The following page shows negative aspects of different religions. I have dedicated another site to their positive aspects, http://www.mypracticalphilosophy.com/shelp/pos.htm. I do not wish to imply that all believers in these religions are bad or that they should be punished. There are good people of all religions. Many of these people focus on the good commandments of their religions and find a way to reinterpret or ignore the bad ones. Unfortunately there are many who take the negative command of their religions literally. Such commands can lead to hatred of the non-believer and can create a vicious cycle that leads to more and more hate.
Such intolerance can develop through weekly or more frequent indoctrination at services in houses of worship. These religious buildings are scattered throughout the world in almost every city and town and in the name of God and goodness and love many continually indoctrinate the faithful that the non-believer is bad. This dichotomy is what makes them so persuasive and so dangerous. Many people are drawn to the religion because it preaches goodness and love but are taught the nonbeliever is evil and so are taught to hate while they believe they are being taught to love. The Muslim Moroccan cleric Al-Maghili (d. 1505) said that "Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews". Although many Christians currently believe they should love everyone including the Jews, if one loves Jesus and believes that the Jews were responsible for his crucifixion that often leads to hatred of the Jews and has resulted in barbaric persecution of the Jews by the Christians in the past.
Religious leaders have used religion to justify immoral behavior that they wanted to do. These justifications become part of the religion and lead to immoral behavior long after the religious leader is dead. So religion which many people believe helps believers be good, may actually make them a lot worse than they would otherwise be. Many examples of using religion to justify immoral behavior can be found on the Who Was Muhammad page.
It is important to note that intolerance of the non-believer does not stop with religion. Often people with strong political ideologies are intolerant of the non-believer of those ideologies as well and believe in them as strongly and as blindly as any religious zealot. Albert Camus drew the analogy between ideology and religion when he described Marx's writings as the scriptures. He said that no one has ever become a communist because of reading Marx. He said:
"first they convert, then they read the scriptures."
Benjamin Kerstein in an article titled My Road to Damascus (frontpagemag.com 9/22/04) wrote that in the Boston suburb where he grew up:
Liberalism in its post-Vietnam form, a kind of quasi-pacifist libertarian socialism shot through with a ferocious strain of racialism, was in every way our state religion.
Mr. Kerstein wrote about the tenets of his religion and why he left it as follows:
I believed, first and foremost, that the United States was an irreparably corrupt and wicked society, founded on racism, consolidated through genocide, perpetuated through oppression at home and tyrannical imperialism abroad, and fueled by a psychotic machine capitalism which was, through its environmental destruction and cultural hegemony, destroying the world itself...
The idea that America was fundamentally racist, and, indeed, that we were fundamentally racist, and that we ought, if we were decent people, to hate ourselves and our country for it, was simply an article of faith which no one, for very good reason, ever had the will, reason, or courage to question...
Ultimately it was the idea of universalism, of totalism; the idea which Judaism so rightfully, I now realized, rejected; that disturbed me the most. The demand for an absolute uniformity of thought and opinion; which I had experienced firsthand in the liberal surroundings in which I grew up and to which I had, at one point, wholeheartedly consented; struck me then, as it strikes me now, as little more than petty tyranny at best, and the wholesale annihilation of the human soul at worst.
The belief that industry is causing global warming is a religion where the non-believer is ostracized and the non-believing scientist jeopardizes his chances of being funded. A documentary about the global warming religion can be viewed online. Tim Thorstenson in an article titled Why Did Global Warming Become a "Moral Matter"? wrote:
None other than The High Priest of Global Warming (Al Gore) has decreed it as such...
In regard to dissenting opinions Tim Thorstenson wrote:
If global warming is now a moral matter, it would seem to suggest an associated implication that these inconvenient viewpoints are immoral. Apparently it is now the duty of "good" people to reject these opinions on this "moral" basis and without regard to whether they are factually true or false...
The message of these pseudo-moralists is that "good" people must start by accepting the pre-ordained orthodox conclusion and then work backwards through the claimed facts, making not an intellectual assessment of whether they are indeed true, but rather a "moral" assessment of whether or not they agree with the conclusion. Things claimed as facts which are "good" (in this moral sense) should be embraced and those which are "bad" (in this same moral sense) should be discarded, not because they are factually false, but because they are "immoral".
This message that Tim Thorstenson discusses is exactly the one sent by religions.
