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Old 02-20-2009, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Lafayette, IN
838 posts, read 847,102 times
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Let me preface this post by stating from the outset that I am an atheist. I also consider myself to be a moral person, though unlike many religious individuals I don't see morality as something clear cut. For me, morality pertains to, for lack of a better term, the 'common good.' I, for one, don't view a lot of issues that pertain to the actions of individuals that are not directly harmful to others as having much to do with morality in the way that many Christians do. For example, I don't see anything having to do with consensual sexual activities between adults as having anything to do with morality. In my own view, morality should deal with questions of social goods. Coming from this perspective (which I fear I am not adequately communicating here...) I have a few questions I'd like more religious individuals to address.

I don't want to overgeneralize, but it seems that a significant number of highly religious individuals are overly concerned with issues like homosexuality and (perhaps a bit more understandably) abortion. Yet, I rarely see these same individuals give any attention to issues that I find to be far more relevant to questions of morality. Let me list a few facts/stats to help illustrate my point:

Approximately one billion people on this planet live on less than $1 a day.

An additional one billion people on this planet live on less than $2 a day.

Approximately 900 million people, a disproportionate number of whom are women and children, suffer from chronic malnutrition and related health problems.

Tens of millions of children die annually from diseases which are either easily prevantable or easily treated simply because they are unfortunate enough to live in areas where such treatments are not readily available or they are simply too poor to receive treatment. In Africa, millions of individuals die or suffer tremendously from diseases like Malaria and African Sleeping Sickness because they can't afford mosquito nets; for just a few dollars these individuals could dramatically increase their chances of avoiding these illnesses.

Many diseases which afflict millions in developing countries don't have affordable cures or have no cures at all because pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be able to make a profit off the cures since the diseases afflict primarily poor people. At the same time, these companies spend millions developing things like Viagra because plenty of rich people would love to buy them.

More than one billion people don't have regular access to proper sanitation or clean water.

In the last two decades, genocide has been occurring or has occurred in the Sudan, in the Democratic Peoples Republic of the Congo, in Rwanda, in the Former Yugoslavia and so on and so forth.

Millions have died as a result of ethnic conflict in the Congo in the past decade; the war in the Congo is the deadliest since WWII yet most people in the US don't know a thing about it. Millions more have died as a result of ethnic, religious and economic violence in countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Burma, Nigeria, Colombia, etc.

Global climate change threatens are very way of life. It will eliminate entire countries (think of the independent island countries of the Pacific and Indian Oceans!), destroy cities, cause dramatic expansion of deserts, increase hunger, increase the spread and range of tropical diseases, result in widespread extinction and result in millions of so-called environmental refugees.

And for those of you who are religious nationalists, right here in the USA thousands of children face abuse, or are in foster care, or are receiving an inadequate education, or are poor, or are malnourished, etc.


I could go on and on. To me, these are the real moral issues of our time. Anyone who considers themselves moral should be really concerned about these issues. Yet, many fundamentalist Christians who perceive themselves to be more moral than atheists such as myself rarely, if ever, address these issues; they don't seem at all concerned. At the same time, churches spend millions to fight gay marriage. They protest the teaching of evolution as a travesty of morality. They refer to abortion as murder while ignoring the actual murder of millions of children and other individuals in developing countries. And when churches do address some of the issues I mentioned above, the do so by sending missionaries who often are more concerned with prosletyzing than actually improving the livelihoods of those who are suffering.

This leads to a major moral inconsistency as I see it: many (though certainly not all!) religious fundamentalists tend to see themselves as moral authorities, yet when one looks at their priorities they are by and large obsessed with seemingly minor moral issues while completely ignoring the major moral catastrophes of our time! It seems downright immoral to me. How can they justify spending a fortune fighting gay marriage while children are literally starving to death and dying from easily prevented diseases?

Why?

Last edited by Ever Adrift; 02-20-2009 at 06:36 PM..
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,916 posts, read 16,418,406 times
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I have some of the same concerns and I'm also an atheist. However, I wouldn't lump all of the fundamentalists into a single group. There really are some well intentioned conservative Christians who do try to help those in need and I know some of them personally. I would agree that the emphasis of American Fundamentalists seems misguided and is fixated on gay rights and abortion while other issues that seem more important are forgotten. The point I'm trying to make is that it's simplistic to put everyone who believes in God into a single category just as it's simplistic for believers to lump all of us atheists into a single group.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:24 PM
 
