Re: Religion and ethnocentrism

Brian Michael Howell (bmhowell@ARTSCI.WUSTL.EDU)
Sat, 13 Apr 1996 13:16:53 -0500

This same argument could be made for liguistic diversity, ethnic
diversity and all the other things which have been used as the basis of
"us-vs.-them" views of the world. I would suggest that perhaps there IS
an "us" and a "them". Is this a bad thing? Yes, it can be used for ill,
as you point out, but this is a kind of "slippery slope" arguement that
argues a view suggesting the very possibility of something bad suggests
the problem of the institution in question, rather than the bad use
itself (that was muddled. sorry.)

In other words, your arguement doesn't really suggest that there is
something inherent in the world religions that necessitates intolerance
for other ethnic groups. Particularly once we move away from an
essentializing notion of ethnicity.

> some-of-us-are-saved-and-others-are-not. Even if this takes the form of pity,
> or sympathy, or even samaritin-esque "love", it cannot help but propagate an
> us-and-them mentality. Even if the mentality is us-saving-them as opposed to
> the
> more common "us versus them" mentality, it is harmful. The mentality of "us and
> them" is the first step necessary before all hate-crimes of all types. I am
> NOT saying that it _implies_ hate, but only that you cannot have hate without
> it, and, therefore, it is a VERY dangerous mentality to propagate.
> Hence, it is only a religion which makes no such "us and them" division
> (and I cannot name a single one. Even Buddhists have enlightened folk and those
> who are not; even Wiccan belief knows that there are those who believe and those
> who don't; and even atheism divides people into believers and non) which can
> claim complete innocence.
> I am NOT saying that these religions are wrong. I believe that, in
> theory, religion could be without these problems. I know that religion is
> responsible for a huge amount of beauty and good in the world, but, looking back
> on history and seeing that much of the great evil in the world has also been
> tied to religion, I can only say that religion is, at least, very dangerous.
> And the link between religion and intolerance, while certainly not
> causal, is not zero, either.
> I hope I have not offended anyone. Please check with me before assuming
> that I have said (_meant_) something that you find offensive.
> ______________________________________________________________________________
> Ben Spatz
> Cambridge, MA (617) 661-2430
> ______________________________________________________________________________
> "Infelicity is is involved in our corporeal nature." - Samuel Johnson
> "Which way I fly is hell. Myself am hell." - John Milton
> "Look within. Be still." - the Buddha