28th May 2008

“The politics of human rights, like the idea of individual freedom, were born not in religion but in the Enlightenment struggle against it.”

James P. Carroll

2 Responses to “28th May 2008”

  1. Terence Meaden Says:

    The church was never in the vanguard of advocating improvements in human rights but was always to be found trailing in the rear of reforms that had been initiated by leaders of the Enlightenment.
    Obeying the laws and other concoctions of its book was all that interested it for much of two millennia.
    This leads me to remark on just a single aspect that generalises about religion. I append this letter written to the National Secular Society by Rasjidah St John about what should be the human rights of children (NSS Newsline 14 April 2006):

    “It ought to be included in Human Rights legislation, that no one can become a member of a religion until they reach the age of 18, or perhaps 16. In Europe people are not allowed to marry until that sort of age, although in some cultures children are promised in marriage at any age, even before birth or conception. Most of us consider this barbaric, and so is persuading a child of 5 or 12 to make promises or vows, or for adults to make promises on their behalf when the child is born, about their beliefs, allegiances, and regulations concerning the state of their “immortal soul.” If an adult enters freely and consciously into such a system, that is their prerogative. Adults believe, or pretend to believe, all sorts of things. A pretended belief is often a ploy for persuading someone else to make a fool of themselves. Children engage in this in their games. A pretended belief is an effective strategy for creating lifelong slaves, who commit their every action and thought to the power in control of the system.
    An adult who has sex with an under-age person, is committing a crime. Even the grooming of child by an adult, with eventual sex in view, is a crime. How much more cruel and damaging is grooming a child into a religion!”

  2. Chris Says:

    TM- well put. The so-called morals of religion, late to the table on individual rights, last on slavery, last on womens rights, behind on reproductive rights, obviously wrong on homosexuality. So much for the “good book”. We owe our present freedoms to the enlightenment, not to religion.

    The letter you cite is, in my opinion, wrong to equate religious indoctrination with pedophilia. I’m not sure I’d go that far without argument though I don’t dispute the abusive nature of indoctrination. It is the abuse of an asymmetrical relationship between parent and child that erects barriers around the child’s thinking and how she perceives the world. It distorts a persons world view with untrue beliefs that run smack counter to objective reality. But is it the same as vile and violent sexual assault? To my mind, there is a qualitative difference. I shake my head at one and grab my torch and pitchfork for the other.