The political belief of the left in Israel and in the American administration that Israeli land concessions to terrorists will bring peace can be thought of as a religion because all the overwhelming evidence that this is wrong is ignored and in Israel the non-believer is treated as evil. Carolyn Glick wrote (The True Believers and Netanyahu, The Jerusalem Post, 9/1/05):
In its quest to maintain its absolute faith in its pagan god of peace in our time, the Left internationally and in Israel has abandoned reason for rage and has exchanged rationality for mocking paranoia and hatred.
Reverend Louis P. Sheldon, the chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition wrote an article titled Atheism has Fueled Greatest Mass Murders in World History. He wrote:
The fact is that while religious wars have been fought for centuries, militant atheism has slaughtered more people than religious zealots ever have. The greatest mass murders in history have been committed not by Christians but by Communists Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. More than 100 million have died at the hands of these militant atheists since the early 20th century.
Thinking and Religion
Several of the quotes at the beginning of this article deal with the conflict between thinking and religion. Tawfik Hamid a former Jihadi wrote that (The Herald Examiner, September 2007):
During my first year of medical school a Jamaah member named Muchtar Muchtar invited me to join the organization. Muchtar was in his fourth year, and Jamaah ahd given him the title amir (prince or caliph) - a designation taken from early Islamic writings that is associated with the Islamic Caliphate or Amir Almomenin (Prince of the Believers). I accepted his invitation, and we walked together to Jamaah's mosque for noon prayers. On the way there Muchtar emphasized the central importance in Islam of the conept of al-fikr kufr, the idea that the very act of thinking (fikr) makes one an infidel (kufr).
Thinking is a threat to religions that try and brainwash people.
Negative Aspects of Common Religious Beliefs
The most dangerous religious belief is that the non-believer is evil. We all know how hatred of the non-believer fuels wars between Muslims and non-Muslims as well as between different sects of Islam (Sunni and Shiite). The Protestants and Catholics in Ireland have been at war for a long time and Christianity has persecuting the non-believing Jews, the Spanish Inquisition being one example. A news item that demonstrates this hatred of the non-believer appeared in Worldnetdaily about Arthur Shelton who killed his friend Larry Hooper because Larry didn't believe. (Detroit Free Press 12/29/05)
Before the shooting, Hooper had told Shelton that Shelton couldn't say anything to convince him to believe in God, according to police Shelton left the room, took off his shirt, shaved his face and tried again to convince Hooper there is a God. But at that point, Shelton had a 12-gauge shotgun. "How long would it take you to believe in God?" Shelton said he asked Hooper. "Not until I hear Gabriel blow his horn," replied Hooper. Hooper tipped his hat and Shelton fired the shotgun at Hooper's head. "I did it because he is evil; he was not a believer," Shelton said.
It is fairly well known that according to Islamic law the infidel, must be subjugated and live in degradation. It is less well known that 16th-century Catholic Tridentine Mass - recited every Good Friday - refers to Jews as "perfidious," and claims they live in "blindness" and "darkness." That mass
Encouraging people to believe encourages them not to think. If we believe we are controlled by those who tell us what to believe. We become vulnerable to believing evil beliefs such as the belief that the non-believer is evil, a belief that many religions teach.
If we believe in an all powerful God and we witness terrible things happening we may feel that we must do terrible things in order to appease him so that he won't hurt us and will protect us. This may be the reason that some ancient religions believed that the way to influence God was to make human sacrifices to him. The Aztecs cut out the hearts of their brethren as an offering to their gods. Apparently they did that every day to make sure the sun would rise. The Khond (kahnd) people of eastern India used to invite "honored guests" to their village for a week-long festival. At the end of the week, one selected "guest" would then be tortured, tied to a tree and killed by the village priest.
Lenten Christians in the Phillipines voluntarily have themselves nailed to crosses with 10cm nails as a form of penance for sins, to pray for a sick relative or to fulfill a vow (iol 4/9/04). A movie of this can be viewed by clicking here.
Many Muslims celebrate the holiday of Ashoura by cutting themselves. A graphic article with pictures Called Never To Young to Bleed (1/29/07) was written by David Melle.
Belief in the afterlife can also lead people to do terrible things. When a king from the Shang dynasty of China (1750-1040 BC) died more than 100 slaves were killed to join him in the grave. Hindu wives of men who died would lie beside them on the funeral pyre and be burned with them. This practice called Sati was deemed an act of peerless piety, and was said to purge the couple of all accumulated sin, guarantee their salvation and ensure their reunion in the afterlife. In modern times a Moslem who sacrifices himself in Holy War is believed to go to heaven. Some religions promote self flagellation in order to earn paradise in the afterlife this is discussed on the Happiness is a Virtue web page.
