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Religion is holding Scotland back

(SoupCruncher) #1

I was brought up in the catholic faith, went to church confessional as a child and made up stuff to please the adult hiding in the wee box because I couldn’t remember doing anything bad that week.

I had my doubts at a very early age.

During a ‘Religious Knowledge” class led by a music teacher, we were told that “If God had intended Man to fly, he’d have given us wings”. I asked genuinely puzzled “Why then did God give us the intelligence to build aeroplanes?” I was labelled a “troublemaker”.

It seems that anyone who speaks out against religious dogma is a troublemaker, but the problem is that there are not enough of us.

I’m writing this because I’ve just read yet another example of fear and hate vocalised by a “Father” in the Catholic Church condemning ordinary people for their sexual orientation and had to confront, and then comfort the mother of an LGBT child because she was worried that PRIDE Scotland weren’t doing enough to distance themselves from paedophilia!

Being Scottish I’m also sick to death of these hate marches in the name of historic religious grievances that we have to put up with each and every summer and the hate chanting that goes hand in glove with certain football teams. Actually, thinking about it that’s probably why I hate football.

So many bad things around our planet are being done in the name of religion; innocents are killed daily in “Gods Name”.

I know, I know, there are plenty of decent people out there who follow god. But they are the tiny minority. Every day of my life is affected by some opinion that is based on misplaced “Faith”.

I ask you, who is the truly moral person? The one who behaves in a decent compassionate manner because it’s just the right way to be or the one who does it for fear of eternal damnation, but keeps a get out of jail free card in the form of the confessional?

(Seumas) #2

I’m sorry that SoupCruncher has had negative experiences of religion. That is his experience with a particular faith community.
He feels let down because another leader in that Faith Community acts inappropriately and does something which is in fact a negation of the basis of Christianity.
He adds his comments to the discussion of the criticism of a group of people who are misusing a particular tradition to spread sectarian hatred.
However I have to take issue with his general conclusion that any understanding of faith is bad.
I don’t see why he restricts his criticism about religion to those who practice a faith which has a confessional. This is only practiced by one christian tradition. There is another tradition which believes (among other things) in election, and have an Antinomianism view of their personal election. Because Christ has died for their sins and they are forgiven they therefore have freedom to sin.
There is actually no mature understanding of the Christian faith which believes that Christians act to keep out of Hell. Mature Christians act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God, because having experienced the love of God in their lives they wish to serve him/her in faith and obedience.
This requirement for justice and righteousness is nothing to do with rewards or penalties it is the offering of faith.
Unfortunately SoupCruncher clearly didn’t listen to what he was taught in Religious Knowledge, and so he is not able to really criticise Father Morris who is simply wrong. The pride march is not a gross insult to God. The pride march is people affirming that sexuality is not to be used to divide people. That it i a God given position. If Father Morris had discussed how people use their sexuality perhaps he might haver had some point, but then given that the Father would seem to have little experience of the practice of his sexuality - whatever it is - there are grave doubts to what extent he should be listened to.
Religion is not holding Scotland back. It is in fact ignorance of the Christian Faith which means that people fail to understand the potential which people live in faith and working for justice and truth can have in society.

(SoupCruncher) #3

As I said I was raised a Catholic so therefore it’s the religion I’m best qualified to speak about. Not in any way singling out any religion, just my personal experience of religion which is mostly negative. You say I didn’t pay attention to Religious Education? Why? Because I’ve not reached the same conclusions as you? How very Christian of you and typical of the high handed attitude I’ve come to expect from certain people of faith.

(Seumas) #4

I will rephraise what I said. Clearly he was not taught the Catholic faith in his Religious Knowledge classes (I have a friend a Laicised Priest who ended up as an academic who wouldn’t let his daughter go to confirmation classes in the local parish as he isn’t want her head filled with a lot of rubbish).
I am sorry that you have has such a negative experience but your negative experience is your experience. I would apologise to you if it was any of my business, but it isn’t
I suggest that you try Gaudete et exsultate, an Apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis.
The issue is not actually SoupCruncher’s experience of religion , but whether his claim that Religion is holding Scotland back. The very fact that you say about me “How very Christian of you and typical of the high handed attitude I’ve come to expect from certain people of faith”, suggests to me that you have got your own definition of faith, which may have nothing to do with Christianity. My definition would be that a Christian is someone who believing that “Christ has Died, Christ has risen, and that Christ will come again” and conscious of their frailty and propensity to sin, claim a relationship with Jesus as the one who is ultimately in control of the lives and seek to live according to his demands. These are primarily found in the Beatitudes and in Matthew 25.
I am perfectly happy for people to speak out about the Christian - or other faith, and the more troublemakers the better, but this criticism must be from knowledge , not simply an an hominem attack on a Priest who has totally failed is proclaiming the Catholic Faith.

(SoupCruncher) #5

You are talking about “beauty in text” while I am talking about the nasty reality of Orange Marches and bigoted priests.
I was challenged on my way to primary school as to whether I was Catholic or protestant, I’m not talking about Theology mate, I’m talking about reality.

(Seumas) #6

You have been attacking religion. I have been giving you a religious reply. You don’t like it because what you have been writing about it actually culture which is nothing about religion. I would suggest that peoperly understood faith is antagonistic to the cultural Sectarianism you are quite rightly condeming.

(Grosvenor Consultancy) #7

I have been following this discourse between SoupCruncher and Seumas and it seems clear that SoupCruncher is sadly significantly extrapolating his childhood and personal experiences, which regretfully are not uncommon, to conclude that Religion is holding Scotland back…

My view point for what it’s worth, is that Seumas has gently and carefully responded to SoupCruncher and I have found these responses to be heartening and helpful. Thank you both.

