Missing The Point — Religion is the Problem

After an 85-year old Catholic priest was killed last week┬áby Islamic extremists in France, Muslims and Christians are gathering together in that country in demonstrations of solidarity. They are attending each other’s worship services, and offering prayers on behalf of the other. This is an admirable attempt to show that people of different faiths can come together and see each other as equal human beings. But, ultimately, I think this is a perfect example of people missing the point — religion was the cause of tragedy in the first place.

Screen-Shot-2016-07-26-at-6.15.19-AMEvery time an act of religiously-motivated violence occurs, those who are themselves religious are quick to claim that religion had little, if anything, to do with it. They blame “mental illness” and “political motivations” and a plethora of other reasons, anything to keep religion out of it. They don’t want religion to be the culprit because if it is, they will have admitted that religion can be, and is, a force for evil in the world. And once you’ve done that, things start to get messy — suddenly you are subscribing to an ideology that, while used for good much of the time, can be used in very bad ways. And no one wants that; so it’s much easier (safer) to blame something, anything but religion for the problems in the world.

So what happens after a religiously-motivated tragedy? The religious gather to comfort one-another, assuring themselves that their religion had nothing to do with what happened. They condemn the violence and tell the rest of us that religion is not to blame. They promise that healing, reconciliation, and unity will come from the true practice of their particular religion. But who gets to say what the “true practice” of a religion is? Who appointed XYZ religious apologist the gatekeeper and definer of the faith? What gives one person the right to tell another who is practicing/representing the faith accurately? Is there really a “true” or “pure” version of any religion? Or, as David Silverman says, is all religion cafeteria religion? Doesn’t each religious person make it up as they go, picking and choosing which parts they want to apply to their lives?

Religion is not going to solve the problems we see in our world today, and it is most certainly not going to fix religiously-motivated violence. You can’t fix the problem with the problem. Appealing to a higher power, transcendent moral code, or divine law-giver, is not going to make things better; it is the very thing that is making things worse! So when the next religiously-motivated tragedy occurs, we must not let religious people shift the burden somewhere else. We must shine the brightest light we can find directly onto the source. We must not willingly miss the point — religion is the problem.


6 thoughts on “Missing The Point — Religion is the Problem

  1. I hear you and empathize, Matt, but can’t entirely agree. I know, live and work with a number of people of faith and they are as anti-violence and anti-fundamentalism as I am. Sure, I blame religion for a lot of nonsense and pain, even in my own community. But as I see it, there is no single problem when it comes to violence–it’s much more complicated. And, fact is, religion and faith aren’t going away, and until those of us in the secular mindset work with–rather than blast and blame–people of faith in our own locale, not much is going to get done. And there’s a lot to do.

  2. yeah. they will all offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ while doing absolutely NOTHING to stop it from happening again. History has shown again and again and again that religion is the most successful way to get humans to kill each other. Ferfuxsake, the bible has Jesus saying ‘love thy neighbor’ and ‘whoever is without fault be the first to cast a stone’ and ‘deal with the beam in your own eye before calling out the mote in sombody elses’ yet HOW many fucking have been killed due to one version of christianity or another. Catholics vs. Protestants. ALL Christians vs. Muslims. ALL faiths vs Native Americans (and other populations) And lets not forget the God hugging Nazis and the way they treated the Jews.Fuck fairy tales, I wish the human race would just grow the fuck up. Granted we would probably still kill each other, but MAYBE not as much.

  3. Agreed, religion is the problem to begin with. All this fighting over whose god has a bigger penis has led to millions of deaths throughout the history of religion.

  4. This is a typical religiophobic position. Only a fraction of all violence is religiously motivated. For instance, most wars are secular. There are also a number of adaptive qualities of religion. Humans themselves are violent. That religious people can be violent, and even use religion as an excuse, has more to do with our evolved nature than it does religion.

  5. A lot of the ISIL terrorists are not acting out of adherence to Islam – they are lost and angry young men looking for a cause. Religion is a convenient hat rack on which to hang their pathologies. Same goes for the hateful Christians in America.

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