The God Squad: Is organized religion the source of the world’s problems?
I asked you, dear readers, to answer this question, “How would you answer a person who says that organized religion is the source of the world’s problems?”
Here are some parts of your wonderful answers:
“The obvious reply is to point out most of the heinous evil perpetrated on mankind by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible, Genghis Khan and Nero were not motivated by organized religion. It also would be difficult to blame organized religion for most of the serious threats facing our world today, such as extreme weather events, disease and weapons of mass destruction. It’s far better to put a spotlight on how much good organized religion does in the world.
Every day the combined humanitarian and relief efforts of Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and all faith traditions provide food, clean water, clothes, housing, education and medical care for those in crisis and need all over the world. There are no perfect human beings and therefore no perfect institutions run by them.
It’s easy to focus on the negative. But for every person who abuses their religious authority there are far more like Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. who use religion as a force for good. I pray you will see the problems caused by organized religions are far exceeded by the good works that they do.” – (From M in Bayport, NY)
MG: Well said. Tommy and I would ask our audiences to make a list of the people who had hurt humanity most deeply in the last century and who had helped humanity the most in the last century. Their lists were always the same: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Their lists of the helpers was also identical: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. We would point out that all the evildoers were anti-religious and all the good deed-doers were not only religious but were professionally religious. We then asked our audiences to make a list of the people or organizations that have hurt and helped their local communities the most. The hurters were the gangs and pushers and the helpers were the local churches and religious folk who ran soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Our conclusion was that the last tolerated prejudice in our country is the prejudice against organized religion and the people who find faith, hope, and charity through the communities of faith that still knit together the fabric of hope in our nation and our lives. Thank you for seeing this. Good work, M.
“I believe the problems of the world are mostly caused by people, so as long as an organized religion has people in it, it will be subject to all the same vanities, cruelties and atrocities of which humanity is capable. A religion can ground you and it gives you a language through which to pray. To be able to articulate the prayers, myths, culture, traditions and sacramentality of a personal God can be an invaluable source of comfort in anyone’s life and binds communities of faith together. Add to that the benefits of a community that gathers regularly, and prays together, supports each other, gently rebukes and forgives each other in hard times.
Communities have their problems too, of course, because well, you know, people, but I believe most organized religions at least try to make the world better. From the Italian writer Carlo Carretto:
How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!
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