Why Sometimes Religion Should Be Criticized

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Most people, understanding good manners, have distaste for those who are vocally critical of the religious beliefs of others.  Theological decisions are recognized as deeply personal, and common decency dictates that we respect the rights of others to believe what they wish, assuming those beliefs cause no harm to others.

The vast majority of humanists, even those actively engaged in the secular movement, share the general public’s sentiments on this issue. Live and let live, right?

We should realize, however, that the social norm that discourages the criticism of religion can work to the great advantage of religious political activists. Social conservatives, for example, righteously claiming the highest moral authority grounded in religion, knowing that criticism of religion is considered off-limits, can demand that their policy positions be given legitimacy even when those positions lack any rational basis.

This is precisely what is playing out as America’s Catholic bishops reject the latest effort from the Obama administration to find common ground on the debate over contraception coverage. The administration, bending over backwards to appease the clerics, proposed a plan that would allow religious employers to avoid paying for contraception coverage, placing the burden of such coverage on insurers instead. The bishops rejected the proposal even though it would cost the church nothing, claiming that “religious freedom” requires that all employers (not just religious employers) be allowed to deny contraception coverage.

Many Americans – even the 98 percent of Catholic women who use birth control – are frustrated by the bishops’ stubbornness. But interestingly, despite the impasse and despite the critically important real-life public health consequences that hang in the balance on the contraception issue, few pundits and even fewer politicians will dare to challenge the bishops on the underlying legitimacy of the religious position. That is, nobody will criticize the theology that is the actual basis for this impasse.

Written By: David Niose
continue to source article at psychologytoday.com

25 COMMENTS

  1. Meanwhile, back in the 16thC:

    Martin Luther: So, guys, I have this awesome idea. What if we, like, we make the Bible more accessible to the many and stuff?

    Roman Catholic Church: Thou meanst to translate Holy Scripture into a language that the common man knowest?

    ML: Yeah.

    RCC: But, mine good sir, pray tell why!

    ML: Errm, so, like they can understand God directly and not wait for our interpretations of all that Latin stuff that even I struggle to get.

    RCC: Forsooth, mine leige. ’tis quite forbidden; we cannot allow it.

    ML: Err…makes perfect sense to me to allow people to read the Bible in a language they get.

    RCC: My dear, dear lad, come, come hither; this is not about making perfect sense, my sweet boy; it’s about preserving our privilege as the Translators of God’s wisdom. Did you learn nothing in seminary?

    (Christianity — out of touch since a long time ago)

  2. In reply to #1 by RDfan:

    Meanwhile, back in the 16thC:

    Martin Luther: So, guys, I have this awesome idea. What if we, like, we make the Bible more accessible to the many and stuff?

    Roman Catholic Church: Thou meanst to translate Holy Scripture into a language that the common man knowest?

    RCC sounds Amish. =)

  3. North Carolina is on course to pass a bill that will make it a felony for a woman to expose her breast(s). That means more people in prison, and more persecution of women. Why? We already have more people in prison, per capita, than any other country. We can’t afford these arcane laws. I suspect that this is a way to disenfranchise more women by taking away their right to vote. The religious right is convinced they can legislate morality. (more information: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/02/13/3852411/nc-bill-could-mean-prison-time.html )

  4. The underlying argument against contraception is the simple one of breeding as many future catholics as possible. They will use theological arguments but the politicians should be wise enough to see past them.

  5. In reply to #4 by GoldenRule rules!:

    Why the heck is your government even in negotiations with a religion in the first place!?

    Seriously guys, you have to straight out tell the ‘NO’.

    Totally agree. If the Catholic Church doesn’t like the laws in America that everyone else has to obey, then they can f*ck off back to Vatican City. I’m pretty sure they won’t be missed, and a lot of boys will avoid being raped.

  6. A cogent argument.

    Certain individuals well known to contributers to this website, constantly or as a matter of policy, back away into the shadows of theological ordinance whilst debating with rationalists such as the late and much lamented Chistopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett et al.

