Progressives, the Golden Rule and religion











As someone who has been a convert from a conservative Catholic as a child and young adult to being an agnostic Progressive now, I’ve been in the foxholes of both sides and seen the respective viewpoints of many different religions. After all, it’s been through these life experiences that I became the person that I am today.

There is a central point in the original messages of all major religions when you condense them down and filter out the maniacal rants of the extremists. It’s the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way you would want to them to treat you. You really can’t go wrong with that rule but I think within the collective of the liberal/progressive movement, we tend to forget that sometimes.

I know a lot of religious people who would probably be on our side more often if it wasn’t for the fact that they’ve been convinced that we’re out to destroy their religion and take it away from them. Instead of crossing over the lines and joining us on issues we can both agree on, they stay huddled in the bunkers with people they have very little in common with, other than a belief in the same supreme being. They’ve been told over and over again from the pulpit and from the TV, that we want to abolish religion and that we hate their god. Even though this isn’t true, we need to start doing a couple things differently.

For those of us who are atheists and agnostics, let’s let go of the religion bashing. There’s many religious scripts that coincide with the common goals we share such as social justice. Who cares what source it comes from? Should we really care if it comes from our own life experiences and convictions or if someone was taught this in a shul, madrasa or Sunday school? Is it really that important if we’re working towards the same thing? I think not.

So often we want to be right and to think we understand everything, and we want to let everyone know the extent of our knowledge. This applies both to militant atheists as well as militant religious people I’ve known. With these differences, this is how they divide us. Atheists vs Theists. Jews vs Muslims. Muslims vs Christians. Christians vs Buddhists. You get the point. Why does it matter if someone believes in a supernatural being or not when you’re standing on the same picket line or lobbying for the same social change?

Once we’ve solved world hunger, gun violence, global warming, obesity and unemployment, then we can get to down to discussing whether or not our beliefs on religion are correct. I look forward to that day, but until then, we have a lot of work to do.



Facebook comments

  • Joyce

    IF more people thought like this, the world would be such a better place. Very nice

  • just today

    It really is that simple. If only we would all remember what we learned once upon a time,
    and it’s the same in all major religions……..
    ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
    — Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; Analects XV.24; Dhammapada 10; Mahabharata CXIII, Verse 8; Muhammad; Shabbat 31a; T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien; et al

  • Mary G.

    “I know a lot of religious people who would probably be on our side more often if it wasn’t for the fact that they’ve been convinced that we’re out to destroy their religion and take it away from them.”

    The trouble is, those folks are convinced by their “news” sources and have ZERO interest in working with anyone outside their church. They’re convinced that we are all devil worshipers.

  • Vince Quackenbush

    Twaddle. Neither morality nor ethics bears any relation to religious belief. Plus, religion ought to examined, analyzed, criticized, and yes, ridiculed freely.

    • Agreed. A robust, living faith welcomes questions, can answer criticisms and smile pityingly at ridicule; it is a brittle, empty ‘faith’ already on the verge of collapse that fears and seeks to silence all three!

  • wil maddeaux

    Something was forgotten here. the tomb in which Jesus was laid was empty in three days, and is still empty, today. The golden rule is a good thing, but there is so much more to being a follower of Jesus than the golden rule. it has to do with finding the road back to a good relationship with God.

    • True, Will. What I want to say is related to that: anyone who feels their ‘religion’ is something that can be stolen from them is already in pretty deep spiritual trouble. Knowledge of God is something we come to in our hearts, not our heads (which can, however, concur and/or dissent) and once such knowledge is in our hearts, nothing on this planet (as Paul wrote in Romans) can take that from us! Without it, though, we grope for the wall like blind men, to use Isaiah’s words.

  • Joan Blancmange Arndt

    I tell everyone, no matter what you worship, what side of the political coin you are on, whose football is better, what band is more awesome; at the end of the day every person is sitting on their couch with the remote in their hand channel surfing and complaining there is nothing on.

  • Kevin Gain

    The multi-billion dollar tax-free religion industry pumps hateful, bigoted nonsense into the public every single day through a massive media empire and about 335,000 tax free disinformation franchises and no one bats an eye but let an atheist point out that it’s nonsense on a blog somewhere or, Heaven forbid, manage to get an article into a newspaper or a minute on TV and everyone clutches their pearls.

    The Catholic Church can run all over Africa telling people that condoms cause AIDS but when you point out that that pointy hat wearing protector of pedophiles has no hotline to some sky fairy and all of a sudden YOU’RE the asshole? I don’t think so.

    The Mormon Church can spend millions of dollars influencing voting in California to continue to deny basic human rights to gay people but when you point out that the convicted fraud and charlatan Joseph Smith did not get a set of golden tablets from the angel Moroni which he then translated by putting rocks in his hat and staring into it while sitting behind a bed sheet in his kitchen and dictating to his slightly more literate neighbor and that the American Indians are not a “lost tribe of Israel” YOU’RE the one being rude? Wrong.

    Pat Robertson can blame hurricanes on gay people and abortion but when you point out that an apocalyptic Jewish prophet in Iron Age Palestine did not come back from the dead and isn’t going to again and that the Magic Book that tells him this isn’t magic YOU’RE the one who lacks civility? Not!

    There are even people who claim that the so-called “Militant Atheists” are responsible for Christians rejecting science. They have been rejecting science for a long time because of their manifestly ridiculous religious beliefs not because, very recently, some of us simply decided to fight this battle without one hand tied behind our backs.

    The tax-free religion industry has demanded and received deferential treatment for their preachments by threatening the gullible with eternal damnation and the rest of us with charges of disrespect and ”religion bashing” it’s the only way this noise survives. It’s time we all stop buying into this nonsense.

    The only thing more dangerous than the Theocrats trying to drag us back to the Dark Ages are the people who know better but are afraid of ruffling feathers and who not only won’t address these precious religious beliefs but tell others not to.

    I’m all for being civil to someone who is civil to you and working toward common goals when possible but that doesn’t require not opposing them when their other goals are repulsive or ignoring their other irrational beliefs.

    If the questioning of religious beliefs makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you get over it. The mean old “Militant Atheists” are no longer willing to accept this double standard and we aren’t going to shut up and we aren’t going away. This standing in the middle, pearl clutching, finger wagging and feather smoothing is just self aggrandizing hokum. There is no middle. There’s reality and there’s nonsense. Pick a side.

    • Debbie

      Kevin, I agree with every word you wrote!!

    • Ed Williams

      That’s too bad, Kevin. Based on the attitude discussed in the article, I’d be willing to come to the table with Manny Schewitz and like-minded, creative-thinking, yes progressive individuals for a common cause. You sir, just intentionally destroy that notion with your US vs. THEM attitude, which insures there will be no middle ground. You can be militant all you want, but it never has turned critically thinking peoples toward your cause (and never will). As a fairly progressive, intelligent Christian man – I suppose you’d prefer to offend me and oppose me than educate me or convince me, or bring me to some mutual understanding/agreement. Manny’s suggestion would encourage me to seek out the thoughts, opinions and positions of others – whether they agree with my faith position or not. Appreciate the insight that he provided here, and I’ll see if there are others willing to bridge disparate views rather than attack them.

    • Debbie

      I don’t see it as US vs. THEM, I see it as TRUTH vs. FANTASY. That doesn’t mean that people can’t be civil to each other. It DOES mean that I do not and will not pretend to accept your fantasy.