Pascal said that "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. " I would add to that statement "especially if they do it with religious conviction that there is an afterlife." On June 26, 2007 Metro New York carried an article titled "Boy escapes role as Taliban suicide bomber." Taliban fighters put a vest on 6 year old Juma Gul which they said would spray out flowers when he touched a button. They told him to go to American soldiers and push the button. I'm sure those Taliban didn't think they were doing anything wrong. They probably believed that they were guaranteeing Juma a ticket to eternal paradise not to mention that they themselves were scoring points with Allah at the same time. One of the concerns of the Taliban is probably how infidel American soldiers endear themselves to the Afghan population by their kind treatment of children. Taliban probably were hoping to put a stop to this by making it to dangerous for American soldiers to get near children. Fortunately in this particular case Juma realized the vest he was wearing was a bomb.
Robert Spencer in his book Onward Christian Soldiers, wrote that:
On Palestinian Authority Television in 2002 two eleven year old girls who had been thoroughly indoctrinated by the warriors of Jihad went so far as to exclaim that they would prefer death by suicide bombing to justice and peace for the Palestinian people.
One of them explained:
We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife.
One day some Jihadis may commit the ultimate suicide bombing by setting off nuclear weapons in Western Cities with the firm belief that they will be rewarded in the afterlife. Nuclear war might end all life on the planet. How ironic that belief in the afterlife could lead to the end of all life.
Belief in a Messiah can motivate people to take actions to hasten the coming of the Messiah. One religious group that did this was called the "Army of God," an Islamist group whose stated purpose was to cause injustice in order to hasten the return to earth of the Mehdi, the 12th Imam, which according to some Muslims would mark the beginning of the reign of Islam over the earth. Before being destroyed by Coalition forces, the Army of God was notorious for randomly torturing and killing Iraqis, in the most horrible ways. Iran may hasten the coming of the Mehdi with nuclear weapons.
Many religions describe God as an all powerful and omniscient judge who rewards those who are good and punishes those who are bad. Josephus when explaining the law of Moses argued that the only way religious teachings would promote virtue would be if they
taught first of all, that God is the Father and Lord of all things, and sees all things, and that thence he bestows a happy life upon those that follow him; but plunges such as do not walk in the paths of virtue into inevitable miseries.
If one's situation is bad, then the belief that God is controlling events, implies that God wants one's situation to be bad. The natural conclusion for a person in these circumstances to draw is that he is bad and that he is being punished by God for being wicked. In this way the belief that God is controlling everything encourages people to have low self esteem, to hate themselves, and to give up hope. What hope is there if Almighty God himself has turned against oneself? The natural conclusion for other believers to draw is that God is punishing the person and that he must be bad. This will give believers the incentive to abandon or even to turn against the person in time of need. If the person who is going through hard times is a nonbeliever, believers are likely to believe the hard times are due to God punishing him for being a nonbeliever, and will abandon him for that reason. I personally experienced this. I didn't get married till late and a religious Catholic friend of mine told me when I was still single that maybe God was punishing me for not being Catholic by preventing me from getting married.
Many religions describe God as an all powerful benevolent being who controls everything that happens and that has preordained all that will happen. It's God's will is a common phrase.
If everything is God's will then there is no point in trying to change things for the better. If everything is God's will then it can't be better. So this belief is a motivation to do nothing to improve one's situation or the situation of others. Or it may lead one to spend one's time praying instead of taking precautions to protect oneself from threats that one faces. One may think that praying will convince God to protect oneself in which case there is no need to take precautions.
I was once told that if I prayed God would save lives. I'm a doer not a prayer. There probably are a lot of people who spend a lot of time praying when they could be doing good.
The belief that others may have magical powers is a step toward believing that they used those magical powers for evil. In India A tea garden worker in Assam killed two people and chopped their bodies into pieces because he suspected they had cast evil spells on his sons. (Cut Into Pieces For Allegedly Practicing Witchcraft, newkerala.com 11/21/05)
Blaming the Victim in Order to Explain Evil
Even if a believer is suffering other believers may conclude he is being punished for his sins. On Sunday Aug 6, 2000 Rabbi Ovadia Yosef the leader of the biggest ultra-Orthodox political party in Israel said the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust died because they were reincarnations of sinners. He said the six million ``were reincarnations of the souls of sinners, people who transgressed and did all sorts of things which should not be done. They had been reincarnated in order to atone.''
