I�m not against religion; I�m against religious hypocrisy
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 11, 2009, 00:16

From time to time I write articles and blog posts that are critical of religious hypocrisy.

That always generates hate mail to my inbox from Christians who seem to think I am criticizing their religion. I assure you that is not the case.

While I am not a religious person, I respect the right of every human being to subscribe to whatever religions/philosophies work for them. Indeed, as a human rights activist, I feel obligated to defend Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

�Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.�

So, while I might not share your beliefs, I will defend your right to hold those beliefs, and to practice them so long as they do not interfere with the rights of others.

In other words, observe your religion, but be respectful of everyone else�s right to their own belief systems which might not coincide with yours. Live and let live. Do your thing but don�t try to shove it down everyone else�s throats. That is how different kinds of people can live together in polite society.

So I tend to get a bit critical when the so-called �Christian� right-wing extremists in this country try to impose their views on the rest of us -- especially when their agenda can hardly be called �Christian.�

Like when so-called �Christians� try to justify torture.

And when they use religion to justify a war of aggression.

And when closeted homosexual �Christians� fight against gay rights. (See Ted Haggard and Larry Craig.)

True Christians recognize that Jesus was all about love and kindness and tolerance and forgiveness, not war, hate, torture, or knee-jerk sanctimony.

True Christians will recall that Jesus labeled as hypocrites those who try to publicly impose their dogma:

�And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.� --Matthew 6:5

And true Christians will recall that Jesus taught that religion should be practiced in private:

�But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.� --Matthew 6:6


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author�s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

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