The good and bad sides of organized religion

Ciro - West Chester, Pennsylvania
Entered on September 3, 2008
Age Group: 65+


I believe that a person’s religious beliefs can have a good influence on that person’s life in

several ways:

1) It can give him or her a sense of fairness , justice and compassion toward his neighbors;

in other words, a moral compass;

( We’ll use “him” in place of “ him or her”in this discussion. );

2) It can help him to face life’s difficulties knowing that God is watching over him; and

3) It can help him face his own death with a brave heart knowing that he will go to heaven

if he has led a life pleasing to God.

These are very valuable benefits which go along with believing in a religion.

There is however a dark side to religion and here we are referring to organized religion.

The dark side has manifested itself in several ways throughout history.

The crusades in the middle ages saw the Christian Church urge a holy war against the Muslim

world at a time when the Church had great power over the governments of the Christian nations.

The religious wars in Europe saw Catholics and Protestants killing each other by the thousands in the name of Jesus Christ, the savior who was worshipped by both sides.

The recent killings in Northern Ireland between Catholic and Protestant are another example of

the dark side of religion.

The current rash of acts of violence based on religious hatred on the part of some Muslims , (i.e., those who give their allegiance to extremists) toward Christians is still another example of this negative aspect of religion.

The Crusades and the European religious wars were caused by the religious leaders who held power and influence in the governments of their countries.

The violence in Northen Ireland and the recent violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists

were inspired by religious leaders who preached hatred instead of the true values of their respective religions. These religious clerics who preach violence are the enemies

of all humankind and they must stopped.

These extremists can be stopped in our own country by using two courses of action:

1) The first is to make it illegal for anyone , cleric or civilian, to preach or inspire violence

against people or property.

2) The second is to make it clear that Church and State must remain separate and that the

Churches, i.e., all the religious institutions , can have no power in running the government.

I believe that through dialogue in time the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world will see that extremism can only lead to the destruction of mankind and that any differences between the Muslim and non-Muslim people can be resolved by peaceful means to the benefit of all.

I believe that we should raise our children to believe that all paths to God ( read “religions”) are valid , that no one religious group is favored by God over all other groups , and that God loves all his children and wants us all to love each other in the same way.

The poem Abou Ben Adhem written by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) expressed it best and is copied


Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase )

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw, within the moonlight in his room,

Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:-

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the presence in the room he said,

“What writest thou?”- The vision raised its head,

And with a look made of all sweet accord ,

Answered,”The names of those who love the lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay not so,”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low ,

But cheerily still: and said, “ I pray thee, then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote and vanished . The next night

It came again with a great awakening light,

And showed the names of those whom love of God had blessed,

And lo Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.