Religious debate is not personal

Zushi, Kanagawa

In her April 26 letter, “Why are nonbelievers distressed?,” Jennifer Kim questions my emotional and personal reasons for criticizing Kevin Rafferty’s April 11 article, “The pope’s leadership crisis.” Personally, I am unconcerned about Rafferty’s private religious beliefs, but I do think they are open to debate when he promotes them in the opinion pages of a national newspaper.

Kim misquotes me: I did not say the Catholic Church “commands” people to believe; rather I was describing the overall Christian narrative in which people are commanded by God to accept Jesus as their savior.

Nor did I say that belief in Catholicism requires that we put aside what we know about history and reality; I was clearly referring to the basic Christian tenets that God is the creator, Jesus was his son, and the second coming is inevitable.

And by “we,” I obviously meant our contemporaries who take scientific and modern knowledge for granted — not the “people in world history” that Kim deduces. Finally, my letter was not an “anti-Catholic pitch.” I only mentioned the Catholic Church in connection with why followers have recently left it, an issue discussed in Rafferty’s article.

Kim’s comments on my critique of the Biblical story are lacking. Of course, I am aware that the account of the Flood is generally treated as allegory, but that does not change the horrific message of the story. Could Kim tell us the moral lesson or “religious point” behind it? And could Kim also explain what she means by the “misuse of free will,” and how exactly it relates to human suffering? Then, at least, we might have something to debate about.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

scott mintz