Moral Dangers of Religion


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Authorities Assessed
Old Testament
New Testament
Apostolic Traditions
Church Fathers
General Church Councils
Early Christian History
What Jesus Believed
Who Founded Christianity?
Creation of Doctrine
Origin of Ideas & Practices
The Concept of Orthodoxy
Origin of the Priesthood
Maintaining Deceptions
Suppress Facts
Selecting Sources
Fabricating Records
Retrospective Prophesy
Ambiguous Authorities
Ignore Injunctions
Invent, Amend and Discard
Manipulate Language
Case Studies
Re-branding a Sky-God
Making One God out of Many
How Mary keeps her Virginity
Fabricating the Nativity Story
Managing Inconvenient Texts
Christianity & Science
Traditional Battlegrounds
Modern Battlegrounds
Rational Explanations
Religion in General
Christianity in Particular
Divine Human Beings
Ease of Creating Religions
Arguments for and Against
Popular Arguments
Philosophical Arguments
Moral Arguments
Supernatural Arguments
  • Miracles
  • Revelation
  • Faith
  • Practical Arguments
    Record of Christianity
    Social Issues
  • Slavery
  • Racism
  • Capital Punishment
  • Penal Reform
  • Physical Abuse
  • Treatment of Women
  • Contraception
  • Abortion
  • Divorce
  • Family Values
  • Children
  • Romanies
  • The Physically Ill
  • The Mentally Ill
  • The Poor
  • Animals
  • Ecology
  • Persecution
  • Persecutions of Christians
  • Persecutions by Christians
  • Church & State
  • Symbiosis
  • Meddling in Governance
  • Interference in Politics
  • Abuse of Power
  • Church Law and Justice
  • Exemption from the Law
  • Unofficial Exemption
  • Financial Privileges
  • Control Over Education
  • Human Rights
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Religious Toleration
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Freedom of Enjoyment
  • Attitudes to Sex
  • Celibacy
  • Sex Within Marriage
  • Sex Outside Marriage
  • Incest
  • Rape
  • Homosexuality
  • Transvestism
  • Prostitution
  • Pederasty
  • Bestiality
  • Sadomasochism
  • Necrophilia
  • Consequences
  • Science & Medicine

  • Ancient Times
  • Dark and Middle Ages
  • Sixteenth Century
  • Seventeenth Century
  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Medical Records Compared
  • Violence & Warfare
  • Crusades
  • God's Wars
  • Churches' Wars
  • Christian Atrocities
  • Cultural Vandalism
  • The Classical World
  • Europe
  • The Wider Modern World
  • Possible Explanations
    Summing up
    Marketing Religion
    Marketing Christianity
    Continuing Damage
    Religious Discrimination
    Christian Discrimination
    Moral Dangers
    Abuse of Power
    A Final Summing Up
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    If we"re absolutely sure that our beliefs are right, and those of others wrong; that we are motivated by good, and others by evil; that the King of the Universe speaks to us, and not to the adherents of very different faiths; that it is wicked to challenge conventional doctrines or to ask searching questions; that our main job is to believe and obey — then the witch mania will recur in its infinite variations down to the time of the last man.
    Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


    Religious authorities have been shocked in the twenty first century to discover that religion is widely regarded as an evil. This view appears to becoming a majority view in Britain. In 2008 a Christian charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, commissioned a poll to discover what were now regarded as social evils and were surprised to find that the “dominant opinion” was that religion was a social evil. People regarded religion as intolerant and used to justify persecution. They said it divided society, caused conflict and spawned irrational educational and other policies. “Faith in supernatural phenomena inspires hatred and prejudice throughout the world, and is commonly used as justification for continued persecution of women, gays and people who do not have faith”. Many wanted to see state funding of church schools ended*. Although this was something of a shock to the religious authorities, it may well have reflected the fact that people were being asked for their opinions rather than told their opinions.

