I write in reply to the letter, “Civility comes with God’s involvement” (Sept. 16) by Barbara Welcher of Timonium.
On behalf of atheists across the world who are civil and moral people, I’m sure that belief in one God or many gods is not essential to being a good person. In fact, any belief that is rooted in fanaticism and intolerance, even if it is belief in a God, can result in mayhem and misery for many. This was the case with the judgmental and thunderous Moral Majority movement founded by Jerry Falwell in 1979. That movement led to the current evangelical Christian fundamentalism that has co-opted politics in America. Many fundamentalist Christians of today are anti-abortion, anti-evolution theory, anti-vaccination, anti-working-women, anti-LGBTQ rights, and — in their obstreperous moral certitude — they declare God is on their side.
Perhaps that’s not the type of godliness Ms. Walcher was writing about but, nevertheless, it prevails all over the globe and jockeys for preeminence by setting up theocratic states like the ones in Iran and Afghanistan, legislating God and morality through acts of barbarism and a total absence of a civil discourse or consensus.
Respecting those with whom we disagree does not need the fear of God or accountability to a God; it does not require prayer or penance or religious teachings that control and command. We owe morality and a conscience to evolution. We had to survive in groups and communities and that survival called for laws, principles and a sense of right and wrong that have evolved over millennia.
Those who violate moral codes and ethical principles violate themselves, not God. They need more evolution, not more God.
Usha Nellore, Bel Air
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