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Author Topic: Putting Faith in Its Place  (Read 6035 times)

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Offline Serephino

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #50 on: October 03, 2009, 08:31:54 PM »
There isn't a religion in the history of the world that has made any impact, in terms of gathering followers, that doesn't have some blood on its hands and some ideology that is damaging to the world as a whole.  I'm reiterating this fact and challenging you to name one that does.  Should you actually find an ideology that hasn't committed any gross atrocities, I can argue how it would if it was accepted in a large fashion.  Either way, I'm laying down the challenge, and the same can be said of philosophies and potentially even science if it was taken to a fundamentalist level.  And if you're not willing to have your religion be critiqued you probaly shouldn't talk down to other people's ideologies.

Buddhists.  From what I understand they believe we are all a part of the divine and they are very against killing.  If I'm not mistaken Taoism is similar, but I'm not sure.

I am Pagan.  I'm sort of a mutt since I don't follow any one particular path, but the general rule of most paths is; 'An it harm none, do what thou will.  When true witches were persecuted way back when they didn't fight back because they took 'harm none' very seriously.  Some won't even do a healing spell on you without your permission because they see it as unethical. 

If you want to get into my personal belief system....  Show me respect and I will show you respect.  I'll help or heal without permission but I won't harm anyone unless provoked.  I don't care what religion you wish to practice as long as you don't try to convert me. 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #51 on: October 03, 2009, 09:24:13 PM »
I kind of get the feeling that this discussion was derailed a long time ago.  Not seeing a great deal of discussion regarding logic and religious argument.

Offline Jude

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #52 on: October 03, 2009, 09:45:07 PM »
The fact that it's ridiculous, I think, might make it difficult for people to believe. Especially given how strongly our beliefs are impacted by our upbringing.
Lets say you were a parent attempting to select the perfect religion to indoctrinate your child with.  By the criteria that the "power" of religion comes from what emotional effects it causes in you, why wouldn't you pick my made up religion over an established one?  I see your point as an individual, it being hard to follow, but I think I'm really stretching the argument thin here.

My overall point is simply that belief in something that generates an emotion isn't a fair example of practical use, because it's just placebo.  Belief in science and execution of that belief creates real results which do not require placebo.  You can truly impact the world around you positively using science; using religion you can only make the picture more fuzzy to see things a bit differently.

And if you don't think this is a fair point of superiority of science over religion, imagine a religion came out where belief in it could physically change the world, but it required a certain degree of hopelessness to it.  i.e. magic at the risk of accepting that there is no god or afterlife.  Do you truly think that people would cling to their old religions instead of embracing magic?  I think it's clear most people would jettison their old ideologies in favor of this one one without emotional benefit, but with real power.

Actually, there are lots of aspects of that particular religion which are psychologically damaging. I didn't say all religion is, I said Christianity is. And I am basing this upon the precents of the holy book of the religion, which except for Catholicism, they all share.
I'm saying it's generalizing to use your personal example to claim all Christians are psychologically damaged, or even that the religion as a whole leaves people that way.

I do apologize. I meant the "you" as a sort of generalized "you" aimed more towards the maker of the video.
I'm not offended, it seems in the middle of our discussion I've made it seem as if I was personally attacking you in a few places, that wasn't at all my intent, and I'm really sorry if it came off that way.  I enjoy a good debate, and I'm really liking this, thanks for discussing this with me.

No, I said that the benefits of religion (as well as the detriments of it) are practical in their application. The control of populaces. That is a practical and direct application of religion. It has been used and abused for that purpose for thousands of years.
That's more of a macro-benefit than a personal one, but I do see your point; again though I'd argue it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, which in no way speaks towards its validity.

Only unemotional benefits are valuable? Emotions aren't a real, or valuable, or important part of human life?
It's just that, if you take a certain medicine and it generates a result, that doesn't mean the medicine has any real power to it.  The power of believing is that it can often create a result in the human mind, the placebo effect.  My point is that, because science can generate a result which is not constrained to the realm of the human mind, it deserves to be considered more valid, more solid, more truthful; because even a false ideology can produce the emotional benefits you've brought up.

The point I'm making, is not that all religions can be warped and thus used to commit atrocities. What I'm pointing out is that the Bible is the exact other way around. That it doesn't have to be warped in order to be used to commit atrocities, because by its very nature it encourages them.
I agree with you there; some religions are easier to warp than others.  I don't think Christianity is the worst of the spectrum, however.  I just think that it has been in the most powerful position to do bad things because of its prominence in Western Civilization.

