Saturday, February 16, 2008

What is your religion?

One of the things that strikes me as somewhat odd in America is the almost Talibanish national obsession with religion. Well, not really religion in general but just one particular persuasion, Christianity. The majority of Americans are religious to the extent that an ordinary Singaporean who does not share their beliefs would find it almost fanatical and irrational. I've had one who've tried to convert me, very gently, but he inevitably failed.

However, I've long since learned that amongst Americans, there is a strong social stigma against people who have no religion; 'atheist' is a taboo word in many social circles. The lack of belief is practically synonymous with immorality in this country. So, I try not to mention that, for most of my life, that is after the age of seven, I've been utterly irreligious. Actually, I wasn't very religious before the age of seven. I only went to church because my mother's mother insisted that she go to church and that we were to accompany her. After my maternal grandmother's death, we simply stopped going. My mother and her brother were probably not very ethusiastic churchgoers to start with. My father's family is Buddhist but Buddhism is something I know very little about. As a result of both my parents belonging to different faiths, religion wasn't and still isn't something much talked about at home. It was something that other families do but ours don't.

Personally, based on my personal observation of Americans, I don't think that there is a particularly strong correlation between religiosity and human decency. There are some very nice, unselfish and helpful people in my building and they sometimes schedule their experiments on Sunday mornings. There are decent people of every and no persuasion. So, for me personally, it's hard to accept the idea that you cannot have morality without religion.

Besides, it is so damn obvious that those holy books were penned by humans.

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