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Must you be religious to have morals?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've often thought of this question, and I watched a TV program tonight called "Revelations" - based on prophecies in the bible (just Christian, correct?) And was wondering if that those people who do not follow a religion of some sort to be moral people? Also what about those who follow an alternate religion - as long as part of that philosophy is to "harm none".

Inquiring minds need to ask!
post #2 of 25
I certainly think that non-religious people can have morals and do good works. But then again I'm a Quaker and we tend to be pretty liberal- I would even go so far as to say that those who are doing good in this world are acting out God's will, regardless of religious affliation or lack-there-of.
post #3 of 25
The moral stance of a religious person is no doubt governed or at least informed by his/her religion. But I do not believe that it is necessary for one to subscribe to any religion in order to have a moral stance. Religion is not the seat of morality, even if it is often the soapbox thereof. And it is entirely possible to have a well-developed set of moral values, without it having been dictated by some religious group. If a religious group can come up with a set of moral values, so can a thinking individual.
post #4 of 25
Speaking from personal experience, and having lived amongst a relatively large number of "devout" people from different religions, I can say I've met more secular, non-religious yet spiritual people who have better morals, are more compassionate and less hypocritical. But those are only my observations.
post #5 of 25
No I do not believe that no religion means no morals - an extreme flip side to this argument.

I am not religious - I have tried to have religious beliefs in the past and was brought up on regular attendance at Church and Sunday School - but it's just not something I feel deep inside. At least not in the way that it was presented to me. I have great respect for people who do have deep faith - it must be a wonderful thing.

But, I do try to lead a moral life. I try to treat others as I would wish to be treated myself, to be caring and compassionate and to understand others, even if they do wrong. Although, ultimately, it may not always be possible to reach that understanding.

Consequently, I do believe it is possible to lead a moral life without having religious beliefs.
post #6 of 25
I've known some "wealthy" people religiously go to church, yet lead immoral lives not approved by their "religion".
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am happy to see the results so far. I too grew up with religion, but just didn't "feel" it. But what led me to ask this question is that some people and in the news, act as if not being religious is a bad thing and that just because of this fact you must be a-moral. Thanks for helping to restore my "faith" in humanity.
post #8 of 25
I fell away from religion early on, but see myself as a very compassionate person, more so than people I know who are highly devout. It angers me where I hear that only people of faith have a corner on morality. There are too many religions who think they are better than others, which to me is a highly arrogant trait.

My husband has a great story about attending his church as a child. People would attend services, then on the drive out of the parking lot, would cuss and flip each other off as the fought to exit the parking lot first.

No, attending church does not make you a moral person.
post #9 of 25
Lets follow the logic here:

Religions teach morals. So therefore people who follow the religions are the only people with morals and people who don't follow a religion have no morals.

That arguement is as faulty as saying:

John has blond hair, therefore all men named John will have blonde hair and no other man can have blonde hair.

I also started in religious classes in first grade and went all the way thru to 6th grade. In highschool I sang with the church choir and went to church every week. But I always felt the hypocracy of the church, which I won't get into. I drifted in my own spirituality for years. I had major debates over the existance of God and religion. Am I an immoral person because I don't follow a major religion?? No. My morals came from the teachings of my elders...my parents and grandparents. My grandfather was a strict catholic. His family went to church every Sunday and fasted on all the religious holidays. But after church, he'd walk the family back home, then go next door to his mistress's house and spend the day with her and his second family.
post #10 of 25
My boyfriend is not what one would call "religious." He has a faint belief in a higher power, but the hypocritical "religious" people who preach, preach, preach yet live immoral lives made him very weary of religion. That said, he is absolutely, 100% the most moral person I have ever met. He is an incredible example of this very topic and I could not be more proud of him
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47
The moral stance of a religious person is no doubt governed or at least informed by his/her religion. But I do not believe that it is necessary for one to subscribe to any religion in order to have a moral stance. Religion is not the seat of morality, even if it is often the soapbox thereof. And it is entirely possible to have a well-developed set of moral values, without it having been dictated by some religious group. If a religious group can come up with a set of moral values, so can a thinking individual.
Well said, Fran!
post #12 of 25
I seem to find that people that aren't religious are willing to be more moral, because they have no one to ask for forgiveness of but themselves...

religious people (around here anyway) seem to feel that they can do as they like, because they can ask God for his forgiveness for being amoral.

