Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ground Rules

In the great discussion about God, it's quite common for otherwise perfectly sane people, on both sides of the argument, to start frothing at the mouth and claiming that the Other Side wishes to censor, physically injure or otherwise silence them.

In many cases, this is sheer paranoia. Most folks, religious or otherwise, tend to be pretty nice when you get to know them, and are happy to allow space for the beliefs of others.

In many cases, this is not paranoia. Religious arguments tend to attract a worrying number of nutjobs of all stripes. Once the legislators get involved, it's quite easy for little things like free speech to go right out the window.

As such, I would like to propose a code of conduct for religious debate. The purpose of this code is to mark out a middle ground in this debate between the various groups of crazies who want to see all belief systems but theirs forcibly purged from the planet.

Please leave a comment if you agree with this code, or if you wish to suggest changes to the wording. By signing up, you are showing solidarity with folks of other religious denominations who stand against the forces of zealotry in their own ranks.

The Moderacy Manifesto

I hold beliefs that touch on religious topics (henceforth "religious beliefs"). I feel these beliefs are justified. I reserve the right to discuss these beliefs: to present arguments in support of my beliefs, and to critique the arguments of others.

I recognise that other people hold different beliefs on these topics. I acknowledge that these people feel their beliefs are justified. I respect their right to hold and discuss their beliefs, even where those beliefs conflict with mine.

I do not judge an individual's moral character solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. I accept that it is possible to be a good person whilst holding religious beliefs different from mine.

I do not approve of religious discrimination that results in physical, legal or financial hardships. I will not materially discriminate against anyone solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. However, I reserve the right to materially discriminate based on their actions, even when those actions are inspired by religious beliefs. I also reserve the right to discriminate in ways that do not result in hardship.

I ask my government not to censor, fine, imprison or otherwise penalise any individual or group simply for holding or discussing particular religious beliefs. I ask my government not to endorse, subsidise or otherwise support any individual or group simply for holding or discussing particular religious beliefs. This includes individuals or groups that hold the same beliefs as me.

Although I may disagree with other participants in this discussion, I respect their sincerity and I respect their rights. I believe that mutual tolerance, of the form described above, is the best way to demonstrate that respect.

No comments: