Religion Good, Abuse Bad

[Note: Billy, (formerly Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet (sometimes Billy OH))), has been invited to submit occasional posts as a guest on this blog. This is his first occasion. I hope there will be more. SI]

This last week I had an interesting conversation with one of my coworkers. He was talking about his church and its importance in his life. I demurred, preferring not to get into a long theological conversation at work. He would not let it rest. After about five minutes of conversation, he let one drop which I could not let pass – “Religion has never done anyone any harm.” I actually laughed in his face.

Allow me to offer up two personal experiences which show the damage which religion can do:

When I was in middle school (which is Western Marylandese for Junior High School) I was a bit of an outcast. I moved into the area in the beginning of my sixth grade year so I brought no friends from elementary school. Also, I had no relations in the district (this was one of those farming areas where everyone was related to everyone (I made the mistake of getting into an argument with one kid and soon discovered almost the whole school was mad at me)). One positive out of this isolation was it gave me a chance to watch people.

There was one girl who I knew who was not really a friend, but she was friendly. She always gave short answers and never, ever volunteered information about herself. She went to a conservative evangelical fundamentalist church (the pastor dropped out of the Southern Baptist Coalition because they were too liberal). She also came to school with facial and arm bruises and, when we dressed for gym, we could see bruises on her legs.

Now, keep in mind, back in the late 1970s, teachers were not required to report suspected child abuse. A couple of the younger teachers did report the bruises. We heard nothing more about it. She did, however, continue to come to school with bruises.

Years later (by this time I was in my second sophomore year and she was a junior) she dropped out of school to get married. She was sixteen (barely) and he was in his early 30s. This became the talk of the school for a week or two, and I learned that the county had investigated the child abuse years before. The father (and the pastor) had patiently explained to the social workers that the family was strictly adhering to the teachings of the bible and, since the Constitution separates church and state, it was none of their business (this is second and third hand, so I can’t be sure of it, but it fits with everything else).

I hope that she had a wonderful life with a loving husband. I doubt it, but I can hope, right?

The second is just as disturbing.

By the time I hit high school, I had a few friends. We were into Dungeons & Dragons, the Cthulhu and Tolkien books, and computers. I planned to be a computer science major and thus took every math course the school offered, including differential calculus. Because so few students took the course, it was offered at 8:00 am, an hour before school started. The kids in my area who were taking the course put together a car pool (there were six of us (which made me the usual designated driver since I had a VW microbus (with a peace sign on the front))).

One Monday morning I stopped to pick up one of the men in the group. He didn’t come out, so I went in. What I saw shocked me.

In the kitchen were about a dozen adults, and his little sister, age 13. She was sitting in a chair wearing a t-shirt and underwear. Next to her was a pile of books, magazines, records, cassette tapes and clothing. One man stood in front of her, holding in his hand a pair of her panties. He was yelling as I came in, but stopped instantly.

He asked who I was. I said I’m Billy and I’m here to pick up K—— for calculus. K came through into the kitchen, grabbed me, said come on, lets go, and we left.

“What the F— was that all about?” He explained it to me. Her mother had found a Michael Jackson cassette (Thriller) in her room and had called the pastor. After church on Sunday, the pastor and a bunch more men came over to ‘save’ his sister. They had ransacked her room and brought everything to the kitchen. They had gone through every single book, approving of about one in ten. Ditto her music collection. She had been forced to model her clothing. If they disapproved of it, they took a photo of her in it, and then added it to the evil pile. This included her bras and underwear (I have no idea (and nor did K—–) where she was as she changed in and out of all of her clothing). They took turns and, by 7:00 am Monday had been tag-teaming her for about 18 hours.

When I asked K——- how he could stand by for this (he was not in the room, but had been able to hear it all night), he looked at me like I was stupid. “Are you nuts? They might start looking at me. Can you imagine their reaction to Cthulhu, D&D, Playboy, Devo and Pink Floyd?”

His sister was withdrawn and uncommunicative for the rest of the year. I have no idea what happened to her (or K—– for that matter).

What I have illustrated here are two perfect examples of religion hurting people. Not some mythical generalized ‘people’, but two young ladies whose lives were adversely affected by organized religion.

