The Problem With Religion

Around the middle of December, Danica wrote a post on her blog, Love Over Religion, that she entitled,”Wager” (she doesn’t waste words on any of her post titles 🙂 ). While the post itself was quite good, it was a comment she made in response to one of her visitors that really impressed me. With her permission, I’ve included it here. See if her thoughts don’t resonate with you as well.

The problem with religion is that it allows groups of people to justify cruelty towards others. At their core, each religion harbors discrimination against those who are not part of it. Unless you are an incredibly open Christian, you can probably test this by asking yourself if God is going to permit Muslims, Hindus, atheists, homosexuals, Jews into heaven. If your answer is no to any of these, you can clearly see that your version of God discriminates against that group of people. And if he does, why shouldn’t you? If your answer was yes, they will all be in heaven, then I congratulate you for being a wonderful human being, but regret to inform you that you don’t believe the Bible. I don’t believe it, which is why I left religion. It didn’t make sense to me to be in a club that I didn’t fundamentally agree with.

Religion, Christianity specifically, has been used to justify slavery and genocide in the past, as you mentioned. I think it’s safe to say that most Christians would not be okay with slavery or genocide. But in subtle ways, religion continues to “justify” cruelty. Ask any gay couple that have cried themselves to sleep because the religious right is fighting so hard to keep them from having access to dignity and respect. Ask the teenager who has received beatings and emotional abuse because her parents won’t accept her nonbelief. Ask the Muslim that has been spit on, or the child at school that has been ridiculed for being part of the only non-Christian family in a small town. I know someone in her 90’s who had to live her entire life in secret, apart from her family and those who claimed to love her, because her Christian family wouldn’t accept the truth of who she was. While over in the Middle East, people are dying daily, mothers, children, young fathers, over this thing called “religion.” I believe that until we can free ourselves from this ancient system of beliefs in gods and myths, a system that wreaks havoc on our natural inclination towards love and acceptance for one another, this misery and tragedy will continue. That doesn’t mean necessarily that belief in science promotes goodwill. However, there is no underlying clause in science or reason that divides us into groups. There is no suggestion in science that a supernatural entity will give this group everlasting life, and throw all the rest into the fire.

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144 thoughts on “The Problem With Religion

  1. “I believe that until we can free ourselves from this ancient system of beliefs in gods and myths, a system that wreaks havoc on our natural inclination towards love and acceptance for one another, this misery and tragedy will continue.”

    There’s that pesky word “believe”.
    I’m ready to free myself from belief in gods and myths too. I just haven’t found an explanation for the “natural inclination towards love and acceptance”. And I can’t understand how “misery and tragedy” exist when the universe is nothing but matter and physics. When Science proves that I should treat people with kindness, I’ll switch to whatever it is that you guys believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Religion has played a fundamental card. This card is ingrained in every molecule, every atom and every organism. Everything is in a constant state of anxiety trying to hang on for another day and hold itself together. Hope is that card, and religion plays that card from its core, offering life in the next world to all that believe. The desire to hold itself together requires promulgation of the species. That requires us to care for our young, and care for our fellow creatures. It is inherent to survival. It is a natural phenomenon. Not too hard when you think it through

      Liked by 6 people

      • Everything is in a constant state of anxiety trying to hang on for another day and hold itself together. Hope is that card, and religion plays that card from its core, offering life in the next world to all that believe.

        Jim, what an excellent comment Sir! In order to cling to “hope,” in order to sell some type of an unguaranteed forward-looking promise presupposes or implies there is a conditon of dire need or irreparable loss right now in this life. But honestly, why isn’t there just as much GOOD/GREAT in this life right now to embrace, to celebrate!? Because there absolutely IS good/great right now and more to be had!!! Furthermore, is it even provable by fair comparisons that this life right now on Earth is 100% horrible, 100% of the time? Even 75% of the time everywhere on the planet? NO!!! Bottom-line: Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity and Islam, must create a straw-man, a marketing-hoax of horribleness, evil, fear, and an empty promise of a “better condition” AFTER one is dead!!! 😝 Bwahahahahaha!!! What a lose-lose bet that is, huh?

        Great points Jim! Bravo! 😉

        Liked by 3 people

    • @John Branyan

      When Science proves that I should treat people with kindness, I’ll switch to whatever it is that you guys believe.

      i was going to raise the topic of evolution which demonstrates this quite well actually, but then I remembered you don’t subscribe to evolution, do you, JB?
      You might be familiar with the phrase, Pearls before Swine?

      Liked by 1 person

    • “When Science proves that I should treat people with kindness,”

      Science doesn’t deal in behavioural shoulds, so the request isn’t well formed. The philosophy of humanism does deal with how we should treat people and you will no doubt be delighted to know that it says we should treat people with kindness.

      What science can do is demonstrate the results of treating people with kindness and not treating people with kindness. The result is that those societies that behave more kindly thrive while those that don’t, don’t. What this means is that in order for science to provide the proof that you request, the question could be phrased as, “How should I encourage myself and others to behave if I want to be in a society that thrives?”, to which the answer would be, “You should encourage yourself and others to treat people with kindness.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Re “The Problem with Religion” You say that as if there were only one. Maybe “One of the Many Problems of Religion?”

