Article donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
Should all religious beliefs be
in our most
important national conversations”?
Charles C. Camosy of Fordham University wrote an article for the Religion News website on September 6, 2019 entitled “What it means to ‘get’ religion in 2020.” 1
By “get religion” he means understanding religion and religious people. This is something that he claims many liberals misunderstand. I agree with him.
His basic proposition is that a person’s religious views/beliefs are such an integral part of who a person is that they should be “fully and regularly represented in our most important national conversations.” Otherwise we (as in our society) risks alienating a large chunk of the population, thus continuing the “us versus them” divisions that helped get Donald Trump elected to the presidency and have torn and are tearing our Democracy apart.
At the least, this position is -- in my opinion -- seriously flawed. At the worst, it is a seriously dangerous position to present.
Let me say here that I fully support an individual’s right to believe whatever they want to believe and to live their life according to their beliefs as long as they don’t interfere with the rights of others to believe what they want to believe and to live their lives according to their beliefs.
When conflicts arise -- which they have, and we know they will continue -- there must be a basic principle or principles that people agree upon to use to adjudicate disputes. The problems this country is in now have arisen because some people believe that their rights should take precedence over the rights of ALL others. This applies to many evangelical/fundamentalist Christians, gun rights advocates, anti abortion advocates, some Atheists, and others.
For example: The religious view/belief/position that homosexuality is a perverted sinful choice and that homosexual behavior must not be allowed or encouraged has led to the persecution and murder of homosexuals throughout history.
This view/belief/position does NOT deserve to be “fully and regularly represented in our most important national conversations.” As Camosy states in his article, homosexuals have the right to be treated honestly, justly, and respectfully, with regards to being served by businesses, access sex marriage, adopt a child, etc. etc. IF a person believes that homosexual behavior is wrong, they shouldn’t practice homosexual behavior themselves. BUT, they have no right to deny services to others because of their homosexual behavior.
This is ESPECIALLY since the religious view/belief/position is in defiance of the ONE singular basic principle our nation was founded upon and that we should all agree to refer to when adjudicating disputes:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 2
The term "men" refers to all human beings, not just males.
For those that don’t recognize these words, they are in the opening paragraph of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In this document, all of the 13 states that existed at the time declared their independence from Britain. It states the principles of government that were sought. Nowhere in the document is preferential treatment granted to one group of people over any other group of people.
A second example: Creationism is NOT a Science and does NOT deserve to be “fully and regularly represented in our most important national conversations” over what is to be taught as science in public school classes. If a religious school wants to teach Creationism in their classroom they have the right to do so. But a teacher in a public school does NOT have the right to teach Creationism in a public classroom that affects the rights of all children to learn honest and accurate and up to date information about Science — something that may be vital to their future job prospects and their “pursuit of happiness”!
A third example: The belief of some Climate deniers that God is in control of everything that happens in the Universe. Thus, if he doesn’t want the earth to heat, up he will stop global warming. This does NOT deserve to be “fully and regularly represented in our most important national conversations” about carbon emissions, climate change, and public policy debates that affect the survival of our species and all other species, and that interferes with our right to life.
Someone might claim that “God demands something” or wants us to do something or that “He is in control and to interfere is to defy God” First, they should have to prove that “God” exists. IF they can do that, they will then have to prove that God actually demands something that it isn’t just humans making claims for God to give justification and sanctification to their own prejudices.
Now I fully understand that for some Christians their beliefs are an all or nothing proposition -- either what they believe is 100% absolute TRUTH or it is 100% a LIE AND when faced with the reality that one of their beliefs is not TRUE they risk losing everything. The whole foundation of their world comes tumbling down around them. So they fight to the death (metaphorically, sometimes literally and in some cases physically by killing or attempting to kill) those that disagree with them.
If, for example, they accept that the majority of homosexuals are as good decent upstanding citizens as the majority of heterosexuals, then they are left wondering what else they have been taught isn’t TRUE. Could God himself be a lie?
I can feel sorry for these folks BUT I will NOT -- and I encourage others NOT to -- allow their views/beliefs/positions about Science, History, the nature of reality to be “fully and regularly represented in our most important national conversations”.
IF this makes them feel disrespected, so be it. They have brought this upon themselves with their self-imposed beliefs about the issues and in their concept that beliefs are an all or nothing proposition. This leaves them no room for personal growth and development as our knowledge about Science, History and the world around us has grown.
Perhaps this is another reason why the idea of separation of church and state is so important. It keeps religious beliefs private (safe from public ridicule) and keeps religious people from having to prove the impossible -- that God exists and that it is his voice they are listening to NOT human voices trying to justify and sanctify their beliefs by claiming their opinions come from God.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Charles C. Camosy, "What it means to ‘get’ religion in 2020," Religion News, 2019-SEP-06, at: https://religionnews.com/
- Text from the Stone Engraving of the parchment Declaration of Independence on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum. See: "America's Founding Documents." at: https://www.archives.gov/
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Original posting: 2019-OCT-02
Author: Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys