What is the value of a religion? It’s simple. The sole criterion on which a religion can and should be judged is it’s ability to help it’s adherents be better people. And by better I mean people who are more patient, more compassionate, angry about social injustice, more tolerant of others, more generous with our resources, smarter in mind, healthier in body, more emotionally balanced, more spiritually aware. Those are the characteristics that a religion should concern itself with. A religion can do other things too. A religion can be judged by how it treats it’s non-members. How it changes it’s environment, manages its money, what social or political cause it supports, or what freedoms it expands to everyone in the world. A religion that can do all of this is truly worth a jot and tiddle.
Not all religions are perfect. In fact, there is no perfect religion and we must content ourselves with this fact. There are no perfect adherents to a religion such as there are not any perfect people. I do not mind an imperfect religion full of imperfect people. I have given you my criterion for which a religion should be judged. Failing to be perfect was not on that list, nor was perfect members on the list. I do not and can not judge a group of individuals by the actions of a few.
One of the beautiful things about religion in America is that each person is free to practice or not according to the dictates of one’s reason and conscience. Do not misunderstand me. There are things about religious beliefs I find incredibly silly. These are my opinions and boy are there some doozies out there. However, in the interest of politeness I generally don’t go around insulting everyone around me. And, in the interest of politeness and neighborly affection, people don’t go around insulting me. Usually.
Recently I came across a religion unfamiliar to me. I’d heard the name here and there, but have never given it serious attention. When it came up in the news recently I went to their website to see what their tenants were. This is what I found.
There are seven fundamental tenets.
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
- The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
- One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
- The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forego your own.
- Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
- People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
- Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
What did those in the News Media suggest for people who adhere to these tenets? That they should be brought to the moment they wish to create alongside a christian monument on government land and executed by the state. This was Fox News Business, mensa group. I’ll provide a link below if you wish to watch the video. After all I could be mischaracterizing the Fox Panelist’s argument. They seem to be suggesting that Satanists, to whom these tenets belong, are inherently evil for being “anti-christian”. Which is, I’m sure, how most christians feel about Satanists. Far be it from me to suggest that those in the News might want to devote some effort into looking at the complex issues surrounding this particular religion, it’s history, it’s impact on society, how it’s members think and feel. Nor would I wish to suggest that by saying on national TV that these people should be executed might be contrary to one’s business and legal interests. I would not want to point out that shallow trivial caricaturization of religion might not live up to the hopes of something called a “mensa meeting”.
I don’t care what you believe about Satanism. It is not relevant. We have freedom of religion in this country. Any religion. We do not go around shooting people we disagree with. We don’t even suggest it. In fact this is one of those vanishingly rare limits we have on the freedom of speech. If some disturbed person shoots a Satanist you can bet Fox news will have a wrongful death suit on it’s hands which it will lose. Heck, Satanists might sue anyway. We don’t have “equality” for only Christians here. You want to put up your religious symbol then you can damn well let others do the same. And if you don’t like that religion, you can take solace from the fact that in this country a minority religion could never rise to power and have YOU lined up and shot. Fox news is sick, their panelist was sick. I have no words for how vile and offensive what they said was.