    And this seems to be a problem of only monotheistic religions. Name a religious conflict anywhere in the world and I will bet that one at least one side will be a monotheistic religion (Judaism, Islam, Christianity). This does not seem to be the case with polytheistic religions. The Buddhists and Hindus will fight back if attacked but rarely start anything.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. The funny thing about religion is that it places man in the position of trying to reach God. Jesus was the only One that reached for mankind. His love is the greatest gift. It melts the coldest heart, reaches to the darkest of our sinful pride, and teaches us how to truly be a brother and friend to those around us.

    It is unfortunate the fallable people have used that banner to do despicable things, but it has never changed what Jesus stands for, and what he has done for all of us.

    1 John 1:6
    If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

    No other god can teach us how to love because Jesus is love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much, Nan, for sharing my thoughts with your readers. And thank you, Nan’s readers for your awesome comments. 🙂 I hope those of us on the side of reason continue to stand strong in 2018, that theists move further towards opening their hearts and minds, and that we witness the unfurling of a global conversation!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I started to write that the problem with the article is that around 90% of Christians don’t believe in the existence of hell and around around half of them don’t believe there’s a heaven either, but then thought better of it. I keep forgetting that the majority of people around here who claim Christian any sort of affiliation would not be considered TRUE CHRISTIANS™ in your neck of the woods.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Every Christian I know says the same thing. It’s like common sense. Everyone thinks they have it but they don’t. Common sense is being able to improvise a new situation using old experiences to figure it out. Every Christian thinks they are doing it right, but the reality is None of them are. Including you. It is impossible to live the right way in a false fake duping ambiguous system designed to confuse and create endless conjecture. No one even agrees on the text or 1 point of doctrine. Believe me, I was in it 50 years and it’s fruitless chase of never ending debate is just ridiculous. He ain’t coming. Time to put away childish things and start solving our own problems instead of waiting for a myth to swoop down from heaven and kill all your enemies and rule the world. It ain’t happening!

      Liked by 4 people

    • @Barry

      Hey, Barry, like I’ve said to you in other conversations we’ve had and as I said below, it depends on what the individuals words mean to particular people. One person thinks Christians must believe this, others might say the complete opposite.

      I remember the conversation you had once with certain “well-mannered” nonbelievers where they were insisting you had to be a Christian because you identified with Quakerism or you didn’t understand Quakerism because you didn’t believe in God (as a literal Being). I thought it was one of the most insane conversations I’ve seen yet on the internet! All of which could’ve been solved with a few simple common sense questions:

      Do you think of yourself as a Quaker?
      Would most other Quakers recognize you as a Quaker?
      Do you engage in practices and symbols that are particular to Quakerism?

      But some people can’t get their head around such ideas and insist on strict definitions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s interesting that you mention that conversation as over the last 2 weeks I’ve been having up to 40 referrals per day from a post which was dedicated to my inability to communicate effectively. No idea why it’s happening after such a long time, but it’s inspired me to start composing a couple of new posts. Whether they get published or trashed, I haven’t decided 🙂

        Like

        • Well, I’m not really sure why it’s such a crazy idea for people to actually ASK the person what they believe and think instead of assuming they already know everything there is to know what they believe because they happened to read a website or two on the topic.

          Personally, if you’re going to directly link back or call out said person, I wouldn’t waste the time. He won’t change his mind.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Nan, Danica also strikes me as a wonderful and compassionate young woman. I actually agree with most if not with all of her concerns.

    But, here lies the rub. Not all religions or expressions of Christian faith are the same, and deserve to be painted with the same negative and perjorative tar brush.

    For instance, I don’t think we should all be standing around just waiting for the parousia either. 🙂 As far as I”m concerned since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are already participating in the advent of the kingdom of God. We should be about working with HIm toward making the world better. It matters to me as a follower of Christ about factory farming, the oppression of people based on race or gender, showing support and love to Muslim immigrants..

    This is all part of what it means to follow Jesus today. In other words, eternal life begins now for us. It’s not just about pie in the sky when you die.

    My final statement. 🙂

    As far as I’m concerned any belief system that is not ultimately life giving, and bringing joy and peace in our lives is not from God, folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Rebecca! I’m following this thread as well and wanted to comment on your thought. My church was also loving and accepting of others. I left religion because I wanted to sever ties with an organization that continues to be overwhelmingly in favor of insidious discriminatory practices, even if my particular church was not. If being Christian just means being a good person, my question to you would be: Why not just be a good person? Why necessarily tie yourself and your goodness to religion? I guarantee you that most non-Christians are going to assume you agree with the core beliefs of Christianity if you choose that label, the most troublesome core belief being that there is hell for nonbelievers.

      Jesus never founded a church, and didn’t seem to be in favor of religion. Why be part of a machine that oppresses and abuses, if you don’t fundamentally believe everything that entity teaches anyway? Even if every single Christian denomination magically became universally accepting of others, I would still refuse to take part in it on the basis of all the cruelty it has already perpetuated throughout history. Why would I want to risk a member of my human family assuming that I was on the side of that cruelty and discrimination? In today’s sociopolitical climate, I simply think it is important to pick a side. In choosing to reject organized religion, I choose the side that proudly and consistently stands for love, justice, inclusion, and human rights, not the side that is (in a few choice sects) frantically struggling to claw its way towards those ideals.

      Liked by 4 people

      • “If being Christian just means being a good person, my question to you would be: Why not just be a good person?”

        Christianity doesn’t mean being a good person.
        If you’re sincerely asking the question, there are good answers.
        If your questions are rhetorical then there is no reason to bother with a response.

        Like

      • Perhaps Rebecca feels something different when she identifies with the word, “Christian.” It seems to me its a positive word for her. If it helps her do good in the world I say that’s great. Sometimes the same words or ideas can signify very different things to different people.

        Liked by 2 people

      • And if I may add Danica to your excellent comment, what traditional Christianity knows today — i.e. the modern Greco-Roman Messianic version that the two ultimate victors, the Roman Empire endorsed and the Roman Catholic Church has perpetuated with the full backing of her Legions — is a very amputated context of who Yeshua truly was, taught, and was attempting to reform. Most Christians have no clue of his Mandaean-Essene-Nasorean sectarian ties, for example, which actually paint him in an entirely different light than the Greco-Roman-Pauline versions. In fact, he’s not even the same person. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hi, Danica,

        I certainly can fully understand and empathize with your concern with the institutional church. I would agree that we need to speak out against spiritual abuse and toxic religion wherever it’s found.

        I can even understand how someone would not want to be part of the institution. But, to me, this is not the same as advocating for atheism, and the eradication of all spirituality, let alone stating that all people of faith are simply “delusional” as many of the non theists seem to believe.

        It all feels to me like throwing the “baby out with the bathwater.”

        I’ve known many followers of Christ who meet together informally in small home groups to support and encourage each other in their faith, and in making a positive difference in the world. I think this is fine.

        But, there are others who feel that God is still working through the institutional church today despite all it’s problems, and that renewal and change are possible.

        Also, I want to add that not all churches and denominations are the same. For instance, the United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal church while certainly far from perfect are in general quite inclusive. The Episcopal church has adopted as part of it’s mission statement the actual millennial goals of the United Nations.

        The peace churches such as the Quakers, and even some of the Mennonite churches are known for their work toward peace and reconciliation around the world. Past opponents of slavery, and leaders in the civil rights movement have been committed Christian believers and part of the church.

        For me, spirituality is just part of my DNA

        . I have a strong love for the natural world, and am committed to a plant based diet both for health and out of concern for the environment. This is a work in progress for me. 🙂 When I”m out there, and just see and experience the beauty and complexity of the creation, I’m brought to tears and even can intuitively sense God.

        I”m also intellectually persuaded that God is real, and of the apostolic witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am not able to agree that the Christian faith is simply based in things such as grief hallucinations or delusion.

        I also am able to see in my own life how faith in Christ has worked to cause me to become more compassionate and less judgmental. It has added conviction and strength to my concern for human rights and to make a positive impact in the world.

        Right now, I”m exploring more deeply contemplative prayer and meditation. I find this is so helpful in centering myself, and my thoughts and focus, as well as in connecting with God.

        Faith is part of who I am as a person. It just has deepened and enriched my life in every way, Danica.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It sounds like you and I are the same person with two completely opposing conclusions about religion, haha! It does fill me with joy to read how spirituality has impacted you. I wish there were more like you. I am also brought to tears by the beauty of my surroundings, by my daughter, or the night sky, I have cried over stories about complete strangers who live on the opposite side of the world. When I ponder how incredibly moved I am to love this world and the people in it, I simply can’t fathom a god figure who would commit the atrocities written in the Bible, or who would carry out the threats and punishments waiting those whose names are not “written in the book of life”

          Much like your love has drawn you to conclude there is a God, my love has drawn me to the opposing conclusion. I am willing to live in that gray area where the entire universe is connected, and in some form we all collectively represent what spirtual atheists would recognize as an eternal entity. In fact, atheism is not erradication of spirituality. It is simply a lack of belief in any gods. As my friend John Z. righly points out, Buddhists are atheists.

          I agree that many churches and many followers of religion, have done good on this Earth. They are not all out practicing wickedness or cruelty by any stretch of the imagination. And I do feel that religion has served its purpose in the creation of societies, recording of history, and production of some of the most incredible art, architecture, and music known to humankind. But I feel we are on the brink of a new, global era now, one in which religion serves to divide, and not unite us. I believe it will become essential to replace “belief” in religions with “appreciation” for myths, as part of our beautiful history and culture.

          I envision a future in which we are not passing discriminatory laws based on ancient scriptures, or fighting “religious wars” over a Starbucks mug. But I certainly hope, if I travel to India, that I will see statues of Vishnu. I would love to listen to a good rendition of Ave Maria by a live orchestra, or gaze in awe upon the Leshan Giant Buddha, or the Gloucester Cathedral. So no, I don’t advocate for the erradication all spirituality. But I would love to live in a world that recognized it for what it is, the incredible power of the imagination to envision and explain the unknown, unseen, unprovable.

          I think I would be satisfied to live in a world where theists simply recognized that their gods and their religions are opinions, based on nothing more than the fantastic power of their own mind to believe, and not “truths” to be imposed on others. Most theists already adept at viewing every other faith-based system this way, just not their own.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Danica, thank you for sincerely sharing your thinking with me. I’ve appreciated the conversation very much, and appreciate your gentle and respectful spirit.

            It’s always good when we can find common ground together.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Rebecca, to a point I agree that Not all religions or expressions of Christian faith … deserve to be painted with the same negative and perjorative (sic) tar brush.

