When I think about the numbers of people who have been killed in the name of a religion, any religion, coupled with exhortations by those same religious leaders and followers to love or at least, have consideration for other, fellow humans; then I am led to conclude, in the words of ‘1066 and All That’ that “Religion” is, “a Bad Thing”, unless you count expanding one's borders, through invasion and increasing your sphere of influence through conquest, in which case "Religion" is, "a Good Thing"!
To point out all the great achievements that have been made or motivativated, in the name of religion, like architecture of churches and mosques; fabulous music and works of art; charitable foundations and works; persons exhibiting bravery and fortitude in the face of adversity and appalling odds, doesn’t seem to help.
Those great works of religious art which gave employment to artists and artisans were, I suggest, carried out to the glorification of the patron or the body commissioning the work, rather than to the deity celebrated.
A young man was once advised that if he wanted to become rich he should ‘invent a new religion’. There would seem to be plenty of examples where this has worked rather well for the creator.
Perhaps the religion itself is not to blame but the ways in which the adherents interpret it and then behave as a result. This doesn’t help me either because if a doctrine of love can result in mass murder, suppression of freedom and mayhem, performed in its name, then there must be something fundamentally wrong with the original set of beliefs that results in such contrasting and contradictatory action.
Religion, it seems can be the refuge of the scoundrel; the rationalisation for the extremist lunatic.
I cannot accept that any religion that requires its believers to murder others, or die themselves, can be right.
Many religions seem to exclude those who are not signed up members to it; superiority of members over non-members being a major characteristic.
Perhaps the origin of many religions, or at least the successful development of them is that they create or maintain a sense of tribal identity and in the most influencial world religions, help create and effect a sense of national identity. The conflicts between these religions have, in the past, and still today, given rise to wars between countries and their predominant religion ~ the ‘fight’ for that religion enshrined in the national identity has been cited as a justification for the war. If a ‘war on terror’ coincides with a ‘war’ against a religious divide what would happen if the ‘religious’ element were removed from the equation. How many genocides have been carried out on the basis of religious differences? Are we to believe that the religious differences between the murderers and the victims were purely coincidental in these acts of inhuman atrocity?
Is there really any place or justification for this kind of religious superiority remaining in a world that is becoming increasingly multicultural; which by dint of closer cohabitation of those of different cultural backgrounds are beginning to merge into one pan-european, and eventually, pan-global, society. The biggest cities of the world now contain, living cheek by jowl, people from a variety of backgrounds who will enevitably, over time and inter-marriage, merge their cultures.
Can isolationism, based on religious divisions, be justified when there are so many problems, on a world scale, that need a unified response?