Open Minds Advance Society

Open Minds Advance Society

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
November 2009, Volume 86, No. 2

“Imagine  world without religion.” Some people think the world would be a better and much more peaceful place. Perhaps, however, we should try to imagine a world without closed-minded people. Despite the many wars that have been waged over the centuries in the name of religion, they all boil down to closed-mindedness and even willful ignorance.

A prime example of this willful religious ignorance is the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Known as “America’s most hated family,” Westboro members picket the funerals of U.S. soldiers, carrying signs with slogans such as “God Hates America” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” They claim the fallen soldiers are dead at the hands of God’s angry judgment because they fought for a country that tolerates gays.

They claim to believe the Bible and base their beliefs on a few passages that Pastor Fred Phelps uses to seemingly confirm his theological ideas. However, in context, it is clear that the Bible does not send a message of absolute hatred. Have these people ever stopped to ask if they are wrong? Have they ever tested their own beliefs? Probably not. It is likely that they have long justified their ignorance as faith.” However, faith is not the same thing as ignorance.

Being open-minded does not mean letting go of all standards. It means people must look beyond what they have been told to believe and examine why they believe it. If a person chooses, however, to remain ignorant, he may continue traditions of intolerance and injustice without even realizing it.

We should be open-minded in all aspects of our lives, including politics, science, religion and education. Then, if what we believe is true, that belief will only be confirmed. When a person fears to question his own beliefs, it shows that he may be afraid of being proven wrong.

Thomas Jefferson recognized the importance of an open mind when he said thus:

Shake of all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

Since Jefferson’s time, slavery has been abolished and women and minorities have gained equal rights under the law. Were it not for open minds, the presidential election of 2008 would have only been a contest between white men. Instead, two women, a man of mixed race and two white men all vied for the top two offices in the United States in one of the most hotly contested elections in history.

So keep an open mind. It may be what makes this world a better place for future generations.


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