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Comments about ‘Michael Gerson: Becoming a less religious nation brings a host of consequences’

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Published: Friday, March 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Mountanman
Hayden, ID

One of the purposes of religion is to teach people how to behave correctly toward each other, themselves and God and that we are all accountable to God for our behavior. Without religious values we will have much more antisocial behavior like the mass murders we have seen recently. Whom do the secular progressive, anti religious, everything is relative, do your own things but don't judge me people of our day blame? Why they blame guns instead of people with no values and why not? If you reject religious values, believe you are accountable to no one and believe good and evil are relative, who is to say killing and harming others is wrong?

10CC
Bountiful, UT

"Nones" have always been around, though like many of us today, they were raised in a religious background. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington either were Nones in their day, or might certainly be Nones today. Mark Twain was a None, certainly.

Nones aren't really evangelical or on a mission for converts, but we'll support others who want to escape what may feel like an onerous upbringing they find problems with. Today those include many Gays and Lesbians, it seems "their time" has come.

Many of us aren't hostile toward religion or religionists, but we also don't see any religion as being superior to another, which can probably feel like opposition or lack of respect to those who are trying to bring us back into the fold, or convince us that we should join their congregation.

"Live and Let Live" and the Golden Rule are the unspoken rules of Nones.

I've been to many, many different types of religious congregations and meetings, including LDS, Catholic, all kinds of Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. I respect them all.

Nones are far more likely to believe there are multiple "good paths" in this life.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Mountainman:

When I was a kid I thought atheists had to be unrestrained, selfish, immoral hedonists who would do anything to maximize their own pleasure and didn't care about others. What incentive do they have to be nice to others? There's nothing after this life, so grab every ounce of selfish pleasure you can, right?

Having met and known more than a few real atheists (who are really agnostics who're not optimistic about the prospects after this life), I've found them to be quite moral people, very concerned about others and sympathetic / empathetic to the struggles people go through.

They're often charity-minded and follow the Golden Rule.

The more we study other primates, the more we realize they also quite charitable and help each other. Other species of animals do the same thing. It seems to be in their DNA, which isn't to diminish how we help each other, or learn to grow in caring for each other.

"None"-Believers, Agnostics and Atheists are usually the first to see suffering from religiously sanctioned persecution, such as slavery, racial discrimination, and now the plight of gays.

So, we play an important role in society.

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

""None"-Believers, Agnostics and Atheists are usually the first to see suffering from religiously sanctioned persecution, such as slavery, racial discrimination, and now the plight of gays.

So, we play an important role in society."

Well said ... a very important part in a free society.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Institutional Christianity may be showing signs age fatigue but the messages of Jesus continue to transcend all things institutional, as they did from the start. Christianity has weathered many changes in the past two millenia, the fall of Rome, the rise of European states, the Muslim challenge from the East, the 11th century schism, the 16th century Reformation which at the time must have seem like Christianity coming apart at the seams.

Every crisis may seem like the end for a time but it always gives way to renewal and rebirth. That's the hopeful message to keep in mind this Easter weekend.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

@ 10CC. History offers us many examples of "none- agnostics and atheists who have NOT played important roles for good in society. Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, among others who did not see anything evil in what they did and they all had something in common-not relgious. What other explanation do you have for people like Eric Harris (Columbine), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) or Jared Lee Loughner (Gabrielle Gifford) who apparently saw nothing wrong with what they did. What if they had been taught some religious values? As far as your view that atheists are the first to see suffering from persecution, slavery or racial discrimination or plight of the gays (what plight is that?) I think that is a huge over statement on your part given the slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln a devotedly religious man! As was Martin Luther King, as was most (not all) of those in history who fought for justice.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I figure religion is to keep good people good, so I can only imagine what it could be like if there isn't any.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

The older I get -
The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Becoming a less religious nation has a host of consequences. And they're all good. We're maturing as a nation and society, and more and more of us realise we are good, moral people without the need for the guilt and fear religion tries to impose. Religion has proven itself quite capable and willing to divide us, and it has shown time and again no exclusivity on morality. As it is I don't necessarily believe there isn't a god. But the hucksters and charlatans the claim to be gods reps among us do nothing to argue in gods' favour.

Owen
Heber City, UT

A list of "nones" who have done evil invites a list of zealots who have done evil in the name of religion. It's a dead end to talk of extremes. Do unto others and mind your own business. The folks I attend church with are very good at the former, not so good at the latter. The takeaway here is that we've gone from 20% religious at our founding to 50% now. An obvious upward trend no matter your persuasion.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Mountainman:

There are examples of truly evil monsters from a variety of religious backgrounds, including "Nones". Not to diminish the role played by Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc, there have been many murders committed in the name of religion, including the Christian Crusades, the many widespread injustices done in the name of "Christianizing and uplifting the savages" as nations engaged in conquest, slavery, etc. Some of this history is close to home, as the tension between LDS settlers and Native Americans culminated in the Bear River Massacre in the late 1800s, after which some Saints exclaimed "our prayers have been answered".

If you think about the history of religion, especially the three "religions of the book" (in chronological order) Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it seems religions seem to settle down after some period of fervent belief in converting others, sometimes violently. 9-11 was maybe the most recent example, from the Muslims, who are 500 years "younger" than Christianity.

Without question the "Nones" have their own share of atrocities.

Mass murderers are more typically explained as psychotics, who I suspect have organic brain disorders, like Ted Bundy and this kid from Newtown.

als Atheist
Provo, UT

Mountanman

Your version of history has little correlation with reality.

