Hypothetically speaking, if you were given a choice to make what would ensure your financial independence but went against your personal convictions would you still do it? If your mother/father told you that they could not grant an inheritance to anyone who didn't believe in god and jebus, and that conversion would be necessary to ensure your eligibility, what would be your response? Let's say half a million dollars is at stake in this decision. Would you stand your ground and remain adamant about your atheism or would you acquiesce and go get baptized? Would playing a charade to ensure a fat bank account cause you mental anguish? Or would the peace of mind in remaining true to oneself outweigh the allure of potential financial gain?
And I realize there is the option of being able to contest a family will/inheritance. But that outcome is not a certainty.
To thine own self be true.
" ...then it follows, as the night the day, that thou can'st not be false to any man."
From "Hamlet" - Pelonius' advice to his son, Laertes, upon sending him to the university, where he will likely participate in beer bashes, bong parties and panty raids.
That would be wrong.
Clearly, you didn't go to the same school I did --
My ethics sit in hierarchies. If I was in financial dire straights, and I had dependents (such as children) counting on me, then I would lie about my atheism to take the cash. Under normal circumstances? No, I would not take the money unless I could take it honestly.
My best compromise would be an open lie in which everyone knows it is a farce to appease a technicality. I don't have an ethical issue with lying per se; it is the impact of the lies with which I concern myself. In this case, the impact is compromising my integrity and betraying my conviction to live openly and honestly by my beliefs. I want the extra money, but I don't need it. I don't want integrity (inconvenience that it is), but I do need it.
Mental anguish? I try to be honest with myself before I commit to an act. Even if I lied through my teeth and betrayed my philosophical convictions, once it was done I would come to terms. If it bothered me that much, I'd donate as much of the inheritance to charity as possible.
It would be very tempting if you were, say, in severe debt due to a medical condition and didn't have insurance at the time. But the ability to live with yourself as you live out a lie would make it a very bitter solution.
If I made that choice -- even assuming I had to keep up the charade long term -- I wouldn't be bitter about it. There are no guarantees of a good life free of compromise. Some decisions we make are assured to have bad outcomes no matter which path we take. Isn't there an aphorism along the lines of, "It s not about the hand you are dealt, but rather how you decide to play it"?
I don't think it would actually be immoral to lie for the money. I define right and wrong by whether an action hurts someone. This would hurt no one and it would benefit me. I see no problem here. I'd be all "Praise Jesus!" :)
It's interesting that you don't view your decision to lie and play the charade as being untrue to yourself. I suppose if you had the necessary outlook on life you could be at peace with your deception. I am sure it would eventually lead to regret for me.
The perpetuation of religion is in and of itself an evil act.
Therefore, if the inheritance not going to me would mean that it would go to a pro-religion entity, then the evil of the inheritance going to religion far outweighs the evil of lying about one's belief.
If the inheritance was going to the government or me, same rule applies.
If the inheritance would go to a positive charity or another individual who is deserving, and would likely not support religion with the money, then I would grudgingly pass on the inheritance.
I do have a real problem with being punished (or not rewarded) due to being honest and thinking. That also comes into play, but mostly "where does the money go if I don't get it?"
"The perpetuation of religion is in and of itself an evil act."
That is a very clever angle of observation.
I've always liked this dictum: "Character is what you have when the lights go out."