Although people’s religious beliefs may bring comfort and meaning to their lives, they’re also at the root of much of today’s hatred and violent conflicts. With Islamaphobia and the connected violence rampant, this is a good time to go back to the basics and read a variety of opinions about religion. The first four quotes remind us that our religious beliefs are often not the result of any serious exploration and informed choice on our part, but simply the acceptance of the beliefs prevalent in the family, location and culture into which we were born.
Beliefs that would otherwise seem nonsensical or at best allegorical, are taken literally and accepted to be the one and only truth. When banded together in groups with like minded believers, humans are capable of some very inhumane behavior, particularly when they believe God is on their side. Like religions; racism, capitalism, imperialism and patriotism all require the mass belief of rightness and superiority over others (we are right and others are wrong). They often mix with religious beliefs resulting in a festering brew of misconceptions and self imposed ignorance that are the fuel for all hatred and wars.
What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak. ~George Santayana, Reason in Religion
There are ten church members by inheritance for every one by conviction. ~Author Unknown
In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten second-hand, and without examination. ~Mark Twain
Who would have guessed that a professional boxer had a philosophical side? As there are far more similarities than differences in the major religions, why is the focus so often on the differences? Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths. Muhammad Ali
Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.” ― Richard Dawkins
The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organized religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests. ― Jawaharlal Nehru
The most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives. Gandhi
God made so many different kinds of people. Why would he allow only one way to serve him? ~Martin Buber
Scriptures: the sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based. ~Ambrose Bierce
If people feel the need to affiliate with a particular church, they should do their own thorough research to ensure they are comfortable with it’s teachings before making any commitment. This approach also applies to those who already belong to a specific church through familial inheritance. As there are tens of thousands of different denominations of Christianity to choose from, any qualified pastor/minister should be able to clearly outline what makes their particular brand of faith the right one.
For example, what’s the difference between a Lutheran, a Baptist, an Anglican and a Catholic? For those with a social conscience, what is each denomination’s position on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights, the ordination and treatment of women, killing/murder/war, acceptance of alternative beliefs, etc? Are they “walking the walk” or just “talking the talk”? Without challenging the ignorance based beliefs that give racism, patriotism, nationalism, imperialism and religious bigotry influence and widespread acceptance, they will continue to spread divisiveness and untruths wide and far.