Offline Jude

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #53 on: October 03, 2009, 09:59:07 PM »
Buddhists.  From what I understand they believe we are all a part of the divine and they are very against killing.  If I'm not mistaken Taoism is similar, but I'm not sure.
Easy example, Tibet.  Even before the Chinese invasion, the theocratic Buddhist government of Tibet was responsible for horrific human rights violations, including what was essentially slavery.

If you want to get into religious wars, there's one for all the big religions right there:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_warfare

I am Pagan.  I'm sort of a mutt since I don't follow any one particular path, but the general rule of most paths is; 'An it harm none, do what thou will.  When true witches were persecuted way back when they didn't fight back because they took 'harm none' very seriously.  Some won't even do a healing spell on you without your permission because they see it as unethical.
"Pagan" is a big tent; it'd be easy for me to find numerous examples throughout history where Paganism has been misused, but you're talking about a personal path, not a formalized doctrine, and in my challenge I stated it has to be something that's gathered a reasonable amount of followers (which, your own personal religion hasn't).

I'm not trying to make the point that religious beliefs are harmful; merely that any religious belief can be manipulated into being so.  I was objecting to the singling out of Christianity.

If you want to get into my personal belief system....  Show me respect and I will show you respect.  I'll help or heal without permission but I won't harm anyone unless provoked.  I don't care what religion you wish to practice as long as you don't try to convert me.
I don't care what religion anyone practices, even if they do try to convert me, as long as it's with free speech in a non-harassing legal manner.  I take everything case by case, some instances of people trying to convert me I actually find endearing (they're essentially trying to save you in their own eyes, it's not like their intent is malevolent).

The point the video was trying to get across, I think, was that faith needs to be shelved and not enter into our public lives in a way that affects the overall society; which I think is an idea most of us debating can agree to at this point.  We all seem to agree that faith is perfectly fine, as long as it's taken as a personal experience and not thrown into all things related to the public sphere.

Offline Sabby

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #54 on: October 04, 2009, 01:05:25 AM »
Not seeing a great deal of discussion regarding logic and religious argument.

Oil and Water Askie. Oil and Water.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #55 on: October 04, 2009, 01:22:13 AM »
Not at all.  Philosophy takes many strides to use logic in understanding vast, metaphysical concepts.  The nature of the universe, divine beings, morality, etc are all simply concepts that philosophy is attempting to understand with their logic and theories.  I think people have the misconception that logic cannot be used to make inferences about God or the nature of the divine, but I do think its not as far fetched as some might make it out to be.

Offline Sabby

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #56 on: October 04, 2009, 01:30:44 AM »
In my experience, any kind of debate between one who is logically minded and another of faith, it just turns into 'your attacking me' and paints the use of logic as a pompous and snobbish way of grinding ones beliefs into the dirt.

...which is stupid. If you erect a church and invite any and all to come through the doors, partake of your services, listen and learn and choose for themselves, but react in such a way to any kind of probing or questioning, then why build the damn church in the first place? If a Priest can't stand up to debate, how did he get the job? He's an embassador linking the public to his order... if an Embassador can't fulfill his duties, he should be out on his ass.

Its like asking a Fix It guy to repair you car, but when asking why he suggested the method he says "I'ono, boss said so"

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #57 on: October 04, 2009, 02:11:43 AM »
Problem is, you didn’t call the mechanic to fix a problem with a car.  According to the example of the church posed, the mechanic invited other people in to view the way he fixed the car.  Now imagine then that people started picking apart his method, attacking it consistently no matter their trade or background.  Every person has an opinion and feels that no matter how poorly supported; their opinion deserves 100% creditability.  Eventually, that can get a bit old.  A priest is there to attend to his parishioners and guide their faith, not justify the Catholic Church to every person that has a grudge or decides that they want to pick an argument.

Offline Sabby

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #58 on: October 04, 2009, 02:27:41 AM »
Problem is, you didn’t call the mechanic to fix a problem with a car.  According to the example of the church posed, the mechanic invited other people in to view the way he fixed the car.  Now imagine then that people started picking apart his method, attacking it consistently no matter their trade or background.  Every person has an opinion and feels that no matter how poorly supported; their opinion deserves 100% creditability.  Eventually, that can get a bit old.  A priest is there to attend to his parishioners and guide their faith, not justify the Catholic Church to every person that has a grudge or decides that they want to pick an argument.

