Mac Musings

Religion on the Mac Web

Daniel Knight - 2002.07.15 -

I was rather surprised to find a Mac website that had gone virtually unnoticed since it was launched in December 2001 (it has served 53,000 pages over 7 months) - and that "mike" had posted an editorial decrying religious expression on Mac-related websites.

Here's what he posted last week:

Mac news without the religious slant

Certain other Mac sites seem to take every opportunity to write about their religious views, which I feel has no place in the Mac press.

I'll say it - I don't care much for religion. This country was founded on the concept of separation of church and state, which I see being seriously eroded by the current administration. Although this country's founding fathers were mostly religious people, they envisioned the United States as a secular society, not a theocracy.

When the government & church are one and the same, you have societies like Israel & Saudi Arabia, where individual rights are non-existant when they go against the state-approved religion and anyone who doesn't believe in that religion is a second class citizen.

One thing that makes the US unique is that we have the right to practice - or not practice - any religion we chose. I have friends that are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Neo-Pagan, and Sikh, as well as Jewish & Christian. Many of them came to this country because they were free to practice their religion. Although I don't really follow any orthodox beliefs, I identify mostly with Zen Buddhism.

I also believe that the words "Under God" don't belong in the pledge of allegiance. They were added in 1954 to separate us from the "godless commies". I also feel that forced recitation of the Pledge itself is misguided. Patriotism should come from the heart. Being forced to recite meaningless words doesn't make someone a better patriot.

OK, now that I've said that, I'll never mention religion here again. If you're tired of the other sites talking about religion, this is the place for you.

I'm assuming these are the thoughts of Mike Cohen, half of the staff of MacMegasite. As the publisher of one of the "certain other Mac sites," I feel compelled to respond. After all, none of the sites in question have attempted to convert the masses or shove Christianity down anyone's throat.

Sites such as Low End Mac, Applelinks, and Applelust don't really "take every opportunity to write about their religious views," although we do allow our writers to express their own views, which are shaped by their religion or lack thereof (we have at least one avowed atheist writing for Low End Mac).

As an online publisher who is a Christian, I believe that humans are created in God's image and merit respect because of it. Because of this, I publish articles from various perspectives. I believe that our worldview (or religion) makes us who we are. I write as a Christian because I cannot do otherwise, any more than an atheist, Moslem, or Buddhist could.

Most of the time there's no need to explicitly state what religion informs our worldview, and most content on the Mac Web is religiously neutral. That's the nature of the technological realm.

Mike is apparently antagonistic to religion, which is his right. A lot of people have little or no use for religion - and some see it as downright dangerous or deluded. That's something the founding fathers realized when adding the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. There would be no established religion; individuals would be free to choose their own faith with no coercion by the state.

But Mike sees the First Amendment as creating a separation between church and state. It does no such thing. What it does is prevent the federal government from establishing a national faith or preventing individuals from following their own convictions. The basis of our "secular society" is law and tolerance, the very thing that allows religious folk to freely speak and publish their ideas - even on the Mac Web.

Yet Mike objects when Mac-related sites address religious and political issues, such as the "Under God" ruling, from an explicitly stated religious perspective. From my vantage point, that's as offensive as requiring an atheist to recite the Pledge of Allegiance including the phrase "under God."

In most of the free world, we have the right to choose our faith and our political affiliation - and to publish articles with a religious (or atheist) slant on Mac-related sites. In fact, most of us see it as a sign of a healthy society when we allow people with different worldviews to freely express themselves on issues, as in the monstrously large "Taking the Pledge" article with over two dozen emails about the "under God" controversy.

Although Low End Mac isn't a religious, political, economic, legal, or science site, we don't limit ourselves to the Mac. We deal with other issues like racism, free speech, court decisions, and various other things that impact our lives.

I guess you could consider Low End Mac a Mac site "for the rest of life," not just for Mac issues. Life's too short to be that nearsighted.