Why does it matter what people believe?

I'll eventually work this into the "Why I engage in religious debates" essay, but for right now:

Why does it matter what people believe?

Because their beliefs inform their actions. And not just actions that harm themselves alone. Actions that harm society.

The outcome of the Prop 8 ballot measure in California is one glaring example.

Prop 8

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.

INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

  • Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
  • Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The ballot measure passed and is now a constitutional amendment to the state of California's constitution. The California constitution now officially discriminates against same-sex couples.

How did religious beliefs apply to this passing? Take for example, Jeffrey Jackson.

Jeffrey Jackson of Lynwood said he struggled with how he would vote on Proposition 8. On the one hand, as a black man casting his ballot for Obama, he said he had a deep and personal reverence for civil rights. On the other, he is a Pentecostal Christian.

In the end, it was that religious faith that guided his decision. "It's straight biblical," said Jackson, 46. "It's just not right." -- LA Times: Backers focused Prop. 8 battle beyond marriage

A man who claims to have a a deep and personal reverence for civil rights voted to make the California constitution officially discriminate against same-sex couples. A man who was inclined to fairness had his thinking overturned by his religious beliefs.

People didn't just come to this conclusion on their own, however. Here's a link to my copy of

Church & Ministry Endorsers of Prop 8

Supernatural faith-based religions create undue fears and worries in the minds of children and adults; worries about things that don’t exist. They promote magical and superstitious thinking; they cause their adherents to give respect and credence to religious leaders and religious ideas for no good reason other than blind faith.  This blind faith often leads to terrible results -- like the outcome of the Prop 8 vote.

Engaging religious people in conversation and debate helps to counter these negatives. There are many positive reasons to engage in religious debates, as well; from honing your interpersonal skills, to alleviating another person from an oppressive doctrine. Conversation and dialogue are fundamental tools for progress.

I hope you join me in spreading the conversation to all corners of your world.

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