I am an historian. The important question for any study of history (and by extension sociology) is “why?” Why does religion (and in these specific cases, Christianity) not only tolerate but, in some cases, promote such abuses?

Christianity is a religion of control, specifically thought control. Christianity (in its more conservative forms) is based on the idea of orthodoxy – right belief. You must believe exactly the right thing in order to be saved for eternity. Any heterodoxy (multiple belief) or heresy (wrong belief) risks ones eternal soul. Any sign of free thought (listening to different music, reading different books, wearing different clothing) is not a sign of normal growing up and independence, it is, to the conservative christian groups, a rebellion against god which must be quashed quickly and, if necessary, violently. In neither of these two cases would the authority figures have accepted the definition of abuse as a description of the events. The girl in middle school was only being corrected in a biblically acceptable manner. K—-‘s sister was in danger of losing her immortal soul to the devil through the evils of music, books and clothing which did not agree with the pastor’s idea of orthodoxy.

So, does this mean that all religion is bad in all cases for all people? No. Some find solace in a feeling of being a part of bigger things. Some find refuge from their fear of death. Some find that having someone tell them to be moral is easier than doing it on your own. Most of these come under the heading of a mildly-narcotic-feeling-good-ness. Does this, however, outweigh the bad which has been done, is being done, and will be done in the name of religion?

Billy

41 thoughts on “Religion Good, Abuse Bad

  1. Good post, Billy. I’ve recently been trying to figure out if it’s worth making a distinction between “religion” and “church.” It’s tough because both the good and bad things that churches do are done as expressions of religious faith. Some may ask whether religion is really so bad if people end up doing the right things even if their reasons for doing so are wrong. In the long run, I think it is. Therefore, even though churches do serve some useful functions for their members, I think society would benefit if we could devise non-theistic ways of doing the same tasks.

  2. My background is very similar to Billy’s with the new school thing and the D&D.

    I want to quote something from another blog made by a christian:
    “The difference is that if one is in a loving relationship with a King, they need not fear him or his law as he loves them also… but if one fears and just obeys out of authority and not love, they may rebel and fall out of the relationship… and out of the authority and then will reap the anger of the King.”

    Sound familiar? Sounds like textbook rationale of an abusive relationship to me. Yes, submit and obey and you’ll have nothing but love. Great.

  3. Hi Span, nice article.

    Haven’t seen you around much lately so thought I’d pop by and say hi!

  4. Chaplain: I guess I view religion as the ideology and church as the enforcement arm. Not that either one cannot be used in a positive manner, it’s just that with a totalitarian ideology (such as christianity or islam), questioning either the church or the ideology is considered a sin, rather than growing up.

    PhillyChief: Where do you find these fantastic quotes? You have an uncanny ability to find the perfect quote for any situation (sort of like Gurney Halleck from Herbert’s Dune). Someday I will catch you without an apropos quote and you shall seem undressed. Seriously, good quote. I also hear the same argument regarding curtailment of civil liberties in the United States: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

  5. Bill said, “it’s just that with a totalitarian ideology (such as Christianity or Islam), questioning either the church or the ideology is considered a sin, rather than growing up.”

    The only way conservative religion can perpetuate itself is to keep believers in a permanent state of childhood and dependency upon their spiritual leaders. If believers are allowed to ask tough questions and “grow up,” then too many of them will see through the scam and quit altogether.

    Liberal religion isn’t as oppressive as conservatism, but it’s certainly less coherent. I can’t figure out why, after reading and understanding the history, science, etc., as they do, they don’t just give it up and admit that they’re simply refitting their god to fit the mold they want him to fit.

  6. I can’t figure out why, after reading and understanding the history, science, etc., as they do, they don’t just give it up and admit that they’re simply refitting their god to fit the mold they want him to fit.

    More and more, Chappy, I think it just like everything else. It’s easier to have someone else do something than for you to do it yourself. That applies to thinking also. People have to live their lives, get through a day, make a living, raise the kids, etc. If they can offload the thinking aspect of their lives, the really heavy existential thinking, then they will. They outsource it to their church. The church does all the thinking, then presents it to them wrapped in a nice little bow, with a small bill, which they are willing to pay.

