Friday, May 8, 2009

Moral Purity

Interesting article that shows that those who attend Church once a week or more are more likely to support the use of torture, while those who have no religious affiliation are the least likely to support it. The article does include a comment that those who are more likely to support torture may do so out of the need to protect the citizens of this country. The author of the article, however, does say this:

"However, the notion that Muhammad and Zubaydah deserved to be tortured is, I think, latent in some justifications of torture: that they are bad people who did terrible things, and hence we shouldn't feel so bad about what was done to them, is a looming feeling that one can sense from some discussions of torture. And that implicit (sometimes explicit) argument is about retribution."

The reason I point out things like this isn't to bash Christians, but to try to refute the idea that so many conservative Christians have that they are the only morally pure among us, and that what they believe is always what is morally right. The mere fact that Jerry Falwell called his organization the Moral Majority is a sufficient example, in my view. And I want to point out to such Christians that their attitude strikes others as arrogant and dangerously wrong. My morals are different from yours, but I don't agree they are inferior.

To take some of the hot button issues; I can understand the position that abortion is murder, but I don't agree with it. I believe that an all-knowing all-powerful deity would simply not put souls into fetuses who will not be born. More, I think the way to stop abortions is to make them unnecessary, and I believe that can be best accomplished by teaching teens about sex and contraception, about the responsibilities that having a baby entail, by doing something to address the sexual abuse of children and teens, etc.

In the case of gay rights, I think I've made my position clear. I think LBGT people are made that way, and trying to force them to change causes many suicides among them. Moreover it is an ethical issue of equal rights, which they deserve as much as any other class of people that have won protection against discrimination. I also believe it is an issue of mental health, that anytime you tell a person they are bad for any reason intrinsic to who they are, such as skin color, handedness, or sexual orientation, you damage them in terrible and completely unjustifiable ways.

As for torture, I believe it morally and practically unjustifiable. Not only is it wrong, and against the ideals this country has held since its beginning, it does not produce reliable information.

Another issue is patriotism... there are two strands of patriotism that run through the history of the U.S. One is that whatever the leaders do is right and should be followed without question, that questioning can cause breakdowns in functioning that can be dangerous in crisis situations. The other strand holds that to be patriotic is to hold that this nation, born with high ideals that it never fully lived up to, should constantly strive to come closer to those ideals of freedom and justice for all. The latter is my view, though I admit the issue of functioning while maintaining independence of thought has its complexities.

There are many more issues, but these draw me the most right now. What I am really trying to say is that there are as many views of what is morally right as there are people. Some of them are pretty clear and agreed to by most of us. But on others, we should be less willing to say our opponents are immoral as that we have differing views of the moral and the ethical.

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