Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On Merullo's Timidity

Member Robert Skole wrote in to say that a lot of atheists would be interested in reading Roland Merullo’s Op-Ed in yesterday’s Globe, and the writer’s forthcoming book about the “big subject” of God, as well. You can read it here, and maybe you'll agree that it's just a hapless shrug in the direction of sectarian rancor. “This God stuff is what makes the world go 'round, I guess,” writes Merullo. You guess? Surely, there is something more to be said on the incompatibility between societal progress and religiosity? On the categories of ignorance we file away in confidential, eyes-only folders labeled “faith?”

Today’s argument in favor of an increase in our collective intolerance of religion: Grandview Valley Baptist Church North, where old men are reported to molest the children of the community in service to their concept of God. Though some, even or especially in the atheist community, that would condemn religion for charging man with a powerful impulse for wrong-doing, this is not a just attack. In both explicit and implicit ways religion propels many toward an otherwise unachievable goodness. No, religion is not bad (however incorrect), but it can be bad, and when it is bad there must be a way of preserving lawfulness and protecting potential victims from harm and keeping actual victims from further harm. Religious belief and religious practice enjoy protected status in a nation where such status protects the most shameful of practices. Why do we give religion such a reckless privilege? There isn’t any answer from Merullo, who closes the case with a mantra from the Dalai Lama: “My religion is kindness.” All well and good if all believes were benign, but how does “kindness” zealous bigotry? To name one of the many excesses to be found where faith resides.

It would have been nice if the Globe editors had chosen to print an article that engages the issue of religion and modernity, instead of giving Merullo space for market his new book? In which book I hope the author will be less nonplussed by child abuse in the Ozarks, the Crusader spirit of the neo-conservatives, the rational capacity of the voting pious, etc, etc.

No comments: