Friday, April 05, 2013

Whatever gets you through the night

I've been thinking  a lot lately about when it's appropriate to bring negative attention to someone's faith or religion and when it's not. Some would say it always is, and some would say it never is, but I think a more nuanced approach is necessary in a civil society.

If someone is trying to use their religion to deny you basic rights, like the benefits of legal marriage, it is right to call them on it. If someone tries to have their religious view of human origins taught in the public schools,it is correct to insist on science that is backed by science. If someone wants the Ten Commandments or Bibles in the classroom, it's is right to stand on the separation of church and state. If a clergy person or church lay leader abuses a child or embezzles from the congregation, he or she should be prosecuted to the fullest by civil authorities.If a coworker doesn't respect your polite refusal to invitations to their church, that's an issue for HR. Unsolicited religious callers have every right to be turned away.

However....respectful discourse calls for us to allow people their beliefs about religion without denigration. If your religious friend or neighbour is not trying to convert you or use their religion to deny you legal rights, what would ever inspire you to try and take that from them? If the hope of an afterlife and seeing their loved ones again helps someone sleep at night, is it not cruel to try and convince them we end at death? What do you think you ever gain by claiming that all religious people are fools, that religion....which both brings peace to many and provides an important social safety net...should be abolished? On the other hand, does any religious person really think that bringing up the specter of hellfire is going to convince anyone to believe what you do? What is ever gained but division when we judge others for their beliefs about religion?


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