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Memories of the 28th Century

Why Does Religion Get a Free Pass?

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Religious discrimination


Here in the U.S.A. we are guaranteed the right to practice the religion of our choice, which is interesting, and we are further guaranteed that there will be no establishment of religion, but this part has been completely ignored. Organized religion has been established as official and even granted tax exempt status. ďCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.Ē This was applied to the states by the supremacy clause and by the Fourteenth Amendment.

While the federal government isnít especially religious, the states are somewhat more religious, but there are movements to revoke tax exempt status for religions, including bills having been filed in several state legislatures. But we shouldnít expect the U.S. government to bother with technicalities like the law, so religious organizations probably will continue to have protection from taxation for quite some time. For the states there is some historical justification, especially those states that predate the U.S.A.

Then there are the questions as to why religious entities bother with tax exemption. Many such institutions have no need for it for any of several reasons. Religions canít advocate positions that they hold as institutions if they are tax exempt, and religious organizations are dedicated to certain positions that are contrary to good sense and to public policy. For that matter, most religions have problems of delusional ideas. I wonder whether it might be a good idea for governments to discourage religions on the grounds that they advocate fallacious ideas.

On the other hand religion is no worse than many conspiracy theories that are frequently espoused by people who have limited capacity to understand complex ideas. Is the idea that the Abrahamic god was actually an alien from a different world is stranger than that that god appeared in a burning bush. If the idea of aliens from other planets had existed at the time, I suspect that that would have been included in the Bible. I even heard someone defend the Book of Revelations as serious and a present concern. When people like that get started they can include everything in their religious fantasies.

I donít mind religious fantasies per se, but I find it frightening that some people donít even consider the possibility that they may be mistaken. Personally, I have a preference for the old-fashioned Gods and Goddesses, and I donít see any reasons why religions that started more recently deny that Sky Father was the first of the Gods, and that all other gods derive from him. The people who follow the Abrahamic god are worst, because their god(s) existed before he was adopted by the Hebrews; he just insisted that the Hebrews put him before all other gods and goddesses.
Then there are the fundamental limits of human experience and the related limit in developing a logical argument. People do not necessarily experience what other experience, so there are things that are subjective, and subjective experiences canít be used as evidence in an argument, and this might be a serious flaw in thinking (or maybe not).

Many religions have formal doctrines that are contrary to known facts, and some religions have informal doctrines that are even worse. The Roman church probably is the worst in that way, since the eleventh century CE, when it forbade the marriage of clergy, and we know where that led.

I have long had problems with organized religion for several reasons. On the other hand, I am very religious in some ways, so I may be giving myself a free pass on this and not even realizing it. But much of what is called religion is perfectly irrational; if it werenít religion and people believed those things, then they might be classified as mentally ill.

While I am quite familiar with some mystical traditions, I have not seen much irrationality in mysticism, except for the basic matter, and I will admit that it is possible that mysticism is a practice in self-delusion, but mysticism claims to be essentially personal and subjective. I was brought up in a Christian denomination, and spent years in associated education, and the more I learned about it, the more insane I found it. That was especially odd, because I was getting an education from people who believed things that are contrary to known facts.

It should be obvious that this is not complete, but there are so many facets to the problem of religious discrimination that it would be impossible to touch all major points in a brief blog post. For that reason I think that readers should spout off about this matter.

Comments

  1. mtpspur's Avatar
    I have no particular axe to grind. I personally believe in the God of the Bible and that is more then enough to meet my needs. Where I differ is that I no longer feel accountable for my actions to a church group. I stand or fall (often) on my own sons and graces--any good I do I attribute to God's good mercy--any evil (and there is much of that) I take responsibility for. I think and this is just an opinion the idea of government not getting involved is to avoid the suggestion of dominance or undue influence on an religious group, church, gathering whatever your preferred terms. Just saying. As to being mistaken. There are worst things to be wrong about then believing in redemption and salvation from a merciful but holy God. Again I speak only for myself.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    I can drink to that.