When assigning blame, many of us jokingly say, "The devil made me do it," but for more heinous crimes, someone else is often held responsible. I'm talking about God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah Ÿ the name is not important. Holding a god accountable for crimes seems to be a popular choice among the "faithful".
Various worldwide religions have at one time or another killed in the name of their god, breaking a basic human moral law: murder is wrong. Through holy wars, religions tell their followers that murder is justifiable under certain circumstances. Religion mystically does away with right and wrong by disguising them with "God's morality", which we realistically could never pretend to know or understand if there is a God. We no more have the right to kill in the name of God than we have to enslave others.
We have recently seen evidence of "divine right" murder in the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Yigal Amir killed Rabin, claiming to have acted under religious direction, which makes me question what exactly organized religion gives back to its fold.
Religion boasts moral guidance and salvation, yet what it does to many is give justification for acting amorally. Justifying religious murder is one example of the way religion doesn't always teach what is "right."
Through the names of various deities, corruption has swept over the planet since the dawn of humankind. Ancient civilizations used gods to explain human nature and natural phenomena, and although we should be above all that, we're not. Even today, organized religions still shroud issues under a cloak called faith and have a great tendency to pervert rather than to save.
Organized religion also has a habit of turning "believers" into heretics. Those who go to worship services may think that if they walk the walk, they are good Christians, Muslims, Catholics, whatever. Any illegal acts committed can be washed away with a few prayers and an absolution Ÿ which is crap Ÿ because putting on an apologetic guise doesn't mean you're truly sorry or that you'll change.
Religions rely so heavily on faith that any questioning usually ends in empty answers, because there is no hard factual knowledge available; testing the faith has an effect of angering many and from experience, I can say that it is oftentimes discouraged. This creates heretics, too. Blind belief is as worthless as a golden calf Ÿ if you only believe in a particular religious doctrine because you were taught to or because you are pressured to, your "belief" is useless. John Milton once said, "A person may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so ... without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy." If there is a God, heresy won't get you into heaven, and even if there isn't, any mental benefits that could have been gained by true belief would be lost.
Perhaps the most disturbing element that is basic in organized religions is that they fosters heresy and amoral action simply because of the way that they are founded. Uncomprehending belief is demanded, spiritual ministers are lavished upon while the masses waste away and unethical actions are raised up and made holy. The rudiments of religion were not devised to create moral aberrations, but they do none the less. Religion often justifies in peoples' minds what they would not normally condone.
It seems that in a world filled with evils, religion is one that doesn't get publicized in that light. Simply abolishing religious practices wouldn't stop murder or heresy, but I do believe that we need to recognize that organized religion is not all it's cracked up to be. We need to question, we need to want to "know " before we foolishly close our eyes and just take religion for what it seems to be.
Denise R. Frank is an English senior who believes in individualistic religion. Her columns appear every other Friday.
Read Next Article