Saturday, February 24, 2007

Holy Wars

Among my friends and others, I have a reputation for sometimes having controversial or irreverent views. (Go figure, South Park is one of my favorite TV shows.) It seems to me that most of the time when people get offended, it's by something petty or trivial. I always want to tell them to stop and ask themselves "Are my beliefs or opinions really that fragile that I can't be presented with signs of other people's beliefs or opinions?"

It was in that mindset I wrote my recent column "Holy Wars" for today's Diamondback about how to strike a balance between secularism and religion in the United States. Given that I chided secular people for their hostility toward religious people, and the latter for constantly trying to push their beliefs on others, it was predictable that I drew fire from both sides. But I also found a lot of people who agreed with me, which was heartening in that it proves the polarized wings are not the majority.

Sample grab:
Despite caricature-worthy cases like the Westboro evangelists, crazy demagogues constitute a distinct minority of the population. The vast majority of religious Americans are good, decent, ordinary people. They should not be patronized, insulted or generalized as stupid folk from the South or Midwest.

Less hostility toward religion would go a long way toward defusing cultural tension. There is no need to continually deride obvious inconsistencies, outmoded thinking and immoral actions committed in centuries-old religious tradition. Regardless of the downside of rigid and literal interpretation, it should be obvious that the moral and humanitarian side of religion is a positive.

...I have several reminders for people of faith as person's particular beliefs are not the only ones in existence. No one maintains a monopoly on what everyone should think. Respect the beliefs of people who belong to another religion, no religion or some religion.

I conclude by acknowledging that many aspects of America's values have been strongly influenced by religion but that the U.S. must remain a fundamentally secular nation. Click here to read the whole article.

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