(SoupCruncher) #8

How can you say culture has nothing to do with religion? These problems within our culture are due to warped religious sections of our society.

(Del Smith) #9

I think that must be right . The culture of any society amongst many other influences reflects its religious beliefs. Sometimes long after the organised religions have lost their influence The two are inextricably linked.

(Anne Thomas) #10

Just because some people fail to understand Christianity and don’t practice what they preach does not mean that it is fundamentally wrong. I think the best way of evaluating faith is if it makes people better people than they would otherwise be. They may still have many failings. I think this poem by Steve Turner sums up very well how organised religion can obscure what Christianity is fundamentally about. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/how-to-hide-jesus/
Over the centuries there have been many movements to get back to this; Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, Salvation Army etc. Each challenged the established religion which had become culturally frozen into the society but then became established itself. Ultimately ‘God has no grandchildren’ only children. People cannot inherit faith they can only discover it for themselves. Often those who try to adopt religion without a personal faith end up just adopting a culture and often the culture is divisive and rejects anyone of a different tradition. The same is probably true of other religions but I only really have experience of Christianity.

(Seumas) #11

Have you actually read what I said and thought about it? What I wrote was “properly understood faith is antagonistic to the cultural Sectarianism you are quite rightly condemning”. The original might have been the better for a comma between “understood” and “faith”
You have latched onto the statement “actually culture which is nothing about religion” It was Dean Swift, writing in the first part of the 18th Century who summed it up. In his Gulliver’s Travels Swift gives us a situation where the tension between two neighbouring islands was over what end of an egg you opened it at. This was actually a satire on the relationships between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
The Faith is to do with what people believe about a Divinity and how they seek to in some way follow its teachings. A religion is how in some way the content of a faith is structured so that it is generally observable to those who are not part of the faith.
The sectarianism which we see being rightly dismissed by SoupCruncher has actually nothing to do with any faith or religion. Yes. religious concepts are used as markers for the protagonists of these sectarian situations, but the people who practice this sectarianism have no actual faith connection.
I would like to thank Anne_Thomas for her contribution above, as she has said much more eloquently than I could have what I was about to say.

(Alastair Tibbitt) #12

(SoupCruncher) #13

I personally think religion has way to much say in world politics. Peoples unproven beliefs are used as moral guidelines for a general populous who may not share them. Religion is often confused with morality while you can lead a very moral life without being remotely religious not trying to enforce your rule set upon others. Too often we hear religious leaders preach their warped moral laws based on belief. Many of these moral laws “To kill is a sin”, make obvious and perfect sense. But others only make any sense to those who believe. All this ever seems to do is cause conflict. Everyone has the right to believe what they wish, but democracy should have the final say. Unfortunately many systems were originally set up with religious teachings as their scaffold, and much of that scaffold still remains. In Westminster it’s the Church of England in the House of Lords over representing a religious minority. This is to the detriment of democracy. Thankfully Holyrood is new and better for it, however in Scotland we have Sectarianism, which I believe is a tool of the Westminster establishment used to destabilise our society.

(Seumas) #14

But Political philosophy, which lies at the back of most basis of government also consist or unproven beliefs. Marxism (and I’m only using this as an example as it is a topic I know quite a lot about) which is aggressively a political/economic construct, despite its claims to be a scientific dialectic materialism, is merely a form of political thought with no objective proof of its truth, is pushed out as a way of running society. Are you saying that this is right or wrong. There are a lot of other political philosophies which we could go through, or are you restricting your comments to religion? (which you haven’t defined).
You suggest that there has been a tendency for religious leaders to universalise their teachings and impose them on the non believers. This is of course totally wrong, and has actually led to a distortion of Christianity. You vaguely use the term “Religious leaders”. Who actually do you mean? Today many of us who are religious thinkers, are struggling with the Concept of Post-Christian, Pre-Constentine as we try to understand how the faithful should return to being the salt or the yeast in society, a small (persecuted?) minority who are big on social justice and peacemaking which would not go down well at the Ballot box.
Telling us about how religion is holding Scotland back, you then introduce an example from Westminster. Now I would agree that Westminster is holding Scotland back, but that is due to much more tan another bunch of old palls have seats in the House of Lords - remember that the Archbishop of Canterbury want to the same school as David Cameron, Boris Johnston and princes William and Harry.
I wouldn’t disagree with you that Sectarianism is being used by Westminster to destabilise our society. the Ugly Sisters of Glasgow Football are profoundly sectarian, but I would have absolutely nothing to do with Faith, as have said in the past, Religious differences are used as markers, but you could just as well divide with reference to what end people open their boiled eggs.
Quite clearly you have had a negative experience of religion. I’m not going to go into an analysis of the wars in which it appears from your writings that the faith community of your birth would seem to have failed you. However you simply can’t argue I have experienced y from some x therefore all x are y.

(SoupCruncher) #15

thanks for the debate, we obviously come from 2 very different worlds. I’ll leave you with this, in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Prof. Yuval Noah Harari proposes that Communism is just another religion.

(Seumas) #16

I would agree with him. During the time of the Maoists a fellow student (who ended up as the a distinguished theologian) and I wrote an article for the University Newspaper arguing that there were signs of religion in the Maoists.
I have never found the demand that religion has a mystical or theological input satisfactory.
Thanks for the conversation. I thought it was quite good.