There is an outdated belief that lacking a religious moral code is the same as lacking any sort of moral code… that if one doesn’t believe in a god, then one lack convictions in other areas… that a nonreligious person is a non-moral person…etc.
Not only are these ideas ludicrous, but blogs and articles written by better writers than I have already tackled (and I think beat soundly) these backwater views. So, I will let it alone.
But there is a part of the discussion that I think gets left out sometimes. Yes, its all well and good to be an active member of the Out Campaign, to write about the fact that people who are non religious still have moral codes and are on the whole just as likely to be good people as those religious types… but what about the idea that the religious code isn’t always a moral code? What about the fact that just because an ethic system is divinely inspired it isn’t always right.
Anyone else see “Gone Baby Gone”?
Or… to put it in a different box of pop culture references… anyone been following the Harrison debacle? No? Well allow me to enlighten you.
Harrison, Football player for the Steelers. In high school he jeopardized his football career by soind ‘silly little things” like shooting a BB gun off in a locker room. Nowadays though his old couches see him as a “mature young man.”
A mature young man who apparently open faced slapped his girlfriend knocking her glasses off… after breaking her cell phone when she tried to call 911.
Now, he isn’t the only Steelers player to be in trouble for domestic violence…. Wilson was in trouble recently for punching his ex girlfriend. And while both men face legal issues, Harrison was allowed to stay playing (getting paid etc).
Why the difference? If you think that it might have to do with the level of violence (a weak excuse to be sure) you would be wrong. In statements made by team leaders, it seems Harrison’s case wasn’t that big of a deal not because slapping is less violent than punching.. but because he had a “good” reason to slap her.
And what, you ask, was the reason?
She didn’t want her son to be baptized. He did. They argued. He hit her. He hit her because she didn’t want to take part in his religious ritual. So he hit her.
And the team is okay with that. Team chairman Dan Rooney:
"I know many are asking the question of [why] we released Wilson and Harrison we kept,'' he said. "The circumstances -- I know of the incidents, they are completely different. In fact, when I say we don't condone these things, we don't, but we do have to look at the circumstances that are involved with other players and things like that, so they're not all the same.""What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it," he said of Mr. Harrison's initial intent with his son. "He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn't want to do it."
Well okay then.
This is an even weaker defense than “God told me to do it”… this is “I was within my rights to bodily inure someone who doesn’t share my belief system.”
Think I’m being extreme? Think about the violence carried out in the name of religion, in the name of a vengeful and angry god.
It is incorrect to believe that people who aren’t religious aren’t moral. It is even more incorrect… and dangerous, to believe that just because someone is religious, they are also guaranteed to be moral.
Religious moral codes are not beyond reproach…. Nor should they be.
Something worth thinking about.