Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Question of Morality

My father is the only person in my family who attends church on a regular basis. My mother raised my brother and I single parent style, and though she sent both of us to parochial school for several years, she never took us to church. Not even on Christmas Eve. I have never asked her if there was a God, or had an extensive conversation about religion with her. It just never really came up. We celebrated all the secular holidays, and prayed over meals with the extended family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s religion in my family. We pray together twice a year, and what we do the other 363 days a year is our own business and not really discussed. And you know what? I don't feel like I really missed out on anything.

My little brother and I were never close growing up. We barely even spoke until he was well into high school. The only time we ever got along was when we played video games, or when I needed to borrow his Batman or Jurassic Park figures to escort my dolls to the prom or the mall or the beach house or whatever I was playing with that year.

Though my mother and I have never had a religious discussion, I’m almost convinced she’s a Deist. She believes in God alright, but she let us figure it out for ourselves. She raised us to be smart, to ask questions. Although my brother spent more time in parochial school than I did (we got taken out when I was in middle school and he was in elementary school, but he was sent back to finish high school) and we barely talked growing up, when we grew up, we had the conversation neither of us really had with our parents. We talked about our thoughts on weather God existed and if so, why does a Loving God allow so much cruelty in the world. I was amazed to discover that in spite of the fact that we barely talked when we were growing up, we came to the exact same conclusion about Life and the Universe. We both go to church when we feel the need to (I go on Christmas Eve, he goes with his friends). We have both independently done extensive reading on comparative religion and are fascinated by why people believe what they do, but we’re both Agnostic.

I offer this history because the religious right has a habit of connecting Religion and Morality, that without Religion (and only the True Religion, I might add), it is impossible to be a moral person. I hardly know where to begin on this one.

As I’ve stated, my brother and I were not raised in a religious home, but we were raised with good morals, the likes of which even the religious right would approve. Things like being kind to others and helping others who need it. To work hard and share the wealth when we could. There are things in life that are much more important than money, like love and friendship. Torture is wrong. Racism is wrong. Abortion should be safe, rare, and legal. Treat your elders with respect. War should be the very last resort. To fight for what we believe in, and fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. To form arguments based on intelligence and facts. Most importantly, we should offer our opinions, but what other people believe is their own business.

If I ever have children, that is exactly the kind of moral education they will receive. It is my greatest wish for those imaginary children to grow up to be reasonable, responsible, intelligent adults who will arrive at their own conclusions about Life and the Universe the same way my brother and I did-by endless questions and extensive reading. I will add one more tenant to philosophy by which I was raised, one I think my mother would wholeheartedly approve: No set of morals is better than another, that we were given free will and thus the ability to make life decisions for ourselves.

Some of the most immoral people you read about these days are the religious, right-wing fucks like, oh I donno, pick one. Jim Bakker.

Mr. Bakker, how moral is it to steal money from your parishiners and put it into your pocket? According to Wikipedia, you and Tammy Faye divorced in 1992. Divorce isn't very moral, sir.

Marriage should be once and forever, till death do you part. Your church believes that, and I'll tell you a secret: So do I.

What was it Jesus said? "Let you who is without sin cast the first stone."

Religion and morals are not mutually exclusive. The moral majority is bullshit.

Jesus, who you claim as your savior, would tell you to love your fellow humans. To not lie. Or steal. Or cheat. Or divorce your spouse. Or murder. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Remember that one? I do.

I like your Jesus, Christians. I do. I like him very much. But I don't like the way some of you twisted his words.

And I'm pretty sure he wouldn't, either.

Then again, what do I know?

I'm just another immoral non-believer that you would condemn to hell. But I'll bet you a batch of brownies I have more morals than some of those right-wing fucks who trot out the name of God every five minutes.

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