as someone that doesn't follow the standard religious precepts, and was raised in a house of mixed beliefs, I didn't have anyone to answer to for my actions other than myself (and when I was small, my parents, who taught me all my morals, and I daresay I came out pretty good for it.)
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlecat
I seem to find that people that aren't religious are willing to be more moral, because they have no one to ask for forgiveness of but themselves...

religious people (around here anyway) seem to feel that they can do as they like, because they can ask God for his forgiveness for being amoral.

as someone that doesn't follow the standard religious precepts, and was raised in a house of mixed beliefs, I didn't have anyone to answer to for my actions other than myself (and when I was small, my parents, who taught me all my morals, and I daresay I came out pretty good for it.)
Not to get into a religious debate, because I don't think that's what this question is about, I would nonetheless suggest that this generalization is no better than the one being questioned.

I think morality or lack thereof is simply not governed by whether a person is religious or not. Perhaps it's just more obvious that a person is acting immorally or amorally, when he/she is perceived as being "religious". And certainly I can understand why such action on the part of a so-called religious person would be more distasteful. But that doesn't mean that all or even most religious people are like that -- any more than it does among non-religious people.
post #14 of 25
Interestingly enough, there's a huge debate about this very question going on in Berlin, a very international city, right now. The Berlin Senate (the equivalent of a state legislature, as Berlin enjoys the status of a "city-state") just approved a required "Ethics" course for all students, thus reducing any courses dealing with individual religions to an "elective" status. Religion is a required course in German schools, and the "state-approved churches" are in an uproar about the Berlin Senate's decision. I personally feel that an individual can develop moral standards without the help of approved beliefs dictated by any "only true religion". Religion itself is a man-made concept, as far as I can judge. To use a trite phrase, "Man proposes, and God disposes". It's rather presumptuous of people to claim that they know what God, if he/she exists, intended.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47

I think morality or lack thereof is simply not governed by whether a person is religious or not.
Right on!
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
Interestingly enough, there's a huge debate about this very question going on in Berlin, a very international city, right now. The Berlin Senate (the equivalent of a state legislature, as Berlin enjoys the status of a "city-state") just approved a required "Ethics" course for all students, thus reducing any courses dealing with individual religions to an "elective" status. Religion is a required course in German schools, and the "state-approved churches" are in an uproar about the Berlin Senate's decision. I personally feel that an individual can develop moral standards without the help of approved beliefs dictated by any "only true religion". Religion itself is a man-made concept, as far as I can judge. To use a trite phrase, "Man proposes, and God disposes". It's rather presumptuous of people to claim that they know what God, if he/she exists, intended.
I'd agree that religion is man-made. It's a convenient gathering of like-minded people to acknowledge/worship/consult whatever higher power they identify in common. If one doesn't believe there is a higher power or isn't convinced by any of the available options, one has no reason to align oneself with any such group. But that doesn't mean that individual cannot distinguish right from wrong and form a moral value system. And none of them -- groups or individuals -- has a monopoly on accurate interpretation of the intentions of that higher power.

Tricia, I take it that the new Ethics course will replace existing religion courses as the required course -- but those will still be available to students who wish to take them? I wonder what shape this Ethics course will take. If it is one course for all students, then it will need either to encompass the teachings of all the churches whose courses it replaces or to be very careful to avoid any religious slant. That's a tall order. Perhaps that's what's got the churches in an uproar.

But if their own courses are still available to the students, they haven't lost their opportunity to reach them -- and I guess my other question would be: What ever happened to teaching religion IN CHURCH? Surely they should not be relying exclusively on the schools to teach religious education for them? I don't have any particular problem with religion in schools, provided it's done sensitively, but neither do I think it's the school's JOB and sole responsibility to provide religious education.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
It's rather presumptuous of people to claim that they know what God, if he/she exists, intended.
Well put.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47
What ever happened to teaching religion IN CHURCH?
Again, well put.

Being a non-religious person, I'm reassured and glad to see the results of this poll.

If I may for a second.... It might be a tad off the subject, but I feel the need to vent a bit atop my soapbox.

