My avid-atheist wife just had her monthly anti-religion letter to the editor published in our local newspaper, the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal.
Actually, her letter was published twice on the opinion page in the print edition -- yesterday and today. I'm tempted to call that a miracle, a sign from God tbat She is pleased with Laurel's message. (But for obvious reasons I'll resist that temptation.)
Here's what Laurel said. The paper titled her letter, "Why community must not rely on the Bible for social and moral progress."
Most social and moral progress in Western civilization has been brought about by persons free from religion. In modern times, the first to speak out for prison reform, humane treatment of the mentally ill, abolition of capital punishment, women’s right to vote, death with dignity for terminally ill, and the right to choose contraception and abortion have been freethinkers. They were also the first to call for ending slavery.
Many religious people owned slaves, and the Bible justifies slavery in both the New and Old Testaments. In fact the Bible calls for horrific punishments for many things that today would be seen as horribly barbaric.
Most people who cherish the Bible pick and choose what they take from it, and ignore or aren’t aware of the parts they don’t like. They believe the various rationalized interpretations that religious leaders have preached over the eons. Although the Bible is supposedly the “word of God”, it was written by flawed humans in ancient times.
The Bible does not apply to our current times. It does not provide highly civilized moral guidance for modern times. It is those free from religion who have helped our society become more humane.
So far there are 67 comments on her letter. One is from my wife. Here's what Laurel said:
I rarely comment on my letters because all I can hope to do with the letters is provide food for thought. It is very difficult to crack the entrenched beliefs of those with the "brain virus" of religion. Facts and arguments rarely penetrate all the rationalism, and long held beliefs that people in the hold of religion grasp onto with all their might (even unconsciously).
Research shows, however, that most people who finally break free of the grasp of religion do so in a long slow process of bits and pieces of facts that fit together in their mind (brain) with enough questions to cause penetration of the rationalization about what in reality makes no sense. Most people, however, prefer to give too little thought to religion to question it, because they want to believe so bad.
But what they don't realize, is that once a person breaks free of religious belief, they look back and wonder why they ever believed such things, like an adult looking back at firm beliefs about Santa or an imaginary friend.
My main complaint about religion is all the wars, persecution, condemnation and separation it has caused over the eons. If the world survives to long enough for humans to become enlightened enough to find a more uniting and more rational belief system (maybe Humanism), and gives up the ancient religions, the future humans will look back at the current religions and see them as archaic as the belief in the sun as a god, or the many other people, idols, or gods who have been worshiped.
And yes, I currently fear for our Constitutional separation of Church and State, which is currently being threatened (but is in the Bill of Rights).