Copyright © 2000. All Rights Reserved
by FFWD Reader
Re: Human Rights cops miss the mark, by Nick Devlin (Viewpoint, March 16)
In his article about a printer who fell afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Commission because he refused to print material for a gay advocacy group, Nick Devlin made some good points about freedom of religion. Unfortunately, he also made a few dubious ones.
He states, "...religious beliefs, as opposed to mere personal ideals and political philosophies, are... values which we hold to be inextricably intertwined with one's very being. They are, by necessity, hard and absolute...." Religious people may be convinced that their beliefs are intertwined with their very being, but biology would disagree. The human genome has not yet been fully mapped, but when it is I doubt that researchers will find a Christian gene or a Muslim gene or a Hindu gene. Religious beliefs are imposed on us, usually by indoctrination, well after our being has been firmly established.
This is not the case with our "mere personal ideals." If we are kind rather than cruel, tolerant rather than bigoted, liberal rather than conservative, it is in part at least a result of our genetic disposition. It is much more sensible to speak of our personal ideals as intertwined with our being as opposed to those mere add-ons, religious beliefs.
When Mr. Devlin avers that religious beliefs must be "hard and absolute," I wonder which religion he's talking about. Did not Jesus Christ himself, the prophet of the Christian faith, say something about he who is without sin casting the first stone? His message seemed to be that since we are all sinners, we should not be hard and absolute. The Old Testament is, of course, something else again. Whereas Christ spoke about turning the other cheek, the Old Testament spoke about an eye for an eye.
Perhaps this is the problem. Perhaps Mr. Devlin's printer is so immersed in Old Testament absolutism that he has little time for this Christly stuff. He would not be the first believer to prefer the patriarchs to the prophet.
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