    The following are some of the dangers that arise as a result of Christian morality:


    Unbalanced Views

    Belief is generally regarded as at least as important as meritorious conduct — in most Protestant sects faith is all important and all forms of meritorious conduct (“good deeds”) are irrelevant to salvation. It does not matter what we do if our salvation depends on what we believe. This tends to lead Christians to spend their lives in contemplation rather than action. Moreover, action that is taken sometimes appears to be cosmetic, as though done to gain divine merit points. Much Christian aid to the third world has been criticised as superficial and short term, and has arguably been responsible for more harm than good in the long term — for example destroying local economies, breeding dependency, and causing overpopulation. A distorted moral outlook always leads to distorted moral actions. Here is Bertrand Russell on the subject:

    The medieval conception of virtue, as one sees in their pictures, was of something wishy-washy, feeble, and sentimental. The most virtuous man was the man who retired from the world; the only men of action who were regarded as saints were those who wasted the lives and substance of their subjects in fighting the Turks, like St. Louis. The church would never regard a man as a saint because he reformed the finances, or the criminal law, or the judiciary. Such mere contributions to human welfare would be regarded as of no importance. I do not believe there is a single saint in the whole calendar whose saintship is due to work of public utility*.

    Making medical advances, advancing social reform, and developing life-saving technology was, and still is for mainstream Christianity, far less impressive than performing conjuring style miracles such as levitating or surviving being cut in half.


    Personal Responsibility

    In traditional Christianity moral precepts are linked to a system of supernatural rewards and punishments. This sometimes leads Christians to believe that they can avoid the consequences of their actions. Many believers imagine that they can wipe clean some sort of divine slate by confession, penitence or prayer. The danger is that people will commit serious wrongs without compunction if they imagine that God will forgive them on request. Abusive priests are known to have confessed to each other, apparently imagining that God would forgive them as easily as their fellow sadists and rapists.

    Such practices have existed since the early Christian period. For centuries it was normal for Christians to delay baptism until they were on their death beds. That way, baptism washed away all of their sins and assured them a place in heaven - or at least that is what they were told. The same idea surfaced at the Reformation. Martin Luther himself was keen for people to sin in order to have something that needed forgiving. Here are a few of his words on the matter:

    God does not work salvation for fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin vigorously.... Do not for a moment imagine that this life is the abiding place of justice; sin must be committed.


    Sin cannot tear you away from him [Christ], even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders.

    This cartoon highlights the morality of Christian teaching on salvation
    - moral for Christians, immoral for others.


    Typical grave of a member of the Russian mafiaThere is more than a suspicion that organisations like the IRA, the Italian Mafia, and South American drug cartels retain priests to give absolution to murderers and other criminals. The same principle works in other Churches. For example the Russian Mafia seem to be particularly devout beneficiaries of the Russian Orthodox Church, and it is a rare murdered member of Russian Mafia who does not have a conspicuous Orthodox cross on his grave.

    Churchmen and other ardent believers cheer on their fellow Christians who murder doctors for carrying out legal abortions. If a priest or minister has forgiven them on behalf of God then the murderer's conscience will be clear, and their place in heaven assured. Many Christians believe that it does not matter what sins they commit, as long as they repent before they die. Other Christians, believing what they have frequently heard preached, are under the impression that they can sin with impunity, assured repeatedly that God hates the sin, but not the sinner.



    Traditional Christianity has encouraged a fatalistic attitude, now more popular in the East than the West. The reasoning behind it seems to be something like this: God is all-knowing, he is aware of everything that will happen until the end of time. There is therefore no point in my trying to do anything since my future, like the future of everything else in the Universe, is already determined and already known to God. There is therefore no point in my trying to avoid the plague or a traffic accident. If God has ordained that I am to die today, then there is nothing I can do to stay alive, and if he has ordained that I live, then I cannot die, however recklessly I behave. There is therefore no point in struggling to avoid or overcome disease, no point in avoiding overtaking on blind bends, and no point trying to improve my lot, or the lot of my fellow creatures. There is no point trying to eradicate poverty because Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. This fatalism may account for the fact that Christians have played so little part in reform movements whether social, scientific, political, economic, medical, philosophical, penal, legal or constitutional, and on the contrary have generally opposed reform movements on the grounds that trying to improve life for people subverted the divine natural order, “playing God” and “flying in the face of the Almighty”.



