(I originally wrote this on Roger Carden’s Facebook page, but it got realy long, so I am posting it here, instead.)
I’ve mentioned this once or twice before. I’ll mention it again, because I think it’s something people don’t usually think about. I could be wrong, but it’s my dime, so here it goes.
There is some overlap between those who agree with me on “issues” and people whose company I enjoy, but it’s by no means 1:1 correlation. It is not necessary to despise those with whom we disagree, but by the same token, it’s by no means certain (for me, anyway) that I’ll like someone who happens to agree with me.
Personally, I’m either agnostic, atheist, or pagan, depending on how whimsical I’m feeling and how dark it is when I take out the trash (it’s a long way, through lightless woods — it’s the scariest thing I do in my day-to-day life). There are people I consider friends (real friends, not just a-name-I-see-online friends) who are Jewish, Buddhist, Quaker, Mormon, and yes, Christian. There are people I consider friends who are agnostic or atheist, as well. And of course there are people whose metaphysical framework is completely unknown to me.
There are also people wearing all of those labels whose company I avoid.
While I personally see no correlation between people who profess to follow [insert metaphysical framework here] and people who are pleasant, honorable, and interesting, I don’t see an inverse correlation either. There might be religions that serve as accurate predictors of the behaviour of people that follow them, but if so, I’ve not seen it.
I don’t believe that people’s behaviour is based on their religion. I believe that people choose their religion based on their character. A pleasant and honorable person raised Shinto will find Shinto explanations for their actions. A hateful and close-minded person raised Shinto will, too. If you’re kind, or unkind; honorable, or dishonorable; compassionate, or hateful; reasonable, or unreasonable — I really don’t care why. Not much, anyway.
I admire kind, honorable, compassionate, reasonable people, and I try to be more like them. This was not always the case. I hope that this indicates some marginal improvement in my own character.