Take Religion out of Values and the line is much clearer
Posted by coventryrm on Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The recent discussion that came as result of my post regarding the FLDS compound in Texas turned from the original topic to a much broader discussion and brought up the question of where do we draw the line when it comes to imposing values on society or other cultures?
Blazeheliski asked this question: “There are a ton of history books out there talking about how us “high-and-mighty” Westerners swooped in, and brought the “savage” natives clothing, laws and rules, religion, and all the other wonders of “advanced” civilization. Right or wrong?”
SkiUtah asked: “Where does one draw the line? What about genocide, do we step in and impose our values and stop people from murdering each other, or just let them work it out amongst themselves because they’ve been doing it for centuries?”
I think these are great questions and some good examples as to the dilemma caused by the belief that the role of religion should be, or has actually been, responsible for morals and values, and therefore; needs to stay central in legislation and policy making. Finally, what is our nation’s responsibility to the world?
I would propose, however; that these questions and observations show us precisely why religion should play absolutely no role in creating legislation or in deciding the values we as a society or culture feel are important enough to impose or enforce on others in and or outside of our borders. I think it is crucial that religious values or beliefs only be self imposed by the individual in governing themselves in their own personal life and convictions.
The question of where to draw the line I believe is much easier to answer once you take religion out of the picture. No longer do we cloud the issues with trying to second guess what this or that deity wants. Since every religious system has their own ideas about what will please or displease their specific God this can become confusing and it seems to also stir fierce emotions to the point that even the most simple values get confused and twisted within the debate, creating even more gray areas to resolve.
If you take God out of the picture you can then focus on the basics of humanitarian issues and values and the picture becomes less clouded. I think most of our species can actually agree on how we think others should be treated and what actually infringes on others rights and what types of acts cause unnecessary pain and suffering. The debate and discussion can at least be based on actual data and evidence regarding a given issue. For example in the case of young girls being forced into marriage or sex with older men, you can see from the information available that this is not only damaging to them physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Research also shows that the developing brain does not have a high capacity to make rational decisions that overcome impulses and emotions until we are in our early twenties. Therefore, we can safely say that situations or circumstances that pressure teens and pre-teens to do go through physically or emotionally damaging rites of passages or rituals from social, cultural or religious pressure from adult leaders, such as genital mutilation, should be of concern. There are many examples where adult values of questionable action have been imposed on children and adolescents. In most cases you would try to educate and reason about such practices, Obviously, such an approach makes more sense when addressing these issues. This is possible only if you keep God out of the argument, as it seems pretty hard to reason with someone who appeals to the absolute authority of their God.
It is irresponsible and arrogant when a powerful nation such as ours allows religion to influence the political process regarding values and laws imposed on others. It is irresponsible and arrogant, when religion is allowed drive what we do globally as “Peace keepers” or protectors of “Human Rights. ” It is also downright dangerous.
For example, in 1971 Ronald Reagan made the following statement and then 10 years later became the President of the nation with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world.
“In the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, it says that the land of Israel will come under attack by the armies of the ungodly nations, and it says that Libya will be among them. Do you understand the significance of that? Libya has now gone Communist, and that’s a sign that the day of Armageddon isn’t far off.
Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None. But it didn’t seem to make sense before the Russian revolution, when Russia was a Christian country. Now it does, now that Russia has become communistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God. Now it fits the description of Gog perfectly.
For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. It can’t be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God’s people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons.” 1971.
My point being if you can convince people that religion does not have a place in these issues globally, and that religious justification for any action is unacceptable, then these issues can be discussed in a rational and reasonable manner. Solutions and actions can and should be based strictly on the question at hand and the debate focused on protecting the rights of people based on good sound humanitarian principles. We know what those are or at least can figure it out in this day and age by looking at historical records and events and learning from the accumulated past years of experience. Certainly religions and myths dating back thousands of years has little or nothing new to offer in this regard.
I would also argue that people of religious faith would be better served and protected in using a humanitarian and secular process in defining which values we need to preserve and uphold. With the many different factions of religious views any one in the minority view would be at risk of the religious majority being imposed upon them. Even if you truly believe that you have the one true religion you can’t believe from a realistic viewpoint that everyone will come to that same place and be willing to follow and adhere to your beliefs, the advancement of your belief in others would still be done more effectively through your own personal example and contact with those around you and not by mandate, pressure or political process. Garry Wills book, “Head and Heart” shows that it is precisely the separation of Church and State that has caused religion in America to flourish so spectacularly. History has shown us that mixing Religion with Government is a dangerous, volatile and extremely unhealthy marriage.