Religious harms

With all the news about closed polygamous communities and the debates over marriage being religious or secular and who gets to be married and how many spouses can they have, the issue seems to come down to a simple question of which society prevails?

A secular democratic society, where the individuals are the social unit of consequence, and thus are entrusted to make whatever life decisions will allow them to have the freedom to take liberties with whatever makes their life happy while not imposing restrictions or limitations of any one else’s enjoyment of the same secular society.

Or do we allow whatever is the dominant religion to decide for all of us, regardless of individual beliefs?

When we want to know what the danger and social harms that have been wrought by religion and allowing religious leaders to assume the role of King over all who serve, we need only to look back to the 1970s and Jonestown.

Worse, that we haven’t changed since then.

There’s warfare in the middle east, religious extremism on the rise, economic strife, global unrest and constant claims by one religious group or another of the coming ending of the world.

We need to ensure public education not only provides the basic education of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, but also to ensure that ever citizen understand their citizenship rights, responsibilities and entitlements – partly to ensure that children have access to legal protective services if need be, but also so that they become socially capable functional people.

At a minimum, able to understand the basic scientific method, critical thinking, and capable to navigate what’s private sovereignty vs public interest.

A tall order, which will not be possible when religious sensibilities are coddled to the point that having a religion is deemed the norm.

Magical thinking is not the basis for understanding or being in the universe. Worse, fighting over magical thinking, oppressing, discriminating and slaughtering people over the details or variations of magical thinking should be thought of as obscene.

Anything that is actually moral, cannot claim a moral as more important than living and breathing people.

Bountiful is Canada’s emerging Jonestown

I grew up expecting certain rights as a Canadian citizen, but when I came out at 23 in the early 1990’s, I lost a lot of my legal rights.

It was legal to fire me, deny me housing, not promote me and a lot of other things that ither minorities have legal protection against in the form of human rights complaints and non-discrimination laws.

But gays and lesbians were excluded for consideration, and that the obvious lack of protection and need for it, should have been a no-brainer amendment. But religious and discrimination had already lost so many battles against women, ethnicities, less than fully able bodies or mental ability, that the battle to suppress gays and lesbians wasn’t and isn’t ending easily.

Over time and court cases, rights were returned to me one by one from the most basic rights up to equality under the law and ability to engage in marriage.

It’s funny, through the 1990’s all while denying gays and lesbian the ability to common-law (2000) or married (2003/04) – welfare would recognize gay couples because a couple both collecting got less money than 2 single roommates.

The government of Canada, federally and provincially, had it both ways – not recognizing us as individuals or couples when it suited and recognizing us when it disadvantaged us.

So my personal experience has been to live in a secular democratic society where I was legally lesser than other citizens because of my sexuality. Which is why I say that human rights are a legal fiction, with no reality or force in society.

The rights we gays and lesbian have as citizens are dependent on the goodwill of the public and worse, politicians who do the right not the popular things.

With little awareness that the reason there’s anti-discrimination and minority protection is BECAUSE THE MAJORITY CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO BE FAIR.

If we collectively could, there would be no reason to spell out human rights, they would just exist inalienable without question.

If there’s not a more fragile basis for social inclusion, then I don’t know what is.

So having had to fight, court case by court case, person by person and then couple by couple, for each getting closer to the same rights as anyone else – having our employment and housing protected from discrimination, being able to serve in the military and finally, being able to access the same legal protection for our families as any other family.

The fact of the discrimination of gays and lesbians should be an automatic trigger to be includes as a prohibited ground of discrimination – because there is no reason to discriminate against anyone because of their membership in an identifiable group within a population.

It really is that simple.

I have a different perspective on rights and an analysis of individual vs couple vs group vs social rights than anyone who always had the full rights without question.

if you think about it, the people who are against gay marriage should actually be more against atheist marriage but they don’t try to say marriage is religious so atheists and agnostics can’t get married.

Because we do not question that heterosexuals off all creeds and beliefs are entitled to marry – so why should it be a question if anyone can marry the person that they love?

Modern Secular democracy has said, marriage is 2 people, exclusive of others.

With the Individual being the unit of social consequence – and that is the promise of secular democratic nations – then it is the individual who makes the decisions and choices for their lives.

Not families, not tribal or religious elders, not the King of the land and not anyone other than the person who has to make personal soveriegnty decisions.

To be able to do that, one must first be aware of and understand what their legal rights are.