    They do so when they know full well that they are losing the argument. And that’s precisely what this article is pointing out about the dark Machiavellian arts of the bishops, when they employ emotional blackmail or social fascism to maintain their privileged positions.

    We, who do not subscribe to their whimpering superstitious trepidations need to stand up and be counted every time they try to pull a fast one.

    But of course, anyone who displays the impudence to stand up to them is accused of being militant and or shrill, but I suppose that if you live in a vacuum the slightest sound will seem shocking.

  7. bend over backwards to appease the clerics…

    “assume the position, go in to doggie submission…”

    Planned Parenthood…stops short of directly criticizing the theology…

    I presume they have to tread very carefully – it is problematic to attack a non-tangible (theology). Unfortunately, PP would certainly get flamed if they do. RCC clerics are akin to bullies; short of “doing a Skidmore”, effective strategy against this evil foe needs to manifest.

  8. ” Theological decisions are recognized as deeply personal, and common decency dictates that we respect the rights of others to believe what they wish, assuming those beliefs cause no harm to others.”

    The problem is that religions, and specially the RC & Muslim religions, feel free to deny the rights to others while claiming total respect to their own rights. They always expect others to abide by their terms while granting no independence to other peoples’ principles. In the case of the RCC, if their people don’t marry people of the same sex, non-Catholics must do the same; if RCs don’t use contraceptives, non-Catholics must not use them either; etc. In other words if you give up your own ideas and you decide, or are forced, to live according to RC ideas, then there is freedom of religion. If you claim that you have the right to live according to your creed, then there isn’t freedom of religion. That’s what freedom of choice means to the RCC. We should put an end, for once and for all, this way of thinking. The logic is very simple, if the RCC don’t respect the rights of the others, the others have no obligation to respect the RCC’s rights.

  9. I’m trembling in my boots at the thought of these RCC bishops ! What the hell is it with these celibate old farts who want to dictate about about contraception? Who pays for contraception is another matter, but these numbskulls don’t like any kind of artificial contraception. On what do they base this belief? On some obscure theological argument made up at a time when there was virtually no contraception. I believe most Christians are not in fact Catholics, and yet they can accept the use of contraception, again certain conditions apply. So who is right, the Catholics or the 30,000 odd varieties of Protestantism? Or are they both wrong?

    As for this pissquick argument about “religious freedom”, when did any religion make anyone free?

    NEVER !

  10. If Religious Businesses don’t pay for employee contraception, but the Insurance Company must pay, then everyone else with that Insurance Company is subsidizing bigotry & discrimination – how is that equal or reasonable?

    Another case of ‘Religious Freedom’ screwing everyone who is not part of their dogmatic delusion. They should be clearly told to follow duly-elected Government Rules, or get out of the business & just f**k off.

    Apart from that, the RCC Management are all Agents of a Foreign State who hold their Faith Dogmas above any State Laws, and should be prosecuted as subversives & agent recruiters. Mac.

  11. Well – there is ONE cult no one can criticize. They are a thermonuclear-armed ‘cult-state’ and Mr Wonderful told them the planet was theirs ! Must be, you wanna know who has the power ? They are the ones you cannot question – let alone criticize !

  12. In reply to #9 by Aztek:

    Correction to the headline:

    “Why Religion Should Relentlessly Be Criticized” EXACTLY ! And – outlawed ! Every single last one of them are merely cults. From the very darkest of ages ! They inculcate and drill lies and more lies into the youngest, questing minds of endless generations of human beings. We will NEVER break the hold these cults have over our …civilization. There is no end to what great things us humans can accomplish. We are very able to take good care of our little planet. We NEED to live with truth. Science is the only way !

  13. “knowing that criticism of religion is considered off-limits, “

    The times they are a changing. It is more common now to hear criticism of religion in conversation and it will increase steadily. Religious off limits are being eroded all the time and with the religiots snatching defeat from their glorious past victories all the time it is becoming easier. Who can defend the indefensible without being part of the problem?

