05 March 2009

I done somebody wrong! (Step 5.)

5. Admitted to others and ourselves the exact nature of wrongs we had committed in the name of theism.

"I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Almighty Creator. By fighting the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work."
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

This is a tough one. I think most people, regardless of religious affiliation, are generally decent. Not many protest at the funerals of US soldiers because they fought for a 'sinful' country. Most priests don't molest alter boys. Only fringe members of certain Christian denominations shoot abortion doctors. Only extremist Muslims behead prisoners, strap bombs to themselves, or fly planes into buildings. (Some would argue the last example is politically rather than religiously motivated. Regardless, the actions are still shrouded in the trappings of religion.)

However, fighting to deny fundamental civil rights (like marrying who you want) relegates a segment of society to second-class status. The struggle to infuse non-scientific dogma into public school science curriculum is damaging not only to the advancement of individuals' critical thinking skills, but also helps to marginalize science education, which is becoming increasingly necessary to maintain America's competitiveness in the international community. Lobbying to tie African AIDS relief to abstinence only programs is not only ineffective, but a despicable disregard for the health and well-being of humanity in general.

On a more personal level, there are stories of those who have broken from their religious upbringing only to be disowned by their own families. In extreme cases, family members have been murdered for violating certain tenants of their religion.

Military personnel have been discriminated against for not participating in prayer groups. High school students are ostracized for challenging intelligent design, not participating the pledge of allegiance, or sitting out prayers at sporting events.

It's time to own up to any discrimination or violence committed against those who believe in a different deity, the same deity differently, or no deity at all. It feels good; a great weight will lift from your shoulders.

Think Well



Anonymous said...

As much as I poke fun on my blog, one of my least favorite things is when atheists lump everything about religion into the 'bad' pile, while forgetting that there are good things and good people there as well... It's sad.

Lee Vegas said...


Thanks for the comment. I'm new at this and didn't think there were any readers.

I didn't intend to come across as lumping everything in the bad pile. While I highlighted some of the more heinous aspects of theism, I also acknowledged that most believers are not guilty of this kind of extremism. Some however have been complicit.

If someone in the process of 'leaving the fold' can admit to themselves things like "I shouldn't have given that woman outside the clinic such a hard time since she's just gone through an agonizing decision of her own," or "I was wrong to oppose equal rights for homosexuals," I think it's a helpful step towards a more humanistic outlook.