Thursday, 21 April 2016

godless: my thoughts on religion, politics, and schooling

I was having a friendly discussion with my husband the other day, driving across Scotland in the car, with the kids in the back occasionally seeking clarification.

He was challenging my thoughts that it's problematic for someone seeking a responsible position - like an MSP for instance - to talk about their faith. In my view, while we all have opinions and ideas, if we're in a position of authority it's important to rise above them.

I wouldn't want to elect to power soeone who professes to adhere to a set of beliefs that are grounded in patriarchy and which preach homophobia and mysogyny.

I'm focusing on Christianity here, and I know that the homophobic stuff is in the old testament and with Saul/Paul, but it's still there, and isn't balanced out by the idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin. I think the patriarchy issue is mainly a fault of the Abrahamical religions - but they're rather popular - and even polytheistic religions tend to the patriarchal if we're honest.

Quite often, finding out about a candidate I'll feel pretty supportive until they say they're Christian.

I'm not saying that Christians are bad people, but if someone is telling me they're Christian because they want me to vote for them, it's not so I know they sing with others on Sundays, and they have a strong network of supportive friends (which are both marvellous things about Christianity). Rather it's short hand for explaining their beliefs, their patriarchal, homophobic beliefs.

My husband is a bigger fan of Christianity than me and he argued that my feminist beliefs were akin to religious beliefs. I think he's wrong, but I can see what he's getting at. Although right now feminism seems to me more of a process than Christianity, perhaps because it's pushing against the structures which Christianity helped to put in place. Christianity itself was radical in its day.

Someone on the radio, whose daughter sadly had inoperable cancer said that she was praying for a miracle and that her faith would get her through.

Faith is good for that stuff. That's why prayer works, that's why spells work, that's why people have lucky pants.

My husband said that of course I didn't believe in an interventionist god (cue Nick Cave and explaining to kids what interventionist means)...


...I don't believe in an interventionist god, but I do believe that prayers, magick, and lucky pants work. I don't know why, but perhaps we'll find out one day. To me it's a bit like dark matter. It fits an explanation that lets us get on with things, but we don't know if it's actually true.

Perhaps there was (perhaps there still is) a being that we don't understand. There is plenty that we don't understand. Perhaps she does intervene sometimes, but I'd imagine it more like a human giving hamsters some toilet roll to play with than some benign deity granting our wishes, but only if we're good enough and grovel enough.

I tried being Christian as a teenager. There was a boy involved. I loved the supportive network and the singing. I didn't love the judgement and control.

I've been a Wiccan too. I got on well with that, there was more of a concept of the gods as characters, not necessarily real. That magick was done by use of the will. But Wicca, like all religion, is stories strung together with an ethos.

I've since found other stories which I like better, but I still like to mark the seasons, and who doesn't love a festival? I see no reason to throw out those babies with the bathwater of religion.

But at the same time I don't want my kids groomed into Christianity at their 'non-denominational' (Church of Scotland) school. I want them to celebrate together and to learn about religion, but not from the perspective of Christians, and not singing creationist songs.

That said, I wouldn't stop the children from believing in Christianity or any other faith if they wanted to, so long as they question the stories they're told. I'm also happy for them to believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a person of faith? What do you think of faith in politics? What do you think of faith in schools? I'd love to hear some of your opinions.