Want equality for all? Then spurn organised religion

May 6, 2015

By Clementine Ford

According to the adage, one should never discuss religion or politics when in polite company. But this is print media, and that means we can take the liberty of discussing both. Both the machinations and implications of politics are inseparable from all of the world’s major religions, with Christianity being equally as culpable in the state-sanctioned oppression of citizens as its more vocally condemned sibling, Islam. A nation that strives for equality and self-determination for all its citizens cannot collude with the revered figures of organised religion – so how can we reconcile its influence in a society that should be striving to be both secular and progressive?

We may have moved past the days when it was frowned upon to discuss religion and politics, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them as a package deal.

The simple answer, as former United States president Jimmy Carter famously concluded in a stirring polemic, is that it can’t. In a 2009 op-ed, Carter wrote about his decision to leave the Southern Baptist Convention after more than six decades. His exit was prompted after it became impossible for him to ignore the continued oppression and marginalisation of women in the church. A stalwart supporter of equal rights, Carter’s faith remained intact but he could no longer support a structure of intolerance that prioritised the leadership and moral superiority of men over that of women.

The first amendment to the United States constitution calls for a separation of church and state. It’s a nice theory but the essential liberty of it seems to be rarely enforced in a country whose invocation of the constitution is selective at best. A recent sketch by American stand-up comic Amy Schumer highlighted this hypocrisy while parodying an advertisement for birth-control medication. An increasingly frustrated Schumer is advised to ask her doctor about birth control – and then her employer, a man on the street, her stepfather, a small boy playing chess, and finally the Supreme Court. When she eventually files the script, she’s told that she’ll have to go through the same rigmarole each month. Meanwhile, a small boy asks the chemist for a gun. The chemist hands it to him with a grin, saying, “It’s your right!”


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22 comments on “Want equality for all? Then spurn organised religion

  • Gotta love Jimmy Carter. He may have been a Presidential failure but on nine out of ten moral issues he called them as any Enlightened and compassionate individual should. Would that more Presidents attempted the moral high ground. What a dire moral plunge for the Presidency immediately afterwards. Taking care of number one.



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  • In the UK the Church of Englsnd is racing towards equality as fast as it can. It’s sort of its mission statement. Perhaps the very best institution/ideology in the UK for gender equality if I was to be honest. If it weren’t for the God bits it would be perfect. Relatively sane, relatively clever, charitable and concerned with social justice and fairness. What the Labour Party should be.

    Sadly it’s also declining dramatically as the religious rush to American style churches that spout utter anti science, anti woman, anti gay nonsense. Or Islam not only increases but likewise swings towards a more extreme version.

    I will never understand people. If you have to believe in God why not the benign old chap of the CofE rather than the low functioning sociopath of the rest? Why not the one that’s trying its best to actually be a force for good?



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  • The answer is obvious. Flourishing faiths cannot be objective and/or rational. Once rationalism is in place where is the room for faith?
    People are religious because they want something better than they have. Thus an unprovable/undeniable supernatural future is attractive and can only be posited on the basis of faith – not rationalism. Of course the good old CofE is doomed, it is far to sensible to survive in a market where its consumers have to be suffering from a delusion.



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  • Sadly you’re right. If I had to choose I’d say the poor old CofE is the only one actually offering them something better than they have. But I guess it’s the old ‘if you don’t have to work for it it’s not worth having thing’. I guess the God that makes life on earth miserable and mad and expects you to work hard buying all sorts of nonsense against your reason.must be offering some better rewards than one just saying less be sensible and civilised. No pain no gain as the stupid saying says. 🙁



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  • To paraphrase Marx, “The Church of England would rather give up 38 of its 39 Articles, than give up one 39th of its income“.

    The CoE a “benign old chap”, Alice ? More like a tamed lion. Reality interfered in a big way with the CoE.



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  • 8
    ad nauseam says:

    There is irony in a government system that claims to be about liberty, but that remains in bed with both the free-wheelin’ gun lobby and the far-right religious fanatics determined to criminalise the behaviour of everyone who isn’t a wealthy white man of God.

    Not sure what the gun lobby…or being wealthy…or white has to do with religion…

    oh well…whatever…



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  • Is Clementine Ford arguing that people with religious views should be denied access to the political process?

    Possibly. But I would argue that there needs to be a separation church and decision making, although I wouldn’t deny any access to politics, for obvious reasons. But it’s time the religious compartmentalized their views. It is no longer acceptable to use scripture or ones personal religious belief to inform a decision in a legislature. Wrong for two reasons. First, there is no evidence to support the view and thus it is not a valid decision making parameter. Second, if making a decision based on your personal view of god’s will, you impose your view on everyone affected by the legislation being passed you commit an ethical wrong. Again, not acceptable.

    If you want to be religious, and in politics, then like the old west with guns, “Check you religion in before entering the building.”



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  • It is no longer acceptable to use scripture or ones personal religious belief to inform a decision in a legislature.

    It seems to me that this view is playing fast and loose with the democratic process. If someone is elected to public office, it’s entirely up to them how they go about making decisions with regard to legislation they are asked to consider. It’s the voters at the next election who will decide whether their performance is acceptable or not, no one else.



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  • Ewan
    May 7, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    It is no longer acceptable to use scripture or ones personal religious belief to inform a decision in a legislature.

