Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Abolishing Religion

I'm getting tired of the assertion that "religion" - maybe I should say, "Religion" with a capital R - is responsible for all the evils in the world and the idea that all Christians (or Muslims, or other people of faith for that matter) are ignorant, fanatical and intolerant. I have increasingly seen variations on these themes, mostly by people identifying as agnostic, atheist, New Age or "spiritual-but-not-religious", often implying or culminating in the idea that if we banned or abolished all religion, this would go away.  No more evil, no more bad or hateful or harmful people left to lash out at others. No more rape or murder; no more war. Which are lovely "no"s to be sure, and I'm all for them.

But here's a thing or two. Thing One: Most wars are (historically) not fought over or backed by religion. For more on the causes of wars, here's a short, factual article from a Catholic blog and a completely secular opinion as well. Thing Two: to "abolish religion" is to rescind people's rights to their own beliefs and spiritual practices, to force them to go into hiding when they worship and persecute them. It's been tried in several places throughout history, including Sudan, Israel-Palestine and Nazi Germany... not really with favorable outcomes. I can't help but think that rather then getting rid of faith-based communities ("organized religion"), if more people actually paid CLOSER attention to the various paths to God they profess to follow, and made MORE of an effort to "be religious", there would be more peace-, charity- and love-based interaction and far fewer wars and hate crimes. Hatred is not at the core of any religion; not Islam, not Christianity, not Wicca, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Paganism, Satanism (truly), Jainism or any other. Religion doesn't breed hatred - intolerance does. And from what I've seen, atheists and agnostics are as likely to be intolerant and hateful as religious fanatics - they just don't (or don't always) use God as an excuse.

Are there hateful, angry extremists who rail against others in the name of God? Yes. Are some heinous crimes committed by religious fanatics or in the name of a particular religion? Yes - of course. They have been throughout history and modern ones make great, sensational news headlines (the more horrific the better, it seems). AND, as the links above reflect... heinous crimes have also been committed throughout history and still are in modern times, without religion behind them.  People are, by nature, competitive, greedy, power-hungry, frightened, covetous - as well as kind, considerate, foolish, fallible, thoughtful, vengeful, loving, imperfect... there's a reason we have so many words to describe human emotions, moods and behaviors. What it comes down to is this: we don't need less religion in the world, nor would that create the change so desperately needed; we need less hatred, less intolerance, more love and more effort to live together on this planet peacefully.


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