Then why do they call them 'Outreach Centers?'

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2009, 04:20:44 AM »
I don't see JESUS commanding His followers to kill. God the Father sure that is all over the OT and in Revelation.


You really don’t have to read the OT in entirety to get the point that old Israel’s god is a very jealous and vengeful god. One is tempted to say he has some anger management issues like popular names in the Greco-Roman tradition, such as Chronos, Zeus, and Poseidon.


Christ by comparison seems like a pretty relaxed guy, the kind I’d expect to be able to smoke some weed with and have a profound conversation. I think perhaps the biggest and most amusing irony in Christianity is the guy who many religious conservatives love to quote was actually one the biggest liberals in history.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #60 on: October 04, 2009, 05:13:47 AM »
They do reach out to the community.  Often times the programs those churches run are irrespective of religion, race, creed or any other factor.  Churches can be strong symbols in a community if done properly.  That does not mean the priest stands on the corner arguing with every person that has an issue with his religion that day.

Offline Jude

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #61 on: October 04, 2009, 06:06:26 AM »
I would agree with you, that churches have the right to be in their own little corner of the world, do their own thing, and not be harassed by outside influences if, and here's the important part, they were not tax-exempt.

I don't see how they're any different from any other business out there, and yeah we can get into a lot of the debates about it, but them being counted as charity for tax deductions pisses me off too.  They're run like a business, they offer a product (salvation) in exchange for money (offering) and the employ people (priests, nuns, etc.).  You could argue it's different because they have a benevolent purpose in mind, but don't some businesses start because they have a great idea which they want to share with the world, and make their living doing it?  i.e. say people who make video games, other artists, etc.

They benefit from the use of public services; roads lead to them, if there's a crime on the premises the police investigate it all the same (sometimes more), and etc.  If you reap the benefits of government you should have to pay the taxes; especially the megachurches and whatnot.

As is private citizens pay their fair share of the tax burden for the services they use for free.  So I don't see why I shouldn't have the right to harass them about it.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #62 on: October 04, 2009, 07:05:12 AM »
The tax exemption is to allow people of any religious denomination the ability to practice and perform their religion without fear of being taxed to death by local authorities.  This is essentially a check in order to preserve freedom of religion and also separation of Church and State. 

A person has the right to disagree with them.  An individual or group has the right to voice their protest, civilly and within reason, against that religion.  People can and do exercise this right regularly.  Nobody has the right to harass another individual.

Offline Jude

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #63 on: October 04, 2009, 07:46:30 AM »
I've heard the point about the power to tax is the power to destroy; I still don't understand why they don't have to pay their fair share for the government resources they're using.  I'm not advocating taxing small churches and institutions out of existence; but if an organization is pulling a profit, has a substantially large bank account, and can afford lavish things, why can't it pay taxes?

I don't really see religion as anything other than a hobby, and if there was true separation of church and state in this country, nor would the government.  The law clearly favors religion over other ways of spending your time in so many ways.

The Archdioceses in St Louis for example, there was an argument a few years ago about the Catholic Church wanting to absorb its local funds because it had millions of dollars which was handled locally on its bank roll.  I just don't see any excuse as to why a rich organization shouldn't have to pay its fair share.

And megachurches are even more of a nightmare.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2009, 07:48:14 AM by Jude »

Offline Phoenix

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #64 on: October 04, 2009, 07:55:23 AM »
There is no "separation of Church and State," there is only the admonishment not to hold one religion as superior over others. In fact, the "separation of Church and State" is a line in a letter. The other letters and correspondence of the same individual shows that he didn't intend that to mean that no religious texts could be allowed into a courtroom (for example), but instead meant it as the amendment states-- no support of one religion over others.

Sorry, tangent, I know, but it bothers me as much when people use "separation of Church and State" as if it were Constitutional just as much as when someone screams "free speech" when they're told not to discuss something on a privately owned forum.

Anyway, getting back to our regularly scheduled thread...

Offline Phoenix

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #65 on: October 04, 2009, 08:14:18 AM »
Lets say you were a parent attempting to select the perfect religion to indoctrinate your child with.  By the criteria that the "power" of religion comes from what emotional effects it causes in you, why wouldn't you pick my made up religion over an established one?  I see your point as an individual, it being hard to follow, but I think I'm really stretching the argument thin here.

