BEING free from religion has enabled me to look at other religions in a new, often fascinating, way.
Before, I would approach other religions with a mix of fear and trepidation, always on the lookout to point out what was wrong with them. Of course, what was “wrong” was always in relation to what my particular branch of Christianity found wrong, and I was always armed with the appropriate Bible verses to explain why such beliefs were unsound or even perverse.
This way of seeing prevented me from truly appreciating or even just understanding other religions. And I was careful never to dig too deeply because there was always that irrational fear that the devil was behind all other “false” religions and would use those to subvert and seduce me into their way of thinking.
Of course, there would be some Christians reading this who would say that the devil has in fact been successful in subverting my mind, seeing that I write and think as I do. Then again, they would have to say that for all other sorts of thinking that are not congruent with their own, and looking at the many variants, denominations, and offshoots of Christianity, I cannot help but think that even they cannot get their own house in order so until they get that sorted out, what they think of what I think is their problem, not mine.
Anyway, I have just spent the last hour or so reading about this religious organization founded in the US in 2014, and has since been quite active regarding controversial issues in secularism, child abuse, gay marriage, and so on. It is an interesting organization because its name alone will send shivers down the spine of most Christians and even the more liberal ones will feel a slight tinge of apprehension.
Before I reveal its name though, let me share its mission statement as well as its guiding principles or tenets, as published in its website (slightly reworded as not to give away the name of the religion at this point):
“[Our mission] is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded [members] and allies have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs alongside other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.”
Its guiding principles or tenets are the following:
* One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
* The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
* One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
* The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
* Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
* People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
* Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
If that sounds like something you can rally behind, then you might want to consider joining this group founded by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry called the Satanic Temple.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 10, 2017.
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