As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m a Secular Jew who believes completely in my religious and cultural history. But I don’t believe in religion.
I choose not to believe in religion. But at the same time, and in the same breath, I defend without reservation the right of others to believe with all their heart and passion in the religion of their choice.
That is, as long as that religion does not affect me or those within our society who do not share in the beliefs espoused by others.
Unfortunately though, too many within the religious side of this debate don’t agree. To them, the freedom not to believe is somewhat akin to modern-day heresy.
Amongst the guests at a supper my wife and I recently attended, were several Jews and several Christians; all of whom knew each other to some degree.
Amongst the non-Jews was a couple of practicing Christians who have a fundamental belief in God, and God’s impact upon our daily lives.
The supper-table conversation covered a lot of territory, including support for George W Bush. And because of my support for George W, the religious couple automatically assumed I also supported his Religious Based Philosophy, which I don’t.
As far as the religious couple was concerned, Gay and Lesbian lifestyles were more of a life-choice than a genetic twist of fate. And to them, such a life-style was IMMORAL.
I capitalized the word IMMORAL, because it is integral to this editorial.
My argument in defense of Gay and Lesbian Rights, was based simply upon the premise, that what two consenting adults do in terms of sexual preference, in privacy, is of no concern to me.
I also argued that all people deserve to be treated fairly and EQUALLY under the law. And if two adult Homosexuals want to marry, that too is no business of mine.
But, to the religious side of the argument at the supper-table; this “aberrant” lifestyle will lead to an evil, corrupt and IMMORAL society. This same argument was made today (December 14, 2004) by David Frum in Canada’s National Post Newspaper.
My response to this mind-set is: The same was said about inter-racial (Blacks and Whites) and inter-religious (Christians and Jews) marriages not all that long ago.
More than that; it was once believed that society could never withstand the onslaught of giving women the right to vote and to own property. In the opinion of MILLIONS of misogynists, giving equality to women would lead to horrible consequences.
Racism and intolerance comes in many faces. It isn’t just about disliking someone for their gender, skin color, or religion. It also encompasses animosity towards sexual orientation.
I argued with logic, reason, and the history of bogey-man scare tactics. And I spoke of EQUAL Rights, that must be EQUAL for everyone.
The other side invoked the WILL OF GOD and the Scriptures.
What will of God?
The last time I looked, we live in a society governed by the rule of Secular Law. We do not live in a Theocracy.
When I told my co-supper guest that I was an Atheist, and my wife said that she’s an Atheist too, and his concept of God had no bearing on this debate, his entire demeanor changed. I thought he was going to puke-up his supper.
He couldn’t believe it. How could a Jew be an Atheist? Especially one who supported George W Bush.
I asked him: “If you believe that Homosexuality is IMMORAL based upon your belief in God; does that mean I’m IMMORAL because I don’t believe in God”?
To his credit, and as uncomfortable as he was about this turn of the debate, he said what he felt; and he told me that I couldn’t be a MORAL person if I didn’t believe in God.
Instead of just being extremely offended at this statement, I felt sorry for the person who made the charge, as I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
I can’t believe in this day and age, that there are still well educated individuals who are so intolerant of people who don’t share their religious views, that they consider people like my wife and myself to be IMMORAL and incapable of holding a moral opinion because we prefer to believe in science, rather than in creationism and the stories of various religious texts.
My support for George W Bush began and ended with his view on the world, the UN and his fight against TERRORISM. I support his position on less government and lower taxes. I also support his plain approach to right and wrong. And I fully endorse his support of Israel.
But I draw the line at religious involvement in any aspect of government or public life. In my opinion, there is no room whatsoever for any form of religion to exist in government, the courts or public schools.
I do not want to force my “religious” views upon believers in the God of their choice. And I do not want believers in the God of their choice forcing their views upon me.
And least of all; I don’t want a religious based society deciding what sexual activity between two consenting adults is moral or IMMORAL.
If the advocates of a faith-based society think they’re right, all they have to do is look at faith-based failed societies around the world to see how wrong they are.
I was knocked aback when my debate antagonist said that I could not be a moral human being because I didn’t share his views on God. Where then would that leave me, and others like me in his view of the world?
If I couldn’t have a moral opinion? How could I have RIGHTS?
This is a slope that is so utterly slippery, that once the descent begins, the bottom is nothing short of Perdition.
I guess that tolerance, and respect for divergent views on religion hasn’t progressed nearly as much as I thought it did. And that’s a tremendous pity.
But as disconcerting as this supper-conversation was; it is far better to know that bigotry and intolerance is alive and well in our society, than it is to be sleep-walking in a fool’s paradise.