If one believes in an all powerful just and benevolent God then Rabbi Yosef's conclusions are almost inescapable since how else can one explain how God could have allowed the Holocaust? This is an example of how belief in an all powerful just and benevolent God leads to blaming the victim. Another example is the explanation given by senator Hank Irwin for hurricane's Rita and Katrina. He said (worldnetdaily.com 9/29/05):
"New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness," wrote Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, in a column, according to the Birmingham News. "It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God."
The behavior that brought on the devastation of the hurricanes was environmental suits that blocked safety measures to prevent storm surges, not building New Orleans above sea level, delayed decisions to evacuate New Orleans and so on. If everyone were to go back to New Orleans and stop gambling they would still be vulnerable to the next hurricane.
If you are a believer in the wonderful powers of Kabbalah then how do you explain the Holocaust. Rabbi Eliyahu Yardeni told Tony Donnelly, an undercover BBC reporter (New York Post 1/12/05):
Just to tell you another thing about the 6 million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust. The question was that the Light was blocked. They didn't use Kabbalah."
So it was their fault!
After the World Trade Center massacre of September 11, 01 Reverend Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said efforts "to secularize America" were at least partially to blame for Tuesday's terrorist attacks. If one believes in an all powerful God, then he must have had a reason to allow such a horrendous attack to occur and what more reasonable reason than that given by Jerry and Pat?
After the tsunami that hit Indonesia and killed over 150,000 people, the preacher of the Baituraman mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia told about 2,000 worshippers that (worldnetdaily.com 1/8/05):
"Maybe this disaster was because we have forgotten him and his teachings and failed to implement [Islamic] Shariah law."
Sri Lankan Muslims even claim to have found proof of this belief. After the tsunami in the Indian Ocean Mohamed Faizeen, manager of the Centre for Islamic Studies in Colombo, said that a satellite picture proved that Allah was punishing Sri Lanka for ignoring his laws since the waves spelled out the name of Allah "This clearly spells out the name 'Allah' in Arabic," Faizeen said, pointing to the shape of the waves - a gigantic "E" complete with whorls and sidewaves that do indeed appear to combine to resemble the Arabic script for the name "Allah" (God Signed the Tsunami News 24 1/10/04).
Other Muslims blamed the tsunami on an underwater nuclear explosion for which Israel, the United States and India were responsible. (Egyptian Paper: Israel-India nuke test caused tsunami, Jerusalem Post, 1/6/05)
A Christian minister, John MacLeod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland claimed that the tsunami was direct result of "pleasure seekers" breaking God's Sabbath (Sabbath Breaking-Caused Tsunami wnd.com 2/13/04).
After Hurricane Katrina Muslims rejoiced believing that the hurricane was divine punishment by Allah of America. The following is an excerpt from Sout Al-Khilafa, Al-Qaeda's new on-line weekly news broadcast. TO VIEW THIS CLIP VISIT: http://memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=862.
"The entire Islamic world overflowed with joy when Hurricane Katrina struck in America, which seemed to reel from the strength of the hurricane and went asking for aid from all the countries of the world. Broken and completely humiliated, George Bush, a fool who is being obeyed, announced his obvious incapability to deal with the wrath of Allah that visited the city of homosexuals.
In the Islamic world natural disasters are either Allah's punishment of the fault of the Zionists and the Americans. After Hurricane's Katrina and Rita "an Imam said: "Allah has punished America with winds and water". Another imam reportedly quipped that America, as evidenced by the natural disasters, is "under the curse of the Jews." (worldnetdaily: Al Qaida nuke reactor threat, 10/8/05)
Notice how in the case of the tsunami which bought disaster on Muslims, Allah was punishing Muslims for not being Muslim enough whereas in the case of the hurricane America was being punished presumably for not being Muslim. If a disaster hits Muslims or non-Muslims it always is evidence that people should be more Islamic or that the evil infidel is responsible. Another theory for the tsunami of Sri Lanka was that the infidels caused it with an underwater nuclear explosion. Religion can always find evidence proving that God hates the non-believer.
The belief that everything is preordained robs people of the will to do anything, if everything is predestined, why make an effort, whatever will happen will happen anyway.
Many religions include the belief that those who do not believe in the religion are doomed to go to hell. This is a very dangerous belief. This belief in my opinion encourages believers to view nonbelievers as bad. They must be bad if God will send them to hell. Often they believe they should convert the non-believer which leads to hostility toward the non-believers who reject the faith. Once believers view nonbelievers as bad it is only a matter of time until the believers persecute the nonbelievers.
