Our Constitution granted each and every one of us the freedom to believe or not believe as we decide. That protection applies to all of us. When one group has decided by some form of spiritual osmosis that their version of the unverifiable and occasionally insane has been decreed to be the new Law, and thus their political mission is to ensure that is so, then it is up to the rest of us to put that crazy back where it belongs: away from public influence
Two years ago, a longtime customer walked into Barronelle Stutzman’s flower shop with a request: the customer—who is gay—asked Stutzman to provide flowers for his wedding. Stutzman declined, citing her Christian faith’s objections to same-sex marriage, and was eventually charged with violating Washington’s state anti-discrimination statute. With Stutzman facing thousands of dollars in fines, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in to defend her in court. [A lower court ruled against her; as of this writing, no final ruling has issued from her state’s Supreme Court].…
‘Barronelle and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages,’ Kristen Waggoner, one of Stutzman’s attorneys, said in a statement. ‘No one should be faced with a choice between their freedom of speech and conscience on one hand and personal and professional ruin on the other.’
This is hardly the only such instance when one’s desire to discriminate based on their trumped-up notions of religious liberty and persecution have clashed with the “Do unto others….” edict supposedly handed down from their Christian Superstar. The infamous Hobby Lobby case is perhaps the one most familiar to the general public, although lesser lights have had their 15 minutes of fame. The State of North Carolina has earned justified condemnation and economic rebuke for passage of its outrageous anti-LGTBQ law. An even more egregious example of recent vintage can be found here.
Nothing like a healthy combo of fear, ignorance, and paranoia to get the day started! These efforts are all summed up neatly by one of the writers referenced above:
Christian notions of hospitality to strangers, love for enemies, and sacrifice of one’s own freedom for the sake of others are abandoned in the need to reinforce identities shaped by narrowly defined beliefs rooted more in history and prejudice than in Christian love, the Bible, or Christian theology.
AUTHORITARIANISM & RELIGION
A less-“Christian” observation of behaviors characteristic of the far-Right Christian faction comes courtesy of Robert Altemeyer’s fascinating/disturbing study of authoritarianism:
[R]eligious fundamentalists … are highly likely to be authoritarian followers. They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites.
But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrow- minded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they. They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in.
If, for the sake of argument, there is an Entity/Deity/God/Whatever of presumably unimaginable magnificence—among Its many superior traits—are we supposed to believe that It is then both so needy and so devious that It has set up endless conflict for the sole purpose of ensuring Its magnificence is regularly complimented? And as part of Its gamesmanship, It is unable or unwilling to supply undeniable proof of Itself other than through the unverifiable claims of Its followers, with the rest of us being obliged to just buy in because someone says so?
If fear and anger and retribution are the primary Tools of the Deity Trade, might I suggest Someone better-suited to peaceful co-existence, compassion, and general kindness as a Role Model?
What genetic off-switch has been activated so that the ardent believers have not yet realized they are fighting pointless battles based on meaningless commands on behalf of fictitious entities? It’s not that difficult to pause for a moment or two and pull reason and common sense down from the shelf.
Why is it that these competing Deities of choice uniformly possess some of the worst of human traits, judging by the messages and actions Their various followers seem committed to jamming down our throats? Perhaps it’s just me, but I always assumed that Something responsible for Everything would be more than a bit superior in temperament, inclinations, motivations, and purposes than what seems evident much, much too often by those claiming to be serving It/Them.
~ My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA © 11.02.13
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In 2014, I published an eBook entitled Life Will Answer. It’s an exploration of life, religion, and the tenuous connection one has with the other—at least as has been defined to date by the various theologies of past and present-day believers.
I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. I am at best a casual observer of some religion-based behaviors, but given that I have also authored a book discussing those matters, perhaps that makes me more than a casual observer.
A fundamental point of the book is that Life has been established to honor and answer the choices each and all of us make—whatever they are and however they may be judged by the standards and guidelines we as a society have established. I do not accept the notion that there is a God or another Deity of choice offering wildly arbitrary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs, or that this Deity has edicts we’re free to abide by or not (although if we don’t there will be hell to pay).
I wrote that book on the premise that there is more to this life than the narrow-minded, conflicting, and occasionally dangerous notions various religions offer. Given the large number of them each claiming passionate followers, it’s absurd for any collection of humans to insist that their Deity assures them It is the One and Only. Countless Peers and their own loyal adherents take issue with that.
Every day we are witness to the absurdities—and too often, the atrocities—committed in the name of some Deity or another by adherents convinced that they and they alone are privy to the guidance and dictates of that One and Only. There is little room, if any, for reason, logic, or rational thought. The absence of an intelligent component guiding their beliefs and conduct—replaced as it as by fears and justifications untethered from reality—carries its own set of consequences.
Are we really to believe that we’re all commanded or obliged to above all else obey and honor and worship one Supreme Being [among many]? How stultifying! This Magnificence is so needy and weak that It needs us to do things to satisfy It? Hello!? How did It manage to survive all those billions of years without us?!
Magical thinking is not a shield to the inevitable harm which results when irrational and mindless behaviors collide with reason and fact. We have some choices to make, and a future to concern ourselves with.
Re-establishing this blog is my own contribution to wiser problem-solving than what seems to be the norm. Too many are in position where their delusions carry heavy and needless consequences to all of us.