Social Question

Polly_Math's avatar

What's your take on organized religion?

Asked by Polly_Math (1733 points ) January 14th, 2010

Aren’t all religions man-made?
Are they good for society in general?
What and whose purpose do they serve?
Can there possibly be just one out of the many that’s “right”?

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54 Answers

TheLoneMonk's avatar

That there are 10 pages of like questions already asked here on Fluther. Go up to the search box and you can find all the content you want on the subject.

My answer: some people need it, some don’t

really didn’t mean to sound snotty. I’m just a beer short of happy

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

1. Unnecessary.

a) Aren’t all religions man-made?
I believe they are all embellished by man.

b) Are they good for society in general?
In general, I can’t tell. I’ve seen religion provide great solace to good people who deserve the comfort, but I think we’ve all seen how it can go horribly wrong as well.

c)What and whose purpose do they serve?
Mostly, I think they enrich the institutions built around them with material wealth and power which breeds greed, jealousy, and an ungodly thirst for more.

d)Can there possibly be just one out of the many that’s “right”?
There are many paths to God.

Coexist's avatar

One big brainwash.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Don’t get me started!

TheLoneMonk's avatar

@Polly_Math : Thanks…feeling better now

Maximillian's avatar

A) Man-made, but, if you believe in the religion, inspired by God. So, in reality, if you believe it, its God made, designed by man.
B) Usually. The Catholic Church does it’s best to support the needy. (Please no comments.) They try to promote peace. Now, you’ve also got some pretty scary “religions.” They are considered cults. Jihad, those really weird ones in Colorado. But they usually do try to help.
C) They serve as a means to connect with a Supreme Being, whichever you may believe in.
D) What is right is considered an opinion. INHO, I believe my religion is right. But so do all the other religions. Matter of perspective. Everyone has their own way to God, Allah, or what have you.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

a) Man made, means to explain the unexplainable in an age of no mass communication, education, and limited ability to reason.
b) they can be good; I think of churches as acts of community.
c) Ever since the Catholic church assembled the bible back in the 400’s, religion has been political. The purpose of the Nicene Creed was to unify all the varying sects of Christians under a common banner for political purposes and protection.
d) Nope; it’s all belief and conjecture. Every one of them. Faith kicks in when you hit the wall of your ability to reason.

Maximillian's avatar

@PandoraBoxx We’re going to be best friends, aren’t we?
The Catholic Church, yes, has had its time of corruption. But so have others. The only reason you hear about Catholics more is because society has put just that much more of a higher standard. We aren’t political. We are religious. Sure, we get involved in politics, but that is to put forth our own opinion. The Council of Nicaea was to, yes, indeed, join together the divided Christian sects, and to provide a unified creed. Emperor Constantine realized that if the Christians remained divided, there would be bloodshed among them. So he told them, fix it. What is true in the Christian Faith, and what isn’t. Ultimately, the first Christian set of believes ended up coming out as true.

kyanblue's avatar

I know someone who refers to herself as a ‘cafeteria Christian’. She picks and chooses which bits of organized Christianity she believes in: yes to the Ten Commandments, no on the Catholic Church’s stance on birth control. It seems to work out well for her.

That said…

1)…is abundantly clear.

2) Yes. Absolutely My views on religion are pretty simple: religion encourages you to strive to be better than you are, to live your life by a moral code, to do good daily…and, of course, religion plays a huge role in people’s moral attitudes and art and literature through the ages.

3) The ‘what’ is inspiring people in their individual and public lives to change themselves and change the world for the better. The ‘whom’ sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory. If religion is good for you, believe in it. If it isn’t, don’t. Just don’t believe blindly in how people try to interpret religion. The moral stuff is the important stuff. The details on gay marriage and birth control and how to treat people not of your religion are something that should not be dictated, but decided by an individual.

4) Not really. It depends on what people are looking for. I’m a bit atheist and a bit Buddhist and a bit ancestor worshipper (which is how Wikipedia terms it, although it sounds much cruder than how I think of it). This works for me. Some people are comfortable completely rejecting religon, and some rely on it to support them. To each his own.

