I'm not a fan of religion, but I would like to think that
its positive effects at least cancel out the negative and
damaging aspects. While fundamentalist religious teaching is,
I believe, dangerous and detrimental to society, the loftier
and less dogmatic beliefs can be force for desirable social
change. I was therefore very interested in
Free Software's surprising sympathy with Catholic doctrine
(link dead, sorry)
There's probably not a lot of common ground between me and most Catholic doctrine, and I do think this article visibly strains to make its point, but it is encouraging because the power of religion is impressive. Government and corporate greed is difficult to combat; a religous viewpoint that encourages Open Source isn't going to change that, but it might be at least helpful.
At The Penguin Driven Church Office, Don Parris says:
Freedom was another factor in our decision. None of us are programmers, but we know that free software can be redistributed in order to help others. Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project, may be an atheist, but his view of software has close theological parallels to Christian theology. Proprietary software limits my ability to help my neighbor, one of the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
I think I detect a little non-believer prejudice there. Religious believers sometimes think they have a lock on morality and social justice; that without religious belief these ideas can't prosper. That's simply not true: there are intellectual justifications that have nothing to do with religious belief. The same article suggests that some churches may be employing some situational morality here:
An encounter I had with a pastor and one of his deacons left me with the distinct impression, although I did not know for sure, that they might be using proprietary software without the proper licenses. The deacon stated that he had a copy of the software he could bring in for me. It could have been a perfectly legitimate copy, or it could have been a personal copy that he would be giving to the church in violation of those famous End User License Agreements. This possibility raised a few questions: Are churches and other religious groups using proprietary software without the proper licenses? Is this being done with or without the knowledge and consent of the leadership? I'm a preacher, not an attorney. This issue raises a moral question that churches need to consider. Church leaders would consider a person who walks out of a bookstore with a book they haven't paid for to be a thief. Using proprietary software without a license is the same thing--stealing.
But let's not squabble. If a church thinks open source merits the approval of their creator god, I'm all for it.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-03 Anthony Lawrence
The history of the world teaches us that succession is dangerous and that the strong take what they want. It's not likely to be any different with Linux. (Tony Lawrence)