    Who wants to figure out the meaning of life, when someone can do it for you?

  7. Chaplain: I agree with you about liberal religions. That said, I would say, though, that through personal experience, the Unitarians do admit that they are essentially changing their definition of god to include science, rational thought and critical thought. I occasionally attend my parents UU church when visiting. I felt very comfortable as an agnostic and will still feel comfortable attending ‘services’ there as an atheist. The UU’s, again from my experience, seem to value many of traditions without requiring the irrational ideas that gave birth to the ideas.

    Then again, I would hardly count the Unitarians as organized religion.

  8. Crudescence maximized. I’m on my son’s computer and didn’t realize that I had my old handle on this one. That last post should actually just be from “Billy” or as the Carcassone Inquisitor (much harsher than the Spanish Inquisitors) would say, “Billy OH”. Sorry.

  9. Sadly, many used religious as a vehicle to judge others, and to demonstrate their righteousness. However, most forgot that God is Love and He is just. Nobody is given the right to judge others, other than God alone. For those who answer God calling and chosen to be a messenger of God, they aren’t given the right to judge others on behalf of God as well, because we are all sinner.

    “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
    John 8:7 (NIV)

    It is our nature as human being, to falling into sin. However, many did it as the power is so irresistible.

    I do not have the intention to judge them here. I was told not to look at human, but God alone. We all know, human will surely fail, in someway or another.

    In the Lord prayer…
    Thy Kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

    I pray for God righteousness to be on earth, as it is in heaven.

  10. It is our nature as human being, to falling into sin. However, many did it as the power is so irresistible.

    I do not have the intention to judge them here. I was told not to look at human, but God alone. We all know, human will surely fail, in someway or another.

    These two paragraphs are hateful. They’re the crux of so much that’s dangerous about religion.

    Add to those quotes an implicit call for action — I pray for God righteousness to be on earth, as it is in heaven — and you might as well just line up the children to have the shit beat out of them as part of their daily routine.

  11. Imeau: First off, I am an atheist. God said it carries no weight with me. Second, saying “the bible says it, god wrote it, I believe it because god wrote it,” also carries no weight with me (see the extensive posts under “…for the bible tells me so” on this blog).

    Nobody is given the right to judge others, other than God alone.

    Then why, imeau, do members of religious communities not only judge those outside of that community, but also those within? I cannot speak for the first example given in my essay — why her parents beat her and then married her off to a man twice her age I have no idea (and as the parent of two (one an almost fifteen year old young woman) I cannot comprehend such abuse (in the interest of full disclosure, my kids did get spanked (rarely) if the individual situation warranted a punishment out of the ordinary)) why her parents did this.

    As to the second, K—‘s sister, was a situation where the members of the community judged the girl’s taste in music, books and clothing to be a rebellion against god. If only god can judge (and I’ve always been partial to John 8:7, especially as it regards to religious intollerance and forced comformatism) then what gave that preacher and the (I guess) church elders the right (in a religious connotation) to judge this girls taste?

    As to the doctrine of original sin (and if I get this wrong, please correct me (I know I don’t know everything)), is that even a significant doctrine within the new testament? I was under the impression that original sin was put on the pedestal of canon by Saint Augustine (“Lord, let me be pure, but not yet”)? I notice that you, imeau, have a handy quote saying humans cannot judge humans (yet you are judging humans as nothing but walking piles of sin) but where’s the quote for original sin? I don’t remember reading it (and again, maybe my memory (age) is going (I know its going)) in the new testament, and I know its not in the old testament.

    I would posit that your statement, “I pray for God['s] (sic) righteousness to be on earth, as it is in heaven,” is actually an invitation, nay, a commandment to judge others. How can a religious community create god’s righteousness on earth without judging others and without punishing those who insist upon growing up?

    SI: sorry for the rant. I turned on my computer this morning hoping of a robust discussion of my question at the end of the essay and saw this. Howver, for me, ranting appears to be a (you guessed it) Occupational Hazard.

