Stop Pushing Your Beliefs So I Can Push Mine

B. Muehlenberg

There is a lot of foolish thinking out there when it comes to religion, worldviews, and ultimate truth. Plenty of folks deny absolute truth altogether. Many simply believe that all truths are equal, and none should be favoured over any other. And plenty of people are steeped in relativism, and think we all should just chill when it comes to firmly held beliefs.

Yet all these folks who routinely complain about religious types – especially Christians – “imposing their morality on others” are the very first ones to do exactly the same. They expect that their worldview and their morality SHOULD be the law of the land – figuratively if not actually.

Let me offer a clear cut example of this which recently appeared on the social media. One friend has posted a tweet by the American conservative and Christian commentator Allie Beth Stuckey: “Neutrality is a myth. Those who claim to fear Christian theocracy actually just want to implement their own. They want Christians to check their worldview at the door, so they can make sure they can control you with theirs.” The friend said this: “I’ve observed this is true. It is never easy-going c’est la vie types who try to shut Christians down, only budding tyrants.”

But one person came along and replied: “I have no problem with people practicing their religion. Nor do the vast majority of leftists. We object to all religions that insist that everyone follows their beliefs, which they encode into laws. This applies to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and those who practice every other religion as well. If you believe in ‘live and let live’ (not identical to c’est la vie), then this should be no problem for you.”

Oh dear. There are a number of substantial problems with this sort of remark. Three main points come to mind: how faith commitments work; the matter of pushing one’s beliefs and morals on others; and the nature of truth. As to faith commitments, those who are serious will know that this cannot mean just embracing every other view in town.

A committed atheist or secular humanist does NOT accept the claims of Jews, Christians and other religious groups. Judging by what this gal has said, it seems clear that she has her own faith commitments. Yet she seems to want everyone to just happily get along in terms of their beliefs while at the same time she fiercely clings to her own.

What such folks really want is for no one to take their beliefs seriously – except themselves. But genuine faith commitments do not work that way. The point of being commited to a worldview or a religion is to take it seriously – otherwise it is no faith commitment at all.

As to pushing one’s views onto others, this gal was doing just that as she challenged the other person. Everyone who is serious about their beliefs want them promoted far and wide – and yes, even want some legal recognition of them. The homosexual or polyamorist who thinks marriage can be whatever you want it to be not only thinks his views are right and important, but they should be backed up by force of law as well.

The truth is, ALL law is ultimately based on someone’s morality. And everyone wants their particular morality to have some sort of legislative enforcement. Even atheists and secular humanists do. In fact, they push their worldviews and morality on us all the time, even suing people and taking religious folks to court, and so on.

If someone is a gung-ho pro-abort, guess what? They will work day and night to make sure that society in general and the law in particular push their beliefs on others. That’s what law does: it binds everyone to a particular morality or view of what society should be like.

Indeed, just as I was writing this piece I came upon this in an online newspaper: “Victorian MP introduces bill to block religious hospitals from refusing abortions. A Victorian MP is hoping to pass new legislation which will prevent religious hospitals from banning abortion services.” That would be the diabolical Fiona Patten of the Sex Party.

So this person who complains about those who want to enforce their views on others is simply living in dreamland. She likely does this every day herself. When she votes for a politician or political party, she is wanting to see her preferred beliefs and values acted upon in the public arena – even legislated upon in fact. So she should spare us the ‘let’s just get along and don’t impose your views on others’ silliness.

Third, consider the nature of truth. Truth of course implies falsehood. If 2+2=4 is true, then 2+2=24 is not. No amount of wishful thinking will help you convince the tax department if you think mathematical truths are purely personal and subjective. And it is the same when it comes to religious truth claims.

If, as Christianity states, Jesus is God’s son who died on a cross and rose again, then its negation – as in Islam – can NOT be true. Both cannot be true when it comes to this core matter of belief. Sure, a Muslim and a Christian can seek to be good neighbours to each other, but if they are committed to their faiths, they cannot be anywhere near on the same page theologically.

Speaking in a somewhat different context, US Governor Kristi Noem recently said this: “If you do NOT hold to truth, if everything to you is negotiable….then you have no stability at all. You have become so ‘flexible’ that you have no foundation. You are fake.” Yes she is on to something there.

Moreover, not all claims to truth are accurate or realistic. Let’s say we have four differing accounts of reality, only one of which is true. Let’s say you are out at work, and someone discovers your house is on fire. If he tells you about this, you will drop everything and rush home – perhaps after calling the fire department first.

But let’s say three others give a different account of what is happening. One might say there is just some mist or fog hanging around the house but no fire. Another might say it is not your home that is on fire but that of someone else. And a third person might say that even if it is on fire, it is no big deal – just some material goods that we should not worry about anyway.

Four views on reality, only one of which is fully correct. So it does no good for this gal to say it is just fine whatever one believes, as long as they do not push it on anyone else. Just as it does matter which of the four views concerning the fire is correct, it is the same with ultimate truth claims. If our eternal destiny is at stake, then yes, it IS important as to which view we hold to.

So all up this gal’s complaint was silly indeed. Not only would she not apply it to herself, but it would never work in the real world. Truth is too important for that sort of nonsense. Truth matters, in other words, and when we try to pretend that it does not, we are asking for trouble.

Indeed, it reminds me of a scene out of Alice in Wonderland:

Alice: I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as…
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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