Friday, April 3, 2015

Making the Worst of Religion

4/3/2015—I hope my reaction was not partisan. One of the best pieces of news in years was the President’s announcement yesterday of a possible, not-yet-quite-final nuclear weapons deal with Iran. The very specificity of the announcement seemed to shock everybody. The New York Times referred to it as “surprising” and even Republicans in Congress were hesitant to condemn it. A real deal would change the politics. American does not want more war. Especially in the Middle East.

So, what headline does the Tribune Review run in its Passover story? Nuclear Deal in Iran Casts Pall Over Jewish Holiday in Pittsburgh.

Now, granted this newspaper is an opponent of President Obama. But it is still a newspaper. If the basic reaction the reporters had encountered had been cautious, overwhelming joy, they would have reported it. (My experience with the Tribune Review is that the reporters are very fair).

So, how does that look to everybody? It looks like another example of a religion in the way of peace.

This occurs at the same time that Good Friday arrives on the heels of religious believers forced to retreat on discrimination against gay people in Indiana and Arkansas.

Welcome to the new face of religion—discrimination and war.

Of course religion is supposed to stand up to the culture. So, all I can say here is that the religions in question are wrong. I’m all in favor myself of protecting that 70-year-old florist from delivering flowers to a gay wedding if she does not want to. But if that religious protection had been coupled with a gay marriage bill in the first place, and the rest of the bill linked with protections of sexual orientation from discrimination, none of the controversy would have happened. Religious believers offer gays nothing and then are surprised at the reaction.

Where is the lure of religion? Where is its surpassing beauty in a world of gray ordinariness? It’s there. Many, many millions will experience it during the next few days in Good Friday and Easter and Passover. But one of humankind’s reservoirs of insight is drying up, like a California lake.

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