I can't answer that, as I'm sure most people would consider my religion to be "made up."

I will say this, however. The problem with your "religion" (your made up one) is that it promotes megalomania and thus anti-social behavior. As a parent myself, I don't want either of those for my daughter.

Quote
My overall point is simply that belief in something that generates an emotion isn't a fair example of practical use, because it's just placebo.  Belief in science and execution of that belief creates real results which do not require placebo.  You can truly impact the world around you positively using science; using religion you can only make the picture more fuzzy to see things a bit differently.

We'll have to agree to disagree. We value different things, and that's pretty typical for women versus men. I value less having a car, and have one only because it's required for the lifestyle I'm required to live; than I value being emotionally stable and feeling joy and peace. Again, as I stated earlier, if it were up to me and not my husband, I'd live a FAR simpler life than I do, without many of the trappings of science that enslave humanity (IMO).

With freedom to live as I wished, I would even give up teh intrawebs, which I happen to really, really enjoy. However, its function in my life is to help maintain the status quo.

Electricity is nice, but it doesn't make me happy. My car is nice, but it doesn't make me happy. My fridge is nice, but it doesn't make me happy. I could go on, but I think it's clear that you and I value different things.

I'd prefer a far simpler life, but... I can be happy where-ever I am, doing whatever I'm doing. So I suppose it could be said that I value "the placebo effect" over electricity. Which I do.

Quote
And if you don't think this is a fair point of superiority of science over religion, imagine a religion came out where belief in it could physically change the world, but it required a certain degree of hopelessness to it.  i.e. magic at the risk of accepting that there is no god or afterlife.  Do you truly think that people would cling to their old religions instead of embracing magic?  I think it's clear most people would jettison their old ideologies in favor of this one one without emotional benefit, but with real power.

Hmm, I would say that you'd be VERY surprised how many people wouldn't. Because again, it has to do with it being something you could REALLY believe. I could never REALLY believe there is no underlying intelligent force in the universe.

Quote
I'm saying it's generalizing to use your personal example to claim all Christians are psychologically damaged, or even that the religion as a whole leaves people that way.

Actually, that's not what I'm using to base that upon. I'm basing it upon the Bible's teachings. I'm basing it upon the Holy Book that is used to teach Christianity.

I accept that some people can, and do, ignore a good portion of the book, thus managing not to be damaged by its teachings. However, that doesn't change the fact that the teachings/ Holy Book itself is damaging if genuinely followed.

Yes, one can turn it into something that isn't... it.

Quote
I'm not offended, it seems in the middle of our discussion I've made it seem as if I was personally attacking you in a few places, that wasn't at all my intent, and I'm really sorry if it came off that way.  I enjoy a good debate, and I'm really liking this, thanks for discussing this with me.

Not to worry. I understand that you feel I've singled out Christianity, but really, i haven't so much as am just using it as one example among several that I'm personally aware of.

Quote
That's more of a macro-benefit than a personal one, but I do see your point; again though I'd argue it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, which in no way speaks towards its validity.

I don't see the "self-fulfilling prophecy" part of it at all. The point of using a religion to control populaces through enforced morality is little to nothing to do with prophecies, so far as I can tell.

Quote
It's just that, if you take a certain medicine and it generates a result, that doesn't mean the medicine has any real power to it.  The power of believing is that it can often create a result in the human mind, the placebo effect.  My point is that, because science can generate a result which is not constrained to the realm of the human mind, it deserves to be considered more valid, more solid, more truthful; because even a false ideology can produce the emotional benefits you've brought up.

It doesn't matter if it's false or not. We're not discussing a given religion (although we have been), we're discussing religion itself. You claim it has no value, because it's just a placebo effect.

I disagree, and state that its value may well BE exactly that. Where one finds that effect, as long as it's not harmful to one's self or others, isn't as important as the end result. Looking at it from both a micro and a macro view, this is true.

People's quality of life and quality of social interaction are both better when they are happy and at peace. Therefor, the value is IN the end effect, not in the specific religion or tenet that GIVES the effect.

