This communication deals with some ideas I have been having recently and I hope I put my argument across well.
In life and society we sometimes give people special dispensation from our general rules because we see there are special reasons. We allow disabled people to park closer to shops, we allow single dwellers to pay less council tax, we allow the poor to pay a lower rate of tax, we allow the young and the old to have cheaper travel. You get the idea.
It is right that we have varying rules and that we shouldn’t treat everyone the same. I think this is right because of my moral structure and that there is evidence to show that these actions improve the quality of life for those people. The justification for these dispensations is good.
If you are reading this you are probably aware that I don’t “believe” in a god or gods and therefore do not follow any form of religion. See the communication directly preceding this one. As there is no god everything that hangs on this premise is mistaken. All of the rules and societal requirements we have are unjustifiable using religion, holy books or holy men’s rantings. Some religious ideas are good but they can be derived from a general principle of “do good” and “do no harm”, principles which are humanistic rather than from a sole religion. If your argument for behaving a particular way ends with the line:
It says so in this good book
My preacher/imam says so
then it’s time for you to appraise what else the book says.
I think it is wrong to make dispensations from our normal laws and rules for religious reasons. In fact, I think that dispensations for this reason are the worst form of dispensation and incongruent with a liberal society.
This communication and my view on these things was formed from the following events:
- On a run one day I passed a building site. There were 4 people working on the site at the time and three of them had bright yellow safety hats on. The 4th person had a turban on. It would appear that he had special dispensation to wear this turban, probably for religious reasons. I do not understand this argument. If there is good evidence to show that wearing a turban gives as good protection as wearing a safety hat then I am ok with that but if the evidence doesn’t exist then why does religious requirements get a “free pass”?
- In some places of work people ask for special dispensation to go to prayer at certain times during the day or they have rules about certain types of food. I do not understand why these religious reasons are special and can’t be questioned. Could I ask for dispensation from the canteen to avoid serving any form of pasta because I follow the Flying Spaghetti Monster? My argument for this is just as robust as any other religious argument.
- I think it is morally wrong that dispensation is given to some abattoirs to avoid our rules on humanely slaughtering animals because a religion requires animals to be killed in a certain way. If I can show you two slabs of meat, one slaughtered normally and one slaughtered using religious requirements and IF you can tell them apart then I would be seriously impressed. Mind you this still would not justify your reasons for wanting animals slaughtered inhumanely.
I am not using this communication to ridicule individual beliefs, oh, damn, I am! Oh well. Societies’ laws should be based on humanistic consensus and that is why we have a government and democracy here in the UK, for all its flaws. Over the last thousand years we have produced a decent liberal society even though we are a constitutional theocratic society because people who make the laws understand that religion should play no part in creating laws. As soon as laws are created for religious reasons we have lost our way [just read Leviticus].
If you want to use a religious reason to excuse a certain behaviour or to allow you to break the rules of our society then I will use the Church of the FSM to justify the rules I want to break. The argument is precisely the same. If you want to claim the FSM is not a REAL religion then I ask you to define what you mean by REAL religion.
Religion should play NO part in dispensation from laws and rules. It’s not an excuse.
Religion – Not An Excuse
Just in case some of you become offended at this then please consider what I have said. I haven’t called you stupid, I haven’t said you are wrong and I haven’t ridiculed your religion. I have said I don’t believe. My argument is that religion is not a reason for dispensation. Oh, look! I have given special dispensation to religious people in this post script. Tell you what: Your religion is wrong. It is not the truth. It is not the path to eternal life. Your preachers are wrong. It is not a reason for doing anything. There is no god. Get over it. You shouldn’t get special treatment because you believe in Zeus or whatever you call your god. Join our society and behave within its rules or leave.