I’m generally in favor of religious freedom. After all, if I don’t respect people’s right to believe what they want or think is true, why would they respect mine? What I don’t favor is when people use religious tradition as a reason to hold prejudicial views. What’s interesting is how much fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims hate each other when they seem to be in agreement about many things, mainly that women and gay people are icky.
Not that they’re always that keen on straight men either. I mean, if someone seriously thinks that a heterosexual man seeing a woman’s body or shaking her hand is going to lead to uncontrolled lust, that basically reduces them to troglodytes. I think we’re coming to realize as a society that people who claim rape victims were asking for it are assholes, but we still have some groups who apparently believe God thinks that.
I wonder if Zeus ever used that excuse. Yes, you can find some justification in the Bible or the Quran for these attitudes, but when your holy book goes against treating your fellow humans halfway decently, shouldn’t the latter take precedent?
Wasn’t that more or less the spirit of what a lot of religious leaders were trying to say? The fact that they also carried some of the prejudices of their times doesn’t mean we still have to hold on to them now. Sure, Paul expressed some views about homosexuality being ungodly, but he also thought you shouldn’t have to become circumcised or eat a special diet to become a Christian, so why do the possibly bigoted passages carry so much more weight than his general idea that Jesus welcomes everybody?
I live in Brooklyn now, but I’m originally from Pennsylvania, so it’s kind of weird getting used to the bearded men in black coats and hats being Jewish instead of Amish. There are certainly similarities, though, as they’re both groups that want to keep separate from the rest of society. In some ways I respect that, as assimilation isn’t always good. A lot of old ethnic neighborhoods are being taken over by generic white people, which I’m sure removes a lot of local flavor. It can be fascinating to observe other cultures simply by walking down the street. That said, when I hear about how someone left a hot plate on during the Sabbath and their house caught on fire, or how the Hasidim didn’t want bike lanes in their neighborhood because scantily clad women ride down them, it doesn’t sound like they’re being very good neighbors. Even if women in your culture dress conservatively, you can’t extend that to anyone else who wants to ride a bicycle on a public street. You can have your religious beliefs, but don’t force them on other people. And no, the hot plate thing isn’t DIRECTLY forcing your culture on others, but it is maintaining an age-old tradition even when it’s dangerous to people other than you. Mind you, I don’t know Hebrew, but I doubt the Torah says anything about hot plates. Apparently some orthodox rabbis have interpreted turning on a hot plate or flipping a lightswitch to be akin to lighting a fire, even though there’s no actual fire involved. I’m not sure what’s wrong with just eating cold food on Saturdays, but I just came across this article about another such proposed Shabbos loophole. Maybe these workarounds aren’t so bizarre to people raised in that religion, but for me they just seem to be more ways to obey the letter of the law while ignoring the actual rationale for it. Not that anybody nowadays really knows the original rationale for the Sabbath, but if it’s supposed to be a time of pious reflection, you’d think having to worry about the electrical appliances would go against this idea.