This article in the box below (written by me) was originally published almost two years ago, May 9th, 2005, shortly before OpEdNEws was converted to a database driven system. What with CNN"s Christianne Amanpour special on Religious Warriors, I thought it was a good time to resurrect it.
I believe that a short collection of basic laws or rules need to be developed that civilized, mature, evolved religions all subscribe to. These rules should aim toward supporting humanity, earth and life with respect for differences.
Here's my first pass at putting some of these laws together.
1) Any religion must respect other religions which follow this rule.
In other words, if your religion respects other religions then it deserves the respect of other religions. Religions which do NOT respect other religions do not deserve respect.
2-No religion is better than any other religion which follows rule one. Certain religions may be better for an individual, family, tribe or community, but this does not apply to all people, not in a neighborhood, town, city, state or nation.
3-No religion has the right to force or insist that its values and rules of culture and behavior be required of people who do not sign on, buy into or agree with that religion-- whether the person is a member of the relgion or not. On the other hand, a specific church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc. has the right to set requirements for its members.
These three seem to be the most basic to me. I realize that some of the sects in some of the biggest religions might reject some of these rules.
Here are some additional rules I think worth considering.
4) assuming rule number 2, no religion should set rules that aim to maximally expand their numbers.
5) Evangelism that aims at destroying other cultures is unacceptable. Evangelism that does not take precautions for communication of diseases is unacceptable.
My own background: Born Jewish, now practicing (both) as a Jew, (and in an interfaith church) but my prayers are simple, to drop my barriers that keep me from being connected to the universal consciousness. God is universal. It is our own consciousness that separates us from God. When I can do that, I can have conversations with God. I've posted some of them at www.talkingtogod.com I believe that people have the god-given capacity to discover different paths to God and they should all be respected, based on the rules described above.
I'd love to hear your comments, suggestions, criticisms.
I should add that every one of the faiths Amanpour is covering-- Islam, Judaism and Christianity-- have millions of people who live their lives following these "Laws for All Religions." I think they are living lives more consistent with the original teachings of their faiths. Those who fail the test-- they live the rules that later interpreters and promoters of some versions of the religion (as opposed to the teachings of the faith's founders) created.
The human species needs some rules to survive. These seem like reasonable ones that could help all the people on the planet co-exist while honoring each others' differences.