Well, it’s an election year and the conservatives seem to have a decent lock down on the staunch Christian population, ready to re-take the power base by storm if there is the slightest hick-up with the Obama Administration. Therefore, I wasn’t all that surprised to see a giant article in the WSJ on the topic of religion recently. Okay let’s talk.
On or about the three day weekend of President’s Day in the USA there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal’s Review Section titled; “Religion for Everybody” with a subtitle of; “The Decline of Religion in the West brought a decline in community spirit. Could the secular world draw useful lessons from religious life? Alain de Botton offers new ways to find shared meaning.” In the article the author poses this thought:
“We all stand to learn something from the ways in which religion promotes morality, inspires travel, trains minds, and encourages gratitude at the beauty of life.”
So, does the USA need more religion today, well here is what I say; “like a hole in the head it does.” We don’t need more religion in the United States, it’s a crutch quite frankly, and I can recall the kind of community which works under the pressure of religious fundamentalism, should I mention the Salem Witch Trials? Sure, something like that would certainly inspire me to travel too, to get out of there. Not really the type of community I am looking for thank you very much.
Indeed, according to the Salem Witch Trial page on WikiPedia, which you may not consider a viable source, but I sure do, it’s close enough to show you point of contention; “The 2 courts convicted twenty-nine people of the capital felony of witchcraft. 19 of the accused, 14 women and 5 men, were executed by hanging. One man, who refused to enter a plea and was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so, and at least 5 more died in prison,” and so, I am not so sure we need any more of that.
How about some of the more fundamental sects of Islam instead, after all Christians have done some not so good things with religion, well, have you heard of Sharia Law lately, is that your idea of a ‘sense of community’ because it sure as heck wouldn’t be mine. What about Catholicism? Sure, lots of Catholics in the US, but what about those rare challenges with Priests, Bishops, and well, children? Well, even with my critique here, most of the religions of the world have some decent architecture, which is worthy.
A decline in community is not necessarily due to lack of religion, nor has a decrease in community spirit caused the slow death of religion. It could very well be the move from an agrarian culture, better education, larger cities, advanced science, fewer people in the family, and a realization that most religions are nothing more than stories, thus, smarter humans tend to take it all in with a grain of salt – that could also easily explain it. Nevertheless the author of “Religion for Atheists: A Nonbelievers Guide to Religion” by Alan de Botton does sound like an interesting read. So, please consider all this and think on it indeed.