  12. great post! maybe one day enough people will have the guts to open their eyes and realize that life is too important to just sit back and let someone else tell you how to live it. and my heart goes out to these girls who’s parents thoughts were more concerned with following silly rules, all at the expense of their children’s health and mental well-being. this coming from a mother whose stomach is now twisted in knots (like every time I hear similar stories). The sad part of all this is that, even now after all the advances in science and general knowledge of the world, people still fight for the absurd right to remain ignorant and raise their children to be ignorant as well, so that these horrible things can continue for centuries to come, in the name of god, of course (as if that makes it all ok and still holds your reservation for that place you go to when you die).

  13. Billy: Great freaking post. I especially like the way you tear the wrapping paper off of “Religion has never done people any harm,” and shown, in a graphic way, how religion has most certainly harmed individual human beings. Generalities are a great way to sanitize history– be it American history or the history of christianity– but you know that.

    As for your question: I think the short answer would be: No, I don’t think religion is bad for all people under all circumstances, but I do think, given some of it’s highly destructive qualities on both the individual and societal level, we need to consider whether or not religion is the best or only means of achieving whatever good is has achieved. I think Sam Harris has started digging around this question with his whole idea of “rational mysticism.”

    I’m not sure where such an inquiry might lead, but I do think the main problems with religion are (1) that it is based on the idea that human beings cannot act morally without being coerced into it, (2) that it puts pressure on people to believe that god is a loving father who nonetheless placed them into a capricious and indifferent world, and (3) that there is something wrong with us being upset about this and that we should just swallow it and love god anyway. This is entirely abusive and wreaks havoc on people’s emotional security.

    SI:
    Existential outsourcing– I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better description of how and, more importantly, why some people are willing to uncriticially swallow the spoons full of crap they are fed every week on a daily basis at church. While some might argue that more moderate christians are critical of much of what they hear, I think they still don’t adequately question the entire religious enterprise.

    Chappy:
    Right on regarding Liberal and Conservative religion. Let me ask you though, since I get the sense you came from a fairly conservative religious background. Did you get off the bus at liberalism for a while before deconverting? I’m interested in whether or not most folks, like me, stuck around as liberals for a while before becoming atheist. I also wonder what makes some folks who’ve already gotten to liberal religion not finish the progression and end up atheist. Just curious about your thoughts.

  14. And of course as I believe Socrates asked, is what god decrees good because it’s good or because he decrees it? So then do you follow what he decrees because it’s good or because he says so?

    If it’s good because he says so, then he can make anything good. Example (christian): once smashing the babies of your enemy on the rocks was good. Now it’s not I guess.

    Or is good independent of god? Is god just passing on the rules to us? If so, where did those rules come from?

  15. LIfeguard asked:
    Did you get off the bus at liberalism for a while before deconverting? I’m interested in whether or not most folks, like me, stuck around as liberals for a while before becoming atheist.

    My upbringing and Christian college education were pretty conservative and evangelical. Over time, as I lived and learned, my beliefs grew increasingly liberal. I was in a constantly shifting liberal, and even quasi-deist, stage for several years before I realized that what I was really doing was changing my concept of God to fit what I understood about the world. Eventually, I figured out that everybody else does the same thing: adheres to the stuff that fits their worldview and tosses the stuff that doesn’t fit. Basically, we all make God into the image we want him to have. That’s why there are so many different denominations, etc. Let’s face it, James Dobson and Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis and Pope Benedict, to name just four of many, can’t all be right. So, how do we figure out who’s right and who’s not? There is no reliable standard for doing so. It took me awhile, but I finally realized that life would make a lot more sense if I stopped searching for such a standard and just went ahead and ditched the imaginary friend. That’s working out much better for me.

  16. PhillyChief said:

    Example (christian): once smashing the babies of your enemy on the rocks was good. Now it’s not I guess.

    Are you accusing christians of relativism? I thought that that was the big difference between the moral god-fearing believers and the amoral god-denying atheists?

    Postthought: Excellent comments. My rejoinder would be that some people are (either through genetics or conditioning (or both)) to feel much more comfortable with someone else telling them how (or how not) to live. I have two children and I feel much the same way you do (apparently (based on your comments)) when I remember such events from my past.