    The Churches seem to many to be preoccupied by sex and suffering, and continue to confuse sex with morality. Concepts of morality where sex is so important lead to conclusions at odds with mainstream opinion (Churches are now increasingly embarrassed by their traditional position that masturbation was a greater wrong than murder, and coitus interruptus more serious than rape).

    This preoccupation with sex has led many Christians to reject contraceptive practices. In certain branches of Christianity the problems of overpopulation are simply ignored. Outside these denominations, overpopulation is widely accepted to be one of the greatest dangers facing the world today. Among the dangers are the exhaustion of natural resources, guaranteed periodic famines, an increased danger of contagious diseases, plant and animal species driven to extinction, reduced quality of life for all, a degraded environment, more industrialisation and more pollution. All this is of no consequence to those who know that God wants us to go forth and multiply.

    Traditionally, gonorrhoea and syphilis were regarded by Christians as God's punishment for fornication (though it has never been explained why the punishment extended to the innocent wives and husbands of infected sinners). Dangers associated with sexually transmitted diseases are still exacerbated by Christian attitudes: examples are the Catholic Church preventing the use of condoms where they would reduce the incidence of HIV and Christian politicians and schools resisting vaccination programs against the human papillomavirus virus (which causes cervical cancer) on the grounds that sexually transmitted diseases like this provide an impediment to premarital sex*. Traditional Christian attitudes are reflected in the fact that gonorrhoea among teenagers is now seventy times greater in the overwhelmingly religious USA than it is in more secular countries like Holland and France*. Thousands, perhaps millions, of people throughout the world suffer and die unnecessarily because of Christian attitudes to sex.


    Economic Development

    The history of northern Europe goes back no further than that of southern Europe, nor does that of North America go further back than that of South America. The question arises as to why in each case the North should be relatively affluent.

    Traditional teachings on lending money at interest (usury) stifled economic development for many centuries, until first Protestants and later Catholics decided to abandon this particular doctrine. The delay appears to partially explain why until the twentieth century at least, the largely Protestant North was relatively affluent, inventive, clean and stable, with a well-educated population, while the Catholic South was relatively poor, superstitious, squalid and politically unstable, with a large peasant population.

    Is it a coincidence that these areas correspond to traditionally Protestant and Roman Catholic spheres of influence respectively? If we look elsewhere around the world the correlation is similar. One possible explanation is that Roman Catholicism is responsible directly or indirectly for authoritarianism, ignorance, overpopulation and poverty. The disparity, confirmed by objective studies, cannot be explained by geographical location, natural resources, or historical factors other than religion.


    Attitudes to Truth and Knowledge

    The religious outlook is fundamentally different from the secular humanist outlook. Secular thinkers are interested in pursuing the truth wherever it might lead: Christians are often interested in truth only when it leads to desired conclusions. Christianity has therefore always subordinated rational truth to religious dogma.

    The consequences of this include book burning, scientist burning, obscurantism, suppression of evidence, rewriting history, linguistic deceits, and hostility to scientific advances



    .Churchmen are still suppressing or manipulating other information — about the Bible, about the Dead Sea Scrolls, about ecclesiastical forgeries, and so on. As has been frequently observed, eminent scientists have rarely been typical of the religious traditions in which they grew up. Religious dogma made Christianity the enemy of science and free enquiry, and the hostility continues. Having lost medical battles over vaccination, anaesthetics and sexual health, leading churchmen are still fighting rearguard actions, for example trying to prohibit research on embryonic stem cells.


    Devout Christians are still burning books in the third millennium. Here they are burning Harry Potter Novels in front of their church in Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA in 2001

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    § See also And p30. As a general rule religious sources play down the findings about religion being regarded as a social evil. For example they do not appear in the synopsis, so readers will need to read the full report in detail. The media by contrast, in reporting the findings, mentioned little else. See for example:

    §. Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?, The Soul and Immortality, 1930

    §. “Forbidden Vaccine” (editorial), The New York Times, 30 th December, 2005.

    §. N D Kristof, “Bush's Sex Scandal”, The New York Times, 16 th February, 2005.

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