Let's Talk About Topics Less Controversial: Politics and Religion

Here are my questions…would appreciate any answers as you want to give (but 2-4 don’t apply to some people):

  1. Religion. How do you decide which one?

  2. K, so you’re in the religion. Do people who represent your religion as its great scholars, sages, and outreach/evengelical professionals ever say irrational or irresponsible things? If they do (and particularly if they do often), how do you deal with that?

  3. How do you deal with the people in your religion who accept statements of such leaders prima facie (or dismiss the statements as “not their real view” just because they don’t like them), particularly if your local place(s) of worship are full of them? Do you let it go or try and promote a discussion of ideas? Why?

  4. Which takes precedent, your religious wonts or the Constitution (or are they perfectly in sync?)? Did you decide on your political views because of your religion or because they’re what you believe the law of the land intended?

Baruch Pelta

Simple; I’m an atheist because that fits the facts, and because there’s no reason to think there’s anything but hot air in religion. In other words, I’m an atheist for the same reason I don’t believe in fairies or orcs.

Religion doesn’t appeal to me. On the most basic level, I distrust people who claim to know something so fundamental and morally important (or so they claim) with certainty and without evidence, especially in large groups, and it gets ridiculous when they actually don’t agree with each other on pretty important stuff like who to kill.

On a more rigorous level, you decide on the basis of evidence; so I’m an atheist.

I discovered, at age 22ish, that there was this thing called neo-paganism which holds a lot of the same beliefs and ideas I had already figured out by myself. (Namely, that the Divine is vastly more complex than any one religion has gotten right, and the gods and goddesses of many peoples and places are/were facets of one unfathomable Divine. We give bits and pieces of It names and stories so we can comprehend it, but none of them are all of It. The Divine is all around us, in nature, in people, in plants and animals - there is nothing supernatural or outside of Creation, but there may be ways to influence my subconscious or maybe even outside events through “magick”, which isn’t the thing David Copperfield does on stage. And sex, when consensual, is good.) I found that I wanted to hang out with people who had figured out the same things I had, so I started going to Circles in my area.

Yes, absolutely. Sometimes I argue with them outright (if it’s in person). Sometimes I ask them to clarify if I think I’m misunderstanding them. Sometimes I throw the book across the room in disgust. And I’m sure that I’ve also said and done things that made my students think I was irrational or irresponsible, too. But that’s okay. I’ve never claimed and I never expect to get it all correct, nor do I expect the “greats” in my faith to do so. We’re all learning as well as teaching.

I always promote discussion of ideas! I encourage people with factually wrong ideas (like the idea that neopaganism is in ancient religion dating back to a utopian woman led society) to do more research and tell me what they find. I correct my students outright, simply because by being my students, they’ve asked me for direct guidance. I encourage people, including myself, with controversial or worrying ideas to continue talking/thinking about them and see where the logical extensions of those ideas take them, and if they’re happy with that. Above all, I encourage people to remember that their discoveries and truths are truths only for them, and that people can be quite successful with very different truths.

I can’t think of any ways in which my religion is contrary to the Constitution or the laws of the land. Personal responsibility and consideration for others is pretty important in our teachings, so even common things which might be against the law or rules in some places (like holding ritual outdoors in the nude, or lighting candles indoors) have perfectly cromulent and legal alternatives.

OH! Once I got stopped by security at the courthouse because my husband put my athame (ritual knife) in my briefcase and I didn’t realize it. Y’know, they weren’t keen on me bringing a 7 inch dagger into the courthouse, for some silly reason! :smiley: I was lucky, they confiscated it and let me proceed instead of arresting me, and I prepared and charged a new athame later.

I compare their statements about the world with what I see, and assess their assertions for internal logic and plausibility.

And I assess the morality of the entities that the religion posits, and the merit of being an adherent even if the religion were true, more in terms of moral merit than of pragmatic benefit (though the pragmatic benefit is assessed too).

And I assess what the religion asks of me and theorize on the reasons for these requests. If the reasons for the things seem to be for the benefit of the clergy or the church institution, this bad. If they reasons seem irrational or pointless, this is bad too.

So far, I’m an atheist. And would be even if science didn’t regularly kick religion’s claims to the curb.

I’m a Christian and always will be. I love my faith. I live in NH which still has a large christian population so I only get battered online. People respect others of faith in my area for the most part.

