Saturday, January 12, 2013

Religion bashing- my boundaries

I'm going to clarify my stance on religion bashing by throwing our a couple of thoughts.  This week, I have seen several people engage in Christian bashing, I have seen people over react to perceived Christian bashing without stopping to understand what they were reading, and I have seen a bunch of news articles that amount to public and unprovoked attacks of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Agnostics, Polytheists, Heathens, Atheists, and others who do not follow a particular brand of combative and intolerant Christianity.  I have no problem with people who follow Christ's teachings; I find many of those teachings to be very sensible and healthy; I do have a problem with the convert-or-die attitude of a few faiths, which often do not represent the whole of the group.

First, I don't consider it bashing if it comes from a former member of a religion  especially if they have been abused, bashed or harassed by their faith for leaving.  If I tell you about my experiences with the Mormon church, I am not bashing, I am relating my experience which may or may not differ from others.  If I relate an instance when a Catholic told me I was sinner, I am not insulting them. I am allowed to constructively criticize any religious stance that affects public policy or may reduce my rights as an individual because public policy is, well, public. If I say all followers of Islam are evil, then I am bashing and that is unacceptable. If I say I think churches should be taxed, especially if they engage in politics, I am not bashing their religion.  I am simply stating my view on the unfairness of U.S. tax code in regards to the separation of church and state.

Second, ignorance of a faith, though distasteful, isn't bashing.  It shouldn't be encouraged, but it comes from a lack of knowledge and can simply be corrected by pointing the ignorant party to a reliable source of information.  I try not to perpetuate bad information, but I can't fact check every thought I have, every article I read, and every conversation I have.  If something seems fishy, I look into it.  I urge you to do the same.  I also hope that occasionally, no matter what your spiritual/religious affiliation, that you explore other people's beliefs   If nothing else, it makes you a better neighbor.

Third, if a religious group is trying to force their beliefs on others by means of media control, bullying, intimidation or legislation, it is up to all of us to push back.  Religious freedom requires diligent and consistent maintenance of the separation of State from religious incursion.  Fighting for my right to practice the faith of my choice, so long as it harms no one else and doesn't infringe on their right to practice their religion,  is a human right.

I know I've written about this before, but each time it comes up, I have to reorganize my thoughts. I have to decide which boundaries I will continue to use and which I will be flexible about.  I want this to be a safe space to talk about spirituality, not just for Pagans, but for anyone who is a spiritual journey that strays from the well worn pathways of organized religion. In order to to do this, I need everyone to understand what I'm unwilling to tolerate as far as discussing other faiths.

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