Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Religious Marketplace

I listened to a brief interview with Jonathan Haidt in which he was asked if religion does more harm or good. He hesitated briefly because his answer was yes and no. He observed that in places like the United States, where there is robust competition among the different religious sects, religious people contribute more to society in a number of measurable ways than their non-religious counterparts. In places where one religion has a dominant control of society, the resulting evils can be very great.

Are Utah Mormons better people because they feel like their religion is in competition, even though it is the dominant religion in the area? I think the answer is yes and no. When that competition inspires them to choose to be a light to the world, it's clearly yes--institutionalized gambling, that we know makes most of its money off of the poor, less educated, and vulnerably compulsive, is still illegal there, thank God. And I love their example of housing the homeless. But not all the examples are good, of course. Would they be worse people if they felt like they could control society more? I expect so.

I don't have much more to say on it. I hope that when we find ourselves in any position of power that we actively seek compromise with those without or with less. I believe this means relinquishing some of our power and turning over a portion of real control to those who are differ from us and who are vulnerable. I can say right now that they will sometimes do things we don't want. But I truly believe it will make us better people and it will make for us a better world.

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