    It seems to me that this view is playing fast and loose with the democratic process. If someone is elected to public office,

    Actually it is closet Catholics like Blair, who are playing fast and loose with democracy!

    it’s entirely up to them how they go about making decisions with regard to legislation they are asked to consider.

    Nope! They are supposed to seek expert opinion and advice on matters -particularly on subjects where the are not expert or well informed.

    Politicians are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents in line with their declared manifestos.

    “God told me to invade Iraq”, is a very poor excuse for gross delusional incompetence!

    It’s the voters at the next election who will decide whether their performance is acceptable or not, no one else.

    Unfortunately many voters are so apathetic, that they do not even know how their representatives have voted, or what the issues were that they voted on!



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  • Nope! They are supposed to seek expert opinion and advice on matters -particularly on subjects where the are not expert or well informed.
    Politicians are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents in line with their declared manifestos.

    Where is this expectation set out?



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  • Ewan
    May 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    it’s entirely up to them how they go about making decisions with regard to legislation they are asked to consider.

    Nope! They are supposed to seek expert opinion and advice on matters -particularly on subjects where the are not expert or well informed.
    Politicians are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents in line with their declared manifestos.

    Where is this expectation set out?

    http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/mps/

    The UK public elects Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons.

    Most MPs are also members of committees, which look at issues in detail, from government policy and new laws, to wider topics like human rights.

    The committees seek expert advice, and are given professional advise on procedures.



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  • Organized religion is just one aspect of organized thought. Living is a movement. To organize it at any level fragments it into parts that, by virtue of being separate, results in conflict and confusion. So equity and security can only come into being when all organized thought ends. Thought is divisive by its very nature.



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  • @OP – Want equality for all? Then spurn organised religion

    It seems increasing numers of Americans are doing just that – even though it has more Xtians than other countries! !

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-32710444
    The number of Americans who identify as Christian has fallen nearly eight percentage points in only seven years, according to a new survey.

    Pew Research Center found that 71% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014 – down from 78% in 2007.

    In the same period, Americans identifying as having no religion grew from 16% to 23%.

    Fifty-six million Americans do not observe any religion, the second largest community after Evangelicals.

    The United States still remains home to more Christians than any other nation, with roughly seven-in-ten continuing to identify with some branch of Christianity.



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  • John
    May 12, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Living is a movement. To organize it at any level fragments it into parts that, by virtue of being separate, results in conflict and confusion. So equity and security can only come into being when all organized thought ends.

    If that were so, we would expect all those organisms with no brains, organised thought, or reasoning capability, to have “equity and security”! Observations of biological activity in the natural world suggest otherwise!



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  • John
    May 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Observations of biological activity in the natural world suggest otherwise!

    We are talking about psychological security not technical security.*

    Neuro-psychology is a biological subject.

    It seems doubtful if the two (Whatever “technical security” might be), can be separated into this sort of dichotomy, or if the assertion about thought has any relevance!

    http://www.tc.umn.edu/~parkx032/CY-SAFE.html
    We can feel insecure in several practical dimensions:
    financial, physical, social, interpersonal, & emotional.
    But a much deeper level of insecurity—existential insecurity—
    cannot be solved by any of the security-operations
    that will resolve our ordinary worries about not being safe enough.

    Psychological security / insecurity, is a medically defined state of mind.



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  • Some advice to consider:
    “Break out of, what I call, the anesthetic of familiarity. Imagine that you just landed on this planet from another world and you open your eyes. And you see things not as familiar and dull and humdrum as we do see them. But see it as if with new eyes from which the scales have just fallen; as if you had just landed and rejoice in the fact that you are here.” Richard Dawkins

    That means the mind must be free of the past to think clearly. Forget what the experts say. Can we begin where we are,free of past knowledge, and find out what is true or not true? Anyone with average IQ can do it.
    For example it is implicate that identification is not possible without consciousness. So in the movement of time, consciousness must be present before thinking can take place. Test it.

    This understanding is necessary moving forward to discover the nature of technical vs. psychological thought. And that’s just the beginning.



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  • I see the “faith-school-menace” has resurfaced in England!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32935767

    A ban on women driving their children to school issued by a Jewish education institution is “unacceptable”, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says.

    Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Belz sect in north London wrote to parents saying “no child will be allowed to learn in our school” if their mother drives.

    Women driving “goes against the laws of modesty within our society”, it said.

    The letter, which was signed from the “spiritual management” of Belz institutions, said: “There has been an increase in incidences of mothers of our students who have begun driving cars, something that goes against the laws of modesty within our society.”

    This had led to “a lot of exasperation among other parents”, it said.

    The group’s leader in Israel, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, had advised that “if a woman is driving a car, she cannot send her children to be educated in Belz institutions”, it said.

    They are already the dominant group among Jewish communities in Hackney, Haringey, Salford, and Gateshead, and the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) says that Haredi numbers will double in size every eighteen years.

    An emphasis on studying the Torah has led to concerns that Haredi boys are leaving school with few qualifications.

    The Jewish Chronicle, which first reported the story, said that while many Hasidic women do not drive, this is thought to be the first formal declaration against the practice in the UK.

    Dina Brawer, UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said the rule was “stupid and impractical” and could not work.

    Responding to the letter, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, said: “This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain.

    “If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards.

    “Where we are made aware of such breaches we will investigate and take any necessary action to address the situation.”

    It looks like the trojan horse schools all over again!



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