You can be moral and not be religious

I have just a few minutes before I am tasked with taking care of things around the house so I wanted to comment on something.

Morality can be had without being religious. Yes, that is right I do not believe that you have to have faith and or believe in G-d to be a moral person who has character and integrity.

You can call me naive, but I believe that people are not born with original sin. I believe that we enter the world with a clean slate and how we inscribe that slate is of our own choosing. We are responsible for our actions and those actions can be good. They can be altruistic and giving without the influence of religion. They can also be evil.

But good and evil are not the sole province of the religious person or the atheist. Smarter people than I have composed essays on this that are much more eloquent and more logical, so I won’t try and recreate the wheel.

One need not be afraid of eternal punishment to understand the benefits and rewards of acting morally. For that matter I intensely dislike the concept that man cannot be good without the threat of fire and brimstone or the incentive of eternal life or any similar concepts.

Being good and acting ethically to me are practical matters. Not only are they the correct way to do things, but they make my life much easier. So if for no othe reason then my own selfish needs, I would want to behave morally and ethically. Being a mensch is important.

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  1. SelenaJ October 13, 2004 at 8:06 pm

    I was going to comment on your post but got distracted by wondering what frum meant. I agree with your post, I am not religious but I have way more morals than my than my cheating lying bastard of a husband who belives in god. So I guess I’m living proof of morals without religion.

  2. Jack's Shack October 13, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Selena,

    Frum is a term used to describe someone who is a religious observant Jew.

    There are many other classifications that we could throw out as well, Chassid, MO, Reform, Conservative and then some.

    But for your purposes that should probably cover it. Let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. SelenaJ October 13, 2004 at 7:12 pm

    What is frum?

  4. Anshel's Wife October 13, 2004 at 2:47 pm

    You are so right about being a mentsh. The Rebbe actually said something like, “It doesn’t matter how great an education you give your children, if they aren’t mentshlach.” Or something like that.

    You are also right about not knowing certain laws in Judaism and not keeping them as opposed to knowing them and not keeping them. That’s kind of why my husband and I became frum. Once we learned the laws, we felt we had to keep them. Seemed hypocritical to us (that’s just how we felt, not judging anyone else) not to be frum.

  5. Jack's Shack October 13, 2004 at 2:19 pm

    I do want to clarify something. There are many contributions made by religion. I love so many things about Judaism. It is so rich and has so many things to offer.

    My big issue is that we not lose sight of the big picture here and that it is better to be a good person who is unfamilar with the derech than to be someone who is Shomer Mitzvot and not.

    Ok, I am waiting for the arguments about how you cannot be Shomer Mitzvot and be bad. 😉

  6. Rachel Ann October 13, 2004 at 7:03 am

    I agree with you; which doesn’t mean I don’t think the religous life is without purpose. I do think that is how people are suppose to live (Kind of why I’m an Orthdox Jew). I think there are things we are required to do even if they aren’t logically moral (keeping the Sabbath for instance). But being a good person is being one who regards one’s fellow human being as deserving of respect; most of morality can follow from that; even laws having to do with the environment (respecting the humans who will live in the future.)

  7. Stacey October 13, 2004 at 4:45 am

    Great post. I think you’re completely correct about all of this.

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