LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 16:11
To the Editor:
I wish that individuals could look to better the future of this country without twisting the passages of the most contradictory book of all time to adhere to their own personal bias. Over 75 percent of American adults identify themselves as Christian, and it’s safe to say that any legislation with moral repercussions has some Christian figurehead endorsing or denouncing it on behalf of the church. However, this country was not founded upon any religious dogma, despite what extremists would lead us to believe. As an agnostic, I ought to have the same religious liberties to reject your beliefs, as you, a Catholic, have to defend them. The difference between us however, is that my beliefs will never deny someone the opportunity to live their life according to their beliefs, or force someone to participate in activities that are unconstitutional. Faith based arguments, such as those of the Catholic Church, invite criticism due simply to the fact that religion is inherently exclusive. No law should ever favor members of a faith-based system that we cannot and will never be able to substantiate, whether it is your devotion or my doubt.
You cite Jefferson’s letter as evidence for your case, and your first statement argues that effectively. However, your following point falls short of validating any political discourse based on religious zeal. Religion has nothing to do with reason or critical thinking, but relies solely on fear. It follows no logical path and therefore cannot be used as a foundation for the common law of a free democratic society. Additionally, your claim that no proof exists regarding the correct way to live is the classic example of Russell’s Teapot. Using it as a defense for faith based legislation is narrow-minded.
Jefferson went on to write in a letter to William Short about the abundant contradictions evident in Christianity. What people from both sides of this debate need to realize is that nearly every major verse touted as proof for their argument can undoubtedly be nullified with another from the very same book. Furthermore, it’s disingenuous to cherry pick bible passages to satisfy current conflict while disregarding others. Even within the structure of the church, disagreements and violations regularly occur. Behaviors that society considers immoral today are not only referenced as commonplace in biblical texts, but sanctioned by the authors’ god. This includes rape, incest, slavery, polygamy, torture, suicide, murder; the list continues. Likewise, acts that are accepted as normal and natural in today’s world were vehemently categorized as sinful and subject to punishment. Menstruation, body art, free thought and even certain foods are just a few examples from the long list of violations.
It is pointless to use the single most laughable book in existence as an argument supporting or refuting any political agenda. Firstly, because “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” secondly, because religious conflict has killed more people over the course of history than any disease or natural disaster, and lastly because the bible was written for a group of people who had a very limited understanding of the natural world and the diversity that exists within it. The original biblical audience was a small, specific group of people, battling harsh environmental and social conditions. Religious arguments can and will continue to be used in America, because the freedoms of speech and religion are guaranteed to us. But they should never be taken as a solely valid solution to democratic contestation.
I believe that faith, spirituality, morality or whatever you’d like to call it, is vital to the human experience. It gives us the opportunity to connect with others, gain a sense of fulfillment, and discover hope for understanding the unknowable. Every human wrestles with these questions. But the way we discover and answer them are vastly different. Organized religion is simply the manifestation of opportunistic men in order to manipulate a group of fearful individuals desperately seeking answers. In today’s uncertain environment, there seems to be no better place for these wolves to don woolen cloaks than that of the political arena.
To use any religion as a model for our society is an egregious mistake. Unfortunately, religion has become the driving force behind many legislative battles today. Even more unfortunately, reason and courage are losing out to ignorance and intimidation. My highest hope is that America might be able to summon the strength of its freedoms, instead of falling victim to its fears.
Kelly Anne Fratzel
Senior, Environmental Design