Just a reminder about The God Solution Promotion that is going on until the end of this series (until July 21 2013). Make sure you tweet your comments and feedback as soon as possible!
I do agree that some religious types have abused their children in the name of religion. This still continues to happen. In fact, we need look no further than a current story in the US media pertaining to polygamy and child marriages: Man Charged in Rape of Teenager in Fundamentalist Sect. (NY Times, Sep 27 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/us/27jeffs.html)
Mormonism encourages polygamy and marriage to minors. Mormons have claimed that this is part of their religious beliefs and that they are entitled to live their lives in this way. To some extent, that argument should be allowed to stand. But, that right should not extend to harming other people in the process. And, in my personal opinion, I think it’s great that the US attorney’s office has finally found a way to deal with some of these crimes that are being committed in the name of religion.
Protection for the weak and vulnerable among us is something that I hold in high regard. In some cases, this competes against some other rights that I hold quite high, including freedom of religion and freedom of speech. There are numerous ideas that I do not want to introduce my children to, but I don’t think it is right that those ideas and opinions be abolished. If we allow that, then what’s next? Burning books and censoring our news sources? Censorship is occurring in the world, notably in China. The state control of media and information can lead to population control, which can then be abused for the sake of state motivations. Without checks and balances like freedom of speech and freedom of information, there is no way to ensure that abuses are not taking place.
Which brings me back to religion… Some religious people try to limit the amount of information available to believers. I remember when I first started taking an interest in my own Christian faith. I asked my pastor for a good resource that would explain the various types of religions to me and that would provide a good explanation for what made my faith something that I should believe. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the response I had hoped for. I was told that there is no need to look at other faiths. I should just focus on my own faith by reading the bible and some “my-faith-specific” reading to solidify my beliefs. It was disappointing, to say the least. And, when I mentioned that I was going to go to University to study philosophy and religious studies as a potential precursor to ministry, I was again dissuaded. I was told that questioning my faith in this way wouldn’t strengthen it, but instead, would only weaken my faith and my ability to believe.
Good advice or bad? What do you think? I didn’t buy it… I’ve always been one to question things. I think questioning things is healthy. Unfortunately, any opinion is open to question. Any time someone puts a stake in the ground, someone else will come along and challenge it. I think debate is good. It is healthy. It leads to more understanding. It leads to increased awareness and if the argument is a good one, it will stand up to scrutiny. And, bad arguments will be exposed for what they are: bad arguments.
So… I didn’t particularly like the advice to keep my head in the sand and sit still. If my faith was worth following, it should stand up to scrutiny. So, I did the opposite of what I was advised to do. I went out and compared and questioned my faith. I believed then, and I still believe now. And my faith is stronger now because of this journey. To be fair, I must say that not everybody learns or believes or requires this level of commitment. And that is fine. But I do think that there is danger in not being able to explain what we believe and why. “Just because…” is not sufficient. There needs to be something more.
And that’s where I think that many abuses stem from… isolation and lack of information. If people are kept in the dark and are unable to ask the tough questions, then how can this work out for the best?
To read the rest of this chapter and the rest of The God Solution, please visit your favourite ebook seller: amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com. And, don’t forget about The God Solution Promotion.