MrsDufresne's avatar

My take??

George Carlin’s Ten Commandments

*Note: There is some cursing and adult themes in this video.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that organized religion is given too many special considerations and too much respect. I frankly don’t care what people believe but when a religion is given federal, state, and local support, I am paying for it.

I resent paying for other peoples amusements.

Maximillian's avatar

@Ron_C I thought that was the whole point of separation of state and church. Where did you see federal money going to a church?

Ron_C's avatar

@Maximillian there’s an office in Washington DC for faith based charities, churches get tax forgiveness from federal and state governments. Church land is not taxed. Who do you think makes up the difference? All of us. The religious are hit twice. They donate to their church, then are taxed for the local facilities the church uses. The church has no obligation to prove that it’s money goes to charitable causes. The vast majority goes to church facilities and preacher’s salaries and expenses. Even organizations like Scientology have a religious exemption. It is totally disgusting.

Ron_C's avatar

@Maximillian another thing, donations for missionary work are also tax deductible eventhough the missionary’s main work is to make more of whatever religion they belong.

Maximillian's avatar

@Ron_C Now, does this DC office of yours only target specific religions? Or ALL religions? If all, then it is equal, no harm. After all, it is freedom OF religion. Not freedom FROM religion. The government, yes is separated, but still has its connections.
And what do you care if the religious donate? Its them paying, not you. Get over it.
And you make it sound as if churches have a major conspiracy that they don’t use the money for good causes. What is your basis for your argument?
@Qingu Really, don’t be a total a$$. A little is fine, but don’t overdo it.

Qingu's avatar

My take is that the fundamental principles and claims of every single organized religion I have studied—Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and ancient religions practiced by the Babylonians and Greeks—are clearly false.

Furthermore, most of these religions are basically authority cults started by a cult leader or priesthood. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Bible, Leviticus, where you are commanded to season your meat and grain sacrifices with salt because Yahweh demands salt on his sacrifices (and by sheer coincidence the priests get a nice cut of all sacrifices).

There are some good morals in religious ideologies. Similarly, there are some good laws in the Code of Hammurabi. But most morals found in the Bible and the Quran are despicable.

The main purpose of religious ideologies has always been to manipulate people into obeying the cult. Not only do I believe that manipulating people into obedience is wrong, I also believe that most of the morals found in such religions are repulsive and barbaric.

Maximillian's avatar

@Qingu Please, enlighten me. (No, really, I’m interested. I want to know what your think is.) I’m Roman Catholic. There, I said it. I’m not evil or barbaric. What part of the Canon Law in the Church is repulsive? (I’m going to assume you know what Canon Law is.)

Qingu's avatar

I’m actually not too familiar with Canon law so I can only talk about the bit I know—and please correct me if I’m wrong about these things being canon law.

The church’s position on not using birth control is morally repulsive. It has contributed directly to skyrocketing AIDS in Africa.

The church discriminates against women by not allowing them to gain positions of authority in the priesthood, which I find morally repulsive.

The church echoes the Bible’s bigoted and stupid position on homosexuality, which is repulsive.

I wouldn’t call the church’s position on abortion “morally repulsive,” but I think it is based on demonstrably false assumptions about the nature of the soul and consciousness, and this position leads to a lot of suffering.

I understand Catholics are not fundamentalist about the Bible and do not consider themselves bound by the Old Testament laws. But I doubt many priests would be willing to come out and say that it would be morally wrong to follow God’s laws handed down to Moses. Some of these laws support and command slavery and genocide. If the priesthood is not willing to condemn these supposedly God-given laws as either falsely attributed to their god or just outright immoral, then I also find that repulsive.

The history of the Catholic church is also pretty repulsive, what with the Crusades and the Inquisition and the ridiculous political maneuverings, but I’m sure you know that.