The problem with certain religions, and why I "single them out" is that they have additional side effects that tend to cancel out the placebo effect. This is what renders them not quite so valuable, and can even cause them to be a problem rather than a benefit. Yes, anything can be made INTO a problem (look at the way we've become enslaved to technology). But some things are inherently a problem, though they can, with work, be made useful in limited situations/applications.

Quote
I agree with you there; some religions are easier to warp than others.  I don't think Christianity is the worst of the spectrum, however.  I just think that it has been in the most powerful position to do bad things because of its prominence in Western Civilization.

I don't think it's the worst of the spectrum, either. However, it is a well-known religion that affects a huge many people. It's the one best known to the most people, and thus easiest to have an ongoing discussion over. As well as being one with which I am more than intimately familiar, and thus am able to speak on with rather more than a fair degree of knowledge.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #66 on: October 04, 2009, 09:00:42 AM »
There is “separation of Church and State” as this is a concept that our government attempts to uphold and one that is backed by precedent from the Supreme Court and the lower courts.  The concept is alive and well in the United States, therefore is a real concept.  This separation is integral to holding no religion over another.  If the government is not allowed to pick sides, then that is one step closer to equality of religion than other governments at that time and even now.  Such a concept is one of the most forward thinking ones our government implements, right up there with the Civil Rights laws.

As for tax exemption, imagine a place where churches are taxed.  Let us say, for the sake of argument that the taxes are fair.  No religion is taxed more than any other.  I imagine the Catholic Church would have little problem paying its taxes and I doubt Synagogues would either and probably not some Muslim temples.  Rural areas might be without religious guidance or support from these institutions, but overall those would be able to survive.  Wiccans, Satanists, smaller branches of the major religions, voodoo and other smaller ones that do not have such money could not function effectively.  So now these religions, even under a fair system, are now without influence to their communities are places of worship.

A lot of these religious institutions also provide free services to their communities that the government does not have to support.  Some organize health drives, food banks, soup kitchens, places for AA meetings, youth programs, after school care, etc. etc.  Many of these communities that are now forced to support this taxed institution will now have to either do without or cough up more money.  Those hardest hit are the poorest communities, who need these services the most. 

To ignore religion as an aspect of society is negligent at best and courting revolt at worst.  Religion is far more than a hobby to the vast majority of the population and the government is wise to take issues of religion seriously.  Religion, even for those that claim to have no religion, sets the frame work for people’s morality, views on the afterlife and their interactions with other ideologies.  For those that believe in what they are doing, their religious obligations are taken very seriously and have consequences both good and bad for them.

Offline Phoenix

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #67 on: October 04, 2009, 09:18:20 AM »
My point is that it's not Constitutional, and that the basis the Supreme Court used for its "precedent" is known to be fraudulent.

So one can argue that it exists just as one can argue that the Federal Government has the right to seize your property, to search your property, and to detain you without due cause... simply because of the Patriot Act.

However, the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is not actually a legal entity in our nation, but is just a corporation that we all agree to be a part of when we get our birth certificates and SSNs.

So really, when something is in direct opposition to the Constitution, regardless of the backing of the illegal Fed, it isn't the law of the land.

That being said, though, I must point out that Separation of Church and State (as it is commonly mis-cited), is clearly NOT a concept that our government attempts to uphold at all. If they did, the President would not be sworn in on the Bible, prayers wouldn't be said before every meeting of Congress, and many other such practices would not continue apace.

Separation of Church and State doesn't imply what it sounds like it does. There is no such thing, realistically. The law states that no government can create law establishing one religion over others. There is NO LAW that requires that Church and State be separated. Even the "precedent" that you speak of only indicates that Church and State can and should be separated when only ONE religion is allowed/invited.

So if one were to desire to put the 10 Commandments on the front of their State Capitol building, then they could do so-- granted that they do not refuse a Toaist (for example) from putting their rules on there, too. If the State agrees to put up both sets of rules, then they are NOT violating separation of church and state, because separation of church and state is NOT what it sounds like.

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Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #68 on: October 04, 2009, 09:56:01 AM »
As for tax exemption, imagine a place where churches are taxed.  Let us say, for the sake of argument that the taxes are fair.  No religion is taxed more than any other.  I imagine the Catholic Church would have little problem paying its taxes and I doubt Synagogues would either and probably not some Muslim temples.  Rural areas might be without religious guidance or support from these institutions, but overall those would be able to survive.  Wiccans, Satanists, smaller branches of the major religions, voodoo and other smaller ones that do not have such money could not function effectively.  So now these religions, even under a fair system, are now without influence to their communities are places of worship.

