If you find yourself in a situation of defending religion or defending your choice to attend a regular spiritual gathering, you may find this religious article helpful.
If you are thinking of leaving religion because
you are concerned about its negative aspects, again I hope it will be helpful.
I live in the UK where we are lucky to have profound religious freedom to worship as we wish.
Nonetheless, it is unusual at this time to be a practising
Christian. (I am.)
People’s anti-religious comments sometimes leave me in a position of defending religion, or defending my decision to go to church.
I find it is rarely useful to express these arguments, but it can be helpful to refer to them for my own clarity.
This article answers the following two criticisms or insults :
This aint going to happen, so best to get used to it.
This sounds flippant, but I mean it.
If religion was banned or didn't exist, it would simply be invented the next day, as suggested by the following example.
A recent television program in the UK, The Island, followed a group of men who were dropped off on an island to see if they could survive off the land for 6 weeks.
None were openly religious.
On the final night, the men made a small raft, gave thanks to the island and stood, unusually united and clearly moved, as they lit the raft and watched it float away on the sea tide.
This was a religious act.
In the Soviet Union and in Poland, religion was for the most part banned for many years. Yet it survived.
Religion is here to stay, so let us support it in living up to its spiritual principles and serving the good of the world.
Some of the religious are abusive. Some are corrupt.
Anyone can join the main religions.
At least they ought to be able to.
A religion is ultimately a human organisation complete with all the weaknesses that humans have.
Other organisations get to pick and choose who is hired or who belongs. And yet there are still cases of abuse and corruption.
If you are secular and abusive, does that mean you are abusive because you are secular.
And if you are secular and not abusive, should you stop being secular, so as not to associate with such a belief system any more?
Abuse also occurs among teachers and caregivers. Should we get rid of teachers and caregivers?
Such logic is absurd.
Another suggestion or implication is that those of us in a religion that has contained abuse within it should leave in protest?
I am a Catholic, so I have reflected on this one.
But if everyone keeps leaving an organisation when someone in it behaves badly those who behave badly are left running the show. Surely this is not what we want.
In my view, religion is neutral. It can be used for harm. It can be used for good.
“The religious” is really a term with little meaning given the wide range of beliefs held by different groups and even within a single congregation.
My sadness with people who accuse ALL the religious of being abusive or corrupt is the following:
This criticism of religion does nothing to address abuse or corruption in the church or any other religious organisation.
I struggle to see the objective of the criticism. It often seems to contain the implication that a religious person may be learning something new by learning of the abuse that has taken place.
Instead, someone within a religion is likely to be all the more aware of and saddened by instances of abuse in their own church.
I am very happy to hear criticisms about the church from within my own congregation since we are the people in a position to change things through expressing concern or simply by being as healthy a member of the church as possible.
But when someone from outside spends considerable energy criticising the church, I suspect their energies could be used more constructively in addressing aspects of their own life or in working to improve organisations to which they themselves belong.
I find it rather sad that intelligent people who are anti religion waste enormous amounts of energy on arguing against religion.
Read arguments for defending religion against the accusations of "religion is stupid" and "religion causes war".
Move from Defending Religion to the main article on questions to consider if you are Thinking of Leaving Christianity (or any religion)
Coming soon: a related religious article on the Benefits of Religion.