Why is it that because I don't allign myself with the American so-called "religious right" and "values voters", I am made to feel that I have no morals? Just because I don't have the same belief system doesn't mean that I don't have values and morals. That movement really makes my blood boil. It's like they're implying that they have a monopoly on good, and everyone who disagrees with them is amoral and bad, destined for their hell. They have such political power right now, and want to legislate their belief system to everyone in the nation, whether everyone follows their system or not. How is that right? How is that upholding the Constitution of the United States, which contains a clause for the speration of church and state? How does that allow for majority rule while protecting the rights and voice of the minority?
Please understand that I am not talking about all religious people...just the "religious right/values voter" movement and the politicians associated therewith.
Okay...I'm done for now. I will step off the soapbox.
Sorry...that was really bugging me and I had to vent.
post #18 of 25
hmm
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47
Tricia, I take it that the new Ethics course will replace existing religion courses as the required course -- but those will still be available to students who wish to take them? I wonder what shape this Ethics course will take. If it is one course for all students, then it will need either to encompass the teachings of all the churches whose courses it replaces or to be very careful to avoid any religious slant. That's a tall order. Perhaps that's what's got the churches in an uproar.
Right - Ethics will be required every year, and kids can elect to take specific theology classes. There aren't any detailed course descriptions or syllabi on the relevant Web site yet, but the courses will supposedly deal with all religions, not just Christian ones, and put a lot of emphasis on the teachings of various philosophers. The plan is to have individual teachers spend a few weeks with some classes, and then to rotate.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
Right - Ethics will be required every year, and kids can elect to take specific theology classes. There aren't any detailed course descriptions or syllabi on the relevant Web site yet, but the courses will supposedly deal with all religions, not just Christian ones, and put a lot of emphasis on the teachings of various philosophers. The plan is to have individual teachers spend a few weeks with some classes, and then to rotate.
Well, that's got potential...as long as it doesn't become "one size fits all" (as or a friend of ours expresses such things: a fit-all that don't fit ****-all.)
post #21 of 25
I am not a religious person at all. I do try to treat people the way I would like to be treated and I think I am a very moral person. If I can't say something nice, I tend to not speak at all. I don't think religion has anything to do with common decency and respect for others.
post #22 of 25
I am an atheist and don't think you need to be religious to have good morals. I have seen lots of so called religious people whose morals are in the gutter. I don't think of my self as better than anyone because of what I believe, but just because I don't believe in your god doesn't make me a bad person. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. My children are taught to be humane to every animal, and give respect to those people who deserve it. I teach my children about different cultures and how we should respect things even though we don't agree with them or are different from us. I don't steal or hurt people, but I don't need to be a believer to be good, I just need to be a good person.
My friends brother is very ignorant. One day last year we were at a bbq and he was talking to my husband about he couldn't be friends with a atheist because they are all bad and believe in the devil and stuff. I told him well thats good because i am an atheist. I didn't say anything else because he is very ignorant. We still see eachother at outings but I know enough to stay away from those type of people. peace..
post #23 of 25
thank you for saying so... i seem to be the same

QUOTE=turtlecat]I seem to find that people that aren't religious are willing to be more moral, because they have no one to ask for forgiveness of but themselves...

religious people (around here anyway) seem to feel that they can do as they like, because they can ask God for his forgiveness for being amoral.

as someone that doesn't follow the standard religious precepts, and was raised in a house of mixed beliefs, I didn't have anyone to answer to for my actions other than myself (and when I was small, my parents, who taught me all my morals, and I daresay I came out pretty good for it.)[/quote]
post #24 of 25
Anyone who believes in the devil is not an atheist! But seriously, there are good people and bad people who are religious and also among those who are not. I have met some people who wear their religious morals rather lightly, saying 'God will forgive me' for doing something immoral. And some atheists who will get away with anything they can as long as they are not caught. I believe in teaching children the precepts of any major religion as it is easier to get morals into their little heads that way, and also (and more important in my book) because that is often the best way to teach them the history of their culture, as long as it is done in a tolerant way. I am often appalled at the ignorance of those with no religious education who are so narrow minded and have no knowledge of quotations or art or architecture - I know this is a generalisation, but it happens. I left religion in my teens and have never gone back, yet I think I am a moral and compassionate person.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoe'n'MissKitty
Why is it that because I don't allign myself with the American so-called "religious right" and "values voters", I am made to feel that I have no morals? Just because I don't have the same belief system doesn't mean that I don't have values and morals. That movement really makes my blood boil. It's like they're implying that they have a monopoly on good, and everyone who disagrees with them is amoral and bad, destined for their hell. They have such political power right now, and want to legislate their belief system to everyone in the nation, whether everyone follows their system or not. How is that right? How is that upholding the Constitution of the United States, which contains a clause for the speration of church and state? How does that allow for majority rule while protecting the rights and voice of the minority?
Please understand that I am not talking about all religious people...just the "religious right/values voter" movement and the politicians associated therewith.
Just wanted to add to that: You hit the nail on the head!
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