18
Apr
08

What really separates us

*Sigh* Well, the Spirit moved me to find some images that might potentially be useful for running with my next post on speaking in tongues…but sadly, once again, I have been moved in a direction other than writing that post today.

Today, I want to get us clear of what I think is one of the most ignorant comments about any religion, Christianity included: Religion is responsible for most of the atrocities that have ever been committed.

You get a lot of variations on this theme. People say that religion has precipitated more wars than anything else. That abuses in society have often been justified with religion. Or they say that religion does more to divide us than to bring us together.

While this sounds really cathartic to say, especially if you’re an atheist or an agnostic who really, really dislikes organized religion (and hey, I have my own beefs with a lot of churches and denominations)…it really isn’t true.

Religion isn’t the problem.

People are the problem.

If we were to remove religion from the picture, do you seriously think we’d all just get along? That’s a very Pollyanna-ish and naive view of the world and of human nature. Sure, a lot of wars were waged around religious issues. But do you think the believers en masse wanted to go fight other religious believers? No, it was the people in charge, the leaders of society, who made that choice. And most of the time, the motivations are not to glorify God (or a god or goddess) but rather to achieve their own ends.

Power. Influence. Hoping to impress God for selfish reasons. Money. Land. Love. Lust.

Those are the motivators. Not religion.

Religion divides us no more than do race or culture. Eliminating religion won’t eliminate racism. People can use religious text (often out of context) to justify their racism, but they don’t feel racism because of their religious beliefs. Feelings of cultural or political superiority can be justified or bolstered with religion, but they don’t come from a religious source. They come from pride. From arrogance. From pettiness.

I would argue that democracy and capitalism have both been using as rallying cries for a lot of abuses against individuals, nations and the planet. For that matter, communist beliefs (being both political and economic) have been used the same way.

Six million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust not because of religion (not even over them practicing a religion that wasn’t in favor) but because they were scapegoats for an economic downturn and because Hitler thought his people were genetically superior.

The Crusades were not about lifting up God or even fighting for him, but about forming or expanding or maintaining power and/or empires. The Inquisition was not about religion but about control.

People can and will twist any philosophy, economic system or political movement when they think it is necessary to achieve their own agenda—whether it’s a personal agenda, societal agenda or both. Blaming religion for any ills of the world is wrong.

It’s a form of discrimination and a diseased form of elitism that is every bit as bad as that spouted by any pompous ass who waves around a cross or crescent or six-pointed star. Because you can just as easily replace that religious symbol with a flag.

(Miz Pink, where are you? I think I need you to post something soon so that I will get out of here for a day or so and finally finish talking about speaking in tongues…)

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6 Responses to “What really separates us”


  1. April 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I could write a post for you if you like. I have some thoughts on religion.

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    April 18, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    You know, when I suckered Miz Pink into this blog (having failed to woo my wife into it), I hadn’t really thought of “guest posts.” You know, I think I’ll take you up on that Big Man. Want me to set you up as an author on this account or do you just want to work something up and e-mail me at deaconblue777@msn.com ?

    Let me know. I put no fetters on you in terms of angle, language or tone.

  3. April 18, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Good analysis. I like the human motivations perspective. People will use religion as an excuse but as you say it’s almost never the root cause reason for acting out against others.

    Came your way from Fackin Truth’s blog.

    I’m going to guess, from your name and other comments about 70’s-80’s pop music, that amongst others you are a Steely Dan fan right?

    Have a great weekend and cruise thru MartyBLOGs every now and then.

  4. April 18, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Couldn’t name any Steely Dan tunes really, aside from “Deacon Blues,” but I’m sure I’d recognize a ton of their stuff if I were to hear it. I’m pretty bad about knowing which songs go with which artists. But I grew up in the 70s and was in high school/college through the end of the 80s and into the beginning of the 1990s, so yeah, that’s the music I was formed by.

    I always liked “Deacon Blues” for no particular reason I can point to. Hopefully, having lopped off the “s” for my own moniker will keep me from being sued (there’s a pop band name Deacon Blue, I think…so I still have to worry about them) 😉

    I’ll pop on over to your place as soon as I can. Always like to check out other people’s stuff.

  5. 5 Daudi
    May 1, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Deacon..the way I read the Crusades and the Inquisition, they were both started to subdue/convert the Jews. Now, were the Jews being seen as a Race or a Religion? What do you call it when religion happens to be the main reason that an atrocity is committed? I think the statement to mentioned is a little more complex and dismissing it as ignorant doesn’t do it justice. Now I don’t believe that Religion would the root cause of most wars..borders and race/tribe would win my vote..

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    May 1, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Actually, the First Crusades were directed against the Turkish Empire, not the Jews…though the Jews were one of many religious and racial groups that got tore up during at the time. The most overtly Christian religious aspect of the Crusades is that they originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim rule. But I would argue that although the Crusades were waged with religious excuses, religion wasn’t the REAL reason. I maintain that the real reason, as with most wars, was the quest for power. And the people at the top were not acting out of religious motivations primarily but out of selfish and/or power-hungry ones. I’m not saying that a perversion of religious beliefs didn’t occur; I’m just saying that religion wasn’t the cause…particularly because Christian ideals were NOT being upheld in the activities carried out through the Crusades. As perverted as those ideals were, I cannot in good conscience call what was being practiced “religious” because it went against everything Jesus told us our faith walk was supposed to be.

    The Spanish Inquisition, as well, had religious trappings but that was even more clearly an effort by the Spanish Crown to increase its political power and control and also to seize the money and lands of those caught up in the Inquisition.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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