The Lighthouse of Reason has to cut through the thick fog, now more than ever!
While one pandemic is actively spreading, we can’t ignore what else is being carried and spread as an infection of irrationality across communities, the nation and the world.
Hearing of anti-government protests in America today, stirred by the MAGA Media Machine, it was even clearer: People are believing whatever they hear from the bubble of their chosen social media, in their own “news,” from their religious shepherds … with very little, if any, thought and reflection. This is having an increasingly dangerous, destructive, frightening impact across our culture and beyond.
I hold many religious leaders accountable, especially those who have more rational and liberal worldviews. They should be out in front leading the educational challenge to urge people to think, to reason, to ask themselves the hard questions and not simply accept what their tradition or the internet tells them is real or true.
Teach wisdom. Encourage facing one’s credulity.
It shouldn’t be left to secular people, humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, to stand up for skepticism and critical thinking. This is NOT anti-faith but actually an invitation for clergy to coordinate with each other and with freethinking non-believers to assist communities to have reasonable dialogue and establish a flow of factual information toward making informed decisions. As I see it, it’s not good enough just to move prayer, worship, scripture study and church online.
Our time does not call for religious-business-as-usual, even online. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary responses that may change the face of faith as we’ve known it
Why this is important now: when credulity and irrational “thinking” is left unchecked in religious communities, it can spread to all public arenas. Witness the ease in which so many accept what they read on social media or soak in from news sources.
UN-Reason is having it’s own Pandemic right now and it cannot be stopped except by firm, endemic, mitigating action.
This is a golden opportunity for faith leaders to take a more active role in Truth-telling. It’s going to take more effort to join the educational challenge to stand against uncritical thinking that leads to irrational skepticism of science and medical professionals as well as dumbed-down beliefs such as conspiracy theories and “Christian nationalism.”
Please stand up and speak out … spread the truth, especially in coalitions of faiths and secular communities.
Several examples of speaking out:
-In a crisis moment, a politician calls for a “Day of Prayer.” Faith leaders ought to point out that prayer may be fine but not every citizen prays, and, this shouldn’t deflect from civic responsibilities. Finally, politicians need to hear that it is not their place to call people to prayer, especially the prayers of one religion.
-Legislators present a bill to place “In God We Trust” in every public school classroom, or, a city official decides to place this “motto” on patrol cars. Faith leaders ought to be reminding elected officials that this favors religion (usually one religion) and once again, it is not their job to encourage trust in a divinity.
-Evangelical preachers are given special, exclusive privilege in the White House. Faith leaders of various traditions ought to be speaking out loud and clear that this is abusive to all people of faith as well as inappropriate in a secular nation.
-For more examples of when and where leaders in faith and freethought should be speaking out, I recommend Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Light of Reason doesn’t belong to any group, but it’s the responsibility of all of us to keep it shining!