Maximillian's avatar

@Qingu Alright, lets see if I can pull out some apologetics for you.
A) Since the beginning of its establishment, we have believed that sex is a very sacred thing. It is for a husband and his wife, and to have children. That is what we have since forever. We haven’t said anything other than that. Sex-husband and wife-to have children. If you don’t want kids, don’t have sex.

B)We consider women some of the most important people on the planet. Mary, after all, bore Jesus Christ, the Person who we believe is the Savior. We have sisters and nuns all over the world. You should read some of John Paul II papers on women (and various other topics.)

C)We believe that God created Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve. If He had wanted man and man to have sex with each other, He would have. Now, reminder, we don’t hate homosexuals. Its like this: hate the sin, not the sinner. The homosexual is still a human being and a child of God.

D)I’m not sure what you mean by soul and consciousness. From the moment of conception to natural death is life. Human, sacred life. Suffering? Women who have abortions suffer much more than child birth.

E)Like you said, we aren’t fundamentalist. So, I am not to familiar with Mosaic Law. You’ll have to remind me which ones are bad. Like, where in the Bible it is.

F)The Church, like any other organization, any other religion, has had its time of turmoil and corruption. The Crusades were indeed meant to save the Holy City. But, man’s obsession and greed changed that goal into something evil. The Inquisition was our worst time. Everywhere you look, and not just in the church, people were corrupted. It was a time of terror. The Black Plague was not helping either. The church officials became scared themselves, and their reasoning became obscured. It was just not a good time.

The Church is a strong advocate for many good things. JPII, along with Ronald Reagan, tore down the Iron Curtain and communism in much of the world. Mother Teresa (there is an influential woman for you) saved countless of lives in India.

Ron_C's avatar

@Maximillian The office actually discrimminates against certain religious, especially Islam. While it is true that I don’t care if the religious pay twice, I don’t see why the government should be involved with ANY religion. I blame the pilgrims. They left a stain on American culture that leads to all of the things with which the government should not be involved. Everything from gun laws to legalized abortion are tainted with religious ethics.
One of the things that our founding fathers found particularly onerous was the tax to support the church of England.

What is the religious exemption but a subtrafuge tax to support religion? I should not be taxed to support your religion. PERIOD!

Qingu's avatar

A) The idea that sex’s only value is for producing more of you is barbaric and naive. It is what the bronze-age nomads who wrote the Bible likely thought.

B) “We consider women some of the most important people on the planet” is a nonsensical statement. They are half the people on the planet. And there is absolutely no reason why having a vagina should disqualify you from any position of authority.

C) Your belief that God created Adam and Eve is an example of Mesopotamian mythology. And the fact that you use Mesopotamian mythology as a doctrine to justify treating human beings as second class citizens—whether or not you personally “hate” them—is repulsive.

D) “Soul” is a religious word and has a multiplicity of meanings. The belief that there is something magical that descends upon the egg when sperm unites with it is nonsense. I consider a person’s soul their “consciousness,” their subjective state of existence, and of existing. Consciousness is not all or nothing. It is an emergent property. A brainless clump of cells has no consciousness, and should not be treated the same as a conscious baby.

E) God condones (leviticus 25:45) and commands (Dt. 20:10) slavery. He commands you to kill open unbelievers (Dt. 13:6). Your god is also the only deity I know of to actually command his followers to commit genocide (Dt. 20:16). The book of Joshua describes God’s repeated commands for genocide in great detail and celebrates the people who carried out these laws as heroes.

Now, I understand you no longer feel you have to follow such laws in order to be saved. What I want to hear from you—and your Catholic Church—is the statement “those laws are immoral and should not be followed ever.” But of course the Catholic Church isn’t going to say Yahweh’s commandments are immoral.

F) Why do you even think the Crusades and the Inquisition were wrong? Both are directly supported by the Bible. Urban II quoted Deuteronomy’s commands to commit genocide in the holy land to justify the crusades. What is your basis for disagreeing with him? And Deuteronomy 13:6 commands you to kill heretics and unbelievers—why is the Inquisition wrong or bad for following God’s commandment?