      Where I disagree is the very few that actually teach love and acceptance of others (without throwing in the threat of hellfire and brimstone … who aren’t constantly asking for money … who think they have all the answers about this life and any “afterlife” … who think they are God’s appointed judges on who’s right and who’s wrong about “God’s Word” … etc., etc., etc.) are extremely difficult to find.

      There are a few floating around (you seem to be one of them — at least judging from your contributions to various blogs) — but Christianity has gained its ugly reputation through the actions of the majority. This is witnessed daily via news reports, social media, and by families and individuals who live in areas where the majority is “Christian.”

      I can pretty much guarantee you that non-believers (and especially de-converts) are not going to stop attacking the religion of Christianity until the people who claim its tenets begin manifesting the teachings of their “Leader.”

      Liked by 4 people

    • Rebecca,

      With all due respect, everything you’ve listed, every virtue of behavior/action you noted can be done quite well with just about any other faith-system in the world too or can be accomplished with no official “faith” system… simply as part of the human family of care and kindness. Which IMO begs the question, “What’s the point in preaching some distinct elitism when ALL humans possess and exhibit these virtues?” 🙂

      Speaking now in general, the answer to that question is a lot more complex, a lot more Universal than most/many people’s pride allows. And those answers in my opinion also open up a large can of worms that too many theists lazily avoid/deny.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Nan,
    Here’s one of the problems of religion. I have taken this from a blogger in my area, who has never ever written anything remotely religious on his blog. He is a man in his 70’s, has had a successful career in Education, and has travelled to India and worked for six months as a volunteer just recently. He’s a family man, a well-known ‘character’ (he’s got a great sense of humour), and one of his stories was fodder for a Stuart McLean radio program on CBC radio. (McLean is a beloved Canadian icon, who died in Feb/17) The blogger just published this and I was very surprised to read this topic but not completely surprised at his passion – there are many Catholics who tell stories about their religious upbringing. I’ve taken it from his latest blog post, but didn’t want to identify him as he’d probably be horrified at any negative responses. (He didn’t reply to my own response, for instance) –

    “I, along with several hundreds of millions of others, watched with interest the confession of disgraced cyclist, Lance Armstrong a few years ago. He admitted his transgressions of lying and cheating to the high priestess herself, Oprah Winfrey, in a highly publicized made- for- television event. What could possibly be scarier than “telling all” in front of the world? I’ll tell you. It is being Catholic and preparing for the sacrament of penance … as a seven year old.

    Watching disgraced athletes, politicians and business leaders confess to all sorts of nasty stuff is so common that it barely registers in the public’s psyche. Even if you’ve cheated and lied your way to the top, it appears that a carefully orchestrated “mea culpa” is the first step to redemption, or at least a reduced jail sentence.

    The nun who is conducting religion class in grade two indicates that all members of the assemblage in front of her are sinners and must repent. First of all we must know everything about sin. Today, a seven year old would merely Google sin and find out, in under ten seconds, that there is sin and there is serious sin. Back then it took us a year of preparation to discover that the seeds of evil were within us and only penance could eradicate them.

    We learned about examination of conscience and became familiar with the roll call of mortal and venial sins. Mortal sins are the really bad things while venial sins are fairly minor iniquities. To my recollection there weren’t many second graders who had the knowledge or capacity to commit a mortal sin. Then there was the matter of contrition or saying you’re sorry.

    Preparing for your first confession was scary stuff. You were made to feel like you were just about the baddest kid that ever lived and that only purging your sins to a priest, in a dark box, could free you from the shackles of Satan. We discovered that we had to tell the priest our deepest darkest secrets and, if we were truly sorry, a few Hail Mary’s gave you a clean slate for another month.

    I distinctly remember first confession when we were herded like cattle being led to the slaughter and marched from the school to the church – a distance of 100 yards. The sisters, in their starchy stiffened uniforms, one at the front and one at the back, lest we breathe, marched us into the church. Back then, even the nuns had bad habits. We sat in the hard rock pews and carefully went through the speech that we would deliver to the priest.

    But what happens if you haven’t sinned since your last confession? Are you supposed to lie to the priest and tell him that you have sinned when, in fact, you have been a paragon of virtue since your last confession? Move over, Lance. This is really scary stuff. Can there be anything worse than lying to a priest about lying?

    As an adult I still wake up in the middle of the night with beads of sweat running down my face. I feel guilty that I may have forgotten to tell the priest everything some fifty five years ago.”

    As I suggested to this blogger, in my opinion this is nothing short of child abuse. 😦

    Liked by 5 people

    • Ark would probably latch onto this testimony in a millimeter of a second.

      It’s a tragedy in the first degree that children are exposed to this kind of religious battering. And the saddest part? This type of guilt association often sticks with them for a lifetime. What a horrible way to live!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Your recent post seemed just made for it, although I know Ark has certainly delved into this topic before. Rightly so. I think reading through Danika’s responses, however, spurred me to share here. I think her question, “Why be part of a machine which oppresses and abuses. . . .?” Had me nodding my head, and reminded me of this man’s powerful testimony. I have said for years that I have no idea why there is an arse left on a seat in a Catholic Church but have come to that same conclusion – slowly – about everyone else’s, as well. 😦

        Liked by 4 people

    • I lied in my first confession. It was forced, almost exactly like the blogger explains his was, except in my case it was Augustinian priests during the herding, not nuns (I’d left those, Carmelites, in primary school). I couldn’t think of anything, so I just made some things up which sounded about right.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, this is spiritual abuse. This poor man is in need of emotional and spiritual healing. What a travesty. It makes a mockery of the love and grace of God.

