Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, August 23, 2003

No Other Gods Before Me

I've got little patience in general for preachy idiots who mouth platitudes about freedom of religion (which they rarely mean anyway, as their benevolence almost always extends to religions which are relatively inoffensive to their skewed sensibilities) but don't permit freedom from religion. I always interpreted the aspect of religious choice enshrined in the First Amendment as obviously referring to citizens' decision to worship any deity they chose, or not to worship at all if such was their choice. In other words, it seeks to establish the practice of religion as a private matter, not a governmental one. Which is why I have no problem with a copy of the Ten Commandments being on someone's lawn, where neighbors can either throw flowers or point and mock depending on their mood. But not, you know, in a public building. 'Cause yeah, some of those Commandments are nice common sense things that I wish more people who purport to be religious would actually practice - the strictures against killing or bearing false witness or stealing, for instance. All good stuff.

But I could so do without that Second Commandment (or the Second Amendment for that matter, but that's another rant). It seems to do nothing nowadays but encourage differing interpretations of "my god's better than your god." And as many thinking people acknowledge, religious competition has been the source of probably more misery and death than, well, certainly than a tiny bunch of atheists sitting around theorizing how so many people could be so beholden to superstition in the 21st century. One of the latest twists on "some pigs are more equal than other pigs" comes from Fiji. Reports Jonathan Edelstein, the Head Heeb (link at sidebar), "A small nationalist party in Fiji plans to march next month to prohibit the practice of non-Christian religions." The New Nationalist wingdings want to "traditionally request President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to stop non-Christians, particularly, the Hindus and Muslims from practising their religion publicly among other things." Now I know religious discrimination does have a long tradition, but I didn't know the encouragement of same was actually codified anywhere to the point where requesting it was a tradition as well! Sayeth head wingding party president Saula Telawa,
They should not be allowed to practice their religion publicly. If they want to hold a session of Ramayan or other religious activities, they do it inside their homes or if they are living on Freehold land, they can do it there but not on our native land. And no public holidays to mark Hindu and Muslim religious festivals, all this must stop.
Now, I can see his point - I'd like to see religion practiced in private as well, but all religion, Christianity inclusive. And not private as in underground, just private as in your religions, like your sexual practices, really aren't any of my business. If it makes you happy and secure and content to believe whatever you want, and if your beliefs don't infringe on my rights or my beliefs (note, that's "infringe on," not "agree with"), go for it, just don't push it in my face, or sneak stone tablets onto courthouse grounds in the middle of the night, or petition your government to ghettoize every belief except yours.