    Chaplain:

    Eventually, I figured out that everybody else does the same thing: adheres to the stuff that fits their worldview and tosses the stuff that doesn’t fit. Basically, we all make God into the image we want him to have.

    Again, relativism. One difference is atheists (and doubters and skeptics and rationalists and naturalists and coherent thinkers and agnostics and (most) liberals) tend to be honest about making our belief system fit the world. The fundamentalist mind, though, forces the world to fit their belief system (and (as my essay above tries to state) forces other people to fit their belief system).

    Oh, and PhillyChief, I toss you the first ever “Gurney Halleck Appropriate Quote Award” for your ability to remember even a paraphrased version of Socrates. (I figure I will award these even on other peoples blogs (unless someone asks me not to) until I (someday) get a blog of my own).

  17. I wish to thank the Academy (aka Billy) for this honor, and to say it couldn’t have been possible without, of course, Socrates, and Plato for giving us the words of Socrates. Also, I’d like to thank Ironchariots.org where I’ve spent some time recently where I believe I read the original quote (or perhaps a paraphrase (of course Plato could be paraphrasing)), Al Gore for inventing the internet that made my exposure to the quote possible, Steve Jobs for giving the world Macs on which I’m working right now as I type, and if there’s anyone I’ve forgotten, I’m truly sorry but HEY! Shut that damn music off, I’m not finished with my speech…

  18. Wait. A. Minute. You. Use. A. . . . . . MAC? That crashing sound was my image of PhillyChief as a stodgy lawyerly type smoking a scotch and drinking a cigar.

  19. even if this story is true, why dont atheists better spend their time feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and comforting widows, orphans and the oppressed, and abused children rather than shadow boxing against the beleievers in a supposedly non existant God? Seems like atheism is a tremendous misallocation of resources.

  20. even if this story is true, why dont atheists better spend their time feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and comforting widows, orphans and the oppressed, and abused children …

    Because we’re trying to prevent another world war led by religionists on both sides who each believe they have the truth and are justified in killing anyone who doesn’t. Sorry, widows.

  21. why dont atheists better spend their time feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and comforting widows, orphans and the oppressed, and abused children rather than shadow boxing against the beleievers in a supposedly non existant God?

    Ummm…we do. If you actually look, you’ll find the same percentage of atheists that do those things, compared to the general population, as you find Christians who do it. Atheism is not a belief system, it’s simply a lack of belief. It is humans who do all those things you mention, not theists exclusively, and atheists make up a small percentage of the human population.

    All of those things you mention are done by humans because of their humanity, not because of their religion.

    And if you don’t like reading about us, what are you doing here? That’s not meant to drive you away, because if you have something constructive to add, please do so. You comment was destructive, not constructive.

    Do you think religion has never done any harm?

  22. Excellent post, Billy.

    As to this: Seems like atheism is a tremendous misallocation of resources.

    That’s odd, because I was thinking the exact same thing about religion. Imagine what could be done if all the money spent on building enormous churches and paying their leaders exorbitant salaries was instead spent on feeding the hungry, healing the sick and the rest of the humanistic endeavors you listed.

  23. Nice to see you finally actually POSTING, Billy! I can’t understand why guys like you and Sarge, who clearly have as much or more than any of the rest of us to contribute to the dialog, don’t jump into the pool. Remember, the Lifeguard is always around if you have trouble. This was an excellent first shot into the skies of the atheosphere.

    What you are saying about Christianity (and I know you mean it about all religion) is exactly why I last posted about Tom Cruise and Scientology. It’s really all the same. You have a belief system that can’t be backed up rationally, so you defend it by brow-beating adherents and keeping them from anything that would shine the light of (sorry Ex) truth on their scam.

    Some people will scoff at your post because in their experience of religion, they have never seen these more egregious examples. And, I’m sure that they are not just naive. It probably IS true in their experience. What they fail to comprehend is, that even more minor abuses that prevent a child or young adult from experiencing the joy of knowledge is reason enough to say that religion is a bad thing. These are the folks who truly fear that a moral life without religion is impossible – but they are too afraid and lazy to even give it a try.