It is rather sad that the only example of a “good thing” you can cite the church doing is fighting communism. And kind of ironic, since Jesus in the gospel of Luke openly advocated communism.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu great answer. My feelings exactly, they also apply to all christian sects, Jews, and Muslims. Of course other religions have have their own problems. I think I said it here, the Bible, Koran, and Torah should be rated R for Mature Audiences Only.

Qingu's avatar

By the way, I’d also add the church’s concept of the Trinity up there with the other “repulsive” stuff.

The Trinity is something so silly, so plainly and obviously and undeniably illogical, that the only true purpose I can imagine for it is some kind of Orwellian doublethink.

Maximillian's avatar

@Qingu
A) So I’m still barbaric? I’m pretty sure raping women is barbaric. I’m pretty sure having sex with you girlfriend, then leaving them to fend for themselves is barbaric. We have our beliefs to avoid those kind of things.

B)Of course they have authority. A nun is highly reverend by the Church. Did I forget to mention about Mary?

C)We do not treat them a second class. We love all of our neighbors. (Or we’re supposed to anyways.) We do NOT hate them. I don’t even know why you mentioned it. Mesopotamian mythology has nothing to do with this. We believe the Bible to be written by God through many men over the ages.

D)This is always the tricky one. Because of the various definitions of the soul by many people, it is hard to talk about. Regardless, that clump of cells is still human life.

E)Alright, I read a little of Leviticus. That passage also requires that those who have slaves treat them with care. In your first Dt passage, God requires them to offer peace first. Your second passage is that those who are unbelievers must be cast out. It doesn’t say kill. The third has a simple explanation. Time period. The people who they were fighting, I do say, had such inconceivable crimes on them.

F)I’ve already gone over the whole genocide thing. Like I said, that time was scary. People didn’t think right. Urban was comparing that passage to the crusades. Not very sane, I’d imagine.

You want more good things? Alright. Just recently, Benedict XVI has sent what resources the Vatican State can offer to Haiti. We have some of the largest charities in the world. Shall I proceed?

Jesus was promoting communism. Absolutely right. Thing is, where communism was, corruption was right with it. I have no problem with Marxism. But communistic countries have taken on the dictatorial form of Leninism. JPII was trying to free the people from oppression.

The Trinity is where many people get confused. We believe in ONE God, in three Persons. In Sunday school, we teach them that God, well, it like an apple. One fruit. But it has three parts: the core, the ‘meat’, and the ‘skin.’ (It the best we can explain it.) In all honesty, we can’t explain it ourselves. That why we call it the ‘Mystery of the Holy Trinity.’
By the way, I hate Wiki.

@Ron_C Hey man, I didn’t ask you to pay for my religion. I’m cool with that. But religion is unavoidable. And to say you blame the pilgrims is kind of….stupid. You have that monitor in front of you because of them. And for the most part, religion does do good.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu good point. Somehow belief without proof or tangible evidence is considered a blessing. I’ve read about a couple “church doctors” trying to find the logic in their beliefs but they always resorted to praying for belief. Belief is what gets a bomb strapped to your chest with the promise of virgins in heaven.

Maximillian's avatar

@Ron_C Jihad is considered a cult of Islam by the Muslim community. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean its not there. Sorry for that, but that’s it.

Ron_C's avatar

@Maximillian “Jihad is considered a cult of Islam by the Muslim community” I don’t think that’s quite right, I’m not Muslim but believe that Jihad is a campaign to correct a wrong but not necessarily a war. It could be just a rebuttal to some religious pronouncement with which you do not agree. A cult would be a group with separate and exclusionary belief lead by a strong personality.

Qingu's avatar

A) I didn’t say you were barbaric. I said the idea that “sex is only for producing children” is barbaric. It is what barbaric nomads believe. And it makes absolutely no sense in an overpopulated world with readily available birth control.

