“The fact that any sort of religious faith was so disdained at Harvard and so important to the poor – not just in Haiti but elsewhere, too – made me even more convinced that faith must be something good.”
I have thought a lot about the role of religion and churches in social movements and justice. I am perplexed by the situation of so many activists being not only atheist, but rather anti-religion. How can anyone be a leader to people if they don’t at least respect their very basic beliefs about existence? I have always been very wary of this mentality of organized religion being the root of the world’s problems because I really only see it among academics. And anything that is primarily among academics is something I have trouble taking seriously because it’s usually a belief that’s rooted in privilege.
Churches have been so important to progress, historically. Their role in the civil rights movement and the sanctuary movement and their role behind very progressive, activist pro-immigration movement in Tucson is undeniable. Paul Farmer, while working in Haiti, works with Voodoo priests rather than against them, finding that blaming the failures of public health on people’s belief system is actually a cop-out. People are capable of complexity, and with the right encouragement and support, will accept science-based cures as well as traditional/spiritual ones.
Is religion really as toxic to society as so many people seem to believe it is?