Monday, September 19, 2011

“Governments try to ban them. Religious leaders try to shield their followers from them.”

The juxtaposition is misleading. Government and religion operate from completely different planes—though religionists, of course, have been know to enlist the State and operate from its plane. But so have all of society’s many special interests: e.g., corporations, labor unions, environmentalists, feminists and anti-religion religionists. Do you object to special interests' acquiring and wielding political power? Work to put the kibosh to political power.

Government is force; religion is persuasion. The difference is one of kind, not degree. Governments sic armed agents on those who resist their bans, edicts and decrees. A religion does nothing of the sort. It may shield its followers from its version of untruth, but it must first persuade them it speaks truth. Fear of hell may play a role. But then the religion must first convince its followers hell exists and it holds the keys to salvation.

Amish clergy frown on technology, modern sexual mores and the freewheeling ways of the “English.” The recalcitrant risk banishment to that larger society. Soviet commissars tortured priests, padlocked churches and sent Christians off to the gulags. Among which band of merry obscurantists would you prefer to live?