It seems to me that some sort of treaty between individuals of different faiths, including non-believers (aka atheists), could help members of all religions unite against greater threats.
This initiative would mainly be intended for individuals rather than religious leaders, as the leaders generally have their own unspoken agendas and are far too intertwined with the survival of their core dogma to be able to think as independent individuals – though if any religious leaders signed on, of course, that would be a terrific bonus.
I posted a version of this in Issuepedia:Proposals/Interfaith Treaty on 2011-03-11. Below is the draft from which that version was created, along with additional notes.
We the undersigned are in agreement on the following:
- That religious extremism is a problem;
- We define religious extremism to include:
- The advocacy of violence against others who do not believe the same as you do
- The promise of eternal happiness in exchange for committing harm to others
- Any claim that religious law is supreme over secular law, or that believers are entitled to violate secular law if their religion claims this is acceptable
- Any claim that believers of a particular religion are morally superior to believers in another religion solely because of their religious affiliation
- Any claim that believers of a particular religion are entitled to disrespect other individuals solely because they do not believe the same religion
- Any claim that any religious law should be obeyed without regard to the reasonableness of that law, or without consideration for the harm that obeying it might cause
We therefore, unite, and urge our governmental and spiritual leaders to do likewise, in condemning all religiously-based violence and threats, whatever the cause, including:
- The use of deadly force against civilians where no formal state of war exists between the two parties (terrorism)
- Attacks on abortion clinics, or upon those who work there, or upon on women who seek abortions, regardless of the morality of abortion
- Attacks on individuals because of their sexuality, regardless of whether or not you believe non-heterosexual orientation is "sinful" or against God's wishes,
- Attacks on individuals or groups because of their race
- Attacks on individuals or groups because of their religion or beliefs
- Attacks on individuals or groups for any reason not firmly grounded in rational thought
- ...including justifications solely based on a supposed understanding or interpretation of "God's will"
...where we define "attack" to mean any kind of physical violence or harm, or threat of same.
I originally wanted to include something about scriptural inerrancy doctrines, but (aside from the fact that this would make the Pope a religious extremist) I can't easily argue that such doctrine is unarguably harmful – as long as scripture is not allowed to override reality and reason ("...without regard to the reasonableness of that law..."). Perhaps this can go in a separate, more hard-line resolution about dangerous (but not terrorist-level) religious practices.
Other possibilities for that resolution: condemnation of compartmentalization of beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, religious indoctrination of children (i.e. telling them that one religion is "right" and the others are "wrong" rather than saying "here's what we believe, and here's why; when you grow up, you can decide whether you agree")
I also wanted to include something about destruction of art, but (a) the line gets awfully fuzzy* and (b) even destroying 900-year-old statues is still somehow not quite the same level of badness as setting off a bomb in a crowded subway station.
- More on that fuzzy line: I would condemn burning books and Beatle records, but not necessarily blowing up disco records in Comiskey park (although I'm not crazy about the latter either). I would condemn destroying 900-year-old statues of Buddha, but not necessarily toppling statues of Lenin. I could justify each of these distinctions, but it starts to get rather complicated and arbitrary and okay, let's just drop that.
Query: Can we somehow wedge in something about condemning claims that dissention is equivalent to terrorism? This isn't strictly religiously-based, it's just used a lot by religious-authoritarian types...