And funny you should mention rape. What’s your problem with rape? Nowhere in the Bible does it say a woman must consent to sex. And do you know what the punishment for raping an unbetrothed virgin (i..e a girl who isn’t yet someone else’s property) is? You have to marry her. Deuteronomy 22:28 forces rape virgins to marry their rapists because “you break it, you bought it.”

B) Bullshit. Nuns are not plugged into the heirarchy that chooses the pope.

C) If you don’t let gay people have the same rights as straight people, you are treating them as second class.

And yes, the idea that a sky god created humans from clay to work as their slaves is all over Mesopotamian mythology and predates the Bible. It is a story that made sense to bronze-age nomads but, like their views on sex, doesn’t really make sense in the modern world.

D) my fingernail is human life.

E) The passage in Leviticus does no such thing (did you even read it?). Exodus 21 outlines how you are supposed to treat your slaves. You can legally beat them as much as the Romans beat Jesus before they crucified him.

Re: Dt. 20:10, you offer them peace… and if they accept, they serve you at forced labor. You know, as slaves. If they don’t accept then you kill all the men and the women and children become your slaves.

As for your “time” explanation, I didn’t realize you were a moral relativist. Perhaps God’s views on gays, sex, and marriage were also products of the time?

(And by the way, genocide wasn’t a product of the time. The Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, and ancient Hindus would incorporate the people’s culture that they conquered; the Hebrews apparently just annihilated every man, woman and child. The Bible is the only religious document to command genocide. Sorry, but you don’t get to sweep this one under the rug.)

F) The “scariness” of the time has absolutely nothing to do with God’s commandment for genocide. In fact, God is clear why he is commanding genocide at the end of the passage in Dt. 20. It’s not because it’s “scary,” it’s just straight out ethnic cleansing. God doesn’t want the culture of the people living in the promised land to pollute the purity of the Hebrew culture.

Please explain why the Crusades could not be justified by simply following this law. Why was Pope Urban II wrong?

Re: Trinity, your explanation is actually a heresy (arianism to be specific’ the three “parts” of the apple have different natures, but God only has one nature). That is what I think is so sadly hilarious about the concept: any attempt to rationally explain or describe the Trinity turns out to be a heresy. Seriously—the official position of the church is that it’s a “mystery” that somehow supersedes human logic.

Qingu's avatar

Another thought on genocide: people still commit genocide today.

It is ridiculous to say that genocide is this thing that only happened in “ancient times”—and it’s utterly immoral to try to justify genocide by claiming that it’s “just what people did back then.”

I hope you take a moment to consider the implications of you actually writing what you wrote about genocide. Take a moment to ask yourself whether your morality is so strangled by your religion that you can’t even unequivocally condemn genocide.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu and I’ll second that too. It is unconscionable to attempt to explain away biblical genocide.

I am getting tired of seconding your opinions. Please write them all down so that I can give you a blanket approval. You are really doing a good job on the subject. Thanks.

Maximillian's avatar

@Qingu This is my last response until tomorrow.
A)What remaining nomads are in existence? Saying that our beliefs are barbaric is saying that we are barbaric. That is what you imply. Are you also implying that rape is good? We aren’t. We never had. That break it buy it is a common mistake in what we believe. If a couple, say unmarried, have sex, and the woman becomes pregnant, than they need to be married.

B)How could you say bullshit? You aren’t even Catholic? You have no idea of how we women.

C)We do give them the same rights. But if they are committing a sin (which we believe they are), we can not morally make them priest/nun/etc. They aren’t bad. Just doing a bad thing. The clay thing is symbolic. The writers of the Bible in that age used many symbols in their passages. The Bible is chalk full of it.

D)No, your fingernail is dead tissue.

E)I did read the passages you provided. You are using a Catholic Bible, right? God doesn’t have views. He has judgments. He determines what is right and wrong. At any time, He is right. (Tomorrow I’ll have a better explanation for the genocide issue. Then maybe you’ll understand.)

