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Thread: What role should religion play in public life.....?

  1. #1

    Default What role should religion play in public life.....?

    What role should religion play in public life, particularly government and other institutions, if any?

    I'm asking this question to all religious and non-religious members. It'd be helpful if you stated your religion(i.e. muslim, christian, mormon, new age bohemian wiccan, etc, etc) or lack of religion. I'd like to hear from people from organized religions, as well as unorganized or disorganized religions. I'd prefer specific answers regarding your faith, like "agnostic atheist" or "catholic", since an answer like "christian" is very vague and practically useless. Any beliefs you have that depart from your group's dogma is also good information to have, and to share if you'd like.

    While I see religion as a fungus that needs to be scrubbed from the face of every public institution, I do understand the value of religious organizations to the homeless, the hungry, the needy. Besides charity, what good are religious organizations to society at large?
    “Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…”

  2. #2


    while scrubbing, can we do away with public life altogether? what is this shit anyway? it looks a lot like fungus to me.

  3. #3
    Banned Array
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    26.Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.
    Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array cafe's Avatar
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    I think they mostly need to stay out of each other. I'm . . . I guess . . . agnostic Evangelical Christian. I am politically and fiscally liberal, which is not the norm for white American Evangelicals.

    I don't think public school kids should be made to sing religious songs, pledge to a flag, especially under God, or pray. They shouldn't be stopped from praying if they aren't disturbing or harassing anyone else by doing so.

    I don't think one group's religious beliefs should dictate who may and may not marry or the government should tell churches which marriages they have to recognize. I'm kind of in favor of civil unions for everybody and I don't care who marries who, or how many people are in the marriage as long as all are able to give legal consent. Religious (or not) marriage should be up to the people involved and not the state.

    I think charities, religious or otherwise, that contribute to the physical well-being of others should be tax exempt and mega-churches with indoor playgrounds and coffee bars should be paying property and other taxes.

    I don't want to see historical buildings and landmarks defaced of religious references, but I don't believe we should be making new stuff that favors one religion over another. We either make a public platform for all beliefs or we leave that stuff off of public property.

    People should be able to wear their religious garb or whatever at work and school and public institutions as much as possible. I can understand not having your face fully covered in your driver's license photo, but otherwise, let people dress how they want.

    I think most of these beliefs are not the norm for my religious group, but I think maybe some of this is changing. I hope so anyway.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  5. #5
    meh Array Salomé's Avatar
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    Short answer: none.

    And I don't have a "group dogma" to depart from (though I'd almost certainly depart if I did).
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by LEGERdeMAIN View Post
    While I see religion as a fungus that needs to be scrubbed from the face of every public institution, I do understand the value of religious organizations to the homeless, the hungry, the needy. Besides charity, what good are religious organizations to society at large?
    I was about to post something but then I read this. You lose.

  7. #7
    Alchemist of life Array Coriolis's Avatar
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    Religious expression is a part of the human experience, just like art, literature, sport, service, political views, socializing, and many other things. As such, it should be unconstrained on an individual and voluntary level. In terms of our government and institutions, the establishment clause of the constitution has it right. The government should do nothing to establish any religion or by extension, to favor one over another. The problem comes when the majority, often a large majority, voluntarily follow one religion, leading minority believers and non-believers to feel marginalized. This can be addressed in part by giving the others equal time and space, and by encouraging the majority to appreciate the minorities, and vice versa.

    Related questions often come up in the context of public education. Public schools should teach religion, but a comparative religions course that gives a survey of all the major world religions. Religion has has such an influence on the development of human civilizations, that even atheists need to understand it as a social and cultural force. This is not the way many majority believers want their faith treated in schools, though -- put on an equal footing with Islam, Hinduism, even Wicca. Doing this, however, would be a first step in dispelling some of the ignorance that fuels religious conflict and misunderstanding.
    Hope is the denial of reality. It is the carrot dangled before the draft horse to keep him plodding along in a vain attempt to reach it. We should remove the carrot and walk forward with our eyes open. -- Raistlin Majere

  8. #8
    F CK all I need is U Array ilikeitlikethat's Avatar
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    It should teach us about love and compasion and ethics, not oppress us.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by nanook View Post
    while scrubbing, can we do away with public life altogether? what is this shit anyway? it looks a lot like fungus to me.


  10. #10
    Junior Member Array bee91's Avatar
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    Oct 2012


    i come from a muslim background...

    i try to refrain from setting universal standards that all cultures are to follow, when those standards are the result of my own cultural raising and would therefore be biased. i can't speak for all cultures around the world, which all prioritize religion differently and benefit from its social role differently. this difference usually comes from the varying levels of industrialization and economic development. greater industrialized societies may find no use for religion and have found other ways to bettering their lives and conditions, but thats not the way it is for all other cultures. neither difference is necessarily good or bad but merely different ways in which societies attempt to survive.

    i prefer secularism, but i can acknowledge that religion/spirituality are valued differently in every culture. i can acknowledge that not all cultures may similarly prefer to or be able to fully separate their spiritual values from their social lives, because those values continue to provide a purpose in said societies. people from secular societies don't always understand how religion can be very much intertwined in the cultures of others, and have their own histories and relevance to a people.

    i would suggest a cultural relativist approach to questions like these, where one would rather ask how religion fits into the rest of the cultural system of which it is a part. it's just helpful to understanding why religion may continue to be socially employed in other regions of the world.

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