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Monday, 20 May 2019 10:45 pm

Can an atheist tolerate God?

Feb 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Opinion

I have almost always considered myself an atheist. I have never considered myself religious.

But, due to a story I’m writing, I spent the majority of this last glorious Sunday at a Mormon church.

Now I’m listening to Make Yourself  (Incubus album about how you should think for yourself), trying to regain my scepticism. And my good sense.
I went to the church with an open mind and a willingness to respect the people worshipping inside. I sat in on two services, participated in two sacraments, talked to two girls about why they like church, and spent two hours interviewing the bishop.

I left feeling good. Everybody was so friendly and more than happy to co-operate with this don’t-wannabe journalist.

I thought about how religion to these people is no more crazy than my fervour for the environment. They love God more than anything and are willing to donate a tenth of their income to His agents.

I think preserving the earth and its inhabitants is our biggest issue right now and I may be so inclined to donate my money and time to an organisation which does just that. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

But, after a little bathroom reading, I’m not sure I feel so indifferent.

I was given a pocket version of For the Strength of Youth, a set of guidelines for young Mormons to adhere to, broken down into the facets of life, such as Repentance, Family, Dress and Appearance and Education.

The Sexual Purity section states that Mormons should not participate in homosexual activity. By saying this (and based on Christianity’s reputation), I think I can safely assume that Mormons are anti-gay.

Can I really respect a group of people (or the individuals in that group) which objects to something as arbitrary as a person’s sexuality? In the secular, good sensed world I come from, that’s called bigotry.

Having an open mind requires you to be reasonable about other people’s beliefs and be willing to accept them without prejudice. Normally being open minded is considered a good thing.

But maybe it’s not. Should people be allowed freedom of thought when what they think is wrong? Or is their idea of wrong just as valid as mine? Is my intolerance for religion just as prejudiced as their intolerance for gays (amongst other things)?

It’s an argument that could go around in circles forever. And even though I am convinced of my stance, I don’t know how well I can back it up. I don’t have the answers to this dilemma, in any case.

I invite readers to start a discussion in the comments section.

What do you think?

Are we all entitled to our beliefs, even if they are oppressive in nature?

Are atheists just as narrow-minded as religious adherents?

In modern society we generally consider bigotry and prejudice as bad things. Are they in any way acceptable as a part of religion? Should they be?

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is a Whitireia Journalism student who wants to use her writing skills for good, not evil. Miyuki likes: food, Seinfeld and talkback radio. She dislikes: not having time to read, killing insects and the news.
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  1. Interesting article Miyuki, I think almost everyone has had similar thoughts, and most of us have arrived at the same inconclusive stage where you either carry on and question everything you have ever known and stand for, or you just lay it off for a rainy day, and carry on as you were.
    My question is: why label yourself at all?
    Adhering to one set of principles is, in my opinion, the deepest flaw in any belief system. Why not exist in a state of “skepticism”?(excuse the label)
    To be sure of anything is ultimately a form of bigotry, because as hard as you try, or at least I’ve tried, to argue right from wrong or left from right, it comes down to being a matter of perception/context, and only through communication can we appreciate what another person sees/where they come from. So share your eyes and be aware of why you are you, ask why others are who they are.
    Good on you for going to a mormon church, have you been to a mosque?
    All you can really do is be open and closed at the same time

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