism understands and embraces all modern scientific understanding, just as many other religions do. We are not fundamentalists.
Yes, the Nisut is also a Vodun priestess. Kemetism recognises the legitimacy of the concept of having multiple faiths  and even allows its clergy to be members (or even clergy) of other faiths provided that when they choose to become Kemetic clergy, they promise to put Kemetism first. What is your complaint, exactly?
The point about the Udjat Foundation says there is no evidence it gives any of the money it receives to charity. My opponent then says there is evidence that it is a front to line the Nisut's pockets. Why does he not cite this evidence while making such an accusation?
My opponent claims that the 42 negative confessions condemn homosexuality and encourage victim blaming in abuse cases. This is not the case at all.
The so-called "victim blaming" my opponent has claimed is a forced interpretation at best. "I have not allowed myself to be abused" does not say the victim has done something wrong when they are abused. Remember that the 42 confessions are a GUIDELINE, not absolute, solid, unbreakable rules. As a guideline, this is simply advising abuse victims not to stand and take it. There is no eternal punishment for being an abuse victim, nor is there one for refusing to get out of an abusive relationship. It is merely there to inform abuse victims that they should not just take abuse when it is given to them, that they should do something about it. How is this anything but a positive message?
As for the confession forbidding homosexuality, this is often a point of criticism, but not one that I cannot defend myself against. This verse is, at best, poorly phrased in the original language, and modern translations differ greatly. Among Kemetists, this verse is commonly translated as forbidding child prostitution, paedophilia or molestation, NOT homosexuality.
As for my opponent's claims about "sacrifice", he has shot himself in the foot on that one. He claims it is wasteful to offer food to the gods which could otherwise by eaten, but the very source he cites then goes on to say "it is customary to eat them afterwards."
For this reason, Kemetists most often offer food they were going to eat themselves anyway.
My opponent then references the horrors of animal sacrifice. I agree that animal sacrifice is horrible. However, nowhere in the source you cited does it say Kemetists must kill animals for ritual sacrifice. Kemetism does NOT require, encourage or promote animal sacrifice in any way, shape or form. This, out of all the fabrications my opponent has created about Kemetism, is by far the most insulting.
As for my account of an abuse victim finding recovery within the religion, I will admit my opponent has a point. I could not give more details or provide references out of respect for privacy. Whether or not he was getting better without Kemetism, he still cites Kemetism as the cause of his recovery, and he is not the only case. I wish I could provide references, but again, privacy.
I would then like to point out that my opponent claims that because the community is causing the help, not the religion, it is not the work of the religion. I would like to reply by pointing out that the community would not exist without the religion.
I would also like you to provide evidence for your claim that without the Kemetic community, there would be more good in the world than with it.
My opponent also claims that atheists give more to charity than religious people, and I would be more moralistic if I followed a different philosophy. My opponent has not provided evidence that the specific individuals who follow Kemetism would donate more to charity if they were atheists.
I wish I could say more, but I'm now at the character limit. I will conclude by saying I am deeply disappointed my opponent felt the need to tell so many lies in order to make his point.
Remember-- it isn't my burden to prove that Kemetism is a force for bad, just hers to prove that Kemetism is a force for good.
This is where I've won this debate. Even if you believe everything she said about my case, she's failed to defend her own burden.
She has dropped nearly all of her arguments, and ignores the most crucial ones that I put against her case.
Looking at her first point, remember the evidence I provide-- people who believe in religion are more likely to be depressed than atheists (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk...). This was definite part of my point that religion makes it harder to deal with, and my opponent simply doesn't address it. People suffering from these problems would be better off without Kemetism.
Her only point that she continues to defend here is the idea that a community is beneficial. But the community is not beneficial because of Kemetism, it is beneficial because it is a community. Kemetic followers could easily have these same benefits outside of Kemetism. There are communities dedicated to pretty much everything- other religions, fandoms, and, perhaps most importantly, communities dedicated to helping people overcome mental health issues. All of these provide the same, if not greater, benefits than the Kemetic community. She never justifies why Kemetism is CREATING the good of community.
She drops most of her other arguments, except charity. Yet again she fails to prove this. I give direct evidence that humans are hard wired to be good, and Kemetism doesn't make them better. Atheists are more likely to give to charity. I give the warrant for why this is true: Ma'at is simply believing in things like kindness, but humans strive for these without Ma'at. Ma'at isn't a guide for how to achieve kindness. It never gives followers the means of achieving the end (kindness). Nuanced philosophies encourage exploring the world, and gaining answers, giving a deeper view than just "we should be kind". Not only do I give you both a reason behind this, as well as actual statistics, it is her job to be showing that Kemetism creates more charity than what would exist in a world withoout Kemetism, and insofar as she hasn't done that, she hasn't proved her side.