      Like

      • Here’s the problem, Rebecca. Those nuns and priests feel that what they did was assuring the ‘love and grace’ of their god.

        Here’s how I see it: You are a good person. You don’t need an invisible entity to encourage you to extend love and grace to others. You recognize what is abusive. It means you are a sensitive, caring person. Unlike the god of the Bible.

        Perhaps you need to really examine the scriptures. Yahweh – as it’s presented in the Bible – is not a nice ‘spirit’. Certainly not worthy of any kind of adulation or praise.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Carmen,

          My heart. As I read what you shared here, oh, that this man’s post could fall into the hands of our son and his family. I sense though that they’d say, oh well not all Catholics are the same and it’s not like that for us. Balogna. Your children are going to do the 7 year old sacrament of penance in 3 years.Their first born started JK (Junior Kindergarten) this year, Catholic school. Son married into a Catholic family and converted prior to marriage.

          FB has some issues that remain undiagnosed but possible ADHD, ADD, maybe others? As has been a habit, mother refers to the children as b.a.d. – bad to the bone as easily as 1 2 3. It has always bothered me as I wondered in a way if it was an inherited religious/Catholic type thing that eases both the angst of one’s behaviour but also acknowledges the implication of original sin into the mix? Does that make sense? Almost like the indoctrination is part of her unconscious being and permeates everything including her own self-worth. Well he is misbehaving but don’t we all? After all, we’re all born sinners.

          As a grandmother my heart fricking aches. Some children and their personality can roll with the sort of teasing of “bad” but others can’t. Their FB can’t and what I see happening to him is him living up to the label. But here’s the thing, his anxiety is getting off the charts. Mother blames his new disruptive behaviours on “learning something at school &/or picking something up at school.”

          Since hearing this narrative from her I’ve been thinking about what FB is learning at Catholic school. It’s not so hard to figure out is it. 😦 Good god, if they are getting them ready for the sacrament of penance in a few years they’ve got to start the Catholic dogmatic teaching now. There’s no doubt that this “bad” thing is working over-time on a kid that has barely started and is already exhibiting some dangerous concerns.

          I’ve done this before. Our FB, the father of this new FB went to a Christian school for Kindergarten and Grade One. He did not have the same behaviours prior to school as his FB but became depressed at age 5 in the Christian school. He’d always been a cooperative child but started to throw tantrums when we came home from church and in turn, did not want to go to school. Back in the day I chalked this up to him misbehaving, going through stages and continued to figure out ways to discipline him.

          After 3 months in Kindergarten, he came home with a colouring assignment that said his work was unacceptable and the note from the teacher that he wasn’t trying hard enough. In other words, a problem with his spirit, correct it. The note also said she asked him to do it again which he did in class. This time she put on the assignment, Very good ******! Remember to always do your best for Jesus.

          Here we are at home raising him that Jesus loves him, we love him unconditionally but he learned at age 5 at school that his colouring was not good enough for Jesus. Jesus does not like blue grass, green sky or blue bunnies. And he especially does not like it when you don’t trace the lines on a page. Jesus also doesn’t like red clowns. No.

          As I looked at the Jesus approved assignment, the bunny was brown, the sky blue and grass green. There were attempts at tracing the lines. The clown was traced and the clown was now black. I noticed that the attempts to trace and the colouring were a very heavy pressure, like he pressed very hard. It was a sad state of affairs as I realized this whole thing had broken his spirit and there on the Black Clown page was the words, “Very good ******! Remember to always do your best for Jesus.”

          Biker Dude and I made an appointment to discuss with the teacher. Short story? We were over-protective. This was a behaviour issue. He wasn’t trying hard enough oh and by the way he keeps running into the walls and doesn’t move through the environment well and is clumsy. We sat their dumbfounded. We reminded her about his visual diagnosis (severe issues, didn’t see in the third dimension, double vision, bifocals, eye patching, 2 bi-lateral eye surgeries by age 4, still on edge of legal blindness) and thus, affected his fine and gross motor skills. All this did not matter. Not one bit. My god. What we went through. He was never going to be able to do his best for Jesus.

          And here we are, the next generation and I see it playing out again. Our first grandchild who is very intelligent but as I say, issues, is finding out he himself is not good enough for Jesus. I don’t think it takes and Einstein to figure this out. And OMG, all I want to do is say something.

          Nan, I forget what this post was about. Religion? Oh yes, The Problem With Religion.

          Liked by 2 people

          • . . ..and there, folks, is reality. If that didn’t make your eyes mist over, nothing will. Here’s the reply I made to the blogger, to which he has not replied –

            Good morning (name redacted),

            “Powerful testament to the effects of indoctrination of children. So terribly sad that so many spiritual leaders feel that children/adults must be scared *witless into behaving.
            Nothing less than child abuse, in my opinion.
            Since there’s no such thing as ‘sin’ – just human beings making mistakes – I wish you could just let it go. Having read the testimony of others who were brainwashed into thinking they were inadequate/deficient from the get go, however, I know how difficult this can be.
            All the more reason so many people are throwing off the shackles of religion and recognizing that logical thinking is preferable to magical thinking.
            Hope your day is great!”
            * I really wanted to say ‘shitless’ but he runs a family blog. 🙂

            Zoe, as a teacher I wish I could just gather that child up and let him know how special he is. We also have an oldest grandchild who has never really fit in – he’s quite different from most children. However, he’s always been embraced and encouraged and never made to feel that he’s inadequate in any way. Thankfully, this year he got a new teacher (not that his other one was inconsiderate in any way) who absolutely embraced his quirky ways and let him shine. Grandson and teacher absolutely loved each other. He has just switched schools, however, and we are all holding our breath to see how he copes.

