Devil On My Mind (Part 1)

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Being free from religion has enabled me to look at other religions in a new, often fascinating, way. Before, I would approach other religions with a mix of fear and trepidation, always on the lookout to point out what was wrong with them. Of course, what was “wrong” was always in relation to what my particular branch of Christianity found wrong, and I was always armed with the appropriate Bible verses to explain why such beliefs were unsound or even perverse.

This way of seeing prevented me from truly appreciating or even just understanding other religions. And I was careful never to dig too deeply because there was always that irrational fear that the devil was behind all other “false” religions and would use those to subvert and seduce me into their way of thinking.

Of course, there would be some Christians reading this who would say that the devil has in fact been successful in subverting my mind, seeing that I write and think as I do. Then again, they would have to say that for all other sorts of thinking that are not congruent with their own, and looking at the many variants, denominations, and offshoots of Christianity, I cannot help but think that even they cannot get their own house in order so until they get that sorted out, what they think of what I think is their problem, not mine.

Anyway, I have just spent the last hour or so reading about this religious organization founded in the US in 2014, and has since been quite active regarding controversial issues in secularism, child abuse, gay marriage, and so on. It is an interesting organization because its name alone will send shivers down the spine of most Christians and even the more liberal ones will feel a slight tinge of apprehension.

Before I reveal its name though, let me share its mission statement as well as its guiding principles or tenets, as published in its website (slightly reworded as not to give away the name of the religion at this point):

“[Our mission]  is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded [members] and allies have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs alongside other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.”

Its guiding principles or tenets are the following:

 

  • One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

 

If that sounds like something you can rally behind, then you might want to consider joining this group founded by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry called the Satanic Temple.

 

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

 

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3 thoughts on “Devil On My Mind (Part 1)”

  1. Hello, I am one of your followers in reading your interesting articles. I seem to agree with everything that you have written here in this article; but I can not let this thought of mine escape before it is lost in oblivion: our body is “inviolable, subject to one’s will alone” to quote what you wrote. But there is one fact that you forgot, not one iota or cell in our body can we truly claim our very own! It came to life from somewhere down/up the line. You may finish the line of thinking accordingly. Thank you

  2. Why did religion prevent you “from truly appreciating or even just understanding other religions”? Because you couldn’t, or wouldn’t “dig too deeply because there was always that irrational fear that the devil was behind all other “false” religions and would use those to subvert and seduce me into their way of thinking”?

    Religion:
    a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Do you realize that everyone actually has these, including you?

    If one religion is right, than none other can be. They can all be wrong, but they cannot all be right. If one is right, then, naturally, everything else would “not (be) congruent” with the truth. Why does “the many variants, denominations, and offshoots of Christianity” have to do with it? Biblical Christianity allows for various forms of worship. We are also finite beings with a limited amount of understanding. If Christianity agrees on the tenets of the Christian faith, it is understandable if the finite mind cannot fully comprehend and agree with other finite minds about every last thing about an infinite being. We are also individuals. And, just because Christians “cannot get their own house in order” according to your view, does not mean that you are free from the truth. If Christianity is true (or Judaism, Islam, or any other religion) you may not feel that what the individuals think of you matter, but what you do think does matter outside of yourself and whomever else you deem is worthy.

    I also cannot think of too many other religions that would be happy with “The Satanic Temple”.

    As far as the mission statement goes, do you think that these are all good things? And, can bad people do good things? Which then begs the question, can good people do bad things?

    The mission statement is pretty open-ended is some ways. Reject tyrannical authority? Don’t most people? If I were as mass murderer/rapist/child molester, wouldn’t I think that all authority and most people were tyrannical?

    Practical common sense? “Common sense is not so common. – Voltaire. Noble pursuits guided by the individual will? Doesn’t that sound contradictory? Noble- “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals”, which assumes placing others above the individual will. I can say that anything is noble. To have it be readily accepted is a completely different story.

    Great. I oppose a lot of the stuff Westboro spouts. We will disagree on corporal punishment. “equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property”. Hmmm… What is equal? If (just to make up numbers), 60% of a country is Christian, 20% Islam, 20% Judaism, 10% other, and 10% don’t care or are atheists, what is fair? Is the Christian monument 3x bigger than the next 2, and proportionally bigger and closer than the others? Or, by fair, do they mean 10% trumps the other 90% and all are pulled (which usually means “fair”). Or, all religions have the same size, distance, and distinction (the other usual “fair”)?

    “unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy”? Really? Unscientifically? Oh. And, by that, we mean that mothers can kill their unborn, alive human beings? The part that is not their body? Even if you ignore the SCIENCE, and ignore murder, abortion still doesn’t make sense on so many levels. A man and a woman have sex. In almost every case consensual. Then, the woman gets to decide if THEIR child lives or dies for nine months, just because it is a direct result of what she chose to do? The father gets no say. If she chooses to carry the child to term, the father is then obligated for the next 16 to 25 years, or for life? But, if the mother chooses to murder his child, he has no say in the matter? Isn’t murder worse than corporal punishment?

    “proselytizing organizations”? By being sooo “civic minded” and having a website open to the public, are they not proselytizing also?

    By the way, I would think that it would be obvious (I am sure I will have detractors) that this is just the stated mission. Out of all the words that they could have chosen, they chose the name. Why that one? There seems to be more to the mission than they state on their homepage…

    As far as the LISTED guiding principles, “in accordance with reason.” Why is that put in? It would seem to be not necessary unless their reasoning is different than others… Struggle for justice? Justice is nice when it happens to others, right? Inviolable? Sure. Does that include the body growing within another body? Cuz that sure contradicts your mission statement. “To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.” Doesn’t that pretty much mean that, if you do something, and you know that someone else won’t like it, then your forfeit your freedom? And, if you don’t do it, you have given up the freedom? So, if someone is attempting to harm my son, and I step in to help and hurt the person who is trying to hurt my son, that person could think that I was being “unjust”, and that I had just forgone my freedom?

    Ugh. That old science deal. So, if science is wrong, it should still rule all? Why?

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