Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media by Hemant Mehta

Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media, Hemant Mehta. Hyperlink Atheism and Religion Books, 2011. e-book, 285 pps.

     Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media is a series of blog posts in book form from Hemant Mehta. Some conservatives have found him "not to be friendly," especially when he is opposing issues that project the importance of christian faith over the rights of an individual-- such as when the Senate voted in an anti-abortion bill. One of the speakers called to testify was a Jewish woman who dared to say the word "vagina." She carefully explained that her religion is in favor of medical abortion when the life and or well-being of the woman is in danger, regardless of how far along the fetus was. She was kicked out for saying "vagina." 

     I am acquainted with Hemant Mehta via his Twitter(tm) feed. I have found him to be quite friendly. Because people don't agree, it does not logically follow that one side of the disagreement is mean, bad, evil, or unfriendly. That is part of the risk that we entertain when we use our freedom of speech. There is bound to be at least one human being who disagrees with what we say.

     Religion in the public schools is not a democracy thing. The majority does not get to monopolize any religious expression. Students-- contrary to what is popularly supposed-- are allowed to pray and to read their sacred religious texts during school time when not engaged in instructional time. Teachers must be careful not to take sides. Calling a student worthless because he opposes a graduation prayer is not okay. Principals who allow a prayer at a school graduation to continue even after it has been legally disallowed are subject to certain legal penalties. The christian nursery school which rejects a three-year old applicant because he is living with his dad and another man yet accepts a large chunk of federal monies is in gross error. 

     Hey, if you eat the whole cake, there won't be any left.

     In this country at this time, adults have the freedom to choose their own religion and to not choose a religion. When religious feeling enters into law-making, people not of the same religious persuasion are bound to lose out. The pregnant jewish woman whose religion teaches her that she ought to abort when she learns that her fetus is dead loses out because she is legally over the limit when this is found out. A teacher or school administrator who tells students that they are going to hell, ought not to move to San Francisco because that place is full of sinful and godless queers, or refers to a student who wants to uphold the separation between religion and public schools as "an evil little thing" is morally and legally in the wrong.

     Now we have a tradition that tells us it's okay to insert "In God We Trust" on our dollar bills although the nation's motto was changed in the fifties. We have a tradition of reciting the added words "under god" when we recite the pledge. Tradition tells us that we are stuck with the stuff that we didn't effectively protest years ago. Those atheists and particularly high school atheists who are endeavoring to keep the message of the Constitution clear in these days often wind up doing so at great personal cost to themselves and their families.

sapphoq reviews says: The Friendly Atheist(tm) is someone whose work is worth getting to know, regardless of one's religious or political outlook on modern world issues. His writing is clear. His message is succinct. Highly recommended.

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