Religions often try and force people to be moral by creating rules to remove temptation or punish those who give in to it. One example of this is commandments that women should cover themselves. This has been carried to such an extreme in some Muslim countries that women have to wear burkas with a screen in front of their eyes through which they can barely see and breath. In America I have come across Muslim women with just slits for their eyes and I find it quite frightening. I enjoy seeing beautiful girls and I think it's a tragedy to hide their beauty. There is a poem with the line Full Many A Rose is Born to Blush Unseen, and Waste it's Sweetness on the Desert Air. Radical Islam covers up the roses. By the same logic of protecting us from temptation roses should be covered up so that we won't be tempted to pick them from someone elses garden. Rules by definition mean a loss of freedom and religions in order to make mankind moral, impose rules that reduce freedom.
Differences in religious observance frequently cause misery in romantic relationships and often lead to an end relationships of people that otherwise might have lived happily together.
Christian Scientists and Jehovahs Witnesses believe that if one has faith in God than he will take care of you and there is no point in taking medicine. The result is they don't get medical treatment they need.
The belief in an afterlife can lead people to devote their lives to scoring with God so they will be in heaven instead of devoting their lives to living in the here and now. If someone loses a loved one they may wish to die so that they can join their loved one in heaven. They may stop taking medications they need. Many religions forbid suicide and that counteracts this type of reasoning. The prohibition against suicide may not always be a good thing however. The terminally ill may be better off if they can turn off the respirator. Also although a believer may be deterred from suicide they may not take the precautions they would normally take to keep themselves alive if they believe that death will unite them with their lost loved ones.
Islam encourages suicide as a part of holy war. It does this partly with the doctrine that those who die in holy war will have a wonderful afterlife. In fact an article that appeared in the June 4, 01 New York Post entitled "100 Suicide Bombers Await Orders to Die" told how "around 100 would-be suicide bombers are waiting in line for death missions through Hamas and the Islamic Jihad". The Chief Mufti of the PA's Police Forces, Sheik 'Abd Al-Salam Abu Shukheydem, described the seven rewards the Martyr earns according to Islamic tradition:
From the moment the first drop of his blood is spilled [by the enemy, the martyr] does not feel the pains of the injury and is absolved of all his [bad] deeds; he sees his seat in Paradise; he is saved from the torture of the grave; he is saved from the fear of Day of Judgment; he marries [seventy beautiful] black-eyed [women]; he is an advocate for seventy of his relatives [to reach paradise]; and he earns the Crown of Glory, whose precious stone is better than all this world and everything in it. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, September 17, 1999)
The New York Post article "Monster's Manual For Murder" 9/29/01 tells how:
At least three of the Islamic militants who took part in the kamikaze hijack attack on America had copies of the same handwritten set of "instructions" - a spiritual and practical how-to of terror. It repeatedly assured the hijackers: "You will be entering paradise. You will be entering the happiest life, everlasting life."
Charles MacKay in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions: The Madness of Crowds, wrote about how the belief in the afterlife contributed to the witch mania in Europe. He wrote:
The belief that disembodied spirits may be permitted to revisit this world has its foundation upon that sublime hope of immortality which is at once the chief solace and greatest triumph of our reason. Even if revelation did not teach us, we feel that we have within us which shall never die; and all our experience of this life but makes us cling the more fondly to that one repaying hope. But in the early days of "little knowledge" this grand belief became the source of a whole train of superstitions, which, in their turn, became the fount from whence flowed a deluge of blood and horror. Europe for a period of two centuries and a half, brooded upon the idea, not only that parted spirits walked the earth to meddle in the affairs of men, but that men had power to summon evil spirits to their aid to work woe upon their fellows. An epidemic terror seized upon the nations; no man thought himself secure, either in his person or possessions, from the machinations of the devil and his agents. Every calamity that befell him he attributed to a witch. If a storm arose and blew down his barn, it was witchcraft; if his cattle died of a murrain-if disease fastened upon his limbs, or death entered suddenly and snatched a beloved face from his hearth - they were not visitations of Providence, bu the works of some neighbouring hag, whose wretchedness or insanity caused the ignorant to raise their finger and point at her as a witch. The word was upon everybody's tongue. France, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, and the far north successively ran mad upon this subject, and for a long series of years furnished their tribunals with so many trials for witchcraft that other crimes were seldom or never spoken of. Thousands upon thousands of unhappy persons fell victims to this cruel and absurd delusion.
Some religions such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God milk their followers of money. Hector Avalos - a former Pentecostal faith healer made a list of warning signs so that people will recognize such churches.