Going back to my case, I'd like to apologize if anything I said offended my opponent, but I would ask her to realize that not all Kemetics belive the same subset of beliefs she does, and I was speaking on all of Kemetism, not just her beliefs. I researched Kemetism. Everything I mentioned is believed by some or all Kemetics. I'm not some big mean liar. Her rejection of certain parts of Kemetism just goes to show how morally flawed those parts are.
She claim that Kemetics don't actually believe in the gods. I really did do research, and found Kemetics who do believe this (example: https://www.youtube.com..., "SCIENCE CONFIRMS THE EXISTENCE OF EGYPTIAN GODS"). There are people who believe the Egyptian gods are real. Kemeticism IS BY DEFINITION the belief in these gods. Her definition is "The modern-day revival of the worship of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon". Saying you don't have to actually believe it to be Kemetic is like saying I can be a Greek Neopagan by reading Percy Jackson.
Next, she just glosses over how horrible the 42 Confessions are. She says Kemetics don't actually believe this, but if you examine the source I offered (http://cushiteforum.com...) it is FROM A KEMETIC. Then she says that it isn't actually what determines whether you go to heaven or hell but, if you look at the source it specifically says that Anubis weighs your soul based on these characteristics. I understand that doing one thing won't condemn you forever, but that doesn't change the fact that, in the eyes of Kemetic belief, being gay is on the same level of being a child predator.
Let's look at each of the confessions I cite.
The one about questioning leaders, she says Kemetics should be smart enough to know to question leaders sometimes. But if Ma'at is supposed to be a framework for guiding your life, Ma'at should be able to tell you when to question your leaders. If it's a complete framework, you should be able to USE Ma'at to know that. You shouldn't have to abandon Ma'at and work outside of it. Ma'at is an incomplete philosophy, unable to evaluate even the most basic decisions, like "should I support Hitler". If you were to stick to Ma'at, without deviating, you would support a leader like Hitler. Abandoning Ma'at is essential to making good decisions.
"I have not been sacrilegious in thought or deed."
Even under her interpretation of sacrilege, "violation/misuse of what is sacred", if I think something that is in violation of sared Kemetic beliefs, that's not good. Even thinking it is bad. To me, that encourages blind acceptance.
The MOST IMPORTANT one when looking at my truth argument is the one she ignores entirely.
"I have not spoken against the sacred teachings"
In my opponent's ideal world, all Kemetics will still question the faith. But by reading what it actually says, the meaning is clearly that you can't talk out against the faith. If someone converts to Kemetism, there's no other way for them to take it. The fact that she doesn't believe these things simply shows her morals are better than Ma'at.
I'm not saying Kemetism will automatically be strict or dogmatic, I'm just saying that these guidelines for living live under Ma'at actively discourage questioning and truth seeking.
Under exploitation, my evidence was specifically linked (http://rationalwiki.org...). There is much indication to believe that the creator of Kemetic Orthodoxy is personally profitting off of it.
Last, let's look at beliefs.
The guideline (yes, it is a guideline, but that doesn't change the fact that it is an atrocious thing to say) that you should not "allow yourself to be abused" is not acceptable. Telling someone who is abused to just "not take it" is incredibly offensive. It's a negative message because it makes not letting anyone abuse you a guideline for your life. There's only 42 guidelines. Murder gets one guideline. Just one. And not "letting yourself" get abused gets one guideline. You can imagine how someone may feel horrible about themselves as a result. This is, by any definition, victim blaming. It assumes you are abused because you "let yourself" be abused. That's ridiculous.
On homosexuality, interestingly enough, the translation that is used by Kemetic Orthodoxy that my opponent refers to (http://www.netjer.org...) is actually a translation made by Tamara Siuda. How convenient that she tries to change the horrible side of the religion to get more believers in to line her pockets. It isn't just a mistranslation. In the actual 42 declarations, it says, "I have not been an adulterer, homosexual or child molester." (I would also like to point out that the source for this was a website from a Kemetic follower.) This isn't a mistranslation. They are three distinct things. You can't just say "oh whoops, the adultery and homosexuality really just meant child molester", because child molester was already listed. And personally, I find it really hard to mix up "homosexuality" and "child molestation" anyways.
I'll concede that they do eat the sacrifice, that was my mistake for misreading that. But sacrificing animals, which she concedes is wrong, is a belief, according to Kemetics themselves (https://thetwistedrope.wordpress.com...). "Water fowl or duck" and "pigeons" are things that should be sacrificed.
At the point where she hasn't proven any specific benefits that would NOT exist in a world without Kemetism, and I show you specific HARMS that the Kemetic religion brings about, it's clear that Kemetism is in no way a force for good.
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