In the course of some discussions on a recent podcast, an intriguing mention got me thinking … not really a new idea, but …
The christian church’s – well, mostly, the Catholic Church – stance on contraception isn’t new. Preventing a pregnancy for them is sort of like murder. Even if there is no person (with how broad a definition of „person“ you want to work) whom you could murder. Murder. Premeditated Murder. Which is why especially in Africa, with its overpopulation (compared to the scarcity of food and clean water) and in the last 30+ years HIV/AIDS, most rationally thinking people have or would criticize the policy against any kind of contraception.
The comment in the podcast on who killed more people, the Pope (as Catholicism’s worldly leader) or ISIS, had me wonder about some numbers … and I wasn’t really surprised by what I was able to find …
According to WHO numbers, in 2013 the global number of deaths due to AIDS were at about 1.5 million people (possibly higher). Of those, Africa alone accounted for almost three quarters of that with about 1.1 million. While these numbers are pretty appalling, the upside of this is the constant decline over the last 10 years – in 2005 the totals were around 2 million people in total, and numbers from other sources listed the deaths in 2014 down to about 1.2 million in total. Anyway, compared to the rest of the world (first/second world countries at least), AIDS deaths in western and central parts of Africa have declined noticeably less, down from 400k in 2005 to still about 350k in 2014 (see statistics at aidsinfo.unaids.org), with other regions dropping 50% or more over the same time.
Getting reliable number on the death toll caused by ISIS isn’t an easy task. Most numbers I was able to locate on the Internet were rough estimates, and usually specific areas/countries. Also, ISIS has only been active since 2014. Considering that ISIS-linked deaths that have occurred outside the Syria and Iraq area are rather sparse, for a general assumption sticking with numbers for those two core countries should be sufficient for this post’s cause.
According to sources like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, estimates for people killed by ISIS in Syria are in the area of 30-35k. Anyway, these numbers can only be seen as an estimate, as civil war related deaths and ISIS deaths may not be completely distinguishable. The total number of deaths in Syria is listed in the area of 75k-80k people.
For Iraq, the total deaths for 2014 is listed in the area of 14k-17k people, which is about double the number of 2013. Assuming that maybe two thirds of those might be linked to ISIS would result in about 11k people in Iraq.
So in total, an estimate of maybe 50k deaths could be linked to ISIS activity in 2014. Apart from the fact that every single one of them needs to be condemned (the deaths, not the people!), and ISIS is working hard on increasing this number for 2015 (I could not find any reliable numbers at the moment), for 2014 it’s still only at about 4% of the number of AIDS deaths in the same year.
Of course the numbers can be debated, but let’s just say by advocating condom use in Africa instead of condemning it as the Catholic Church does, one in ten AIDS deaths could be avoided. Just one in ten. This would add up to almost 100k deaths less in 2014. And I would argue that 10% decrease is a very conservative estimate, as can be seen in the other regions of the world. Realistic results could be a lot higher.
So we’re at two numbers. 50k and 100k+. One caused by malevolent Muslim extremists, the other by benevolent catholic Christians. Of course the numbers have to be taken with a grain or two of salt. And of course I in no way want to defend ISIS‘ deeds. In the contrary, IMHO the anti-ISIS coalition is still not doing enough, or at least not getting enough results. My point is the other side – one that could be avoided without warfare, just by critical, scientific thought processes. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the Catholic Church has been and continues to be criticized for their outdated, unrealistic policies; many Catholics around the world probably do not condone their leaders‘ policy. But those leaders do not want to change, and these crazy policies created by man, not God, have long been overdue to be rethought (heck, nowhere in the Bible does it state that condoms or any form of contraception is forbidden. NOWHERE!).
If not for contraception reason, at least for health reasons!
And finally – apart from causing deaths, there’s one more thing both ISIS and the Catholic Church have in common – they do what they do in the name of religion.
Too bad there is no hell they can rot in for what they do. They really would deserve eternal torture for their deeds.