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View Diary: Sometimes You Have To Be Allowed To Criticize Faiths (196 comments)

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  •  Religion bashing isn't going to cut it as far as (8+ / 0-)

    winning public support.
       When you go on about the "sky fairy" or the 6000 year age of the earth, people just assume that you're an ignorant bigot.
       There are religious traditions that are oppressive to women, and there are traditions that liberate women.
        The very moral framework from which we view the world - that there is something wrong with war and violence, for example, or that slavery is immoral - are viewpoints that were not widely held until the spread of Christianity.
        Blaming religion - rather than tribalism or dynastic ambitions - for the world's wars is a serious misunderstanding of history.
       I'm not a believer but I know a lot of decent people who are. The idea that those folks should be demonized because of ignorant generalizations about religion as a whole is repugnant.

    •  The "decent" people far too often keep quiet (4+ / 0-)

      and many knew about the abuse scandals well before they came out

    •  Why it is repugnant? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishtroller01, LaFeminista, OldDragon

      a sincere question. I agree with your suggestion that what you call "tribalism or dynastic ambitions" is the core issue -- i.e., basic human nature, which drives us to band together into social groups, identify us versus them and fight together against other groups, while struggling for power and status within the group -- this dynamic is across human cultures. And is often though not always manifested in the form of organized religions. Religions are an effect, not the cause. All that is true.

      This part of your comment I also find interesting, and wonder if it's true... not that I'm doubting you but I've just not heard this one before:

      The very moral framework from which we view the world - that there is something wrong with war and violence, for example, or that slavery is immoral - are viewpoints that were not widely held until the spread of Christianity.
      Most of what I know about history of christian influence is things like the Inquisition, Crusades, Witch Burnings, stamping out other religions with vicious campaigns that can only be called wars. And psychological violence against the members of the religions with intense guilt, shame of our "animal" nature, sexuality in particular as well as dancing, music, how you dress... the repression of anything fun, or that might lead to sex, oh noes. And fear of Hell - eternal torture. never did see how people find comfort in these beliefs. I find it hard not to just see it as child abuse, to teach young minds such awful things and call it the 'truth'. I find that repugnant. I can't help it, I do. I don't often say so, because it's 'wrong' to criticize people's religious beliefs and practices.

      So this is where I have trouble...

        I'm not a believer but I know a lot of decent people who are. The idea that those folks should be demonized because of ignorant generalizations about religion as a whole is repugnant.
      I know good people who are religious as well. And I know good people who are republicans, who don't believe in climate change, who don't believe in government intervention for the common good. These people love animals and bake cookies for their neighbors too. We don't insist it is "repugnant" to criticize their beliefs -- and the effects of those beliefs -- in other areas, so why are their religious beliefs immune from critique? I honestly don't get this.

      In another diary not too long ago there was a discussion (on another topic) about the concept that "silence = assent" or whether we are morally obligated to speak out against what we believe are wrongs, in the words, deeds, and ramifications of what other people are thinking and doing. I argued against that, saying sometimes it is right to speak out, other times right to let others do as they will and keep out of it, that does not mean you approve or agree with their actions.

      But to have silence demanded at all times, to be forbidden to criticize, that is another thing -- and to go along with that, well that does feel like assent. It bothers me. I do think that people are free, obviously, to hold whatever beliefs they want, but other people should also be free to criticize those beliefs.

      •  While Christians, in particular, have participated (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Shawn87, OrganicChemist

        in warfare, you have to realize that the faith came into being in a milieu in which war was not only a fact of life, but was the means of social advancement. In the ancient world, wars were openly conducted for purposes of theft and capturing slaves.
           Torture was often admired. Public killings were conducted for entertainment.
           The ancient world was a very bloody place long before Christianity came along.
           If you do your research, you'll find that the early Christians refused to participate in war. As part of the trade-off involved in  establishing Christianity, though, the church leadership agreed that Christians could serve in the Roman military, as long as clergy were exempt.
           Likewise with slavery. Although the Bible doesn't condemn slavery, the practice of Christian slaves worshipping with Christian masters undermined the institution and it faded after the fall of the Empire. The first condemnation of slavery was a 1431 Papal Bull issued by Eugene IV banning the enslavement of newly converted natives in the Canary islands.
           The anti-slaver movement in 18th-19th Century England and the US was led by clergymen and lay Christians. The US civil rights movement was largely a religious movement.
            What is repugnant to me is the demonization of all Christians because of offenses committed by a handful.
            The net effect of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is that things that were considered part of everyday life in earlier times - massacre, unjust warfare, torture, rape are now regarded as evils.
           That religion hasn't eradicated these ills from the world isn't a criticism of religion, it's a criticism of the world.

    •  This is historically so wrong... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaFeminista, OldDragon, CS in AZ

      " The very moral framework from which we view the world - that there is something wrong with war and violence, for example, or that slavery is immoral - are viewpoints that were not widely held until the spread of Christianity."

      How in the world do you think Christianity spread throughout the western world (and beyond)?  It was through violence, mass murder, cultural destruction, theft... you name it.  Christianity did not become a big movement because it was all about "Good News".  It carried one of the biggest sticks in the history of mankind.

      •  Actually, Christianity became the dominant (0+ / 0-)

        religion in the Roman Empire because of better organization and fervor during the time that it was illegal. When Christianity had spread so far that it was the most common religion in the Empire, all it took was for Constantine to make it the official religion. After that, its future as the religion of Europe was assured.
           The ascension of Christianity in the Empire was largely non-violent.

    •  Don't agree with bashing religion... (0+ / 0-)

      And I think we had better all learn to get along and focus on politics around here, rather than trying to create divisions between non-believers and believers.  

      So we're in agreement on the important point.

      But you are wrong about this:

      The very moral framework from which we view the world - that there is something wrong with war and violence, for example, or that slavery is immoral - are viewpoints that were not widely held until the spread of Christianity.
      Christianity itself is a pretty malleable and changing religion over time, and I don't think that opposition to war or violence is a Christian invention. Even at the time of Jesus, the Romans had a Temple of Janus and it was considered reason for celebration when the doors were closed - meaning that there were no wars anywhere in the known world.  Every religion, including many of the cults co-existing with early Christianity, opposed violence.

      And resistance to slavery coming out of the Christian tradition?  Not even remotely.  Christianity has always supported slavery as much as it opposed it. The South in the US appealed to religion, specifically Christianity, as a defense of slavery.  Feudalism and the Middle Ages?  No relationship to Christianity?  Nope, not buying it. The gospels cut both ways and slavery is as easily justified by the Abrahamic religions as opposed. Of course, Christians were prominent abolitionists, it's true.  But as Abraham Lincoln once observed, both sides in the US were praying to the same God.  

      If there was one universal with respect to opposition to slavery... it might be hunter-gatherer societies, who didn't use slaves in the first place. The idea of slavery being immoral is pretty much standard for any hunter-gatherer society.  The morality or immorality of slavery has little to do with Christianity as practiced or understood during nearly all of its history.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:38:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You could say the same thing about Republicans. (0+ / 0-)

      Wouldn't do as well around here, though.

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