I am of Jewish origin, proud of my heritage but non religious. I am a secular person. Religion plays no significant role in my life. Judaism to me is interesting as a historical phenomenon, as a culture, but not as a religion. I don´t pray, I don´t listen to religious speeches, I believe that God, as portrayed by religion, most likely does not exist, and even if there is some all powerful being above us, it is unlikely to be say Protestant, or Jewish, or any other religion in particular.
Now for people like me, who see the world through secular eyes, there are basically two kinds of religious people. Ones who are easy to deal with and others who are not. On the easy side there are the people who are religious and keep it to themselves. They believe in God, go to church and pray at night, but they don´t proselytize nor see society and politics through their religious convictions. With them (including friends and family members) I have a positive relationship. I understand that faith makes them feel better. I see the positive effects of religion in their lives, but they believe, I don´t, and we get along very well.
Now there is another kind of religious people who I do have a problem with: the ones who are trying to make the rest of society behave as they do. Of course, I believe in their right to practice in any way they want, including (as opposed to the French regulations) wearing any types of clothes. But when they want me to behave differently because of their views… When they want me, say, not to shop on a Sunday because that´s when people should be in Church, I have a problem with that. And that is a very small problem compared to bigger ones, such as people who are willing to kill me because I am an infidel, or Protestants and Catholics killing each other for reasons that for me are practically impossible to understand.
I wish religious people somehow made the effort needed to understand how bizarre the world of religion in politics looks to a secular person. There are so many issues that they stand for that are just awkward to people like me: creationism, a theory that no university would dare to teach, is just voodoo; anti abortion terrorism inspired by religion seems pure madness; campaigns against contraceptives by the Catholic church in Latin America appear as a foolish policy in a world of expanding poverty; or, as a Jew, I can´t understand people who don´t want me to eat certain foods, nor turn lights on on a Saturday and who believe I am somehow a traitor to their cause for not insisting that my son has a bar mitzvah.
And this is a short list of examples by which different religions try to influence the way I live. I want us, the secular, to be free. I want us, people who want to live and let live, to be allowed to lead secular lives without anyone trying to teach us how to behave. Freedom to practice any religion is necessary but is not enough. I want to be free from those who preach religion in politics and want to change society to suit their views.
Posted on November 26, 2010