Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Religious Outlook I Respect

Although I’ve been pretty hard on religion when it inserts itself into government and policy making, there are some religious leaders I respect, even though I think they are lost in fantasyland. Dr. Richard Land is one of them. He is one of the few evangelicals who have spoken out against Bush’s touting of her religion as one of the reasons for picking Harriet Miers as his Supreme Court nominee. Land is a true believer not only in Christianity but in the philosophy that judges and justices should set aside their personal beliefs and decide cases on the basis of existing law. This is what some conservatives believe, but not all, by any stretch. There are many who view getting a Christian on the court as a way to get Christianity back in government, i. e. prayer in schools, creationism in the classroom, gays on the sidelines, stem cells, abortion and contraceptives out of medicine, etc. Land is not one of them.

Another attitude I can respect is what Land sees as one of the virtues on Christianity. He believes that if Christianity were accepted by all, we would have a much more ordered society with fewer births out of wedlock, less crime, more attention to the plight of the less endowed, etc. And, he may be right for some segment of society, but not for all. This belief assumes that all people need religion to live productive, law abiding, moral lives. This I cannot accept because it has been proven wrong over and over again. There are many people with no religious belief that live such lives. Religion limits the freedom and liberty of such people. And anchoring a society on rules and principles devised thousands of years ago limits its adaptation to changing conditions and acquisition of new knowledge.

An appropriate compromise would be to take advantage of religion by allowing those who can profit from it to profess it freely, but also allow those who don’t to go their own way without discrimination or any requirement to participate in religious activity. In any case it should be a personal choice, not something that should be implemented in law or universally applied.

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