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Categorized | Religion

On Religion and Tolerance

(Note: This article was also published by Blogcritics Culture)

Most people I meet who discover my atheistic non-belief ask me if I’m just angry with religion. Why would I be angry with religion?

From a secular viewpoint, religion is the binding together of a community in thought and action; or that thought and action of an individual that the person considers of supreme importance or “ultimate concern.”

My view on religion is the same with Emile Durkheim. According to Durkheim, “The idea of society is the soul of religion.” So, religion and human society co-exist.

Religion is a part of my nation’s culture and heritage. Myths were fueled by religion. Most of our folk songs and epic chants like that of the Ibalons, the Sudsud of the Tagubanuas, and the Aliw of the Ifugaos are formed by tribal religious beliefs.

Religion also gives nostalgia. It gives color to my predictable daily life. It yields wonders on some mysteries I’m pursuing to know.

But there is the “dark side of religion.” Religion has caused humans to be tortured, maimed, denigrated, discriminated, hated, and murdered. It kills and cripples mankind. Every religious organization today was designed to gain political and economic power.

As Blaise Pascal said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Fundamentalism and Intolerance
The late Pope John Paul II addressed this issue when he said “Religious fundamentalism is our greatest threat to world peace.” Thomas Jefferson warned us, “People must not attempt to impose thiner own truth on others.”

In the case of Christianity, for instance, there are 2.1 billion Christians and 38,000+ Christian sects all competing to be known as the “true” Christian church, as what a Christian radio program announcer once said, “If you are a born-again Christian, you will go to heaven. If you following another religion, then by default you will go to hell.”

The most serious reason for this is the rigid belief in the “two option theory,” that there are only two possible alternatives and no other options.

Adherents believe that:

1. Their own faith is the “true” faith.
2. Other religions are false and evil.
3. Their own interpretation is the “only” valid explanation.
4. By eliminating “others,” you are doing God’s will.

This belief is the major cause of terrorism and anti-intellectualism that floods human society today.

If true religion is ever to exist today, it must be all about love and compassion to all humans, rather than a desire to control and dominate using fear and ignorance. It needs to be about equality, tolerance and reason, not superstition. And it must benefit all of us, not only the few.

And I don’t need to go to church just to learn that.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.