Religion, what is it and how should we relate to it?

Excellent example of an extreme left wing Ideal just as extreme as the right.

Restriction on personal and parental liberties better have a damn good reason and “religion is bad” doesn’t cut it.

No evidence that religion itself is harmful - but there are some people who use it as an excuse to cause harm, which should be the focus. If you targeted people who peacefully practice their religion without causing harm to others you are in for a bad time.

Religion should not be taxed any more than a Bowls club or any other community special-interest group.

Charity status should be attainable as long as it covers an organisation doing solely charitable work, and the charity work needs to be done in a non-discriminatory way available to all and other guidelines to make sure the religious ideals are not forced upon anyway who is not willing to accept them.

Very true

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Ah, superstition. How is taxing superstition “extreme”?

ooh yes there is. … for a start

See all the links above.

My bold. Children aren’t given a choice. Again, see links above. I fail to see how promoting any superstition can be considered charitable, and worthy of tax relief. It’s called “faith” because there is no evidence.

Bring on the 21st century

… wait.

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Religion is NOT a superstition. It is a framework for a way of life for many people for which many people derive positive benefits.

I know that a lot of people have had a shitty upbringing with parents who take the whole religion thing too far (or in the name of religion) and that paints a brush against all religions in the eyes of those people (and are now bitter atheists), but there are many more people who have grown up with religion without it causing any trouble in their life.

Those articles you posted (which I would not even consider credible) are specific about Christianity. Islam has been mentioned too as far as terrorism goes. There other other religions too. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism etc.

Plenty of normal people in ALL religions (including Christian and Islam) are perfectly normal.

Even if much of what is being taught is based on fiction rather than evidence, that’s irrelevant because 1. The point are the life lessons, not the historical fact. 2. These people believe it. 3. You can’t make them change their mind 4. You will not achieve any policy success if you alienate these people.

Let’s focus on specific issues and find ways to solve them without blaming it on religion. No culture is immune to problems, we still have plenty of problems in our society in no way shape or form related to religion.

Yes it is.


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This closed mind thinking is part of the problem. It is much much, much, more than superstition… it’s a way of life for millions of people, and when you discount it’s significance as just “superstition” it really does not address the genuine issues.

Also, specifically, is a declared human right under Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we specifically target religion for a tax or some other restriction, this would impinge on this freedom.

Children should be taught critical thinking skills regardless of the religion issue, and should be part of their school curricular - but that’s a separate issue.

There’s no taxes on being a religion as far as I know but there is tax exemptions for religious organizations. Neither should exist if only because “religion” is a label that can be applied to any organization one wants making it a big breezy loophole for nefarious organizations to exploit.

As far as education, there’s many religious private schools in this country which have religious studies on their primary curriculum. I’m not sure if there’s any wrong-doing going on but there is certainly the risk of “religious freedom” blurring over into religious control when these institutions are educating children to where we’re potentially allowing thousands of years old moral tales to infringe on education in history, sciences and public health.

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I reject your assertion.

No it isn’t.
superstition [soo-per-stish-uh n]

  1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.
  2. a system or collection of such beliefs.
  3. a custom or act based on such a belief.
  4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.
  5. any blindly accepted belief or notion.
    My bold.

err … billions

I’m not discounting it’s significance. Quite the opposite in fact. What genuine issues do you have in mind?

Perhaps it’s just me but Article 18 reads like a superstition is mandatory.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;

My bold. Luckily I can change superstitions as I like.

this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief,

Perhaps if I wasn’t male …

… and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Public stoning anyone? I’m not well versed in the intricacies of Article 18 and I look forward to being corrected.

To be clear, it’s the removal of current tax exemptions for organisation claiming charitable status for promoting superstitions we’re talking about. Not a new tax.


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Well, that’s disappointing.

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Apologies for the lost post, but I have a lot to say.

I think we need to walk a path between supporting taxation for religions, which seems to have wide-spread support within the party and having basic respect for religious people, up until they try to impose their beliefs on wider society. There are plenty of religious people in the Pirate Party, they should be treated with the same respect as non-religious Pirates. You can be an Atheist without being a dick about it.

I like bits and pieces of various religions. I, at times, and depending on my mood, call myself a Discordian, a philosophical Taoist, mainly a fan of Zhuangzi (I like the underlying philosophy, as opposed to someone who believes in the mythology) and I also like the idea from Hinduism that the Universe is some giant incomprehensible being that we are all just parts of.

The way I look at it, there is little difference between believing in Australia and believing in Yahweh (The Christian god). Both are equally made up, both only have power because people believe in them.

Once upon a time humans lived in small social units, there was no need for discussions about government because they didn’t exist. You only had to deal with a handful of people on a regular basis and the social situation could be expressed in specific terms. ‘If we both hunt, what happens if we don’t catch anything? How about you hunt and I forage.’

Over time we gathered in larger groups as we domesticated animals and plants. The population could be more dense because more food could be created in the same space and enough food was created that theoretically they could stay in one place all year.

To organise groups of people various ideas were created. According to conventional wisdom, tribes were confederations of bands that shared language and mythology. Group identity was established through the mythology. Eventually these calcified into what we now call states.

Gilgamesh was thought to be a king who ruled over Sumeria about 4,500 years ago. He embodied both religion and state. His word was law in both a religious and legal sense. There was no differentiation between the two concepts.

I will use Christianity to belabour the point. Assuming Jesus existed (glossing over archaeological debates), he created a critique of both Judaism and the various gods of the Roman world, that made religion relevant to ordinary people, whereas the Roman gods were all about the Emperor and heroes. He had the idea for his new belief system, then went out to spread it. The idea existed before the religion did.

