I’ve been noticing a trend (one that was clearly there already–this is nothing new) among progressives to totally discount religion, often while mocking the religious, as ridiculous, unnecessary, and/or inherently harmful. (I noticed it most recently in this thread about circumcision, which I haven’t jumped into at all because as a dyke I don’t think I really should get any say in anybody’s boyparts.) And I have to say, as a progressive person with some religious tendencies, that strikes me as really sad.
I will totally concede that I have heard some totally wack shit from religious folk, particularly fundamentalists of various stripes. And I know enough about our major world religions to know that many of their core texts reinforce a lot of the patriarchical values cherished historically, which ideally wouldn’t have a place in today’s world. And believe me, having come from a school whose mascot was the Crusader (yes, those Crusades), I’m painfully aware of the myriad ways religions have been used to excuse utterly vile abuse, oppression, and violence.
But knowing all these things, I’m not ready to condemn all religions or all religious people.
Why not? Well, I see some value in a few of the teachings that seem to weave through most faiths: respect for human life, a desire to do good, an aspiration to some kind of higher existence. And because I see so much hope. I see congregations fighting to let women be clergical leaders. I see bishops fighting for marriage equality. I read sermons urging racial equality. So forgive me if I’m not willing to throw all that away.
I guess I just don’t see how it’s helpful to attack the Catholic church when there are Catholics out there working for social justice, or to declare the Muslim religion inherently backward and violent when there are Muslim women promoting feminist causes in the face of incredible opposition. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call religions and the religious on the kinds of injustice that still persist under the banner of spirituality; we absolutely should. But I really can’t understand what is productive about the current tone of discourse so many progressives seem to enjoy when it comes to matters of faith.
Can anyone enlighten me?