by Karen I. Shragg
Beliefs matter. Believing that we have a god-given right to subjugate animals because of biblically-deemed superiority has devastating effects on the animal world I hold dear. I care what others believe and do not respect beliefs until they are fully vetted. I do not hold them sacred until I measure the results of those beliefs by what happens in our society as a result.
We need to emphasize “freedom from religion” as our utmost value. “Freedom of religion” is not enough. With free reign to think and critique religious dogma we will realize that rules regarding abortion and birth control were put in for political and not religious reasons. Our world would be less populated without religion to dictate family size and reproductive practice. That world would have more biodiversity, more resources, and less war.
When people realize how they are controlled by silly rules and threats of going to a place after death that cannot be proven, some might see what fools they have been. Women who have gotten so worn down without control over their own lives might hold religion responsible for their unfair status.
If we truly believe in working to bring about progressive change, religion must go on trial. Progress can only happen when we let go of rules meant to give the already powerful more power. Religious stories would be deemed ridiculous if discussed in the context of their negative impact on the world. Just tell a story about Eve being created from Adam’s rib and the justifications for women as second class citizens are solidified. Just tell a story about the sacredness of a temple and watch how many are killed in the process of trying to control it. Tell the story about how the world’s resources were created for us to use and watch us use it all up. Beliefs have consequences and before I join you in your beliefs, or even respect them, they have to go on trial.
Karen I. Shragg is a naturalist, writer and overpopulation activist. She joined the advisory board of World Population Balance in 2004, and regularly delivers lectures on overpopulation to local, state and national groups. Karen holds an Ed.D. from the University of St. Thomas in critical pedagogy and is director of the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, Minnesota. Her books include, Move Upsteam: A Call to Solve Overpopulation, Grieving Outside the Box, and the Nature’s Yucky! children’s series. She lives in Bloomington, Minnesota.