I have friends that are different religions or atheist or agnostic and it is not a big deal because we respect eachothers differences. I would never put a person down for their personal beliefs.

The thing I find facinating is that Muslims are changing the way we can talk about religion. South Park is now censored as to never make a Muhammed joke. Same thing for comedy central but any other faiths and it’s a free for all.

Why are we afraid of Muslims? We cave to them and let them break our laws in banking and with freedom of speech. I don’t get it?

Same as any other question - what are the facts, as far as can be determined, and what reasonable inferences can you draw from those facts?

Sure - people say stupid stuff all the time. If they tell me to do something stupid, I say No. I try to explain to those around me with open minds why I think such-and-such is mistaken. Some people won’t be listening. Such is life.

See above. I do what I can to make my positions, and the underlying reasons, as clear as possible. Like I said, some people aren’t listening.

The founder of my religion once said

To me, this means “don’t waste your time arguing with someone whose mind is made up”. YMMV.

My religious beliefs take precedence over everything else. This includes the Constitution - if the Constitution said I had to do something morally wrong, I would refuse (God willing).


what are the facts, as far as can be determined, and what reasonable inferences can you draw from those facts?
How do the facts point you to Xtianity?

I was born to Reform Jewish parents, I am ethnically Jewish, and it works for me.

Yes, rabbis and prominent Jews often say irrational or irresponsible things. Fortunately, Reform Judaism has no one we believe to be divinely inspired, so I just accept them as humans who make mistakes like everyone else.

We don’t have this exact situation in Reform Judaism, but I do regularly argue with Jews who express beliefs with which I disagree. Both religiously and culturally, argument is a significant part of Judaism.

There is no conflict between my religious beliefs and the Constitution. My political views are generally completely separate from my religion, and I know many people in my religion, in fact in my own family, who share my religious beliefs but have entirely opposite political beliefs.

To a large degree which religion you pick is a reflection of which religion conquered and converted your ancestors. Mohammed conquered the middle east and forced Islam. Christianity converted the Roman empire, which forced itself on western europe and latin america. They had to uproot many local and varied religions to do that. Probably one of the reasons Abrahamic religions always talk about a jealous god who does not want any other gods before him.

So I’m sure there are people who pick religions based on introspection. But much of the world is following the three Abrahamic sects (Christianity, Islam and Judaism).

Virtually no one practices folk and tribal religion because those people got their asses kicked by the Muslims and Christians several centuries ago. The ones that do only do so because that is what the culture they were born into does, which is the same thing.

I think the cargo cult was an interesting religion though.

You look at the avaliable options, and decide which best matches your own observations and understanding of the world. Or create your own, if none fit well enough. Not a perfect system, but there’s not really any better way.

I think once you have a group of two, you’re guaranteed to have someone within that group you disagree with. Really, I doubt there’s any group with a visible face who never say irrational or irresponsible things; religion isn’t unique in that regard.

You could deal with that in several ways. If you think that that person’s views are widely accepted by people in your group, you might well choose to leave entirely. You might attempt to change their minds from within. You could make your views (which hopefully aren’t irrational or irresponsible, but either way) known to outsiders, so that you aren’t judged by the few.

I suppose it probably depends on the people. Yes, you should attempt a discussion of ideas, but in practical terms, sometimes you’re just not wise enough or good at presenting your ideas (or, hell, right) enough to convince someone.

It probably would depend on the importance of the wont.

Bolding mine
Where in the U.S. is there not a large Christian population?

As to the OP,

  1. Like most people I practiced the faith of my parents until I was old enough to question it for myself. Then, like many, but not most, I found issues with their religion that I could not in good faith overlook. I read about other religions and spoke to other people and came to the decision that none of them were any better. I then moved from questioning churches to questioning religion as a concept. I concluded that the facts did not add up to anything at all. I became a “soft” atheist. I am not willing to state categorically that their can be no God, just that there is zero evidence to support it.

2-4 don’t really apply since I don’t give any special moral authority to anyone but myself. In general however, I try not to put anything, up to and including the U.S. Constitution on a pedestal. The document that was original ratified was not perfect. It is better now, but not all changes were an improvement. I will say that I support and respect the Amendment process that gives us a means to fix problems, but sets a high bar to do so (for comparison, the California Constitution has been amended hundreds of times and is a complete mess).

