Setting the Record Straight: Religion Not the Culprit

There are few things that frustrate me more than false or misleading facts, or pieces of truth that find themselves tattered and conveniently embedded in confounding statements.

Religion is, and continues to be, responsible for a significant amount of death, destruction, and wars. Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about a religious person being a dictator or [an] evil tyrant, we’re talking about a religion actually inciting violence. -MisterE

Yet, MisterE does not provide one solid (and I emphasize solid) example in which a legitimized (and I stress legitimized) religion or belief system has led to actual physical violence.  And the sad part is this: Finding an actual example is pretty easy.  And interestingly enough, the only examples he provides are "Christian" in label, while he ignores the thousands of Islamofascists who are murdering the innocent around the globe.  Oh, and he briefly mentions abortion bombers as if they are a mass phenomenon (less than 10 deaths were the result of crazy abortion bombers from the late 1980’s through 2003).

Often people like to make the claim that Hitler was an atheist and so was Stalin, therefore, atheism caused more death. This is a null argument for several reasons. -MisterE

Who likes to make this claim? I’m sure some people do, but who?  Atheism aside, Hitler was a totally deranged madman.  Is this so widely accepted that your using it as a basis for your "thesis?"  I don’t get it.

MisterE continues his questioning of religious inclinations and their potential “immorality” and alleges that his newest piece provides viable “evidence and facts.” To begin, I suppose it’s best I start by answering this statement:

There is no evidence to suggest that atheism systematically influences people to do bad things like religion does. -MisterE

Yet, he had no truthful evidence to back up his claim.

Let’s start with the charge against religion. This statement is so simple-minded that it fails to delve into any of the intricate components that govern radicalism (which is the real problem one must discuss when examining religion; stopping short at the umbrella term "religion" is not adequate and proves faulty).

After all, it’s not the religion that causes societal issues, rather it is the misinterpretation and misappropriation of religious components that lead individuals to bind to specific ideologies and agendas. Let’s also remember that many of these violent agendas are rooted in politics, not necessarily religion (religion becomes the “means” by which messages are spread and disseminated).

Why don’t we consider some communist nations where the religious are often persecuted or murdered for their beliefs. Aren’t these governments based on atheistic inclinations? While this is undoubtedly fact, I would not make the sweeping statement that atheism causes violence, because such statements require more than mere anecdotal backing (which is all that MisterE provides us with when explaining his ideologies).

And MisterE couldn’t be more incorrect about Hitler’s religious views.  Consider this counter argument:

It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness.

These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.

And next time you plan to rip off ideas from Richard Dawkins, at least cite the man (like the follow person did).

In his bestseller "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins contends that most of the world’s recent conflicts - in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in Kashmir, and in Sri Lanka - show the vitality of religion’s murderous impulse.

The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination

This is the same idiology MisterE uses to make his arguments.  Fortunately, the below arguments seem more in line with reality.

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."

What is so daunting about responding to these posts is the shear difficulty in understanding how someone is so willing to consistently overlook the facts. It’s such an overwhelming phenomenon. MisterE gages so much negativity toward religions (and the religious) that he continuously fails to recognize that without the religious there would be a devastating surge in homelessness, hunger and pain amongst global citizens. I suppose that he is unaware of the volunteerism and service provided through Christian churches – the millions – possibly billions of dollars and volunteer hours that go from the “religious” to charity. Throw the baby out with the bathwater? Hell no.

Sure, there may be cults who practice murder and hate, but these are the outliers. Trying to box Christianity or Judaism into such simple statement is not only irresponsible, but also totally and utterly misleading. MisterE sees everything in black and white – no grey whatsoever. Let’s consider this fact: There are moral and immoral atheists (operationalize the words how ever you like); there are good and bad, angry and sad, addicts and anti-drug pushers – the list goes on. The fact of the matter is that “atheist” is merely a label. There are many self-proclaimed Christians who act under the “Christian” label. Just because they say they are, doesn’t mean they are acting out in the way a Christian should.

The difference between Christianity and atheism is that there are universal standards amongst Christians. So, when individuals claim to be Christians and consistently decline the opportunity to actually act the part, there’s something wrong with the equation. There are central tenants (love being the utmost central) that must be followed by the Christian heart in order to actually be acting in accordance with the label.

That brings me back to my claim that MisterE did not offer any substantial examples of “Christians” or Christianity for the matter spreading hate. What he provided was Pat Robertson – a man many Christians would refuse to associate with and a man who I, personally, dislike. Sure, Robertson says he’s a Christian, but statements such as those presented by MisterE are in direction violation of the love and care Jesus preached. In sum: They are statements that most Christians would not utter or accept (and if they would utter or accept them, then they aren’t acting the part).

The next example of “Christian” hate MisterE condemns is the beliefs, practices and elicitations of the “Reverend” Fred Phelps. Hey, MisterE: This claim doesn’t stand. It’s like quicksand to your entire “thesis.” If you did your research you’d know that the majority of Phelp’s church members are, in fact, his own family members. This is a group the vast majority of Christians (and even FOX News) have condemned – and vehemently so.

Also, probably the most important fact that wages against his claims is the overtly obvious (and researchable) reality that the Westboro “Baptist” Church is not really a Baptist church. This is to say that the Westboro Baptist Church is not permitted to be a part of any legitimate Christian congregation and is accordingly not accepted by any legitimate church or Christian organization. In sum, Fred Phelps is an idiot who is the complete opposite of everything Christ asked us to be. Terrible example, yet again.

But without Christianity, would Fred Phelps have managed to organize [so] many bigots? -MisterE

Yeah, MisterE. A simple family reunion would have answered that call, which is essentially what his rallies are. His 22,000 demonstrations are comprised of hateful nuts (his blood) assembled with signs condemning homosexuals – it’s not a massive movement. It’s a cult with approximately 100 members.

So, it’s pretty clear that the Old Testament teaches followers to act immorally. -MisterE

I’m not even addressing the ignorance present in this statement. According to MisterE, Abraham is the Old Testament’s most immoral man. One word: Wow. And another: Get reading (that was two).

The New Testament is better, but still isn’t a good moral guide. -MisterE

What?  Tell that to the billions of Christians who believe in it’s call.  I’m glad that a 24-year-old New Yorker was able to destabilize thousands of years of heart-felt belief.

It’s strange that the crucifix, an object of torture and murder, is cherished so idly. But it also teaches us that Adam and Eve were the original sinners, and that God punished them and all their children forever in the future. Isn’t it immoral to condemn children before they are even born? But then, God turned himself into a man (in all the form of Jesus), and allowed himself to be tortured, beaten, and brutally killed to atone for everyone’s sin that was inherited, not by fault of their own, in the first place. It is immoral to claim that there can be no atonement without blood. Why would God not just forgive the sins? Why would he condemn everyone in line after Adam to being a sinful human? Seems pretty harsh to me. -MisterE

It’s actually not all that strange.  It’s described in the book.  Immoral?  How so?  It’s not "condemning" children.  Christ came to save the sins of humanity — which essentially saves those who choose Him from condemnation.

Why would God not just forgive our sins?  Do we just ignore our the behavior of our children?  Sin is the result of choice.  Again, we weren’t condemned; we were given free will.

It is clear that the scriptures and the bibles that people cherish so much are rather immoral and disturbing indeed. -MisterE

And to conclude, Christianity doesn’t teach anyone to hate gays or to bomb abortion clinics. Doing either is, again, in direct violation of Christian principles. Reading the Bible might actually help you clear up some of these discrepancies, no?