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Meditation 287
Thinking About The Church and Neutrality

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Not only do I get a lot of e-mail from believers criticizing this web site, but I also get flack from fellow agnostics. That's the price of putting your opinions forward.

I had a message about a couple of months ago criticizing the fact that this was organized as a church and was inviting people to join. As organized religions are responsible for all the wars and evil in the world, organizing as a church to promote agnosticism was clearly wrong.

And then there's the message I published as Talk Back 46, in which the site is criticized as not agnostic enough and not neutral enough.

Let us look at these issues.

As I have written previously, one of the problems with agnosticism is that agnostics do not promote it. Agnosticism is largely invisible in public life today. We don't have a Robert G. Ingersoll or a Thomas Henry Huxley out there actively talking about agnostic perspectives. Yet agnosticism remains a valid and logical view. It needs to be promoted to allow people looking for alternatives to know there is a reasonable position that involves neither belief nor disbelief. A "church" is a means of promoting a particular religious viewpoint, and I make no apologies for using this particular model to promote agnosticism, and for inviting others to join me in doing so. Of course if you want to promulgate agnosticism via a Thursday Evening Agnostic Discussion and Knitting Society instead of a church, that's also fine with me. Tell me about it, and I'll even give you a free plug on this site.

The issue of not being agnostic enough, I'll leave others to judge. There is a lot of room for interpretation on the fine distinction between agnosticism and atheism; but a distinction that is easier to make if you hold to the classical definition of atheism.

But the issue of neutrality - quite frankly that bothers me. I don't think neutrality has anything to do with agnosticism. I believe agnostics have an obligation to clearly state their opinions, particularly when various religions, or their leaders, try to enforce their beliefs and god-justified morality on the rest of us.

I have no problem with those religious people who quietly practice their faith in their own lives, and do not try to impose those beliefs on me; you will not normally find them criticized in these pages.

I have no problem with those who find spiritual answers in interpreting the myths of religious texts, and applying those answers to their own lives; you will not normally find them criticized in these pages.

However:

I will not be neutral on the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in public schools, just because some people are incapable of intelligent interpretation of religious myths.

I will not be neutral on the denial of equal rights to gays and lesbians, just because of what some people find in their religious texts.

I will not be neutral on women's rights, or the equal rights of any segment of society.

I will not be neutral on the charlatanry of psychic predictions, faith healing, e.s.p., and u.f.o. based religions.

I will not be neutral on literal interpretation of religious texts.

I will not be neutral on moral standards for which the only justification is "God's Will."

I will not be neutral on sects which send their ill-informed missionaries (or informed ones, for that matter) knocking on my door trying to convert me.

Nor will I be neutral on those sects which try to convert me in shopping malls, airports, or highway rest areas.

I will not be neutral on the hypocrisy of money-grubbing evangelists.

I will not be neutral on religious leaders demanding that politicians in their congregations vote on proposed laws based on religious teachings.

And I will continue to thoroughly enjoy not being neutral.

Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

However, in the interest of a wide range of opinion, I will continue to publish opposing views to my own, whether expressed strongly or neutrally; and I will even publish those who can write articles promoting agnosticism while sitting on the fence.