| | Re: eugenics
Define what you mean by "eugenics". The answer you get will vary greatly depending on the context of the term.
One could argue that religions have been proponents of "passive eugenics" for all of human history - the requirement that one's mate be of the same religion as oneself is, in essence, a eugenic requirement. Especially when you take into account that most (all?) religions have their origins within a single ethnic group. Likewise, many religions (as well as societies) stigmatize inter-religion (i.e. inter-racial) unions.
Some religions have practiced more "active eugenics"; for example, some promote the infanticide of malformed children (some traditional Polynesian religions, for example). Many other religions attach a stigma to malformations; in essence promoting eugenic-like behavior in their followers.
The one thing I think we should all never forget is that even Christian churches have, in the past, lent their weight to political movements that practiced eugenics. Hitlers Germany is one obvious example, but hardly the only one. My own country (Canada, btw) sterilized the physically deformed and mentally retarded during the early years of the 20th century. Much of this was promoted by Christian groups, and the sterilizations preformed by church-run hospitals. This is not a legacy of only my country, but of many western nations. It just goes to show that even "modern" religions can fall afoul or eugenic-like behaviour
At the end of the day, religions will promote behaviors they see as being in their best interests. Some of those - by accident or design - may be eugenic in nature. While the term itself has many negative connotations, one should never lose site of the simple fact that eugenics is essentially planned breeding. As such, something as simple as a parent trying to set their child up with a spouse of their choosing can be construed as eugenics.
Last edited by Warthaug; 07-30-2010 at 10:35 PM.