Jon Stewart on Religion & Morality

Jon Stewart recently had an interview with Sojourners, a “progressive” Christian organization. Here’s an excerpt about a part on religion:

Religion makes sense to me. I have trouble with dogma more than I have trouble with religion. I think the best thing religion does is give people a sense of place, purpose, and compassion. My quibble with it is when it’s described as the only way to have those things instilled.

You can be moral and not be religious, you can be compassionate, you can be empathetic—you can have all those wonderful qualities. When it begins to be judged as purely based on religion, then you’re suggesting a world where Star Jones goes to heaven but Gandhi doesn’t.

Like anything else that’s that powerful—that is touching that deep into the epicenter of the human psyche and our fears, it can be misused. I’m probably much more responsive in a bad way to dogma and to extremism than to religion.

When people say things like, “I found God and that helped me stop drinking,” I say, “Great! More power to you. Just know that some people stop drinking without it.” It’s when it gets into the realm of “This is the only way to salvation”—that’s when I think, “Okay, now we’re getting into a problem.”

I agree — when religion helps someone overcome a problem, I’m glad they found help. But it’s not the only way to fix problems.

And if religion helps someone be a better person, I’m glad they found help. But faith isn’t a requirement to be a good person — at least for some of us!

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