The Arianism. That denies Christ was God and one with the Father and Holy Spirit. We do not deny that. We believe that they are all the same God, just in three Persons. God does have natures. He came in flesh to the human people (ie Jesus Christ). And He is also the Heavenly King (Father) and the spiritual essence of life (Holy Spirit). Many natures, one God. That is as far as we can explain it. We don’t know how. After all, we believe God is indeed almighty, and can do what humans think is impossible.

I’ll also explain the Crusades thing and genocide things tomorrow. Right now, I’m tired. I have a final tomorrow, and I need some rest. Trust me, I will return to explain. Don’t worry, I won’t be gone long. See ya for round 2.

Ron_C's avatar

@Maximillian I remember some passage where the Jews were order to kill all of the men and women that weren’t virgins, keep the boys for slaves and “do what you will” to the remaining women and girls. If that isn’t an order for rape, what is it?

mattbrowne's avatar

What’s my take on hasty negative generalizations about organized religion? There are several reasons for this: lack of information, lack of education, lack of intellect, susceptible to stereotype or personal revenge because of some traumatic religious experience in the past.

Organized religion can be a very good thing and in many European countries it is. Widespread Christian fundamentalism is mainly a US phenomenon. Some forms of organized religion should be rejected, but not all of them.

Qingu's avatar

A) Let me try to be clear: the idea that “sex is for making lots of babies” is a barbaric belief. The extent to which you want to take that personally is up to you.

As for rape, I certainly don’t think rape is “good.” My point was that rape is never punished in the Bible—and moreover that the Bible actually forces virgin rape victims to marry their rapists (see Deuteronomy 22:28; not sure if you actually read the law). This is because the Bible views women as the property of men, first of their fathers and then of their husbands. Fathers basically sold their daughters to husbands for the cost (the brideprice) of a little more than a slave. If you rape a girl, she won’t fetch as high of a brideprice when someone else wants to marry her.

So your god, in His infinite wisdom, gave us this law where if you rape an unbetrothed virgin, you have to marry her and can’t divorce her. That’s what I meant by “you break it, you buy it.”

Nowhere in your answer do you address this. do you think this law belongs in your holy book? I think it’s barbaric.

B) I said “bullshit” because it is. Do women get to elect the pope? Do they exert nearly the same political authority within the church as men? Why are there no women priests? I’ve never heard of a nun leading a multisex service.

C) Every Catholic organization I’ve heard of has spent a lot of time and money campaigning against gay marriage. So no, you don’t give them the same rights.

As for clay, no, it is not a symbol; that is simply a dishonest interpretation of the text. The only reason you think it’s a symbol is because you know the text is wrong as-written.

And if you think it’s a symbol, perhaps Jesus’ ressurection is also a symbol? How can you tell?

D) Keratin, actually. Perhaps a better example would be a clump of skin cells. Do you think a clump of skin cells is morally equivalent to a conscious human being?

E) I generally use NRSV, though I’m not picky about translations. Awaiting your genocide explanation…

F) If you say the Trinity members are like the three parts of an apple, then you are committing the Arian heresy because the three parts of an apple each have different natures while the Trinity members all have the same nature. I mean, why even bother trying to explain it? Since you go on to say that you can’t explain it and it’s a mystery beyond all human understanding.

That’s a nice trick by the way. “It’s not a logical contradiction—we’re just not godly enough to understand how it makes sense!”

Good luck on your final.

Cruiser's avatar

Aren’t all religions man-made?—-Yes of course!

Are they good for society in general?—Yes…They provide a moral compass for their followers which for the most part carries over into society in general.

What and whose purpose do they serve?—They serve both the individual and they community where the “religion” is worshiped providing mental comfort and security of the beliefs they hold and support for the community though communal spirit and sense of belonging.

Can there possibly be just one out of the many that’s “right”?—People have given their lives to defend the religion they either believed or defeat the other that conflicted with their beliefs. There will never be just one.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, see, I would say that the “religion” in Europe is itself basically a rejection of organized religion.

