My latest post was a review of Markos Moulitsas new book American Taliban. Although the point I was trying to make was society’s inability to hold ourselves to the same standards we require from others, I believe in Latin its called hypocrisy, the diary itself sparked a discussion about religion in general. Not growing up with religion, I’ve always found the concept of faith in God to be a fascinating insight into the human thought process. So I want to open up the discussion to just religion and see where we end up. First, let me tell you about my experience.

My paternal Grandmother was a faithful churchgoer and she was content to be the sole representative for the family every Sunday to reserve our place in Heaven. That is the extent of my exposure to religion. It seems the mainstays of most religions are universal, love your neighbor, don’t steal/kill/lie/cheat, etc. I didn’t need the Bible to teach me right and wrong. I believe in live and let live and the idea that if I don’t adopt your particular ideology I’m going to burn for all eternity, just doesn’t stick for me. I am pro-choice and anti-death penalty. I believe in same sex marriage because if someone is lucky enough to find a person they want to build a lifetime with, who am I to tell them they can’t just because I’m straight. I believe borders are arbitrary and in a perfect world we would recognize that we’re all human beings regardless of where we were born and we all deserve to live without fear of arbitrary arrest or unlawful prosecution. In other words, I’m that bleeding heart liberal can’t we all just get along types that your mother warned you about. But after 20 years working in human rights and 10 years in politics, I’m also a realist.

I have the deepest respect for those who know the difference between religion and faith. Those who practice true faith represent the best of what God teaches. Those who act as they wish 6 days a week and think their sins are washed away every Sunday are the posers who hide behind the concept of religion. I don’t intend this diary to be any kind of judgment on what you believe. Religion is a very complicated and personal choice and if it helps you to be a better person, more power to you. I recognize the powerful hold religion has on a large number of people and not being part of that influence, I am anxious to learn why that influence is so universal and can inspire such joy and such hatred. So I’d like to open the discussion with the many questions I have. I’m just going to list them and feel free to answer as many as you can. This is strictly for my education.

What did religion teach you that you couldn’t learn from the people you choose to make part of your life?

What religion are you and how did you become part of that belief system. (i.e. you’re Catholic because your parents were, you married someone and converted, etc.)?

Is your faith a guideline for your decision making or is it an absolute?

Do you feel your religion is the true religion and those who follow other belief systems will suffer consequences? What and why?

As a religious person, what are your thoughts about Jehovah’s Witness and others who feel they need to recruit new followers to confirm their own faith?

I know these are really deep questions and not likely to be summed up in a blog comment. But I really respect this community and I feel comfortable sharing my ignorance on this particular subject. And I love starting discussions. So in the immortal words of Linda Richmond sitting in for Paul Baldwin, discuss.

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javaz
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On the weekends, we walk with a neighbor and his dogs, and no matter the topic, and I mean, whether it’s the weather or something related to health and just me asking how his mother’s doing, since she had her entire colon removed, he can whip out them bible verses. We try very hard to stay away from any substantive conversation, because when it comes to politics, he just quotes the bible and really, that bible quoting does impress me mightily. I’ve only gotten into it with him once and I do regret it, because no one wins an argument,… Read more »

whatsthatsound
Member

Hi, TIAP, I’m interested in your first question, because it seems, by its wording, to suggest that religion perhaps offers things that could also, as you point out, be taught by the “people you choose to make part of your life”. But personally, I don’t approach it that way. I think that question could be applied to so many things, and always we would reach the same conclusion that it’s not a simple trade-off. For example, a single person could ask a parent, “What did raising a child teach you that you couldn’t have learned by staying single?” The parent… Read more »

PatsyT
Member

TIAP, I very much appreciate this conversation and
will be able to jump in when my kids
and I aren’t sick with the cough/cold that is going around.
Someone mentioned this current series on PBS FRONTLINE, God In America.
If you have missed it, the link is below.
I do love that PBS gives links online.

