Religion is a tricky business. It can bring out the best in a person. Think Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer or Mother Teresa. But it can also bring out the worst. Think 9/11, the Inquisition or the Salem witch trials. What I'm saying is that religion can short-circuit your ability to think. You sometimes can't see things as they really are because irrational beliefs get in the way. I'll give you a couple of examples.
In New York, ultra-Orthodox Jews are criticizing the Brooklyn district attorney for prosecuting Jewish child sex-abuse cases, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that a 16-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. After his father reported the crime to police, the father said he was shunned, cursed and kicked out of his apartment by other ultra-Orthodox Jews for trying to protect his son.
In California, inmate Billy Paul Birdwell argued that his religion, Asatru-Odinism, required him to have open space and a fire pit. Prison officials gave him the open space and even built a fence around it. But when officials later replaced that space with a non-denominational outdoor area, Birdwell complained that his religious needs weren't met. Starting to get the picture? To people living within a particular religious tradition, the beliefs always seem reasonable. But there are limits to how far we as a nation can go in protecting the rights of citizens to exercise their faith.
Read it all.
Posted June 13, 2012 at 11:20 am
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