The Children's Crusade of 1212 is remembered today as one of history's cruelest and most absurd examples of how adults will sacrifice children's lives on the altar of religious fervor and political ambition.
That year, inspired by alleged child visionaries, two armies of children set out from Europe in an attempt to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims.
Tens of thousands of French and German families allowed their little boys (and some little girls) to set out for Palestine, convinced God would lead the innocents to triumph in the righteous cause.
Even the pope told them to go home, to no avail. Most died of disease, hunger or drowning at sea. The few survivors were taken prisoner by the Muslims and sold into slavery.
Religion and Money
Religion is a way to make money. Pilgrimages to Mecca have been and probably still are a big source of revenue for the monarchy of Saudi Arabia. (Aaron David Miller, Search For Security, Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy 1980). In England, prior to the reformation, there was anger at the Catholic Church for making money off the peopleTo get married you had to pay; to get a child baptised (which you needed to be if you were to go to Heaven - so the Catholic Church preached) you had to pay; you even had to pay the Church to bury someone on their land (which you had to do as your soul could only go to Heaven if you were buried on Holy Ground). Peasants worked for free on Church land. This proved difficult for peasants as the time they spent working on Church land, could have been better spent working on their own plots of land producing food for their families.
They paid 10% of what they earned in a year to the Church (this tax was called tithes). A failure to pay tithes, so the peasants were told by the Church, would lead to their souls going to Hell after they had died.
In the Middle Ages, Priests sold indulgences which they claimed absolve a confessor from the guilt and punishment of sins in hell.
There was a theological problem with this and that is that if you accept Christ you are forgiven of your sins and go to heaven and saved from eternal damnation. So there is no need for a priest to intercede. Ah but you are not saved from temporary punishment. You still have to undergo temporary punishment for your sins in Purgatory which is almost as unpleasant as hell until you are purged of your sins. Indulgences could spare you punishment in Purgatory. The practice of indulgences was brought back by Pope John Paul II.
Thomas Gascoigne…complained that “sinners say nowadays: ‘I care not how many evils I do in God’s sight, for I can easily get plenary remission of all guilt and penalty by an absolution and indulgence granted me by the pope, whose written grant I have bought for four or six pence, or have won as a stake for a game of tennis [with the pardoner]’ (Durant 23)
Religion and Sexuality
Religion tries to control people's behavior. Given that sexuality and passion have a strong influence on people's behavior religion tries to control that or diminish it. As a result some religions command circumcision. The 12th century physician and rabbi Moses Maimonides advocated male circumcision for its ability to curb a man's sexual appetite (Moses Maimonides. (1135-1204). The Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Dover Publications 1956: 378. ). Further, he implied that it could also affect a woman's sexuality, indicating that once a woman had taken a lover who was not circumcised, it was very hard for her to give him up. Female circumcision is practiced widely in Muslim and African countries to control women's sexuality. There is evidence that circumcision decreases sexual pleasure and makes it harder to have children.
There are many honor killings by Muslims of women who they considered defiled by sexuality. If a woman has been raped her family may kill her because of the dishonor to their family. Catherine Woods, a beautiful stripper, was killed by her boyfriend who was into Hinduism. In his diary (New York Post, 1/10/06):
He talks about cutting her throat. It's because she won't change her ways. She won't quit her stripping, and she's living a life of sin.
"The impression is, he's freeing her from her earthly bounds that are just so distasteful to him. It implies that she would be better off dead."
Here the belief in an afterlife, may have played a role in the boyfriend thinking that what he was doing wasn't really bad but even good.
Religion and the Apocalypse
Christianity is not the only religion that believes in an Apocalypse. The danger of this belief was discussed by Charles Krauthammer in an article titled, In Iran, Arming for Armageddon (12/16/05):
Like Judaism and Christianity, Shiite Islam has its own version of the messianic return — the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. The more devout believers in Iran pray at the Jamkaran mosque, which houses a well from which, some believe, he will emerge.
When Ahmadinejad unexpectedly won the presidential elections (of Iran), he immediately gave $17 million of government funds to the shrine. Last month Ahmadinejad said publicly that the main mission of the Islamic Revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam.
And as in some versions of fundamentalist Christianity, the second coming will be accompanied by the usual trials and tribulations, death and destruction...
So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election... This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person. Indeed, with millennial bliss pending, he would have positive incentive to, as they say in Jewish eschatology, hasten the end.
