Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Religion in the Public Sphere

Heard part of this talk again on the way home from work tonight. This really struck me:
In choosing my subject I have relied on an old military maxim that when there is a battle underway, persons who desire to join the fray should “march to the sound of the guns.”[i] So it is that I invite you to march with me as I speak about religious freedom under the United States Constitution. There is a battle over the meaning of that freedom. The contest is of eternal importance, and it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail.
The full text of his speech is here.

We can read about atheism and the pressure it puts on believers in the Book of Mormon. We can read about societies that valued so little the presence of religion that they caused those who believed, even women and children, to be burned merely because of their belief.

We can also counter the arguments of those who say that religion is evil. For every person killed in the name of religion -- by men whose lips are close to God but whose hearts are far from him -- a thousand have been killed by non-believers. Hitler, Stalin, Pot Pot, and others -- the gratest mass murderers of the 20th century -- all wished to supplant religious belief with secularism and, in the case of Nazi Germany, paganism.

We can also cringe at those who kill abortion doctors in the name of religion or God today. Once again, they have abandoned the faith they claim to cling to. There is no room for the Orwellian "Thou Shalt Not Kill Without Cause" in religion; the commandment is "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

I'm also reminded of a few quotations from Mohandas Gandhi:

A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.

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