There probably isn’t a more sensitive subject in the entire world than that of religion. It has driven acts of kindness, and acts of war, since the beginning of time. It drives love, anger, judgement against others. Usually, however, it is used to drive a wedge between people, justify discrimination and mistreatment of others, and the further segregation of people as a society based on a belief set.
Even amongst some people of the same religion, there is animosity if you believe in slightly different interpretations of that religion. Let’s take Christianity as our example; Catholics, Episcopalians, Protestants, Baptists, Congregationalists, and others have slightly different views of their faith, and they judge and separate themselves from members of other faiths.
The judgement against *other* religions is even more prevalent in recent years in the United States and Europe. It was a problem before, but after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City in September, 2011, it came to a fevered pitch as people began targeting all Muslims. It settled down for a bit it most areas, but with the recent bombing in Boston it has really boiled over.
I have seen comments all over the Internet since the bombing that make me question the judgement of humanity in general. In some instances, people have proposed dropping the deceased body of one of the bombers out of a plane over “whatever country he came from”, and they have proposed that we throw the suspect who is alive into a gulag for the remainder of his life, or until we can… well, I won’t repeat some of the things I’ve seen suggested we do without due process of a court of law.
I’m not defending the suspected bomber; I’m simply saying that as an American citizen, he is entitled to due process under law. I try to make judgements on people’s innocence or guilt based on the court of public opinion, as the media skews towards ratings rather than truth… but I know as well as anyone that innocent people don’t flee from police while throwing bombs out of a car as if they are a Batman villain, nor do they run over their own brother in the attempt to flee.
I hear people claim to be good Christians, but then want to torture someone. No matter what bad a person does, Jesus taught that his followers should be better than those who do wrong. Everyone claims the US was founded on “Christian” principles (which isn’t true, but that’s a completely different topic), but if it true, then we should follow those teachings.
Here is the reality. We are a secular country which believes in justice, liberty, freedom, and taking the higher ground than others. When I hear “they would do this to us…” all I can think is, “yes, they might, but we won’t because we are better than that.” Comic books have higher moral authority than some people in the United States that claim to be on the side of patriotism; Batman always refuses to kill, no matter how heinous someone is.
Unfortunately to the detriment of society, these types of religious persecutions and overtly judgmental thinkings rule over the country. People use their “faith” to justify discrimination against those who don’t believe what they believe. It’s time to realize that these religious beliefs, while full of good potential, damage society more than it helps now.
Thousands of years ago, religion was critical. Those who knew better needed a way to get people to do the right things. Some things, like the restrictions on pork, were probably driven more by common sense and the need to help stupid people not do stupid things… after all, eating a pig in a desert climate probably isn’t the smartest thing to do. When a child acts up, the parents take their toys away. Since there were no toys, they used a vengeful god as a way to keep order.
No modern religion can be exactly right, especially since most were created during a time of much less enlightenment than we have today. When most religions were in their cradles, people thought the Earth was flat, that it revolved around the sun, and they didn’t know why the sun went away and why the moon arrived. The holy books are stories, parables, and myths; they aren’t literal.
As we stand here in 2013, we know more about the world than we ever could have imagined in 1913, so imagine how people in 1913 felt about their knowledge gap between then and a thousand years in the past. Man had learned to fly, but would he realize that in a hundred years people would be traveling across the world in hours, or that we could chat face to face with people in different hemispheres in real time without leaving our homes?
Religions must either adapt or go away. I would make the following as a list of critical initial steps for religions to be permitted to stay in place:
- No religion is better than another. It is simply your faith.
- No one is born into a religion. It is faith, not heritage. While you may believe what you parents believe, children and adults alike should be *encouraged* to seek out their own paths and their own faiths.
- No one knows the “true word of God”, if there is a God. Stop assuming you know better than anyone else what the man in the clouds thinks.
- Stop making children stupid. The Earth is not 6,000 years old, and that number is missing quite a few zeroes. Stop perpetuating stupidity.
- Additionally, stop telling children that humans and dinosaurs lived side by side.
- You can disagree regarding the concept of God, but not the concept of science. Evolution is wildly considered “fact” even though it is a “theory” because of how the science community words things.
- Climate change is real. Yes, I know… it is confusing because for a long time people kept calling it “Global Warming” and it was causing extreme cold in addition to extreme heat, and your religion didn’t teach you the difference between climate and weather. That’s why people realized it has to be called “climate change” instead.
- Environmentalists, while mostly nutty to an extreme, are not wrong in many regards. Religion lives “in the environment” as much as you or I do, and I like to… well… breath.
Let’s start with these common sense points first. Once religion has mastered these, we can move forward to more. Or just realize that treating others well shouldn’t have to be written in a book with the threat of eternal damnation. Most of us have around seventy years on this planet, some much less. Embrace your fellow man and do what is right because it is how you would want to be treated, and not because you think you’re going to spend eternity in a gold-lined house in the clouds.