A world where an extreme faction of Islam wishes to put me and mine to the sword for my unbelief, and to shackle half the world for the crime of being born female. A world where an extreme faction of Christianity wants to throw away science for the sake of millenniums-old superstitions, and is prepared to kill in the name of life. A world where an extreme faction of Hinduism wishes to religiously purify India. A world where people are unashamedly trying to fulfil the biblical conditions for Armageddon.
Not a bad description of religion, is it? Oh, yes, I know there are nice people out there who believe they’re using their religion to be good and helpful, and many no doubt are.
But the bigger picture is the one described above in the Australian newspaper the Age.
I won’t quote too much, because it’s worth going to the article, but this paragraph is worth giving:
From the Egyptians enslaving the Israelites to Nero lighting the streets with burning Christians, from the slaughter of the Crusades to the bloodbath of India’s Partition, violence and religion have always gone hand in hand. And the record of societies governed by religious law, from the Aztecs to the Taliban, tells us that theocracy is a synonym for barbarity.
So the nice guys among religionists, the ones who would have no truck with the barbarity that religion can engender and would denounce even their own religion for the barbarities it has carried out in the past, really ought to be doing more if they want to continue to consider themselves the nice guys.
They could start with louder denunciations, then a mass exodus from the structured aspects of their religion. I’m sure there are plenty of Christians who don’t belong to any denomination.
Belief is entirely down to individuals, takes many forms and can sometimes be a good thing, but subscribing to and therefore supporting and legitimising a structured religion ought to get them examining their consciences.