Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Human Rights and Religion

About half of my friends disagree with me because I favor marriage equality and the other half think I'm crazy to be a priest because all religions are bad. I have to say that the conservative churches were seriously wrong on CA's Prop 8 and should be ashamed of themselves. What would happen if everyone could marry the person they love with all their heart, even if that person were of the same sex? It's ridiculous to think that somehow that would undermine heterosexual marriages. Is love finite? Are there only so many weddings allotted the human race? Would caterers run out of wedding cake? Would Niagara Falls dry up??

But I'd like everyone to keep in mind that both abolitionism and the civil rights' movement were church-driven and both vastly expanded the scope of human liberty.

Also keep in mind that by far the greatest enemies of liberty in the last century were the regimes that were most antagonistic to religion: the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Maoist China. So I am happy to acknowledge the enormous evil done by religious institutions (and this is no small thing): the Crusades, the Inquisition, the wars of religion that followed the Reformation. I have no idea how many were killed or harmed by these atrocites, but I suspect that the number of people killed in religious wars, jihads, and so on is insignificant when compared to the number killed just in the 20th century by the regimes previously mentioned.

Guessing conservatively, the Third Reich killed at least 6 to 10 million people; the Soviet Union well over 10 million; Pol Pot exterminated at least 1 million; Maoist China destroyed at least 10 million lives. In total, at least 30 million lives were ended JUST IN THE 20TH CENTURY by regimes that opposed all forms of religion.

Yes, religion is capable of doing dreadful things, but religion's opponents seem to be capable of doing far worse things.