http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/view/?utm_campaign=viewpage&utm_medium=toparea&utm_source=toparea

boomer1949
Member

bito, This is my Final Answer/Interpretation, and please correct me if I am wrong. However, I will be 61 come Oct. 29, and if anyone of us has been around longer than I (yourself included), speak now or forever keep your lip zipped (sorry I couldn’t decide between piece and peace — please don’t hold it against me). 😆 I’ve been around the block more than once, however I’ve undoubtedly missed a few things along the way. If this is the case, please fill me in; I’m open to anything, especially if given the opportunity to it mull over. I’m… Read more »

kesmarn
Admin

Hey! I heard that! 😆 😆 😆

bito
Member

Hey, I have a thing for exotic Ohio gals. 😆

kesmarn
Admin

But who can compete against a big city girl from Columbus?

boomer1949
Member

Clumbus? C’mon kes — I’m a regular person and far from “big city”, believe me.

kesmarn
Admin

I luv ya, boomer! And I’m just kiddin’ y’all! 😉

bito
Member
kesmarn
Admin

A really interesting set of questions, TIAP. We seem to be working on a theme here at the Planet, with WTS’s post and Khirad’s in the process as well. Since so many events in the world have a religious component, and since the Big Questions are endlessly interesting in and of themselves, it’s easy to see why this is a subject almost all of us love to explore. What has religion taught me that others in my life couldn’t? Well, I don’t know if “religion” has taught me much that my fellow humans couldn’t have, but faith has. Faith has… Read more »

Haruko Haruhara
Member

Faith is just the belief that anything is possible.

Religion is the co-opting of faith for nefarious purposes.

Khirad
Member

I was raised nominal Protestant. My mom Christian, my dad, agnostic, though only in later discussions have I come to get him to call it that. Although maybe not even that. He believes in ‘something’ vague but doesn’t know what to call It. So, I went to church for Easter, usually while visiting the grandparents. My teen years sent my mom back to regularly attending church though (I feel guilty about those years, I was a little out of control). (I’ve been over this next part a few times, so lest I feel self-conscious about being repetitive, this is just… Read more »

SueInCa
Member

Khirad
From what I know about you and your blogging, this would seem the perfect blend of fellowship for you with your appreciation of world religions. I had heard of them but never really delved into it. Thanks to your vid, I will look at them further.

SueInCa
Member

Hi TIAP

I may or may not be able to shed some light here, but I will try. First, to answer your questions:

What did religion teach you that you couldn

boomer1949
Member

Sue,

My ex-husband and his best friend used to grab the bulletin and leave at Communion. 😆

SueInCa
Member

I probably saw him at Case’s buying candy or gum LOL. Mr Case never told my dad what I was doing. Therefore when I got older, I bought all my beer and tequila from his store. LOL

I don’t live there anymore but when I have time, I always go into the store to chat with his sons. They are my age

boomer1949
Member

TIP,

Afternoon and I’ll be the first to jump in here. I am everything in your second paragraph with the exception of the last sentence.

What did religion teach you that you couldn

choicelady
Member

Hi TIAP-

You are right up my alley! Or boulevard! I work for a large progressive faith organization that represents mainstream, progressive denominations (and a couple that are not) and here is what I belive – what we uphold as an organization:

“I believe in live and let live and the idea that if I don

bito
Member

C’Lady, you may have already ready this article http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/10/progressive_traditions6.html
If not, you may enjoy it. In fact the whole series is quite good.

choicelady
Member

Hi bito- yes, I have been reading it as they went along, and it’s really (amazingly) good. The new PBS series, God in America is just the opposite – all emphasis is given to conservative Christianity and not much else. I wrote a flaming letter to them saying I won’t watch OR promote it. They whimpered back that they had Jim Wallis on as a ‘progressive voice’ – he who is homophobic and anti-choice. He’s really good on economic issues. Period. However, I’m surprised the Center for American Progress did such a good job. They once wanted one of my… Read more »

boomer1949
Member

C’lady,

“God In America”? I fell asleep. ZZZZZ

bito
Member

Have you read the series, boomer?

boomer1949
Member

bito, Hello my dear bito. I’ve not read it, but I’ve watched it. Please read what I wrote earlier to TIAP. ps — At this very moment, I’m watching/listening to the third night of the series. Each of us will walk away with his/her own interpretation; it’s in our makeup. What I’m saying is none of us is wrong, yet none of us is right either. We, as living and breathing human beings, MUST, MUST be able to compromise and respect our differences. If we were all the same, we would be quite boring as a species — regardless of… Read more »

bito
Member

boomer, oops. I was talking about the series of articles at CAP (Center for American Progress) found here.

Sorry about the crossed wires.

bito