            There’s no doubt in my mind that your grandson is getting subliminal messages from what he’s learning at the Catholic school – it’s emotional torture, in my opinion. Yours, too, I can tell. It’s a tough position to be in and my heart goes out to you (as it often does). Knowing me and my big mouth, I’d have been in trouble awhile ago. .

            Liked by 3 people

          • ((Zoe)) hang in there. Your grandson very much needs your influence in his life.

            I think it is most difficult to be the paternal grandmother..I have a similar issue indirectly involving one of my grandsons, although the problem is not at all concerning religion, but involves a denial and blindness toward mental illness.

            Sadly, I think that mental illness has such a stigma, and even shame attached in our culture that it is easy for families to remain in denial rather than to admit that there is an issue either for themselves, or for their children. We generally don’t look at any other problem like this in life.

            If someone in the family has diabetes, for instance, no shame or stigma is attached to this at all. This would be seen and acknowledged immediately, and the appropriate help would be sought. Not so with illness relating to the mind or emotions.

            It’s extremely sad.

            I can tell you that I plan to be there for my grand babies come Hell or high water. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        • Carman, I’m sure we can both agree, though, that people can be sincerely mistaken. And, not all conflicting opinions can be equally true.

          Concerning the presentation of Yahweh in the OT scriptures..books could be written. But, to share in a nutshell, God would have to be schizophrenic in my opinion, to be telling us in Jesus to love our enemies on the one hand and then, for instance, actually ordering the annihilation of an entire people group on the other as recorded in the OT.

          I’ve attempted to consider and to study this issue in some depth. What I feel, and this is also the opinion of many Christian scholars and theologians is that the ancient Israelites had developed a progressive understanding and apprehension of the reality and nature of God.

          For instance, they had rightly come to the concept of the exclusive nature of God over against polytheism and idolotry. They then wrongly interpreted the command to have no other gods before me as an implied command to engage in holy war.

          It would be impossible to cover or to discuss this all in a blog post, but it is possible to trace the growth in the understanding of God throughout the whole OT along many lines of thinking such as in the necessity of sacrifice, for example.

          If anyone would be interested in exploring this development further, I would suggest some of the books written by Christians scholars and theologians such as John Polkinghorne. Dr. Polkinghorne as a scientist, and theistic evolutionist, also writes concerning the Bible and science, as well.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. “It’s a tragedy in the first degree that children are exposed to this kind of religious battering. And the saddest part? This type of guilt association often sticks with them for a lifetime. What a horrible way to live!”

    Nan (and Carmen if you’re interested),

    Are you of the opinion that children should not be disciplined? I’m curious. In order to avoid “child abuse”, do we teach children every behavior is acceptable? Are feelings of guilt always inappropriate?

    Like

    • JB, you have indicated you do quite well at reading, so I suggest you try again in regards to my comment. In particular, pay close attention to the words “religious battering.” Using my own reading skills, I don’t see the words “discipline” anywhere Hmmm.

      Further, I think you need to re-read what Carmen shared because it seems you missed the point entirely.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Are you of the opinion that children should not be disciplined?”~John Branyan

      Discipline: the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

      Physical punishment teaches only obedience to authority — i.e, might makes right) — not morality.

      “In order to avoid “child abuse”, do we teach children every behavior is acceptable?”

      Non sequitur. Children imitate adults and view their parents as role models. Act in the same manner you’d like them to act and they will pick up your behavior naturally.

      “Are feelings of guilt always inappropriate?”

      No. But shaming innocent children into believing they were born “sinful” creatures deserving of eternal punishment is child abuse.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “…shaming innocent children into believing they were born “sinful” creatures deserving of eternal punishment is child abuse.”

        And child abuse is objectively wrong, correct? I’m not going to go back and forth about matters of personal opinion…

        Like

            • Doesn’t matter what I think. According to you, I don’t have a moral leg to stand on. Those things (genocide, rape, slavery and child abuse) are objectively right and anyone who disagrees stands firmly opposed to God’s lawful commands.

              Liked by 1 person

            • No, you were right. My subjective belief that’s it’s wrong to harm others is entirely unfounded. Thank God, such views aren’t the law of the land because they stand in direct opposition to the objective Christian moral standards upon which the nation was built.

              Like

            • Mr. Branyan,

              If it’s your belief that it is objectively wrong to harm others, is it then not immoral to believe that your sins can be forgiven by the punishment of another person?

              Liked by 1 person

            • That’s a pretty convoluted question. But I don’t want to be accused of dodging.
              So, “No” it is not immoral for sins to be forgiven by the punishment of another (assuming you’re meaning Jesus Christ).

              Now, back to you, Ron.
              Why do you care what is immoral when morality is purely subjective?

              Like

          • It is obvious to all that whenever Branyan enters any thread on a non-believer’s blog his sole objective is to be disingenuous.

            However, what is truly baffling is he seems convinced he possesses an intellectual prowess that, through his comments, will immediately demonstrate how all non-believers and especially deconverts are simply clods.