@Ron_C, the passage is Numbers 31:15—

Moses said to them, ‘Have you allowed all the women to live? These women here, on Balaam’s advice, made the Israelites act treacherously against the Lord in the affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Elsewhere the Bible gives rules for raping war captives. You have to give them a month to grieve for their parents (who you presumably just killed). Then you can have sex with them and marry them. As per usual, no requirement for consent on the girl’s part—they’re property.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu thanks, that is one of the most disgusting biblical passages. How can anyone follow a religion with such a nasty god. It is ironic that Satan get in trouble for helping Adam and Eve learn that they are in a velvet prison while God gets credit for telling people to rape and pillage. I think that some people are worshipping the wrong diety.

Qingu's avatar

@Ron_C, the Bible’s views on warfare are pretty disgusting all around. And it’s interesting to compare the Bible’s warfare to war in the Hindu epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabarata).

The Hindu stories are all about war, but they’re remarkable because the “bad guys” are treated as worthy, honorable adversaries. Oftentimes when the hero kills an adversary in warfare, the hero feels guilty, or must repent. In the Ramayana, the bad guys are outright demons (rakshaskas), but the hero fights them fair and honorably and with respect.

Compare this to the Bible’s view of warfare and the Hebrews’ adversaries in the promised land. They are basically treated as animals to be wholly slaughtered, man, women, and children all. The demons in the Ramayana are portrayed more humanistically than the Canaanites in the Bible. The Hebrews ambush their adversaries, hamstring their horses, capture and enslave and rape their women (when not committing outright genocide).

In the Hindu epics, such acts would be considered offenses against the Gods. But Yahweh commands the Hebrews to behave this way in warfare—a savage god for a savage culture. Even the human-sacrificing Aztecs didn’t worship gods who commanded genocide.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu religion is all about myths. The problem is how they are interpreted and which are followed as a road map for life. I think it is just a waste of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

We would all be better off if we just followed the golden rule and left religious scholarship to historians or as community college courses for entertainment purposes.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Maximillian The controversial Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was established under George W. Bush with Executive Order 13199. The OFBCI membership has been overwhelmingly Christian since inception and has in the past been accused of filtering Federal money to, and enriching, organizations favored by Bush campaign donors in the guise of grass-roots level charities. The OFBCI charter was ammended by the Obama administration supposedly in an attempt to address some of these controversies.

OFBCI Controversies:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Office_of_Faith-Based_and_Neighborhood_Partnerships#Controversies

Amendments to Executive Order 13199:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/AmendmentstoExecutiveOrder13199andEstablishmentofthePresidentsAdvisoryCouncilforFaith-BasedandNeighborhoodPartnerships/

However, the amendment cannot adequately address the issue of Separation of Church and State without desolving the OFBCI itself.

There are many more examples of the insidious influence of religion upon the government in Washington, especially since the Reagan administration and the advent of the Religious Right on the national political scene.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right#Political

I am expecially wary of these guys:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family_(Christian_political_organization)

Qingu's avatar

@Ron_C… I wouldn’t go that far. It’s mythology but it has informed almost every aspect of human culture. It’s important for people (speaking of Westerners) to learn about the Bible—believers and unbelievers alike. It’s part of our history, our language, our iconography. Most “Christians” in America are biblically illiterate.

It’s also important for people to learn about the Quran and the history of Islam, the world’s largest and most powerful and impactful religion.

I think the biggest barrier to teaching religion as part of our history is actually religious people. Because most religious people don’t like viewing their religion through an academic lens.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Have you ever cited a positive example from the bible?

My view is that many religious people don’t like viewing their religion through an academic lens. Most people? No. Or is it most people in the US? Any studies to back up your claim?

Qingu's avatar

No studies, just my experience talking to Christians and Muslims on the internet.

The problem with the positive examples in the Bible is that they are hardly unique to the Bible. And they are few and far between.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu I think it would be o.k. to teach the bible along with other religious books in a comparative religions class. Again, that’s nothing to which you would want little kids to see. You can bible stories, but edit out the incest, murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing.

