As a kick-off post, I thought I would start off explaining why I think religion is such a dangerous force in the world and why it’s so important to know what you stand for when you commit yourself to a religion.
All we have to do in order to see religion’s poisonous effect on society is to look at what is going on around the globe. Everyone is probably familiar with the recent events that took place at American embassies in the Middle East. Now, while it is true that the vengeful murders of several Americans by Muslim protestors was a product of religion in its most extreme form, this does nothing to help us rebuke the actions themselves, or shed moral reasoning on their wrongness. In fact, any honest religious person should find him/herself in a major moral dilemma if he/she is trying to denounce such acts. Any religious moderate you come across will condemn the murders in the Middle East, purporting that they were the result of “misguided” faith or radical religion, but that they in no way taint the sanctity of religion in its purest form.
This is where the problem of “faith” arises. Claiming that someone else’s faith is merely “misguided” is contradictory and intellectually dishonest. Let’s look at the Merriam-Webster definition of faith: “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” With that definition in mind, let me pose a question: How can the religious moderates, or any person who attaches him/herself to a particular religious faith, criticize these people for defending their faith? Just like moderates, these extremists are, to borrow a common Christian cliche, “walking by faith, rather than by sight.” The difference is that religious moderates have adjusted their faiths in order to fit within the spectrum of what is reasonable. The extremists, holding true to their scriptures, will not allow the boundaries of secular society to stop them from behaving in accordance with their respective scriptures. In an obedience to scripture that moderates could not honestly claim to, the extremists will not hesitate to resort to violence and murder in order to carry out their missions. Just as a moderate credits their faith on certain deeds, whether they be good or bad, extremists justify their heinous actions with the exact same ideal: faith. In this way, a religious moderate, who, ostensibly does nothing to harm the world, cannot berate the faithful extremists who merely carry out their faiths with more obedience to their scriptures and less conformity to what the value of reason has taught the rest of the world.
Given everything I’ve articulated above, I believe it is imperative, especially with the ongoing international unrest among religions, that people know exactly what they stand for. In America today, it is easy for people to disregard the violence in the Middle East that religion kindles, as the mainstream Christian faith has become more and more liberal. People go to church, say their prayers, and develop an identity behind their faiths. However, no matter how harmless one’s faith might seem, it is the idea that continues to poison our world – the idea that it is acceptable for church and state to intertwine and therefore be embraced in the public sphere as an essential freedom for all of humanity. That freedom, however, is killing innocent American citizens and will continue to be a platform for hatred and bigotry if people do not start thinking independently and making an honest evaluation of the viability of their faith.