What if Religion Were a Force for Good?
I usually try to stay out of the territory of anti-theism, but just as a warning, this post will be critical.
But I was just thinking…
What if religions were effective at inculcating positive virtues? At protecting the oppressed/weak/disenfranchised, and more importantly, in getting people to realize that these folks are the people who should be protected?
Like, imagine if the Catholic church were protecting the victims of child abuse rather than covering up for priests?
Like, imagine if Evangelical protestants were speaking out against rape and speaking up for the needs of those who have experienced such terrible acts, rather than insinuating that anyone could have “asked for it” by what they wear or don’t wear, do or don’t do.
Like, imagine if Mormons were the first group to speak out against aversion therapy for homosexuals, rather than having it conducted at the church’s university, BYU. Or if, as proponents of marriage, they were at the forefront of advocating for marriage equality, rather than viewing marriage equality as a threat or counterfeit.
I understand that religions are lived by imperfect people who bring with them their own cultures, biases, hangups, and whatnot. But I just wished that I saw more evidence of religions as forces curbing or moderating people’s hangups, biases, etc., rather than as being the things that more often tend to amplify, enshrine, or inculcate those hangups.
There are two things I really dislike, though.
The first thing I really dislike (at least, in the Mormon context, but this is true of other religious groups) is that I know there are liberal/progressive/moderate Mormons. But what I also know is that they seem a poor fit for their own religion (no matter how much they try to argue that liberalism, or progressivism, or moderation, or whatever is not only not anathema to Mormonism, but a truer living of it)…I don’t want to say that they are good “in spite of” Mormonism, but it definitely does seem that they have a lot of institutional opposition at times (although fortunately, the current church doesn’t seem too keen on excommunicating everyone who disagrees with it.)
…but this also leads into the second thing I dislike.
I dislike that most of what I have just said really just states political differences. Liberalism vs. conservatism. Progressivism vs. conservatism. And across these lines, there are going to be people who see my ideal values as being a step toward chaos and anarchy in a similar way that I see their ideal values as a step toward oppression. In other words, whereas I know some folks (probably the liberal or progressive elements of any religion) will say that the conservative/traditional elements are evidence of people being imperfect…there will be other folks who think that that very much is the point, and that liberalism/progressivism is the imperfection that should be overcome.
How easily we all demonize each other.