A March 13 article about belief in God said it measured religiosity based on four factors: worship attendance, prayer frequency, belief in God and the self-described importance of religion in one’s life (“How many South Carolinians believe in God?”)
I submit that the more important and relevant questions revolve around how religion affects people’s thoughts and actions.
For example, almost all terrorists also believe in God, but their belief in God is part of their justification for killing. Religion contains the potential for good and for bad.
At the heart of its potential for harm is accepting ideas based solely on the authority of the religion. This leads individuals to act out of blind faith rather than logic and the search for evidence. Stem cell research, gay rights, sexuality and birth control reflect this battle between religious authority and independent choice using logic and evidence.
Fortunately, for some, religion is mainly about embracing positive feelings toward others and forming a supporting and helpful community. This can be a powerful force for good.
The next time you read a letter that references religion, ask yourself if the religion referenced is citing the authority religion claims or the content of religious love. I have seen examples of both, but it seems to me that the former tends to be more frequent than the latter.
Peter H. Swanson