A lot of these religious institutions also provide free services to their communities that the government does not have to support.  Some organize health drives, food banks, soup kitchens, places for AA meetings, youth programs, after school care, etc. etc.  Many of these communities that are now forced to support this taxed institution will now have to either do without or cough up more money.  Those hardest hit are the poorest communities, who need these services the most. 

     Assuming there is a correspondence between individual and business income tax, there is a sliding scale.  If a business entity isn't taking in a huge amount of money, it shouldn't have to pay a lot.  There can also be exemptions for charity work and other specific, tangible services.  Perhaps if a primary function of the facilities were to do these more of the time, then it wouldn't be such an issue. 

     Where I see a problem is when you have funds to sustain giant marble and gold facades, consistently demand higher monetary contributions as signs of good faith from the congregation, and expect free infrastructure all around this (no property tax, etc.).  That is more a pattern of Big Christianity than small alternative groups.  Since you mention influence...  Is it possible for the alternative religions to be effective without following the same business and property model that Christianity holds dear?  Don't some have real "influence" based on something other than exclusive-use facilities and private property? 

     About rural areas...  I suspect the bigger religions are taking in rather more dough from those than you suggest, too.  At least certainly Christianity is pretty well backed.  Notice the big arc of typically red states through the Mountain region, and the prominence of references to Godliness and "family values" in Republican lines.
 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #69 on: October 04, 2009, 03:45:19 PM »
There are a great many things that we, as citizens, expect from our government that is not written in the document of the Constitution.  Social security and public education are two institutions that come to mind off the top of my head.  Yet they are very real, but not written into the Constitution.  Separate of Church and State is one such concept, backed by the Supreme Court.  Are there traditions in the United States that reach back to its founding fathers and their religious preference?  Of course.  Does this detract at all from the notion that church and state are to remain separate in the United States, no.

Yes, there is nothing to prohibit the 10 Commandments from being posted on the court house lawn.  There is nothing to prohibit painting a crucifix on the hood of a police car or from an officer reading out of the Koran as he is making an arrest.  Yet if taken before the court, these will all be struck down because they are in violation of the law you list and the concept of separation of Church and State.  A policy does not have to be enacted as law for it to be “real.”

I think I’ve demonstrated well enough that I know the implications and restrictions of that statement.

Regarding a suggestion about the income of rural area, I make none.  I simply look at the available funds there and understand that areas of low income cannot contribute as much as ones of higher income.  I believe that is a pretty safe concept to stand upon and make an assumption that taxation would likely endanger these churches.

A religion typically requires some sort of general area to congregate and perform its rituals.  For Christians this is a Church, for those of the Jewish faith this is a Synagogue and so on with the examples.  While no religion demands that a structure be built in order for their faith to be practiced, this is pretty standard desire among religious leaders.  They all wish for a space to see their practitioners and administer their religious beliefs in safety.  Taxation could well remove the visible symbol of these alternative religions, leaving only the larger ones to dominate the area.

Offline Serephino

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #70 on: October 04, 2009, 08:11:01 PM »
Any religion is going to have its extreme nutcases.  But that doesn't mean the religion in general is bad.  I know where Phoenix is coming from by saying Christianity is psychologically damaging.  If you take the Bible literally, it says we're all filthy sinners not worthy to lick the slime off God's feet.  In order to be worthy of entering Heaven we must follow his very strict rules to the best of our ability, and humbly beg forgivenes when we screw up. 

Yeah, being told you're a worthless piece of shit can have damaging effects.  Which really doesn't make sense, because Jesus supposedly died for our sins, so by that logic, shouldn't we already be forgiven without having to do anything?  Christianity makes my head hurt....

As for the function of religion, let me use an example of my own life.  I've had moments of very deep depression.  I've considered suicide more times than I really care to think about.  The only reason I didn't do it is because of my belief of what would happen to me if I did.  Wouldn't saving my life be considered a function? 

I happen to find lots of peace and comfort in enjoying God's creation that we call Earth.  I love long walks in the woods.  I like to watch the bunny that lives under my back porch come out and nibble on the grass.  I find security in knowing that I have a place in this world, even if it is a small part.  When I'm feeling down just taking a walk in the grass barefoot makes me feel better.  There are a lot of bad things going on in my life, but my faith helps me get through it. 

