Religion in Society

Supporting Building Mosques Doesn't Mean You're Pro Islam

| by Jerome McCollom

As a humanist, I think I can safely say I don't agree with pretty much anything a Southern Baptist has to say on the subject of religion. Or any Baptist. Frankly, I don't agree with Unitarians even that much on religion, and they are barely Christians, if that.

I find Christianity, and every religion, a series of stories and myths. There is some wisdom in the Bible, but there are also some very unwise things also written in it. It, like every religion, is a mixed bag.

But I support the rights of Southern Baptists to worship their religion. I support their right to build their churches. I support their right to advocate for their beliefs and to try to win converts to their religion. I hope, they support my right and my ability to advocate for humanism. Now, I am not so sure.

I have to say that because Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has withdrawn his organization from an interfaith group that was set up to gain support for the building of mosques by Muslims.

Why? Well, it seems it was because many Southern Baptists thought that supporting the rights of Muslims to exercise their rights was exactly the same as supporting and agreeing with the beliefs of Muslims. Land, amazingly, stated that this absurd and silly belief, deserved to be "respected." No it doesn't! Inane beliefs don't deserve respect, religious or not. Muslims have the right to build mosques.

Does that mean I agree with the beliefs of Muslims or Baptists or Jews or Pentacostals? No. Frankly, I don't even agree with fellow humanists or atheists on everything either. But, just because I don't agree with the beliefs of someone, doesn't mean they don't have the right to advocate for their position and to exercise their rights.

If someone cannot and does not understand the difference, than they don't understand the nature of our nation. They don't get the whole point of the American experiment. It's about freedom. Yes, freedom for rabid anti-gay idiots like Fred "God hates f-gs" Phelps. When America protects the most disgusting speech possible, that doesn't mean America is endorsing their speech.

I am pretty sure I understood this distinction by the time I was 10, so why are so many Americans not understanding it? Frankly, this might come from the very nature of religion. Every religion, other than their own, is considered so inherently wrong and even evil, that it cannot be tolerated.

After all, by people who like saying how much of a Christian nation we have (we are actually a secular Enlightenment nation) they at best only put up with other religions. Now, not all Christians are like this. Many of course are quite progressive in their views. But, all too often, we see people on the religious right having little or no tolerace for other views, while ironically complaining about the lack of tolerance of others.