Location: Lafayette, IN
838 posts, read 847,102 times
Reputation: 391
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
I have some of the same concerns and I'm also an atheist. However, I wouldn't lump all of the fundamentalists into a single group. There really are some well intentioned conservative Christians who do try to help those in need and I know some of them personally. I would agree that the emphasis of American Fundamentalists seems misguided and is fixated on gay rights and abortion while other issues that seem more important are forgotten. The point I'm trying to make is that it's simplistic to put everyone who believes in God into a single category just as it's simplistic for believers to lump all of us atheists into a single group.
I tried to acknowledge in my post that not all deeply religious people thought that way; there certainly are fundamentalists (in all religions) who spend time dealing with the issues I mentioned. However, generally speaking I think the points I made are largely accurate. As an institution, Christian Fundamentalism in the US is overly preoccupied with gay rights and abortion to the exclusion of what I view as being far more pressing moral dilemmas. They are so concerned with saving fetuses yet so unconcerned with saving the lives of the two billion people living in absolute poverty around the globe.

I try to avoid oversimplification, overgeneralization and stereotyping, but one can only go into so much detail on an internet forum. So let me say one more time that I know that there are many devout Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. who do care about the moral issues I brought up and do recognize that global poverty is far more important morally than gay marriage. To those religious individuals to which this applies, my original post is not directed at you and I'm sorry if I seemed to stereotype. My post, however, is directed at those believers who are all up in arms about gay rights and abortion but not up in arms about the other issues I addressed.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:39 PM
 
598 posts, read 811,318 times
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Religious hypocrisy is a main contributing factor in moral decline. Some religions even have established "confess-n-forgive" traditions.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Santa Monica
4,708 posts, read 7,567,990 times
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Perhaps the OP should consider a religious practice that teaches "morally sensitive" followers to be primarly concerned with morality regarding decisions, persons, and issues that directly touch their own lives. To attempt to extend such a person's "moral reach" further would involve a responsibility for "knowledge of that situation" that perhaps the morally sensitive person doesn't feel comfortable with.

Given today's electronic news media and the reach of today's communications technologies, it is possible for a given person to gain what is apparently "knowledge" of circumstances and events in places far away from home. But to attempt to act "morally" to address issues found in those far-away places might lead the morally sensitive person to become a participant in a fraudulent relief organization, etc. without the knowledge of the moral person. And some morally sensitive persons might legitimately feel uncomfortable with that possibility. Perhaps it is more proper and reasonable to assess a morally sensitive person's moral stature by watching what he or she actually does, not what he or she COULD do.
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Old 02-20-2009, 08:25 PM
 
Location: On the Edge of the Fringe
4,650 posts, read 3,740,901 times
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I agree with the OP on priorities. Homosexuality and abortion are not issues to me because honestly, I could not care less. I am not homosexual, and why would I care whether or not someone else is or not ? I have my own life to live. I think what some ofthe religous fundamentalists need is a big bottle of MYOB!!!
On the other hand, I can look right in my own community and see people stricken by poverty. Poverty which can lead to crime, illness, the list can go on. I can look in my own community and find addicts, the uneducated, the homeless
I can find suffering right here. I can look the other way, or I can step up, make a difference. That is the choice I make, I don't really always succeed but on the other hand, I don't waste time & energy berating homosexuals that I have never even met or plotting abortion clinic bombings (Which was, last time I checked, unlike abortion itself, actually Illegal)
One of the greatest disservices Christianity has given humanity is the concept of sin, especially that sex is sinful. Sex is NOT Sinful (Of course, I say there is no such thing as sin either, it is a concept created by man..along with God the Bible etc) Sex IS a natural human expereince. TO have a good sex drive is to be a healthy person. It is part of life. Religions like Christianity, that teach repression of it, are only making a contribution to the collective and individual mental illness of our society.
We wonder why our great nation, the USA, is so ,for lack of better term "screwed up" sexually compared to other nations.
Well, when you look at the energy wasted on non-important issues like homosexuality ,and then wonder why the country leads the world in porn consumption, it is easy to see that Christianity is at the core of the Problem. This is another issue where Christianity is NOT a pat of the solution but rather a part of the problem. OR at least the Root CAUSE of the problem.
SO how or why would we then expect Christianity to move towards issues which relieve human suffering ? It seems they are more interested in CREATING problems as opposed to solving them.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Lafayette, IN
838 posts, read 847,102 times
Reputation: 391
Quote:
Originally Posted by ParkTwain View Post
Perhaps the OP should consider a religious practice that teaches "morally sensitive" followers to be primarly concerned with morality regarding decisions, persons, and issues that directly touch their own lives. To attempt to extend such a person's "moral reach" further would involve a responsibility for "knowledge of that situation" that perhaps the morally sensitive person doesn't feel comfortable with.

