Phrases such as "love thy neighbor", "do justly and love mercy", and "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted" are widely shared among the world's religions. It is undeniable that practice of religions is often shockingly hypocritical, intolerant, exclusionary, and most sadly warlike. Let's not toss out the baby with the bath water, however. Where are the SBNRs -- spiritual but not religious -- in the continuous, difficult, and messy quest for peace and justice for every person? Some SBNRs fight, but not enough. Where are the atheists and agnostics? Some fight, but not enough.
Religions provide a degree of accountability for failing to do good, if nothing else. Absent religion, it's easy to kick back into an epicurean, self-centered lifestyle or, worse, to embrace objectivism. (I am both amused and horrified by fervently evangelical Christians whose political views sound like Ayn Rand. Don't they see the inconsistency?) My challenge to all SBNRs, atheists, and agnostics is to set aside differences in perspective with your religious brothers and sisters and to join us in doing the hard work to improve society. My challenge to religious persons is to lead by example while reducing the chatter. To twist the saying frequently but perhaps incorrectly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: Preach often, and use words only if necessary.