It's a pleasure to share a churchless opinion piece by my wife, Laurel. It was published yesterday in our town's alternative paper, Salem Weekly.
Laurel was impelled to write this after going into the belly of the beast -- attending a large Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) religious rally at the state capitol grounds here in Salem.
Government shouldn't be guided by irrational concepts
by Laurel Hines
Recently evangelist Franklin Graham visited Salem to urge Christians to vote their “Christian values.” But does basing government on religious beliefs supported by a book written in pre-modern times make sense?
The Bible condones slavery and raiding other tribes, killing their children, raping their women. The Bible contains no modern knowledge about disease, the universe, or the world. Instead, it is based on the culture and knowledge of those who wrote it long ago. Further, Bible stories were re-told and re-translated many times.
None of the miraculous claims in the Bible holdup to modern scientific or anthropological scrutiny. Noah’s Ark is just one example.
Wouldn’t it be better to vote for policies that make sense for a modern world, based on critical thinking and current scientific knowledge, founded on evidence and not mere hopeful or fear-based religious belief?
Most Americans think Muslims are archaic for wanting to use Sharia law based on the Koran in governmental policies. But isn’t basing law on Christian beliefs the same?
Just because many people share a belief, doesn’t make it true. Most once wrongly believed that the earth was flat and the center of the universe.
Shared religious belief often causes clouding of critical thinking and over-stimulation of emotional brain centers. People grasp onto faith-based tenets of a religion while ignoring the fact that these aren’t based on any demonstrable evidence.
Some think religion is needed for morals, but why do predominantly atheist countries have the lowest crime rates (Japan, for example), and many mostly non-believing countries have the highest happiness index?
As a mental health therapist, I helped people examine irrational thinking patterns that moved them to anger, resentment, fears, anxiety, and depression. I helped them think more critically about wrongly-held assumptions that made no rational sense and impaired their functioning.
We all hold onto irrational beliefs at some time. Most of us believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as children. Luckily, we evolved into critical thinking about those beliefs, but usually fail to examine the religious ones we are programmed to accept and taught not to doubt.
Our country was established as a secular nation, not a theocracy. There is supposed to be separation of church and state. Critical thinking, reason, humane treatment of all, and the greater good are better guides on how to vote than religious belief.
So I ask the Christians who flocked to hear Franklin Graham:
Do you think critically for yourself or blindly accept how your religious leaders tell you to vote? Certainty in one’s morals and beliefs can lead to problems in societies; doubt can be healthy and promote wise consideration of alternative understandings.
Perhaps judging less, learning more, and voting based on critical thinking, fairness, science, and reason would lead to a better government and society.
Do you allow yourself to doubt parts of your religious beliefs that seem absurd, or do you have a thinking blind spot when it comes to your chosen faith?