    Now… can we expect you to set up your own blog? If not, I hope you’ll at least continue doing things like this. Todd Katz wants atheists to concentrate on stopping abuse, and I for one agree and think you should continue to accommodate him.

  24. Nice article. What bugs me about some of the post/comments is the bible quoting. If you are going to quote from the bible then stop cherry picking!!! Why would you quote from a book that has a whole lot of ugly stuff burried in there as well. “thou shall look upon this and admire the work God has done” How does that sound?? It’s a quote from a porn magazine I have.

  25. Is making widows believe in a fantasy that their spouses are frolicking in heaven and waiting to be reunited so that they get fully hooked in the whole god belief that they’ll happily go along with tithing, voting for the religious right’s candidates, stopping their kids from getting vaccines, voting for school board members who will ruin kid’s science educations, and subscribe to ideas like gays are abominations, this country was founded as a christian nation and the Constitution needs to be amended to be more in line with the bible REALLY something to be proud of and esteemed as a virtue? Is it?

    Is multi-million$ churches REALLY the best way to spend donations to help people?

    Is preaching to people while they receive aid in a tragedy REALLY being charitable?

    I could go on.

    There are a lot of terrible things in this world all predicated on god belief. That alone makes speaking out against it a good use of resources. Be that as it may, there are atheist charities only atheist charities don’t feel compelled to package atheism with aid. In other words, they don’t conditionally help, they unconditionally help. Two biggest that come to mind are Bill Gates’ foundation and Lance Armstrong’s.

    Have a nice day, Todd.

  26. @ John

    I also love the cherry picking of so-called prophecy. There are thousands of predictions in the bible. They point out the ones that even tangentially seem to have come to pass while ignoring the ones that haven’t. And they ignore the fact that the New Testament was written decades after the death of Christ, therefore any of the “prophecy” that linked him to the coming Messiah could easily have been written in at that time just to conform to the prediction. Ahhhhh… it’s all so silly.

    @ Philly – calm down there big fella. We feel your pain!

  27. Todd: I do contribute about 8% of my pretax income to charities, including some operated by religious organizations. It will most likely be less this year as my son hits college. And I will complain about any group, individual or organization which uses ideology and power to force comformaty and immaturity. (As my wife puts it, she was a believer (UCC) but grew up.)

    John Evo: This is actually my second. My first was over at AtheistRevolution back in mid-November(?) and was called “Fear of an Idea.” As far as starting my own blog, I’m still a neophyte in the blogosphere. At this point I am still just learning the rules of argument. Also, with so many incredible blogs in the atheosphere, I’m not sure how much I could add. Luckily, Spanish Inquisitor and vjack (over at AtheistRevolution) give me a chance to post when my brain does come up with something useful.

    John: My wife works a corner in the south end of town (get your minds out of the gutter, she’s a school crossing guard) and on the corner is a Methodist church. They have two message boards upon which they toss ‘relevant’ quotes. The one up right now? “The greatest gift god has given man is the ability to worship god.” Circular and, well, insane.

    I’m glad most of ya’ll enjoyed my essay. If my brain works, there may be more.

  28. Here here. Great article as always, Span. I smiled when I read your “laughed out loud in his face” comment, as I think I would have done the same thing!

  29. Yesterday, my wife, son and I drove out to Clarion for my son’s inteview for the Dean’s Scholars Program (one step below the schools honors program) and, as it is a four hour drive each way (and a full (!) tank of gas ($$$)) we had a great deal of time to talk. One of the subjects which always comes up is atheism and religion.

    I was a long term agnostic but I have recently decided that there really is no reason to believe in god in any form. I took a very intellectual approach, studying the evidence, reading histories of christianity and arguing. My wife ‘just grew up.’ That’s the phrase she uses. She grew up and decided to be responsible for her own live. Atheism followed.