            Based solely on how he is always made to look like a complete Nob the only conclusion one can reasonably draw as to why he continues to subject himself is he is suffering from a mental illness of some kind.

            Which makes me wonder, are we being cruel towards him?

            Liked by 2 people

            • Gee, Ark … this statement he seems convinced he possesses an intellectual prowess reminds me of someone else. (State-side people will immediately know who I mean.) Maybe he’s trying to emulate this person?

              Liked by 2 people

            • I truly cannot see what his goal is, Nan.
              I have never been a Christian other than in the cultural sense so to my mind if one is commanded to ”Spread the Word” one would undertake this task in a spirit of humility with the aim of bringing people into the fold, especially as ”we” are all destined for Hell.
              Yet Branyan might as well be wearing a
              T-shirt emblazoned with the motif:

              Ask Me About Jesus ‘cos I am a Smart-Mouthed Disingenuous Sum’bitch Christian.
              And y’all going to Hell!

              Liked by 1 person

            • —are we being cruel towards him?—
              Quite the contrary, I would say. According to Mother Teresa, Jesus loves those who suffer most.
              That must be the reason I don’t like to suffer.
              .-

              Liked by 3 people

  9. Oh JB … I really don’t have time for your back and forth prattlings. But God Forbid that I ignore your plea to increase your vocabulary!

    Battering: The act of subjecting to strong attack
    Religious: Concerned with sacred matters, religion or the church

    Now go back re-read what Carmen wrote and it should all become clear. Or it won’t.

    And this is my final comment to you today.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Note to all who comment

    I’m going to add some more “reply” links because when the comments start accumulating, I know t’s hard to keep up. However, I also know that by doing so, it’s going to mess up anyone reading on a phone Apologies in advance.

    After the first of the year, I’ll probably look into another theme. Time to throw out the old and … well, you know the rest.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I agree that many of those virtues are not exclusive to Christianity or faith-systems. I imagine, though, that Rebecca agrees with you, too, at least in general. Although I could be wrong. After all, she did write: “But, here lies the rub. Not all religions or expressions of Christian faith are the same, and deserve to be painted with the same negative and perjorative tar brush (emphasis mine).”

    In other words, she seems to accept other religions can have the same virtues as Christianity. If she is in fact stating this I would challenge your point about “preaching . . . distinct elitism.” If a person is arguing that religions other than their own can have wonderful virtues and/or lead to heaven/hell (assuming that’s even part of their system), it would seem to me they are NOT representing themselves as distinct or elite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see your point CR regarding people or individual faith-followers. Everyone can have a slight or drastically different interpretation and individual expression of their religion, ad infinitum.

      However, regarding the source(s) of those religion’s truths or wishes/commands of their God, there are several Canonical New Testament passages that explicitly or implicitly teach distinction or elitism, e.g. John 14:6. There is really no way to misinterpret what that passage indicates or is preached. Exodus 20:3 and ‘His chosen people’ are other Old Testament distinctions or implied elitism in my opinion. And in the Quran, 3:23, is another example for Muslims.

      But granted and to your point, not all individual believers of their faith/religion agree with or follow what is taught or accepted as THEIR God’s direct wishes/teachings to followers. I think these discrepencies account for the many chasms and confusions inside the Abrahamic religions, IMO. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • While I agree all those verses can be interpreted as “implied elitism” these are all extremely old books with long interpretive traditions. You’re putting too much emphasis on individual believers. The problems arises when those individuals “believers” make up the MAJORITY of the actual group.

        If most Jews, for example, are Pro-Gay Rights and Marriage, which they are, it doesn’t really make much sense to then point to Levictus and say, “but it says this in this old book that your ancient ancestors wrote, so really Jews don’t believe in this.” If the majority does, then that’s what the group does believe, even if yes, there may be some other individuals in other sub-groups (Orthodox, but not even all of them who don’t).

        Like

  12. Nan, before I go, I wanted to ask one last important question of you and your readers, somewhat related to the post. 🙂 I asked this on another blog as well.

    What do you feel are the most important things Christian believers can do to bless, and to provide support/encouragement to people who are questioning their faith or have deconverted from the Christian faith?

    And, what are some responses that would not be helpful at all, and should be avoided?

    I would appreciate anyone’s input.

    Thanks so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What do you feel are the most important things Christian believers can do to provide support/encouragement to people who are questioning their faith

      Ask them to honestly consider what, exactly, in their lives (their every-day lives) would change if they simply no-longer believed in the gods. Excluding the physicalities of belief, like church attendence, if they’re honest, they’ll see that absolutely nothing at all would be different. They will still love just as firmly, still care just as solidly, still hope just as keenly. In time, the only real difference might be that they become far better focused on the urgent need to fix our problems here and now, with real solutions, with (hopefully) actual results.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Yikes, guy, I need to rephrase the question in a different way.

    What are some ways that deconverts feel that Christians can or should relate to them in a matter that is healthy, positive, or constructive, etc.?

    What are some ways to interact that are not good or even considered offensive? Obviously, I have my own thoughts here, but I would like to hear the thoughts and feelings of others.

    Liked by 1 person

      • LOL, no, not at all. You’re both lovable heathens. Teasin you.

