As a follow-up to last night's grousing about the holidays, I went to Beliefnet and took the Belief-O-Matic test to determine if I have a religion at all anymore. My top ten results:
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (96%)
3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (89%)
4. Secular Humanism (87%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (83%)
6. Taoism (76%)
7. Neo-Pagan (73%)
8. Mahayana Buddhism (67%)
9. Bahá'í Faith (66%)
10. Nontheist (57%)
This should not be terribly surprising. I used to be a mainline Protestant, I go to a Unitarian Church, I have explored Buddhism before. (Trope scored 100% Unitarian when she took the quiz a few weeks ago, too. I wonder if it is possible not to score 100% Unitarian - aren't they supposed to be accepting of all kinds of belief systems?) I think I don't score 100% Quaker because I said I wasn't a pacifist. Where does that leave Quaker President Nixon? Dwell on that last link for a moment. Taft was a Unitarian? Props to the Adams Boys, but the Alien and Sedition Acts, the USA PATRIOT overreactions of their day, still sting after all these years. Still, it's interesting to note that there have been 4 Unitarian Presidents, and only one Roman Catholic (by far the largest religious denomination in America). Perhaps there's still a feeling among Protestants that Catholicism is "alien" (I was only 17% Catholic), but I suspect that Unitarians, like Quakers, used to be a bigger presence in American public life than they are now, and that pacifism (as well as the ongoing Great Awakening*) diminished their standing and appeal. It's good to say that killing is bad, but in the imperfect real world sometimes you have to do it. There's a feeling on the left, brought on by the disasters of Vietnam and Iraq, that the use of force by the U.S. government is always wrong. But what was their answer to Afghanistan? To Rwanda? To Bosnia?
I guess my problem isn't with this or that belief system at all, but with moral certainty itself. Moral decisions have to be made in the real world, not a priori in philosophy essays or prayer meetings.
*I think America's history of religious Awakenings is probably a good way to undestand the ongoing Anti-Enlightenment. You can find competing interpretations of it here and here. The first two Great Awakenings led to bloody wars on American soil. Necessary wars, in my view.