People who are existing in closed religious communities or ghettoized immigrant subcultures are having decisions made for them as a matter of tradition, without any understanding that this is not the basis of Canada or America.

It should be appalling to anyone that in Canada and the US or any secular democratic nation, that there are people being raised with no awareness of their rights just for being citizens, and limited or no participation in the wider society.

Just closed religious communities – in the case of Bountiful, BC –  closed means that only the church group populates the town and everyone you see is related and living the same way as you – no mixing, no diversity and no multiculturalism.

You have to understand it from THEIR experience, not assume that what’s normal for you is normal for everyone.

There is no difference between Bountiful and Jonestown.

Both communities are being operated by a man who has control over every aspect of the lives of the community from who gets to be married and get into heaven to who gets re-assigned or excommunicated.

Religious leaders have never responded well to threats against their control of their flocks – and that is the true danger of religion – people handing their personal sovereignty over to another who has very different interests at heart.

If religion can convince you that sex that makes you feel good, even when it’s just you, is bad – then there is nothing that you won’t beleive. It is really that simple.

Marriage being between 2 people in a secular society with multiculturalism, diversity and every citizen knowing their rights and being socially capable in the mainstream society – there’s enough people to go around for everyone to have a chance for pairing up, and no one is double or twentytuple dipping.

Work and play well with others and don’t take more than you need.

How can anyone object to that as words to live by?

Religious harm

Religions are equally valid – which is to say that there’s none more valid than any other – but that all religions have benefits and harms is also not a contested thing.

The issue is that that harms done by religion are far reaching, and are entirely voluntary – which means that the harm of religion far outweighs the benefits – and the harm is completely unnecessary.

Religion’s immediate harm is to the individual believer – religion, having no evidence to support it’s claims, is a false belief, no matter how many truth nuggets there are – in the broadest sense, there is no reason to accept any religion.

Other harms include wasting of school funds fighting over the attempts to shoe horn ID/Creationism into science classes. Electing politicians who will suspend or limit research funding of pushing into science frontiers or cancel funding for family planning, sexual education and anything else deemed to be a religious moral matter, rather than a private medical matter.

Unmeasurable harms such as lower levels of education and a population far more ignorant than it should be, with people clinging to millennial old thinking and morality for a world that has moved far beyond the nomadic desert existence and the scale of our existence being far larger now while the world is so much smaller, with more people than at any other single era of time.

Mostly, the harm of religion is that it divides people and makes them competitors, false claimants to possessing The One True Faith – when faith is what is dividing and separating us, when we should be working together across and despite our differences, for we all all humans and the differences are only skin and culturally deep – not insurmountable, which is where religion does it’s biggest harms.

At the very least, religion is a means by which we excuse our difficulties in not getting along with each other. By eliminating or minimizing the alleged differences and barriers to getting along, we are forced to deal with what’s really making us not get along with each other.

Which is xenophobic fear – which religion directly speaks to: purity – to allow others is to contaminate the faithful and xenophobia was a needful survival thing when we lived in small nomadic tribes; but it’s not useful in the modern world, and is harming us

Religions that claim to be the one true one, is to hold a group above and apart from the rest of humanity; when, the reality is, no one is better or worse inherently than anyone else.

We need to put aside the systemic mechanisms that continually assert that any group is better than all others because when one group feels and thinks they are better, then it turns into a mission to impose that “betterness” on everyone else.

That goes for America thinking it’s the world police to the theocratic religions (which Christianity is one, putting itself as above secular civil law, but hasn’t yet achieved it’s government take over, but clearly is no longer content to have infiltrated and influenced).

So, how do we get people to lose faith?

First, we stop coddling religious sensibilities – allow religion to compete in the marketplace of ideas without any special consideration given to that the ideas are religious. We need to be able to say that the ideas religion promotes are foolish on their face, no more validating or kid gloves.

But the main effort is education ; it’s a big reason why people give up faith, because when you learn about world history and other cultures, it becomes apparent that every human civilization has made up their own religion to reinforce their cultural values and to enforce behavioral norms.

We used to explain everything through religion, and now we have science to explain a lot about the natural world and how to be in it.

It’s a simple thing really, we are on the verge of a global civilization and things that divide us, like religion, need to be put in the past

We need to uncover answers together – and science is the same no matter where you are on the globe; it comes down to will enough people want to have people be in charge or deities that divide us.