        But, seriously, I think it’s an important question if we are going to find common ground, live in community, and work together for mutual concerns., and also, despite our different prespectives, be a blessing in each other’s lives.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think Neil’s answer nails it. But of course, there are many (too many) who are unable to do this. Because of their teachings, they feel compelled to bring “salvation” to the lost. And therein lies the problem.

          Unless an individual shows interest (e.g., asking questions, popping in at occasional church services, etc.), IMO it should be “hands off” (and mouth shut). Deconverts particularly detest Christians trying to “bring them back into the fold.” They left for a reason and in the majority of cases, they are NOT interested in returning. But even those who have never been “saved” often have no interest in changing their ways … and Christians need to respect this. When you don’t know the person, I suppose it’s OK to “test the waters,” but once the individual has made it clear where they stand, it should be subject closed.

          IMO, there is nothing wrong with a believer expressing love for her/his god … so long as it’s presented neutrally. From what I’ve seen so far, you have done a good job of this, Rebecca. Your position is obvious, but you have shown respect and patience with those who are “on the other side.”

          I guess the best way to sum this up is … “live and let live.” An old saying, but a ton of truth.

          Liked by 4 people

    • Personally, I have a Newtonian approach – opposite and equal reaction. Be nice and I’m nice. Preach and I preach back. Threaten me with hellfire and prepare to be roasted 😉

      Kidding aside, the Christians I tend to get along with best are either the gentle hippie types (that “All you need is love” vibe tickles my protective instincts) or the good humored ones (“Great Odhinn be with you, dirty heathen!” “And my regards to your Jewish carpenter, father!”).
      Alas, those are few and far between.

      Second best are the laid back types, who consider their faith a personal matter and extend that courtesy to other people. Once you know each other a bit, respectful exchange of ideas can become actual fun conversation (Note to self: Quit asking why walking on water worked, but Walking on Sunshine is ridiculous).

      Just about tolerable are the earnest “But I want to share this really awesome thing I found with you” types. These tend to go easy on the damnation, though they can be a bit tone-deaf to the “No thank you”s. Also, their reactions to even gentle counter arguments can range from kicked puppy (which then makes me feel bad) to fierce indignation and stomping of feet (“WHY don’t you like my tuna casserole? It’s the best in the wooooooorld!” “How many ways can I say fish allergy?” “But it’s god fish!” “Thorssakes…”). With a bit of good will on both sides there’s still lots of potential for productive relationships though.

      Less helpful, though still tolerable are the earnest preachers. These often come with a side of condescension and circular logic, sitting neatly in their perceived “saved” zone from which they dispense wisdom for the poor deluded masses. Usually they go harder on other “false” Christians than they do on the heathen interloper, because we’re just blind to Truth with a really big T, rather than bad christians with a really small c. Occasionally one can get a good conversation going, but eventually the “I’m terribly saddened that you can’t see how right I am” becomes grating. Note: these guys are still within MY “aw shucks agnostic” tolerance level, but they can be pretty apt at pushing atheistic/anti-theistic buttons.

      Not good/offensive is pretty much anything beyond that. There are several subspecies, all of them incidentally branding each other as “Not Real Christians”.

      Some of those are still within reaching distance (though barely), like the Deeply Devout. Indoctrinated and filled with missionary fire, the trolls and doorbell ringers of Holy Annoyance (“Have you found Jesus yet?” “Don’t tell me you misplaced him AGAIN since last Wednesday?!”)

      Others are actively and negatively interfering in people’s lives, up to the point of being dangerous.

      There’s the “Church of the Perpetually Offended” to whom we owe the War on Christmas among other things (the mere fact that Jews have Hanukkah and pagans have Solstice and “Happy Holidays” is a polite compromise is an ATTACK on baby Jesus! To arms, to arms!).
      There’s the fire and brimstone Holy Warrior, who must save the depraved by explaining in delightful detail how I’m going to Hell in gasoline underwear.
      There’s the High and Mighty Fidei Defensor who would install a theocracy in a NY minute and thinks shooting gays, liberals and other godless vermin gets him an express ticket to heaven. Or was it virgins?

      I wish THOSE were few and far between.

      Liked by 4 people

    • “What are some ways that deconverts feel that Christians can or should relate to them in a matter that is healthy, positive, or constructive, etc.?”
      Just totally drop any religious references. It isn’t normally a subject that comes naturally to a person who has either left the church or does not believe in a God. If you meet up with friends on the street, or even meet someone new, do you automatically start evangelizing them? I highly doubt it. Just have a regular conversation. Being an atheist doesn’t make someone radically different from you.
      If someone is searching for a belief system then is the time to speak of your own and how it affects you.
      It becomes offensive to have someone ask the question “why don’t you believe?” and is condescending. Treat them exactly the same way as you would any other human being, for in even asking the question here the inference is either that the poor fools just don’t understand what you are so fortunate to know, or they are too stupid to make the proper choice in the matter. I find it supremely offensive to have someone say “I will pray for you” unless I ask for them to do so.

      Liked by 3 people

  14. I respect your view on religion and yes you do have a right to say what you said. However, I must say that by saying religion justifies ill behaviour is merely just a scapegoat. Yes, people have done things in the past in the name of religion: the crusades, 9/11, terrorist attacks, slavery etc. however, the actual fact is that all religions fundamentally promote peace, love and harmony. Islam doesn’t justify any act of sin, and by people saying that they committed these acts in the name of their beliefs is a wrong representation of the faith as nowhere does it say in the Quran that what they did is allowed.

    Like

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