The other day, I was reading an article in the National Catholic Reporter, an article asserting that religion should not have to suffer the restrictions and repressions it currently endured. Because the topic pressed a couple of my buzzers, I responded and the response was not published, probably because I made passing, but not emphatic, reference to the "Vatican sexual abuses."
What that article brought to mind was not so much the matter of religious repression as it was my own knee-jerk hierarchy of human values ... something I believed was perfectly obvious and yet seemed to go overlooked in the fisticuffs of a credulous world.
Roughly, my argument was this:
As human beings, people seek out food, shelter, safety, sex, companionship, health, stories and probably one or two other things I have forgotten. These might be called the civic or social desires -- the ones that deserve a wide recognition by human beings at large. This is the important stuff.
Beliefs come in second, no matter how voluble or strident or well-intentioned they may be. They are fins on the car, so to speak. To confuse what you believe with what you are may be a common undertaking, but it is foolish and, as often as not, harmful. To tell or enjoy stories is one thing. To confuse story-telling with civic or social fact is another.
And so, using the Catholic Church as just one example, it is not the belief or set of beliefs that is so much the issue. The issue is human beings. And the same is true for any other set of beliefs. Good stuff, perhaps, but not to be confused with the human beings who either espouse or criticize them. And where such beliefs impinge on human (or animal) facts ... well, then I think so-called restrictions might rightly be applied.
People are important.
What they believe is their burden ... you know, the fluff we all try to cope with.