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Why I Write

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

My latest offering to the Letters page of a local weekly newspaper here in Maine was published today. It is reprinted below for your amusement. Many on this site have asked what sort of responses I get to my letters. Usually, there is no response, and when there is a response it is almost always by a fundamentalist nut case who makes such a fool of himself that I feel no need to respond to him.

In the most recent such case, the man mentioned that he had told me over the phone that a witch’s coven was located in a neighboring town and I could have checked it out myself but that I had just hung up on him. What he said was true. I have yet to waste my time checking out his story. He also said that if sodomy was a capitol crime, as it should be, then there would be no AIDS. He and his superstitious madness is one of the reasons I keep writing these things.

Why I Write

Recently a friend mentioned that he had discussed with others some of my letters to this newspaper concerning religion, and that they thought I was out of line and should just let people believe what they want (and he agreed). First, let me say that I have not shared his name with anyone else and I don’t intend to. He has a right to privacy.

American TheocracyImage by elycefeliz via Flickr
Well, if I have stepped on some toes, that’s unfortunate, but I simply cannot accept that religion deserves a free pass. It plays way too big a role in our society. If religious opinions were kept in the churches, then I would keep my opinions to myself. But that’s clearly not how the world works.

To those who think I should just shut up about religion, please allow me to explain why I must respectfully decline.

When people bring their religious beliefs into the public square, into the public schools, and into the voting booth, it is both unreasonable and unfair to expect those with other beliefs to just shut up.

Should I just shut up about Maine’s gay marriage law being overturned by religious forces because the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination? That same Bible also says eating shellfish is an abomination, but everyone ignores that. Am I wrong to ask that people use some consistent logic in the voting booth? It’s my state, too.

Should I just shut up about the religious right pushing their “values” candidates – claiming they are the right people to lead our country because they believe in the supernatural? Given the widespread media coverage of clergy child abuse it should be obvious to everyone by now that belief in the supernatural does not guarantee sound moral character. And people do need to know this. Nor are all people of sound moral character believers in the supernatural. And people need to know that, too.

Should I just shut up when I see huge swaths of public policy in this country - not just on same-sex marriage, but on abortion and stem-cell research and sex education in schools - being based, not on evidence of which policies do and don't work and what is and isn't true about the world, but on religious texts written thousands of years ago?

Why are some views alright for public consumption, but not mine? I can respect a person’s right to air her views whether I happen to agree with them or not. Why should my views be treated any differently?

Isn’t it obvious that our world is far from perfect and nothing changes if no one speaks up? Now, if some of you still think my opinions don’t deserve a hearing, just because you disagree with them, or because you think people should be able to promote religious agendas without having to defend them, then I am forced to conclude that you just aren’t interested in playing fair.

Galen Rose