It was popular among the lower classes because it put them on the same footing in relation to god as the most powerful, or even at an advantage. ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ IMO this is why it spread like wild-fire.

Eventually Christianity took over the Roman Empire and then the remnants of the empire morphed into the Roman Catholic Church. The parallels between the Pope and Emperor are quite strong. The Pope even has the title Pontifex Maximus, which Julius Caesar first combined with being Dictator, and his adopted son who became Caesar Augustus, combined with his official title as Emperor.

In Europe Kings ruled with the blessing of the Pope for hundreds of years, until the power of the Church was challenged by Martin Luther who kicked off the Reformation. In England, King Henry the Eight split from the Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce his wife against the wishes of the Pope.

The English revolution (1640-1660) was at times about which version of Christianity was going to be the official state religion, the debates around this is what gave rise to the idea of having a secular state, something that didn’t happen until the American Revolution (US war of independence). One of the driving factors for the colonists going to the Americas was to get out from under the official Church of England, many were Puritans and their influence can still be seen in the religiosity of people in the USA today.

Just as Jesus imagined a ‘better’ version of Judaism and it took off, the founders of the USA imagined a better government than being a powerless colony of the British Empire and then willed it into existence through fighting off attempts by Britain to bring it back. There was no one dominant Church or one dominant view of religion, so they enshrined religious freedom to ensure people could follow their conscience to believe any religion or none at all.

The idea of the state preceded its existence. Rituals were born and celebrated, like the Declaration of Independence, the signing of the Constitution, the ceremonial inauguration of the President. People give their lives even today in a sacrifice for the Constitution. People are willing to kill and die because they believe in the good of the state that strongly. The US even has Capital punishment, which is actual human sacrifice to the power of the State.

The religious nature of the state is more obvious in Australia. Parliament is opened with The Mace of The House of Representatives all politicians, despite evidence to the contrary are referred to as ‘The Honourable…’.

Going to Court has even more religious overtones, the Judge sits on a platform above the rest of the Court room, they often wear ceremonial robes and wigs which makes the point that they are the representative of the state, not the individual they are when not sitting in Judgement. Laws were made up and written down before they were voted on, they too, like religion, are creations of the imagination. The Law is enforced by various legal officers who derive authority from the State. They are priests of the ‘secular’ state.

There are seven billion people on the planet, society needs to be organised. States are a fact of life for the time being, as much as they are just creations of the imagination, we derive benefit from living within these systems. That people believe that money has value means we can exchange goods and services without having to barter random items. There is utility in the belief.

The same can be said for people who believe in religion. Followers obviously perceive benefit, so who am I to argue? Again, as long as I don’t have to follow their beliefs I don’t care.

As for indoctrinating children, IMO it shouldn’t be done with the help of the state. So no scripture lessons in public schools and no money from the state for private schools. What parents do in their own home to raise their children, as long as it is legal, it is fine. Cracking down on how children are raised is pretty authoritarian, especially when you want to use the made-up belief system of the state to crack down on the made-up belief system of religion.


@Frew you have absolutely blown my mind not just with such an eloquent explanation of social constructs, but actually how much you and I think alike. I have basically been thinking like this for the last 2 years. I have never met anyone else who can see these things exactly for what they are.

I am going to look into Discordianism, this is new to me, but be forewarned that even parody religions can metastasize into a real movement. I am convinced that Scientology was started as a parody/joke but it became too successful, the top of the pyramid got insanely rich, and it got too powerful to the point that it essentially became a real thing that can’t [easily] be stopped. North Korean Juche ideology as well - maybe it has been around for so long that most people there would actually believe it by now.

For myself I am a believer that religion has the potential to be used for good as much as it has the potential to be used for evil. I identify with a religion that I believe is mostly good (Judaism), and for me it is irrelevant whether the religious texts are factually true or not, but how the message is being used and how that influences people which is most important…

Do you have any other good reading materials or books on this kind of thing?

There is plenty of stuff. Robert Anton Wilson is my favourite philosopher, although he is a bit hit and miss. His book Quantum Psychology covers ideas of social constructs and different ‘maps’ of reality. The pre-cursor to Quantum Psychology was a book called Prometheus Rising also covers the same territory, although it has more to do with the ‘8 circuits of consciousness’ model of how humans interact with the world and each other.

If you are into science fiction (being a Pirate, I assume you are), I recommend his novel with Robert Shea called The Illuminatus! Trilogy which has Discordians as the good guys, fighting the Illuminati. It is a great read and will mess with your mind, especially if you don’t go googling references as you go.

Two of Robert Anton Wilson’s influences cover the same sort of thing in quite different ways. Alfred Korzybski wrote an excellent book called Science and Sanity, which covers how language constructs reality and that a lot of the way we construct arguments can lead to wrong thinking based purely on the syntax of English (or any language). He argues that we should try to make language more accurately describe how the world works.

Finally I recommend The Ego and Its Own by Max Stirner, it was written in around 1845 and describes human constructs as ‘Spooks’ (or Geists, as he was writing in German). The basic idea is that when humans act in accordance to a set of beliefs they hold, the act as if possessed by ‘Spooks’. It reads like he had a brain snap and set about demolishing all human thought. It is a really fun read. That said, it is pure philosophy and doesn’t take into account that we are animals who have biological drives.

(edit) The historical narrative is all my own, I am a history nerd.

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