1.) It doesn’t hurt that I was raised Christian, but I find the Saga of YHWH & Israel & Jesus & His Church compelling and answering the questions that most bother me about life.

2.) Of course they do- sometimes in the very Book that I believe is the Word of God. With that, I just rationalize the problem passages away. With the modern-day professors of the Faith, I realize that nobody’s perfect, look for the bits of truth that may be in those utterances & discard what just won’t fit.

3.) I attempt to discuss things. It depends on how big the issues are & if it’s really worth stirring things up.

4.) I’ve seen no conflict, but if one did arise “We obey God rather than men”.

I decided none, so later questions are moot.

I made the choice to choose a religion so that my children would have exposure to this part of our culture. I chose a branch of Christianity that did not impose rigid practises on the followers. My children are now grown, and will make their own decisions in that area. I think the ‘why’ is at least as important as the ‘what’ in making a choice.

The nature of the religion makes a difference in this question. Some religions consider some of their great participants to be less fallible than everybody else. If you don’t believe that, then it sounds like you picked the wrong religion. A religion that believes in a personal relationship with God may be more to your liking if you see this as a problem area.

If you don’t like the people at your place of worship, go to another. If you picked a religion that says you have to worship with particular people in a particular place, and you don’t like those people and that place, it sounds like you picked wrong again. But some people just give simplistic responses also. If you can engage them, you might find they have more to say on the subject. Besides, how do you know you have the right point of view in the first place?

I don’t have beliefs in the conventional, dedicated to a religion, sense. But my beliefs would transcend the Constitution or a religion if either asked me to do what I consider wrong. I think everybody is about the same that way. The difference is what people and their religions consider right and wrong, and how that would conflict with the Constitution.

These questions seem kind of odd. Are you trying to chose a religion? Wouldn’t you rather have information about the various choices in that case? Maybe you have buyer’s regret about a choice you already made. Nobody is bound to a choice like that, if you’ve learned something new, choose again, or just opt out. That’s really what freedom of religion is all about.

For most of this country’s history, Christians maintained censorship over everything, are you complaining about that as well? Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, but the Comedy channel made that choice, not Muslims or the government. The question is, ‘Why are you afraid of Muslims’?

My guess is a research paper, TriPolar. This is right out of the section on “Amazing Apostates and Amazing Believers” from my Psychology of Religion course two semesters ago.

This is sort of a poll with no actual debate premise proposed, so I am moving it to IMHO.

It is not true that all topics regarding religion are, de facto, debates or witnessing.

(If the OP wants to take specific issues from the OP and, limiting it to one at a time, post and actual debate, that is fine, but that is not what we have here.)
[ /Modding ]

  1. I’m a Christian largely because I was brought up as a Christian and the essence of the teachings appeal to me. I don’t think they are that different from many religions.

  2. There are, of course, many Christians who say truly outlandish things. And they think I say ridiculous things too. I’ve belonged to three denominations in my lifetime, and all three denominations have had people (leaders) who said absurd things.

I returned to the denomination of my youth and this time two of the denomination’s leaders were friends of mine. One is considered a prophet. (We’ve never talked about it.) She makes me laugh more than any of my friends and she is very “normal” – just especially endearing. She is 90 and looks 60. The other was a disappointment to me. Very dark and mean.

  1. My Sunday School class was a great place for discussion of ideas. We studied a little bit of everything in there. I quit going to the church.

  2. There doesn’t seem to be any conflict between my church and the Constitution. My church doesn’t take a stand on any of the Amendments. We stay out of politics except for praying for our country and its leaders – that sort of thing.

The denomination just celebrated its 200th birthday. It is the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Neat folks.

I tried a range of them in practice when I was younger. After I settled on atheism, that narrowed the range down considerably. Unitarians were too damn nice, and too much coffee is bad for you, so I settled on a reduced form of Buddhism without the woo trappings.

I’d say famous Buddhists, like the Dalai Lama, routinely says things I disagree with, mostly in regards ecumenicism, but he’s not the boss of me, so I feel free to just ignore it.

I generally don’t hang out with local adherents, they’re generally from other schools than me (Therevada, Tibetan or Rinzai Zen), and I don’t attend temple, so I rarely interact with others. When I do, we do have discussions, because dialectic is central to Buddhist practice.

My religion doesn’t conflict with my politics, which has precious little to do with my country’s Constitution outside the basic human rights. But I’m a completely law-abiding citizen, if that’s what you’re asking.