Of course the religious don’t want to teach the book academically, they want to brainwash their off spring. The Jesuits said something like “give me the child and I’ll present you the man”. The Islamic madrasas do the same thing. They make the boys memorize the Koran and that is the only thing they know. I believe it is child abuse, no matter what religion does it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Another counterproductive hasty generalization: the religious want to brainwash their off spring. Any studies to back up your claim that this is a major phenomenon? Yes, madrasas are often horrible brainwashing institutions. Did the majority of the 1.3 billion Muslims a radical madrasa? Was the majority of the 2 billion Christians brainwashed when they were kids?

Qingu's avatar

Perhaps we should define “brainwashing.”

I’m certainly open to calling repeatedly telling kids, from a very young age, that they’ll go to candyland if they obey X and they’ll be tortured forever if they disobey X, all reinforced with ritual and social pressure, and typically with enforced attendance, “brainwashing” re: X.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t mean that people that go to religious schools are all brainwashed, that is only their ideal to make the perfect, Catholic, Muslim, or Amish follower. They are mostly unsuccessful. I am a product of Catholic school and still feel some of the indoctrination creeping into my thinking. My father, for instance, never got over it and still thinks the Pope is God’s voice on earth. Of course my Father has never done anything radical either.

The point is that a significant number of kids grow up and never consider any other philosophy or original thinking, they let their leaders do it for them.

That is why we have fundamentalists that blow up airplanes or abortion clinics. That is why they let people like Pat Robertson or Osama Ben Ladin speak for them. In addition to sending them money and other support. That’s my objection.

I understand that they are even putting bible verses in rifle sites for American rifles. To them, it is o.k. to kill the infidel and it is their leaders who decide who is the infidel.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, to me the ideal believer is a non-brainwashed believer who is tolerant, open minded and capable of critical thinking. When kids grow up they must have a choice.

In Protestant churches for example, the rite of confirmation is seen as a mature statement of faith by an already baptized person. My kids had a choice. When they were 14 they were asked whether they want this or not. And of course everybody can change his or her mind later. In Germany you simply send your church a letter and then you are no longer a member.

What bothers me is that many people think the brainwashing approach is standard procedure.

Putting bible verses in rifle sites for American rifles is one of the most unchristian thing people could come up with. I really wonder who their role model is. Certainly not Jesus.

Qingu's avatar

You Germans have a superior religious culture, @mattbrowne. :)

I mean come on. You’re all basically a bunch of godless atheists.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yep, and here’s our leader: a divorced female bishop

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margot_Kaessmann

Can you believe it? I’m not sure the Westboro Baptist Church knows about this ;-)

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne I re-read the thread and can understand that you favor your religion for its open minded attitude and liberal religious leanings. Of course it is a protestant religion because members of the original Roman church thought, correctly, that it had become corrupt. Not all protestants had or have your attitude, there is a wide range from strict puritans that outlaw dancing, singing, and even Christmas. On the other end there the Unitarian church whose members were described as missionaries “that go door to door for no particular reason?.

My point is that why would we have to give any of them financial support? So what if the churches receiving government money through the OFBIC do good work. Your church doesn’t brainwash kids, that’s nice. Since I am a member of neither of those churches, why should my tax money go to any organized religion? It goes either directly, through a government office or indirectly through tax breaks for religious donations or on church property. To me, the government is supporting the establishment of religion. Especially christian. If you don’t believe me, wait for the uproar when a major grant is given to a Muslim sect or any money is give to Wiccans.

kess's avatar

Organised religion is the kingdom of Satan.

It is designed to deceive all who desires to serve the Most High God.

And it is very successful too.

Aster's avatar

Organized religion has many purposes. It is for bringing people together of the same mind. Like any club, it offers singing and fellowship in deference to the Purpose of the club , God. It also offers social gatherings of like-minded people. When you have this kind of club you are going to have EXPENSES. If you do not want to help support the club simply do not attend. When you have gatherings of people you are going to have DIFFERENCES. Even arguments and greed. Thus, many people choose to stay away.

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