Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Believe me, this isn't a War On Religion

I don't have time to really write, but I just needed to pass this on with a word of comment. Rabbi Eric Yoffie (former president of the Union for Reform Judaism) has an article on HuffPost, distressed at all of the "War On Religion" talk. It is, in a word, a ridiculous claim:

And the simple fact is that the idea of a war carried out by our government against religion is utterly absurd. Religion in America is vital, dynamic and thriving as never before. Roughly 150 million Americans go to a church, synagogue or mosque for prayer every week, and our houses of worship and related organizations receive far more charitable dollars and hours of volunteer service than any other civic institution. The Hannity panelists must know this. Indeed, in chatting with them before the show, several shared with me the extraordinary work they are doing in their own communities; one told me of the 15,000 people who come to his church each Sunday!

Or, as John Stewart said, you must be confusing "a war on religion" with "not getting everything you want." Very different.

As Yoffie says, true religion requires dialogue and argument - it's what keeps us vital, and keeps us honest:

I also suspect that talk of religious war is an excuse for those of extreme opinions to circumvent the need for thoughtful religious dialogue. Substantive, serious religious dialogue is salutary; it does not deny conflict but encourages it, while offering a mechanism to clarify differences and promote understanding. But if we are in a war, then such dialogue becomes secondary, if not downright gratuitous. In wartime, screaming and venting drown out serious conversation. In wartime, fighting the battle takes precedence over civility and humility.

Argue all that you want about any view or policy with which you disagree. But, please, don't pretend that your religion is under attack just because of that view or policy. Talk to someone whose religion has been truly trampled on by their government, and then give thanks that we live in a wonderfully free country!

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