Religion has not made us better

I can well understand the reluctance of letter writer Rev. T.L. Leadbeater (Advocate, June 16) to credit my criticism of organized religion (Advocate, May 15) with some degree of validity.

I can well understand the reluctance of letter writer Rev. T.L. Leadbeater (Advocate, June 16) to credit my criticism of organized religion (Advocate, May 15) with some degree of validity. However the human massacres spurred by religion zeal beginning, for instance, with the ruthless decimation of entire societies by intolerant Hebrew-Israelites, as told in their Old Testament, has remained a policy up to modern times.

Consider the outrageous treatment and killing of resident Palestinian Muslims today, by invading Jews, who are fanatically dedicated to recreate the ancient kingdom of King David. Their cultural fixation about this is a tangent from reality.

Additionally, the recent slaughter of thousands of innocent Iraqi women and children, by invading American military forces to punish a small band of rabid Muslim Arabs, does not diminish the tragedy just because it is now over.

Our sense of justice must prevail beyond a “statute of limitation.”

Harvard history professor Hebert Muller made the statement that, “The lesson of history is that no one learns from history.”

Truly all of our tribulations can be traced to that fact. Organized religion, historically, has failed to arrest enmities between nations.

Past bloodshed between sectarian factions, large and small, was always inspired by the assumed motivation of some obscure deity who demonstrated his pleasure for slaughter by encouraging the victor to exult over the demise of the vanquished. The court of conscience, there, was never appealed to.

The religious Spaniards went to South America to evangelize the “pagans” and, in the process, stole their gold and destroyed their civilizations.

The Anglicans, Catholics, and others, scurried to Africa to save souls through their respective brand of Christianity and, in the process also, inadvertently segregated one tribe from another.

The modern consequence has been that Africa today, spurred by religious extremism of every sort and colour, Muslim and Christian, has erupted into a perpetual state of human carnage abetted by corporate profiteers — who tithe their church in gratitude.

Imperial England, in turn, went to Tibet and India and summarily shot hundreds of innocent natives to instill “the fear of the Lord” into them, thus extorting trade agreements for things the Tibetans and East Indians didn’t need and never asked for.

Christian gentlemen also introduced opium into China. Once addicted, the Chinese had no choice but to trade their tea and silk for the drug they could no longer live without.

Numerous sectarian factions today, around the globe, Muslim, Christian, Judaic, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., seethe with hatred for one another that now and then boils down to naked violence.

Religion has not made us better. We are still barbarians.

How can dissimilar religious views founded on past primitive traditions, ensure a frictionless social future? No one wants to let go of its prejudices.

Finally, the progress in proper behaviour, noted by Leadbeater in some church-going young people, is due to the teaching of social civility –which has nothing to do with religion, but which has everything to do with ethics.

An atheist living by social ethics makes a better citizen than a theist living without them.

Leadbeater’s experience of 70 years with religion is matched by my own research into comparative religion which began in earnest at age 12. I am now 83.

Paul Franck

Red Deer

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