I don’t usually write about religion. I’m not the kind of person who wades into areas fraught with potential peril. I’m the kind of person who flees from fraught. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. So here goes.
I think people should be free to believe whatever they want. They should get to worship whatever god or goddess or many gods they believe in, alone or with others who want to join them. They should also get to NOT worship if they choose to, and their morality should never be questioned because of that choice. People should all be judged by their actions, not by their professed beliefs.
I will fight to defend anyone’s right to believe and practice what he wants to, so long as his religion doesn’t impinge on anyone else’s.
People should be allowed to practice their own religious beliefs in peace.
What people should NOT allowed to do is marginalize, disenfranchise, persecute, abuse or harm innocent people and claim that it’s in the name of their religion. That’s not a belief. That’s bigotry and criminal behavior.
It doesn’t matter what religion you start out with, what you call it, or what you claim to believe: if you are hurting other people and fomenting hatred, you are a person of violence, not a person of faith.
From the little I know of comparative religions, almost all of them are based in kindness, generosity, and peace. Anyone who uses his religion as an excuse to practice violence and cruelty is twisting and perverting what’s actually there in an act far more harmful and offensive to the original religion than anything a peaceful and tolerant nonbeliever could ever do.
Seems obvious, right? But there are huge numbers of people all over the world–and in this country–who stridently claim that their religion gives them the right to criticize, marginalize, refuse to hire, persecute, bully, and even kill people who are innocent of any crime, who simply want to be allowed to live their lives in peace. We can’t accept “my religion says you’re evil” as an excuse for hatred. That’s medieval.
Basic morality says we should be generous to those in need, kind to those who are suffering, and tolerant of those who are different. If your religion is teaching anything other than that . . . you should probably get a new religion. There are a lot out there to choose from.