    Anyway, the reason for this long preamble is:

    Babs (and John): During this conversation, we got to talking about the physical plant of religion. The churches (tax exempt), land (tax exempt) and cemetaries (tax exempt). We discussed the value of the physical plant and the value of the tax exemptions (query: if I had money (!) and opened an atheist free-thought center, would that land qualify for tax-exemption? I’m not a tax lawyer, but my gut reaction is, “Not only no, but hell no!”) (and this was before I got home last night and looked at the additional posts added on Saturday). We both decided that the amount of money ‘wasted’ on ‘god mansions’ (her term, not mine (credit where credit is due)) most likey dwarfs by a factor of five or ten the money and services churches provide to the poor, widows, orphans and disaster victims.

  30. I wouldn’t deny on the facts that had happened and still happening daily in our community. I wouldn’t want to see any children abuse and hurt under the grant title of religion. These news is even more saddening, for a believer like me…sincerely.

    Indeed, I am judging (commenting) on the things they are doing because I do felt uneasy for those I heard and I see. To me…all I did, I am accountable to my Holy one above, and I am prepared to bare the consequences of my doing.

    Other than spending my time in the community work helping the needy and handicap, I pray…because it is so little my hands and strength can do. I am doing it with love, within what I am capable of doing. I am not doing it because others told me so. I am born in a country where Christianity is only a minority. I choose my own path, and believe God answered prayer, as well as “the bible tells me so”. I am fine if everyone think I am “yet to grow up” ^_~

    Billy, regarding the original sin quote…yes, they are in New Testament.

    Matthew 7:1
    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

    Matthew 7:2
    For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    Luke 6:37
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    Lastly, a righteous man, not necessary has to be a holy man. Being righteous and truthful is the responsibility of each individual, to be accountable for what they say and do. To me, there is enough anger in the world, and only manifest of love, is what the world really seeking.

  31. Imeau: I admire your convictions. I don’t agree, but I can admire them.

    I am aware of the quotes from the bible regarding judging others (Matthew 7:1, 7:2 and Luke 6:37) but, from your immediately preceding sentence, I fail to see the connection.

    I am also glad that you feel uneasy about some of the things done in the name of either religion or church. My observations, though (and from a limited viewpoint), point to a direct connection between the bible, religion and churches and the very abuse I wrote about. Because christianity requires absolute conformity in order to achieve heaven, any deviation is sin and rebellion and must be prevented or, if prevention (through fear or love (which may be two sides of the same coin (I love my wife and I fear doing something which will cause me to lose her))) fails, then correction and punishment must follow (shunning, love bombing, physical abuse (spare the rod?)).

    And I am glad to see the last paragraph. It’s not something I expect to see from a theist. Your recognition of an individual’s ultimate responsibility for his or her life is important. Yes, there is anger in the world. Yes, there is love. Some love comes from non-belief. Some comes from belief. Can you deny, though, that though love can come through belief, so can anger?

  32. Ah, but that wasn’t New Testament Christianity, no offense. I agree religious people can be morons, but that’s no reflection of the religion. We don’t judge a religion by the morons who claim its banner. Or something like that. ;-)

  33. Shaun said:

    I agree religious people can be morons, but that’s no reflection of the religion. We don’t judge a religion by the morons who claim its banner.

    I agree that religious people can be morons. So can atheists. So can Democrats. So can Republicans. And in most cases, an individual moron does not reflect the values of the organization to which they belong. However (you knew that there would be a however here, right?), some religions (including many (but not all) sects of christianity) are anti-intellectual. For many christians, heaven depends not just upon believing in jesus, but believing the exact correct thing about jesus. This is the point of religious schools and christian home schooling. By limiting the knowledge base of the individual adherent, by declaring certain thoughts to be anathema or even evil, the individuals knowledge base, and thus their decision making process, is limited.

    Now moron has many definitions. One is an archaic (and derogatory) synonym for mental retardation. Some christian sects state emphatically that in order to truly accept god and jesus in the correct manner, one must approach belief with the innocence of a child. An adult with a child’s mind. Sounds like mental retardation to me.

    I do, on occasion, judge religions by their adherents. If a religion attracts and keeps anti-intellectual morons, then that says something about the religion itself.

  34. Pingback: Bertrand Russell » Blog Archive » Atheism and religion in the news. VI

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