None of the persons you list - Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Harris (Columbine), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) or Jared Lee - were known to be atheists. indeed, history and records demonstrate that every one of them were raised in religion and WERE "taught some religious values". the murders and atrocities these people committed can only be blamed on atheism if one is completely divorced from facts and reality.

Please try not to paint with such a broad, condemning brush. It suggests you may have lost touch with Jesus' teachings (Matt. 7:1) (and then would you blame that sin on your own atheism?)

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

@Mountanman

"What if they had been taught some religious values?"

Then they could have been manipulated to kill for God like Crusaders, modern day Muslims (some), or used it to justify slavery and other atrocities.

Nut jobs are nut jobs ... killers are killers ... if they say it's for God or because there is no God then we can attribute it to religion. Otherwise it's a road to nowhere.

"I think that is a huge over statement on your part given the slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln a devotedly religious man!"

Lincoln has MANY quotes showing his non-interest in traditional Christianity. What's my favorite you ask? Gladly I'll tell you!

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. "

What a wonderful way to live?

While others are justifying slavery through Christianity, Lincoln was abolishing it because it felt wrong. Wonderful ... intuition ... logic ... beauty.

Pagan
Salt Lake City, UT

So what does becoming 'more' religious lead to?

From our own Deseret news:

**'Boy, 15, reprimanded for backing traditional family in school paper' - By Joshua Bolding, Deseret News - 01/27/12

'He (Wegner) also quoted scriptures like Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to DEATH...' – article

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I agree that great violence is not necessarily correlated to religion or the lack thereof.

Reference the "great" mass murders - a few quotes from the Wiki folks:

Stalin:
Raised in the Georgian Orthodox faith, Stalin became an atheist. He followed the position adopted by Lenin that religion was an opiate that needed to be removed . . .

Pol Pot:
The Khmer Rouge also classified people by religion . . . They banned all religion and dispersed minority groups . . . They especially targeted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christians, Western-educated intellectuals . . .

Mao:
His wife, Wen Qimei, was a devout Buddhist who tried to temper her husband's strict attitude. Zedong became a Buddhist, venerating a bronze statue of the Buddha, but abandoned this faith in his mid-teenage years.

Hitler is difficult to pigeon hole but this is cogent:
The adult Adolf Hitler was a rationalist and a materialist, who saw Christianity as a religion fit for slaves, and a rebellion against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest. Raised a Catholic, Hitler had some respect for the 'great position' of that church, but became deeply hostile to its teachings.

So the record on these folks is pretty clear. Whatever religion they had was rejected.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

@LDS Liberal
"The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....'
So what you are saying is that you really are not LDS because you imagine no religion – including the one you claim – but routinely put down

@als Atheist
Your version of history has little correlation with reality.
Stalin and Mao Tse Tung, were raised with some religious training - but rejected it, in favor the elimination of all religion as a desired outcome of an egalitarian Communist society, as called for by Karl Marx and his belief that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

Hitler was raised Catholic, but rejected it in favor of rationalist and a materialist viewpoints. He viewed Christianity as a religion fit for slaves, and a rebellion against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest. He sought to purge Christianity of its Jewish influences.

Adam Lanza and Jared Lee were just messed up.

I agree that all atheists should not be painted with the broad brush of the atrocities of other atheists, yet the facts do prove the politically correct bully tactic that supposes that all atheists are good and religious people are bad, is a bunch of bunk.

bluecoug89
Highland, UT

I'm fine with someone being atheist but I do have a question. People say that atheists, though they don't believe in God, still follow the "golden rule". If they don't believe in God, why is that important? Why have charity for others if it doesn't matter in the end? Also, the whole "golden rule" thing (treating others with kindness, respect, etc.)is found basically in any religion (Chirstianity,Judaism etc.) and is the product of the teachings of God. So aren't you, in effect, following the teachings of a God that you don't even believe in? I could see you getting these ideas if you grew up with a religious background but if you didn't, where do you get the idea to treat others with kindness and respect if not from God since human nature is really the exact opposite (altruism is hardly seen in the natural world)? Also, some would say that they're following social expectations, but these expectations that you're following are direct results of religion and God. I guess I'm trying to understand how you fully seperate yourselves from God? It seems pretty tough to me.

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

@bluecoug89
Highland, UT
"If they don't believe in God, why is that important? Why have charity for others if it doesn't matter in the end?

So aren't you, in effect, following the teachings of a God that you don't even believe in?

where do you get the idea to treat others with kindness and respect if not from God since human nature is really the exact opposite (altruism is hardly seen in the natural world)?

I guess I'm trying to understand how you fully seperate yourselves from God?"

Did not the Native Americans greet many of the first explorers like Columbus and the Pilgrims with charity? They had a very different religious belief than the God you're speaking of.

There is good in people's hearts. It doesn't take God for people to want to help one another. How do you think we've survived for so long? Religion came about WAY later than the first humans. Do you think they survived solely by killing and walking over one another? We formed groups, families, and structures to rely on one another.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT
@LDS Liberal
"The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....'
So what you are saying is that you really are not LDS because you imagine no religion – including the one you claim – but routinely put down

===========

There is no religion in Zion.
There is no religion in Heaven.

Religion is an organization, not a doctrine.
Try living the doctrine (gospel) of the church, and stop living by it's religion (culture).

FYI - It's guys like you, who push people further and further away from it.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

@LDS Liberal
"It's guys like you, who push people further and further away from it."

Thats interesting - because I do not belong to any church - including yours
Imagine that - the "none" defending relgion and the "member" condemning it: So once again - why are you a member of something you seem to detest?

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