David A. Bandel
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I'm occasionally asked why I refuse to partake in discussions of a political or religious nature. It is my considered opinion that neither is a good topic for discussion because both evoke strong beliefs from folks with no underlying basis in facts to support those beliefs. In all truth, I've been told by several that that's why it's a "belief system". That's the way it is and believers don't want to be confused with facts. So best not to broach the subject.
My objections come from a more deep-seated belief. Both cause only grief and suffering. Little else.
I can hear the moans and the objections: Religion comforts people. Religions teach people love and tolerance. Religion makes the world a better place.
Wrong on all counts. Religion is the basis for hate, intolerance, and suffering on a scale that is otherwise unimaginable. If all Islamic religious leaders condemned terrorism, and denounced it for the cowardly murder of people that it is, it would stop. But many Islamic religious leaders promote terrorism. Why? Because infidels (those who don't believe as they do) are less than human and if their way can't be seen as the one and only true way, those non-human people deserve to die.
OK, I understand this is not all Islamic religious leaders, but it only takes one influential, power-hungry religious icon to condemn westerners as infidels and devils to send thousands of Shiite Muslims to murder in the name of Allah.
Oh, but Catholics aren't like that. No? Then who started the Crusades? And by the way, who also lost the crusades with God on their side? The witch hunts in Spain and the early US were also little more than religious persecution.
All religious orders that can or have used war as a weapon or slaughtered in the name of $DIETY are political entities. War is a political tool. Those who use political tools are not religious but political. Catholic, muslim, whatever. Europe wasn't able to rise out of the dark ages until it shook the shackles of religious leadership.
Look closely at the dark ages. Religious leaders proclaimed much of the progress made by the Romans (aquaducts and the beginnings of modern plumbing and sanitation) to be works of the devil. This inappropriate label is what caused much of the suffering during the dark ages in the form of disease. Thank religious zealotry for the bubonic plague. And all this time I thought cleanliness was next to godliness.
No country that has proclaimed an official religion as part of its declaration of statehood has ever become a major world power.
I just thought I heard someone say "gotcha". You missed the Jewish State of Israel. They figure as a world power.
True. But Israel as a state is the one exception that has divorced religion from politics. They don't seek to change the world to Judaism. Catholics, moslems, and most other religions do encourage (actually much more than just encourage) their followers to convert the rest of humanity to their way of believing (and by the way follow their leadership). And those religions that can affect nation states and wield the armies of those nations as weapons to do "their $DIETIES" bidding (that of converting the unfaithful), have done so.
Another problem that all deeply religious peoples suffer is that they believe strongly that their $DIETY (God, Allah, who or what ever), is in charge and they are not masters of their own destiny, $DIETY is. Everything happens for a purpose, a reason. I've never understood such poppycock. And I certainly don't blame my failings on someone else, $DEITY or no.
The US does not have an official religion. All Central American states have an official religion (Catholicism). Here in Panama, many people are very patriotic. Most of these same people, however, are stout Catholics. So they look to their President, but they also look to the Pope. And no one can serve two masters.
But having a religion is good for anyone not the least bit interested in attaining anything but mediocrity. It gives them someone to blame all their problems on. I will note that despite all their prayers, a statistically insignificant part ever come to pass. What comes to pass is what hard work provides. But few can actually see that (don't ask me why).
Religion, as far as I can see teaches only: Hate, intolerance, irresponsibility. The supposed lessons of tolerance and love are completely lost on God-fearing folks. The incongruence of the whole thing leads me to conclude that religion is an abject failure. But like most abject failures, is bound to be repeated. And so the world stagnates.
David-Religion on My Mind
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