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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Religion Teaches You to Be Moral





This new study shows the growing cultural divide in Canada. The divide is between the conventionally churchgoing and the secular majority. Their views are dramatically different on several matters.


Most tellingly, there is a clear statistical link between being religiously observant and considering the well-being of others: if you want good people, you want religion. Accordingly, it really ought to be part of the business of government to encourage religion. It is harmful to the common good to elevate atheism and secularism to some sort of religious parity or supremacy. Government ought to be “Defender of the Faith”; just not any one particular faith.


The survey also shows Canada has its own version of a selfish “bi-coastal elite.” The residents of Saskatchewan, Canada’s geographical heartland, are the best, most compassionate Canadians, and Quebeckers are the most selfish, followed by BC and Alberta.


It is interesting and surprising that Ontarians fare rather well. I think that's the small-town influence. I have long thought that even Ontario's biggest cities tend to be small towns at heart. Canada’s legendary “niceness” is an artifact of this peculiar Ontario small-town culture. It is one of our best features.


Unfortunately, again illustrating the cultural divide, the story and even its headline are half hogwash. It arbitrarily declares left-wing political positions more “compassionate.” Only on those spurious grounds does it find "that compassion has its limits."


It notes, for example, as a lack of compassion, that the religious are less inclined to say we need more social acceptance than we have of homosexuality.


“There should not be greater social acceptance of people who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer);”


Consider, if you will, the improbable possibility that homosexual behaviour actually leads to a greater risk of illness. Because, in fact, it does. Is it compassionate to go beyond quiet acceptance, as we have, to aggressive promotion, as we have? Consider the improbable possibility that homosexual and “transgender” behaviour leads statistically to devastating unhappiness, and a high likelihood of future suicide. Because, in fact, it does. How compassionate is it, then, to promote it? Suppose you also believe that is is sinful, as all the world’s major religions and moral codes have taught for millennia, so that indulging in it risks an eternity of suffering? How compassionate is it then to promote it?


The religious, the study notes, want Canada to accept fewer immigrants.


“Canada should accept fewer immigrants and refugees”


Note here an obvious fudge. The Post is making no distinction between immigrants and refugees; the difference is huge in moral terms. Legitimate refugees are indeed a moral issue. Regular immigrants are not. Opposing more immigration may be a concern that new immigrants in too great numbers can damage the social fabric—to everyone’s detriment, including the new immigrants. They might also, after all, not share your deep moral concerns. If you have fewer morals, you worry less about this. Worrying more about it comes with having stronger morals.


"They would be uncomfortable if a child planned to marry someone from a different cultural or religious background"


This confirms that the concern among the religious about immigration has nothing to do with lack of compassion, and is about protecting morals and social order. Sharing the same religious background within the family is essential, if religion is the centrepiece of your life. It hs nothing to do with lack of compassion towards members of the other religion.


Note again a sneaky fudge: the Post is not distinguishing between culture and religion. These are different issues.


"Preserving life is more important than people’s freedom to choose on issues like abortion and doctor-assisted death."


More fine fudge. What the Post means, absent the euphemism, is that preserving life is more important to the religious than is allowing unrestricted abortion and euthanasia. I’m sure this must come as a shock to many. Either abortion or euthanasia are in fact, contrary to this phrasing, radical restrictions on the freedom to choose. The subject of either abortion or euthanasia loses their freedom to choose anything at all, ever again, from that moment on. Preserving life is also preserving the freedom to choose.


Is it kind to encourage people to kill themselves? I think that is debatable. Is it kind to encourage people to kill others? I think there can be no debate.


Kindness, compassion, and concern for others would seem to be entirely on the one side.

The National Post would seem to be on the other.


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