Scott Pilutik

I am an attorney and consultant living and working in Manhattan, focusing primarily on church/state constitutional law. I'm a recognized expert on the Church of Scientology organization. I also have strong interests in intellectual property law where it intersects with emerging media, and free speech.

I support the efforts of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Creative Commons, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I am a member of the New York County Lawyers Association and the New York State Bar Association. I also enjoy (watching) hockey and (doing) photograhy.

Online I can be found on Facebook, Twitter. My resume can be viewed here. I can be reached by phone at 212.645.6241 or by e-mail at pilutik[at]gmail.com.

The One True Truth

In response to the Pope’s recent grenade lob at non-Catholic entities (“Despite the fact that this teaching [Protestantism] has created no little distress … it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them“), Atrios makes perfect sense:

While religious tolerance is a wonderful thing, overall the whole ecumenical “we’re (believers) all on the same Judeo-Christian team” crap has been a horribly bad development. Keep the tolerance, cut the whole “we all basically agree” crap. We don’t. We disagree.

Hard on the heels of “we all basically agree” is the meme that religion is an inherent good unto itself, along with its sister thought that the absence of religion is a net detriment, on both a personal and societal level. This is often expressed thusly: ‘if you don’t believe in something, then you believe in nothing … ergo, non-belief (in any religion) will lead to human catastrophe.’ Of course, this is usually expressed in even more dire terms, as the below diatribe against Richard Dawkins typifies.

When one believes in evolution, no value or little value is put on human life, and there’s no accountability to a higher being, so an atheist needs to just believe in something just a little bit in order to kill since the act of murder is taken so lightly by atheists. God’s prohibitions against killing and threats of hell are like a tall wall to religious folks keeping them from killing, but what keeps atheists from killing amounts to a mere speed bump.

Belief is the only source of morality and “disbelief” is an explicit source of amorality, in other words. The problem with this line of thinking is that disbelief, as expressed by religious adherents, is just a disrespectful jab at a belief with which they disagree. Atheists and agnostics’ views on penultimate origin of life questions are in fact beliefs, as are accorded no lesser weight and protection under the Constitution than the belief that God’s son willingly had himself killed 2000 years ago in exchange for the forgiveness of one’s sins.

In support of the notion that morality is hardly the sole purview of religion, one need only look at the work of Marc Hauser and Peter Singer, whose “Moral Sense Test” comprised of classical ethical and moral dilemmas, and found no “statistically significant differences between subjects with or without religious backgrounds.”

Distinctions between belief and disbelief only becomes apparent and necessary when expressed by religious adherents projecting their belief as to the net-good they feel their belief plays in their life. In reality, their belief is one belief in a crowded pool, atheism and agnosticism included. Conversely, religion is value neutral–particular religions promote and comprise values which are often positive (altruistic or charitable), but which often aren’t. And we’re never going to have a healthy national debate on the subject until this is understood.

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