Given today's electronic news media and the reach of today's communications technologies, it is possible for a given person to gain what is apparently "knowledge" of circumstances and events in places far away from home. But to attempt to act "morally" to address issues found in those far-away places might lead the morally sensitive person to become a participant in a fraudulent relief organization, etc. without the knowledge of the moral person. And some morally sensitive persons might legitimately feel uncomfortable with that possibility. Perhaps it is more proper and reasonable to assess a morally sensitive person's moral stature by watching what he or she actually does, not what he or she COULD do.
I think you misunderstood the general point I was trying to make. I also feel that you are resorting to making excuses with your statement regarding 'fraudulent relief organizations' - something that shouldn't stand in the way of someone who wants to make a contribution to the development of poor communities. I'm also a bit confused by your use of the term 'morally sensitive person' which seems a bit akward...

Anyways, my primary point was that I find it hypocritical and unethical for fundamentalist Christians (and other highly devout religious people) to get all worked up about things like abortion and gay rights so much so that they spend considerable amount of time arguing about it and, more importantly, organizing and investing in the fight against it. My overarching point is that religious organizations which have the capacity to invest in charitable work are morally suspect when they use the funds and labor they have available to fight gay marriage, for example, rather than investing in fighting real moral problems like global poverty. It's a fundamental problem with priorities; people who claim to be acting as a sort of moral authority seem to care more about making abortion illegal than they care about saving the 900 million people who suffer from chronic malnutrition. If you are willing to raise vast sums of money, organize protests and the like and you choose to spend it on fighting abortion or gay marriage because you conceive of it as being the most important moral cause there is, then your priorities are completely out of wack.
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Old 02-21-2009, 02:09 AM
 
Location: Nanaimo, Canada
1,808 posts, read 1,522,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ever Adrift View Post
This leads to a major moral inconsistency as I see it: many (though certainly not all!) religious fundamentalists tend to see themselves as moral authorities, yet when one looks at their priorities they are by and large obsessed with seemingly minor moral issues while completely ignoring the major moral catastrophes of our time! It seems downright immoral to me. How can they justify spending a fortune fighting gay marriage while children are literally starving to death and dying from easily prevented diseases?

Why?
I've been lucky enough to never run into a rabid fundimentalist, but watching from afar, I've learned two things:

1. If it has to do with morality, it has to be about their morality for the issue to be 'important enough' to them. In which case, they'll yell and scream, and fight tooth and nail -- but only to protect their own interests.

2. Ninety-nine percent of them don't care about anyone but themselves. That, in my opinion, is the reason that they can so cheerfully ignore starving, suffering children: it's not happening to them, and the checks are still coming in from the latest telethon.

(Please note, this is my own, personal point of view, and I can be very cynical -- I sincerely do not mean to cause offense with my remarks, nor do I intend them to reflect my experiences with anyone here (which have been extremely positive from Day 1).
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Old 02-21-2009, 04:05 AM
 
Location: egypt
1,215 posts, read 1,993,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ever Adrift View Post
So let me say one more time that I know that there are many devout Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. who do care about the moral issues I brought up and do recognize that global poverty is far more important morally than gay marriage. To those religious individuals to which this applies, my original post is not directed at you and I'm sorry if I seemed to stereotype. My post, however, is directed at those believers who are all up in arms about gay rights and abortion but not up in arms about the other issues I addressed.
may be becuase homosexuality marriage influenced thier society directly , but the poverty is a problem of someone else , and it's rational for someone to prefer to dial with his problem instead of problems of others
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Old 02-21-2009, 04:10 AM
 
Location: egypt
1,215 posts, read 1,993,225 times
Reputation: 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by FredNotBob View Post
I've been lucky enough to never run into a rabid fundimentalist, but watching from afar, I've learned two things:

1. If it has to do with morality, it has to be about their morality for the issue to be 'important enough' to them. In which case, they'll yell and scream, and fight tooth and nail -- but only to protect their own interests.

2. Ninety-nine percent of them don't care about anyone but themselves. That, in my opinion, is the reason that they can so cheerfully ignore starving, suffering children: it's not happening to them, and the checks are still coming in from the latest telethon.

(Please note, this is my own, personal point of view, and I can be very cynical -- I sincerely do not mean to cause offense with my remarks, nor do I intend them to reflect my experiences with anyone here (which have been extremely positive from Day 1).
i agree with you in this view , but not exactly
the point is that if i have no interest in sports news , i will not argument or care about it
it's very different than to be selfish if you meant this meaning

if you found out that your neighbor is in needy , so you offcourse morally will help him , but being individually not interrest to the needy of other society it dosn't make you immoral
it's rational to care for your children than the children of others , right

Last edited by elwill; 02-21-2009 at 04:25 AM..
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