I did not plan on writing a post tonight, but after the evening I've had, I have so much I want to share. My parents are in Israel, so I came to their apartment near Jerusalem for the Sabbath. My sister and her husband live in this apartment with their 2 young daughters full time. My relationship with my sister and brother-in-law is a bit strained. They are very very religious and obviously look down on me. In spite of this, when my parents are in the country, I always try and join them for the Sabbath. I also agree to join my father at the prayer services. I don't pray or anything, but it makes in happy for me to be there next to him.
This evening we were at the prayer service and my father was reading some newsletter put out by some Rabbi. He had trouble understanding the Hebrew so he asked me to translate it. The article was basically about a hit and run incident that happened this week in the north of Israel. The article said that the driver, who fatally wounded a young woman was not found because there was no camera in the area. After the incident many people called for there to be more cameras installed throughout Israel to prevent hit and runs. But the article said that cameras are not the answer. The answer, according to the writer is religious education. His reasoning was that religious people "know" that god is always watching them and therefore do not do things like hit and runs.
Being that the driver was not caught, I do not know how the writer knows what education or background s/he had. But religious people often like to assume that other religious people are especially trustworthy and wonderful. I know my dad prefers to do business with only religious people. He often says, "He was a frum yid (religious Jew in Yiddish), so I decided to give him some business", or "so I figured I could trust him."
Later on, the Rabbi gave a sermon that basically said that Jewish law is about morals, as opposed to secular law which is about stability, and a system of rewards and punishments. He stated that in the 10 Commandments it simply says, "Thou shall not kill." It does not give a reason or a punishment. It just gives a moral statement. He went on to say "even non Jews know that killing is wrong, but they don't do it because they don't want to get caught and punished." Never mind the belittling of non Jews. I am wondering, if this speaker had read the article my dad had given me to translate. The article said, fear of being "caught" by an all powerful god keeps Jews from doing wrong. Now this Rabbi was saying Jewish law was not about punishment, it was just about doing what was right.
The truth is, that both religious and non religious people do bad things. I know religious people that do the right thing because they want to get reworded and go to heaven, and I know those who do what is right simply because it is right. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that religious people would behave more morally because of their religious belief. The US is the most religious nation in the Western World and it has one if the highest crime rates. Religion simply is not an effective source of morality or a deterrent from doing wrong. I do not know why religious people continue to be "shocked" every time a religious person is arrested or accused of wrong doing. Some people are evil. It does not matter if they believe in god or do not. Stop with the elitism.