Comments about ‘Matthew Sanders: Papal succession, perspective and respecting belief (+video)’

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Published: Friday, Feb. 15 2013 12:05 a.m. MST

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Tyler D
Meridian, ID

I struggle to not become overly cynical when reading articles like this – articles built around the premise of “religion is harmless, meek and mild and if you don’t respect it you’re just mean.” Granted, most religious people I know decent and compassionate people, but let’s be honest when taking the long historical view of religion (at least the western monotheistic versions).

There is something in monotheistic religions that is inherently totalitarian. It seems whenever one sect gains enough power the inevitable result has been mass conformity enforced by clerics who seem to have few restraints. Any reading of pre-Enlightenment Europe or many of today’s Muslim countries makes this quite clear.

And I doubt these are “historical blemishes” or anomalies… they seem inherent in any system of dogma that allows special men who “know” what’s good us to come to power.

Perhaps what Mr. Sanders should be celebrating is our wise Founders who understood this and devised a secular Constitution that not only guaranteed the separation of State power from clerical authority, but perhaps ironically, allowed the author’s own religion to “come to pass.”

9MM
Murray, UT

A well written article, belief systems that have been set up to inspire and lift the ideals of the whole human race have benefited countless millions, inspiring countless individuals to act kindly towards their neighbors. As for being cynical of religion, WHY? Man, by our very natures are corrupt in our principles and actions. We don't need a religious cover to act badly, and when you are trying to unite a group of people so that you can get them to follow you on your campaign of bad behavior, using a religious cover has been useful in the past, but by no means is it the only one available. The struggle for political power by evil men is one constant we can count on, and these men learn very quickly the use of religious, political, and economic institutions as well as simple greed can be co-opted for their own selfish use. So why blame a religious belief, when those who profess to believe, fail to act on that belief and turn instead to their own selfish wills.

I have yet to see a lesson on charity, and virtue in secular institutions.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Tyler nailed it. There is no charity or virtue in religion that cannot be carried out without it, but religion exclusively can justify violence, evil and petty mean spiritedness without having to stand the test of reason. This collection of (mostly) men who claim to have special powers or insight into what is best for us has no business in the affairs of our government.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@9MM – “Man, by our very natures are corrupt…”

I would agree (though likely for different reasons). So the question then becomes, “what form of government should we institute to minimize that fact?”

I think the answer is clear that the best guarantor of all freedoms, including religious, is the secular government (which starts with a Constitution by “We The People…” and not one based on any religious authority, seen or unseen) devised by our Founders. If that is not obvious, then contrast our government with any theocratic one that has ever existed.

As to your last point, I don’t think institutions are charitable or virtuous… people are. And as I said the vast majority of religious people I know are (or do their best to be) both of those things. Now if your contention is that secular people are not (or that religious believers are more moral), well, then we’re going to have an argument.

But just to be clear, my issue is not with religious people, just religious power. If the last 2000 years have taught us anything it should be that it is always disastrous.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Where does man learn to control his appetites and passions? Government tells us that we deserve the wealth of others, that it has the right (and ability) to take from one person and give (with strings attached) to someone else. Christ told us to give freely. To help each other. He didn't use force. He didn't preach envy. He didn't tell us to covet the possessions of others. Government does - at least Obama's administration does.

Religion teaches us to live as God lives, in harmony with others. Governments oppress the people on this planet. Some people have used religion as the reason for fighting and unrest in the world, but looking at the facts, we see that someone wanted something that wasn't his. He used "religion" to justify taking that "something" with force. God is not the author of envy and of coveting. Just the opposite is true.

Our founding fathers worshipped God outside of organized religion. In 1776 God had no authorized prophet on the earth. He had no authorized "church" on the earth. It is little wonder that God-loving men did not belong to an organized church.

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