  14. In reply to #16 by Mr DArcy:

    I’m trembling in my boots at the thought of these RCC bishops ! What the hell is it with these celibate old farts who want to dictate about about contraception? Who pays for contraception is another matter, but these numbskulls don’t like any kind of artificial contraception. On what do they base this belief? On some obscure theological argument made up at a time when there was virtually no contraception. I believe most Christians are not in fact Catholics, and yet they can accept the use of contraception, again certain conditions apply. So who is right, the Catholics or the 30,000 odd varieties of Protestantism? Or are they both wrong?

    As for this pissquick argument about “religious freedom”, when did any religion make anyone free?

    NEVER !

    It’s not generally Catholics who are opposed to contraception – it’s the bishops, popes and most of the hierarchy (top bottle-washers) who are.

    Almost all sexually active Catholic women, whether married or not (98%) use contraception (see the link in the full article **).
    It’s something that the Church has “always” (i.e. since contraceptives were available) taught or required of its members: you must not use contraceptives. They cite what they call “natural law” in support of their teaching. The proper and natural (according to this) thing resulting from intercourse is pregnancy. And THAT’S why you can be allowed to take part in sex which in itself is nasty and evil (shudder!).
    Even when 98% of their flock ignore this teaching, they still find it impossible to bring the ship to a halt and to go into reverse.
    But they have lost the battle in the West – although in parts of Africa and the Far East, Catholics do take notice.

    PS: You violate this silly idea of “natural law” when you take an antibiotic or/and receive most medical treatments.

    ** http://news.yahoo.com/98-catholic-women-used-contraception-church-opposes-201936745.html

  15. In reply to #22 by judithjmidwinter:

    It’s something that the Church has “always” (i.e. since contraceptives were available) taught or required of its members: you must not use contraceptives. They cite what they call “natural law” in support of their teaching.

    PS: You violate this silly idea of “natural law” when you take an antibiotic or/and receive most medical treatments.

    This “natural law” fallacy, is just one of their fallacious thinking modes!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic-fallacy

    The naturalistic fallacy is close to but not identical with the fallacious appeal to nature, the claim that what is natural is inherently good or right, and that what is unnatural is inherently bad or wrong. The fallacious appeal to nature would be the reverse of a moralistic fallacy: that what is good or right is thus natural.

  16. Listening to Christopher Hitchens on youtube while reading and writing this. It reminds me of something he said: “The mockery of religion is one of the most essential things. To criticize supposedly holy texts that are dictated by God, you have to show their internal inconsistencies and absurdities. One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.” I also remember him saying that if you don’t have the right to criticize religion, you don’t have any rights at all. I totally agree.

    The article says “live and let live”, but the problem is, that Judaism/Christianity/Islam are REQUIRED by God to destroy those who are not of the same faith. And those of no faith, they are infidels too and have to be exterminated. This isn’t “live and let live” at all.. It wasn’t until nations started establishing secular governments that there was anything like freedom, liberty, and protection from persecution. It was secular society that had to tell religion that no, you can’t just publicly burn people alive for imaginary crimes just for fun. And secular society had to abolish slavery, because the holy books condone slavery, and consider it a right of conquest. We win the war, so we get to make you our slaves.

    To call this “live and let live” is to give the religious side a lot of undeserved credit. Even today, they are at the forefront of denying other groups of people their rights, precisely because of their religious beliefs. They also deny evolution and climate change, are often racist, and obviously want to be the kind of masters over us as biblical characters are over their neighbors.

    With this kind of record, not to mention having their fingers in almost every crime against humanity committed, it’s no wonder they don’t want people to talk about religion, but it is precisely why we need to do so.

  17. We all have the right to question religion because it is not based on reason. Religious people are also entitled to and sometimes encouraged to criticize others:-

    1 John 4:1: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

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