According to Shiites, the 12th imam disappeared as a child in the year 941. When he returns, they believe, he will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about a final judgment and the end of the world. He sees his main mission, as he recounted in a Nov. 16 speech in Tehran, as to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance." (Iran leader's messianic end times mission, worldnetdaily.com 6/1/06)
Missed by some observers in Ahmadinejad's speech at the U.N. was his call to the "mighty Lord" to hasten the emergence of "the promised one," the one who "will fill this world with justice and peace."
Religion and Crime:
The word thug comes from an Indian network of secret fraternities who were engaged in murdering and robbing travellers, operating from the 17th century (possibly as early as 13th century) to the 19th century whose members were known as Thugs. Assassination for gain was a religious duty for them, and was considered a holy and honorable profession, in which moral feelings did not come into play. According to the Wikipedia
When a favorable opportunity arose, the Thug strangled his victim by throwing a yellow scarf or Rumaal (symbolic of Kali) around the neck, and then plundered and buried him. All this was done according to certain ancient and rigidly prescribed forms, and after the performance of special religious rites, in which the consecration of the pickaxe and the sacrifice of sugar formed a prominent part...
According to 19th century writings about thuggee, the will of the goddess by whose command and in whose honor they followed their calling was revealed to them through a very complicated system of omens. The colonial writings further state that in obedience to these, they often travelled hundreds of miles in company with, or in the wake of, their intended victims before a safe opportunity presented itself for executing their design. When the deed was done, rites were performed in the deity's honor, and a significant portion of the spoils was set apart for Her.
They believed each murder prevented Kali's (their goddess's) arrival for 1000 years. ..
Kali represented destruction and death. Apparently the Thugs feared that when Kali came she'd bring death and destruction. Therefore by appeasing her by robbing and killing victims they were in effect saving the world.
According to the Guinness Book of Records the Thuggee cult was responsible for approximately 2,000,000 deaths.
Religion and War:
Religious wars have killed millions of people. Perhaps the most victims of a religious war were the Chinese who died during the Japanese occupation. Garry Greenwood in his web page All the Emperor's Men wrote that the Japanese emperor was considered divine and his will was considered the will of God. Mr. Greenwood wrote:
Simply by following his command, you were saved. As time passed, Japan, with its Emperor securely enthroned upon his divine seat, began to see the whole world in a state of global anarchy. They were of the opinion that there could never be peace in the world "as long as every nation had absolute sovereignty". The outside world simply wasn't living in accordance with the indigenous divine principles deeply ingrained within the very fabric of the Japanese nation...Japan, with its God Emperor at the helm, and with around 90 million followers, was, in reality, one of the world's largest and most dangerous religious cults, complete with a large and well-equipped military.
Starting around 1930, this cult began an expansion program aimed firstly at its neighbours. Although Japan had already annexed Korea in 1910, it soon became clear that its final goal was to secure all of humanity within its divine hierarchical pyramid. Japan, of course, was to occupy the position at the top, since they were a divine nation and this was believed to be divine providence. This divine crusade meant that all other nations of the world would then be placed in correct order somewhere below them. Only then would global anarchy cease and peace would finally be established. It was essential that each nation be given its proper place, and only then could a nation prosper and finally find peace.
Before long, their Imperial forces were to commence playing out this awesome fantasy. In 1931, their army, under the command of its fanatical cult-mentality officers, including Yoshikazu Okada, began their jihad, or holy war. Manchuria was easily overrun, with virtually no condemnation from the rest of the world. Soon after, China was invaded, and again the world did nothing. The League of Nations did, however, protest over the invasion of China, and this prompted the Japanese government to withdraw its membership. Indo-China was occupied in 1941, Pearl Harbour was attacked on Dec 7th, 1941, followed soon after by attacks on Guam and Singapore.
Their fanatical crusade was now in full swing. There could be no greater honour than to die in the name of God and the Emperor. Each soldier was issued with a booklet, the contents of which was to leave "no doubt as to why they must fight, whom they must fight and how they must fight." It reads: "The new restoration of the 1930s had come about in response to the Imperial desire for peace in the Far East. Its task is the rescue of Asia from white aggression. Already Japan, the pioneer in this movement, has rescued Manchuria from the ambitions of the Soviets, and set China free from the extortions of the Anglo-Americans..."
The consequence of the Japanese was was massive bloodletting. Mr. Greenwood writes:
The victorious Japanese officers and soldiers systematically murdered and tortured to death 300,000 surrendered Chinese soldiers and civilians, and raped 20,000 women in the ensuing months at Nanking. It became known as the "Rape of Nanking". The world was outraged, since up until then it was the worst act of atrocity the world had witnessed this century. So hungry was their lust for blood, that even the Nazis at the time tried to mediate with the commanding officers to quell the blood-letting. During the fifteen years of Japanese occupation, it is estimated that up to 35 million Chinese were killed..
