With the possibility of a swine flu pandemic causing concern across the country, we can expect to see a resurgence of another virus that we should also try to contain, in virtue of the harm it will do to innocent people if we do not.
This other virus will be found in the cries of tribal shaman who will respond to this natural disaster with demands for a human sacrifice. "The gods are angry," they will tell us. "The gods are punishing us because we have failed to deliver the appropriate human sacrifices. Go forth and round up those whose sacrifice will please the gods so that they will remove this horrible curse from us."
This follows the traditions where tribal shaman would require – according to one well-worn cliché – the sacrifice of a virgin to a volcano god in order to save a village, or cutting out the beating hearts of a line of prisoners to give the sun god strength while it was being attacked during a solar eclipse.
Regardless of how fanciful these common depictions of human sacrifice are, the contemporary forms of human sacrifice are very real. This is what we should expect as the swine flu pandemic gets worse. We should expect religious leaders across the country to begin to demand that the government begin the ritual practice of human sacrifice to appease their gods.
Who does their God want placed on the sacrificial altar?
Why, the political and social opponents of whatever church the God speaks for. Who else?
So, when America was attacked on 9/11/2001, religious leaders wasted no time calling for the political sacrifice of their opponents – declaring that their God wanted those opponents removed from political power and for power to be given to themselves and their political allies (of course).
And when Hurricane Katrina attacked New Orleans, these same religious leaders took the opportunity to declare that, once again, their God demanded the sacrifice of their political and cultural enemies as a fee for keeping the country safe.
We will almost certainly see the same type of claims made in association with a swine flu pandemic. Once again, religious leaders will mount their pedestals and boast, "My God did this, and my God will continue to kill and maim and destroy innocent people until I get what I want . . . I mean, until my God gets what he wants . . . which is the disempowerment of my political and cultural enemies. Either you bow down to me . . . I mean, either you bow down to my God, or you will suffer greater harms than these."
What we need to do, this time, is to make sure that we let as many people know that we can reach that this is just another example of religious figures exploiting a natural disaster (or, sometimes, a man-made disaster) to call the people into bringing their enemies to the altar to be sacrificed.
Certainly, contemporary sacrifices do not call for removing the beating heart from a loving victim. Life is not the only thing that has value. Nor is it the case that the fact that one has not taken the life of another person that one has not taken anything of value. The political and social opponents of the religious leaders are very much to be thought of as being lead to the altar where at least some part of them will be sacrificed "because my God demands that you be made worse off for His pleasure."
This time it would be nice to be ready and, where we see these types of claims, we be ready to point out to the public exactly what they are. Once again the tribal shaman are trying to secure their political and social position by threatening us. Once again they are telling us, "Give me and my allies control over your lives or my God will kill you and those you love."