We ignore religious teachings and resulting tolerance at our peril

We ignore religious teachings and resulting tolerance at our peril, by Angela Shanahan.

­Religion is the prime motivating force in the world: not politics, not ideology, but religion. Religion ­informs people’s consciences. It moulds our moral outlook and our daily ethics. A people’s spiritual roots govern their lives, and ­religion is usually the source of a nation’s culture.

In the religiously illiterate West we often find this fact hard to swallow. Religion is considered just part of the philosophical free-for-all, tolerated as a social benefit because it runs schools and hospitals or as a private pastime for the less “enlightened”. However the idea that reli­gion provides anything more than superficial comfort and nice music at Christmas seems to many people an exaggeration of its ­import­ance.

However, Judeo-Christian precepts found in the commandments of Moses and the New Testament gospels are the foundation of our morality, the ethical basis of our law and our tolerant social compact. Lately all that has been ignored in favour of the secularist Enlightenment, which, at least in the case of the French version, wasn’t always so enlightened.

However, if we look outside the confines of the Western world, we can see religion as an active force that affects everything in public life, and politics and ideology are often mere offshoots of religious imperatives. Predictably, one can see militant Islam as a prime example.

hat-tip Stephen Neil