Islam and Christianity are also responsible for massive bloodletting. I have written an extensive web page about the negative aspects of Islam and another web page about the negative aspects of Christianity. I have devoted another web page to the positive aspects of religion.
Religious groups often persecute members of other religious groups. Today there is widespread Muslim persecution of Christians. In Burma Buddhists persecute Christians . Both Muslims (Four Christians Arrested in Egypt 3/31/04) and Buddhists (Christian Children Forced to Become Buddhist Monks by Burmese Regime, Christian Solidarity Worldwide 4/1/01) kidnap Christian children to convert them to their religions. A group of Hindu extremists warned that they would burn more than 60 Christian converts in northern India to death if they refuse to return to Hinduism by the following Sunday.(Radicals threaten to burn Christians to Death, worldnetdaily.com 11/17/05). Rajan was a Hindu who became a Christian. Hindu neighbors have dug up Rajan's cauliflower and potatoes. He was recently fined 6,000 rupees (about $100, a large sum in Nepal), after water from his field spilled over into a neighbor's field. Normally, this would not be a problem, but the neighbors consider water from Rajan's field unclean because he is a Christian (wnd.com 5/27/07). Journal Chretien (6/13/07) reported that A Hindu Mob in India attacked a former Hindu who became a Pastor. A hundred of them cornered Pastor Gowda in a room in his house, and began assaulting him in front of his wife and two small children. One of the assailants threw kerosene on the pastor, and others started burning Bibles. Someone tossed a burning Bible onto Pastor Gowda, but he did not catch fire. The extremists then stripped the pastor naked and hung a board around his neck that said, “I am the one who was converting people,” before parading him through the area. By this time, the mob had swollen to about 1,000, as more people joined in to harass and torture the pastor.
According to Worldnetdaily 8/11/07, Converts to Christianity have been threatened by police in India and pressured to leave Christianity and return to Hinduism. They were also warned that if they fail to return to Hinduism the provisions of the Anti-Conversion Act of Rajasthan, would be used to arrest them," the sources said.
In the U.S., the Hindu American web site has a hyperlink to a report by Vinay Vallabh, called "Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus," in which he expressed his hope that Internet Service Providers will start censoring Christian postings of their beliefs, "a necessary step as we continue our balancing act between free speech and licentious speech that leads to violence in the electronic age." He said: "We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance." This is truly doublespeak as he is the one who is intolerant of the Christian point of view and against the pluralism that would allow it to be expressed.
The following are some quotes about religion.
Religion has killed millions of people. Something must be wrong.
Kirk Douglas in Jan 2002 Esquire Interview
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
We will cut throats, and from vein to vein, if needed to protect the spirit and moral of this nation."
Islamic Group Swords of Truth threatening to behead female TV broadcasters who wear makeup and don't wear veils in June 2007
Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding,
and whatever it sees it must put out of sight,
and wish to know nothing but the word of God.
Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.
From the age of six or seven, from elementary school until high school, when we reach the age of 18, and even later, when we go to university - we memorize, memorize, and memorize. Whoever dares to argue or to question anything is called upon to ask for Allah's forgiveness. He is told that this will get him into Hell. You, who frighten people with Hell, have brought them a hell upon earth. You have banned books of the various intellectual streams. You've prevented the mind from operating, thinking, comparing, and choosing
Saudi TV Newscaster Buthayna Nasser Slams Islamists over Initiative to Prevent Women from Appearing on TV
“When it came time to go forward and commit certain acts — I was invited to go Afghanistan, to train for jihad, to die for Allah — I felt this struggle between my conscience and the religious teachings. I started to think. “And this word, thinking, probably is what saved me. I began to question.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid (frontpagemag.com 10/24/2006)
When you start believing, you stop thinking
The history of mankind is the story of "perpetual war between belief and unbelief."
Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early 90s.
Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey at a political rally in 1999
Religious delirium may seize small groups, but faced with a choice between this life or the next,
even the devout cling to their mortal coil.
Polly Toynbee in an article
What we need is not the will to believe but the will to find out
So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In addition to my web site www.mypracticalphilosophy.com I have written self help articles for the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. I have also written about the role of psychology in politics and had articles about the topic published in the International Bulletin of Political Psychology. My web site follows up on those articles.