This Sunday we’ll look at the basic differences in attitudes and beliefs that lead those on the religious right and left to embrace their respective values and to translate those values into specific social positions. Given that this weekend St. Louis is hosting an anti-gay conference by religious right groups, we’ll also examine the real-life consequences of religious beliefs on people’s lives, as well as why the religious right is so threatened by the women’s and gay rights movements, and how Ethical Culture as part of the religious left can respond to the critical civil rights issues of our time.
There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.
The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity.”
– Rabbi Sherwin Wine