I’ve been participating on the religious bulletins at amazon.com. There are some very intelligent people who hang out in the that forum, which I guess is not to surprising, as it is amazon. There are also some very dumb people. It’s quite fun!
All the discussions over there inspired me to write this amazing authoritative ideological masterpiece about what religions should not do. I know, I know, you can give me the Nobel Peace Prize later.
1) Holy War
Please, as a world, can we finally just decide that killing each other over religion is a really bad idea? These meme should not be difficult it spread, especially if the religious “Moral Majority” vocally denounce those in their group who advocate any type of religious violence.
A good modern day example of why theocracies are a bad idea is Saudi Arabia. Christianity joined up with Rome within a few hundred years of its birth. Islam was a religion with political goals right from the start. Outside of that dynasties ruled as gods, going back to the earliest agricultural city-states. So the idea that religion should not be running governments is relatively new. There is a very good reason for this, though, and that leads to the next thing religions shouldn’t do.
No religious group should ever persecute another religious group, ever, for any reason. Due to the traditionally hybrid nature of church and state, persecution of other religions became an excuse for invasion and war. See the genocide in Joshua for a pertinent example, but there are many others. But there is more to persecution than War. Ostracizing people, considering them second class citizens, telling them they are going to hell. You shouldn’t treat other people bad simply because they don’t believe your religion, or believe something weird. Persecution should not be allowed, including persecutions for religious reasons.
Let’s face it, Science and Religion are always going too have an uneasy relationship. Myself, I’m a firm believer in NOMA. But it’s important to remember that the Catholic Church still has egg on its face for prosecuting Galileo. If fact, religion as a whole was discredited for that move, so they should be very careful when making claims that can be checked by Science. If you need an approximation of objective truth, use the scientific method. If you’re looking for meaning and purpose, philosophy and/or religion are your best bet.
5) Control Adherents:
I’ve been following the Anon vs. Scientology protests, and I’ve really been thinking about how much control people give to their religions. Many of them are so intertwined that it completely consumes their life, even coming before family and friends! In the “religious practices” meaning of the word, these behaviors mark the members of “cults”, where religious behavior is reflected in every single thing the adherent does, to reflect their complete devotion. This sort of control is NOT HEALTHY, and religions should not venerate this behavior, or require it. Other inputs are necessary to have a full and well-balanced view of the world.
We’d all be a lot better of if religions didn’t do these things. Anything else?