Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why Should Religion Have a Role in Public Life?

At the Huffington Post, Oleksandr Feldman goes on about "Finding a 'Third Way' on the Role of Religion in Public Life" and yet he never really questions whether it should have a public role at all. He also never demonstrates at any point that religion is actually capable of adding anything significant to society that can't just as easily be gained from other sources. It seems rather wasteful and pointless to commit so much energy, time, and resources to something that may not actually be of any real benefit.

Some of the assertions he makes throughout his piece seem to be somewhat self defeating. For instance, "What we aspire to achieve is a healthy democratic and pluralistic society strongly influenced by the eternal moral values advocated by all of the world's great religions; a society in which people of all backgrounds can live side by side in peace and security." This statement contains both contradiction and unfounded assumptions. Are "moral values" really advocated by all the worlds religions? Do they advocate the same values or even recognize each others values? In a pluralistic society how can religion be anything other than divisive? It seems to me that the only hope for tolerance and democracy amidst diversity is to keep religion out of the public sphere. If everyone is allowed to believe and worship their own way in private there is no reason for conflict or intolerance. Religion in public automatically leads to conflict. Each religion seeks special privileges that it then feels the need to deny others. This is not a matter of opinion. History has shown this to happen.

Religion is not a public good. Religion is not and should not be treated with any greater deference than any other institution. Freedom of religion is best served by strict adherence to separation of church and state.

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