I wouldn't call it a placebo effect since I've cast spells on other people without their knowledge and it worked.  It can't be them believing in it because to this day they still don't have a clue.  And yet, what I wanted to have happen happened. 

Offline kylie

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Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #71 on: October 04, 2009, 08:23:49 PM »
A religion typically requires some sort of general area to congregate and perform its rituals.  For Christians this is a Church, for those of the Jewish faith this is a Synagogue and so on with the examples.  While no religion demands that a structure be built in order for their faith to be practiced, this is pretty standard desire among religious leaders.  They all wish for a space to see their practitioners and administer their religious beliefs in safety.  Taxation could well remove the visible symbol of these alternative religions, leaving only the larger ones to dominate the area.

     Well, I can't figure out whether you're more concerned about small groups not getting big or about big groups losing their sway.  I guess you're trying to protect all faiths, but it isn't practical to pursue that via tax exemption.  It is not practical because of just what Carl Sagan is concerned with -- how is a secular government to determine, ultimately, who to certify as a religion (and thus relieve from property taxes)?  It's easier to do many things scientifically, even on an ad hoc basis, than to say what enterprise should be elevated to a religion and therefore granted this entitlement.

     Personally, I connect better with Paganist and nature/magic-associated faiths.  I don't rely on the auspices of "major" organized religions.  So when I want to deal in spiritual metaphors, I could do it anywhere with public parks that have an an ounce of quiet, free speech, and passably fresh air.  A good number of people could easily enough do similar rituals with me.  Then again, I suspect cathedral-sized numbers might start to impact the whole quality of the exercise.  Unless there was major social change first (including the whole tax idea), we'd probably just end up with more bureaucratization and commodification and a flashy of label of being something "New Age"-esque.

     Taxation could do lots of things.  The more "established" or "major" religions tend to have some Gotham-scale buildings.  While I recognize that some of them make their space available for other purposes and periodically carry out charity and educational operations, I also recognize that they must have had significant resources in the first place to erect and maintain structures and lands of that scale.  They are not necessarily using all of that for the communal good.  As in business proper, they have funds and perqs and expansion for the few and faithful "proper" (or those among them who can afford to put up matching funds, etc.).  However, they are free riding those gains upon public funds while they are tax exempt. 

     It also seems to me that while we do not tax major religion properties (or perhaps I should say leading sects among the major religions?), that is effectively keeping new/smaller sects and other religions down already.  Everyone else is starting at a competitive disadvantage.  Like most renters and small businesses, smaller faiths (or sects) have to procure original facilities and capital to grow until they are declared established.  If that were too easy, then any small business could claim to be a religion to get the same start-up breaks.  So I imagine that while the small ones are paying to get on their feet as "recognized" religions, the big ones just go right on investing on top of their inherited free infrastructure, without taxes.  To me, this is basically public policy supporting Old Money in keeping its grip on where society can meet and whose talks will have the best roof.

     If you're really concerned about community benefit, why not argue for a tax structure that gives more explicit breaks based on actual services?  There are already some write-offs for charitable activities.  Maybe what you need to achieve your stated goals is more of that.  I don't see how simply exempting anything that calls itself a religion necessarily serves the community at large.  The way I see it, exempting on the basis of religion rather than action means:  You can easily have lots of property sitting empty most of the time, or even enjoyed by a very exclusive few all of the time.  In either case, the whole public has to keep paying for the services.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2009, 09:28:52 PM by kylie »

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #72 on: October 04, 2009, 08:25:15 PM »
I wouldn't call it a placebo effect since I've cast spells on other people without their knowledge and it worked.  It can't be them believing in it because to this day they still don't have a clue.  And yet, what I wanted to have happen happened. 

And that's a debate in and off itself. Depending on your tradition, I believe some would see that as unethical.

Offline Serephino

Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #73 on: October 04, 2009, 08:37:03 PM »
And that's a debate in and off itself. Depending on your tradition, I believe some would see that as unethical.

Most would see it as such, yes.  I don't though.  I believe my intention matters more than whether or not I have their permission.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Putting Faith in Its Place
« Reply #74 on: October 05, 2009, 10:10:38 AM »
I'm doing this for your own good has been used to justify quite a few things down through the years.

If you wanted to help the person, why not ask their permission first?