(from a Humanist in Pakistan)
Each morning as I set to read the daily paper, I've to start with the news of the massacre of hundreds of innocent men, women and children by rival Muslim factions in Algeria. Next comes the news of the killing of Shia Muslims by Sunni Muslims, or a bomb blast of Sunni Muslims for killing Shia Muslims, here in Pakistan. Then my eyes slip towards the news of mass-murders due to prolonged religious civil war in Afghanistan, mass-killings of Shias or Sunni Muslims by rival militia supported by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. I read about the killing of American tourists by religious fanatics in Egypt and about religious civil conflicts between Shias and Sunnis in Lucknow, India. The newspaper informs me about murder of tens of Brahmins in Indian Kashmir by religious fanatics who are neither Muslim, nor Hindus, nor Sikhs but of some other religion. The newspapers are also full of news about torture or murder of many Muslims in Kashmir, and my memory tells me about murderous acts of the Japanese religious cult of Doomsday spreading poisonous gas in Tokyo underground railway station as a religious ritual. I also remember reading about religious mass-suicide of hundreds of religious people in France, Canada, America & Africa.
I know that millions of people were murdered or displaced in the religious division of India in the name of Hinduism, Sikhism or Islam. Having read about European religious wars of the 15th, 16th & 17th centuries, murdering and displacing millions in the name of religion, I see the same religious war still continuing in Northern Ireland between Catholic and Protestant sects of Christianity, the trademark of Romans.
As I read about religious mutilation of sexual parts of girls (female circumcision) in the name of Islam & Christianity, in different countries of Africa and Asia (including Pakistan), my memory informs me about the burning of hundreds of thousands of women in Christian countries for alleged witchcraft. I know that history books are full of incidents of religious burning and condemnation of thousands of upright & honest men of intellect like Bruno and Galileo, for refusing to obey the political and intellectual authority of fascist Christian priests and bishops. The same barbarism continued under the "Spanish Inquisition" and now under the "Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith".
History books inform me that millions of men, women & children were traded as slaves by the very pious & religious Christians, while trying to colonize the world under the very religious Holy Roman Empire, by land-grabbing, mass-murder and traffic in men, women and children, these being the real motive of spreading Christianity in Asia & Asia; the same religious trade and colonisation ritually performed by Arabs under the cloak of spreading Islam. I know how apartheid was sustained under the protestant church in South Afica.
I hear of religious wars between Buddhist and Hindus, in their attempts to please their respective gods, as Roman and Jews had done in ancient and middle ages, and as Hitler, the very religious Roman Catholic-Chnstian, has done with Jews and liberals of in Germany and Europe. To confirm: CNN gave the news that the Vatican, the center of Roman Catholicism, has decided to accept the responsibility for the mass-murder of millions of Jews ( and other liberals of Europe).
I've clear memories about the religious strife against Ahmedies of Pakistan, in 1952, then 1975,and I have personal experience of this side of religion; mere hypocrisy and mockery.
I know that.hundreds of thousands of babies, children, women and men are suffering from ear problems due to Mulla's religious abuse of loudspeakers.
And then people would tell me that it is not the religion itself but the abuse of religion by clever people, that causes problem. But why does religion allow itself to be abused? The Hindu / Buddhist Civil war of Sri Lanka is an open religions war. The mass murder of millions of Red Indians in America by Spanish & other European Christians was a religious act, as were the genocide of Maoris of New Zealand and Aborgines of Australia.
People organize themselves as a paramilitary force to serve their religion, they kill and maim hundreds of thousands & still religion wants to be called innocent! Why does religion allow itself to be used or abused by Nazis or other type of fascist criminals & fundamentalists. Why should the very religious christian priest assure God's support to Nazis and to British Colonial fascists? Isn't religion merely a screen for evil.?
Singing" Forward Christian Soldiers" the American soldiers mass-murdered millions of Vietnamese!
When a religion metamorphoses into an organized religion, like Christianity & Islam 'it really negates itself.
Arabs used Islam for conquering half the world & for creating an Arab Empire thus making Islam a trade mark of Arabs. British gathering under their evil (Christian) British Empire, conquered half the world, enslaved and mass-murdered millions just like the earlier Holy Roman Empire of ancient ages and Holy Roman (German) Empire of the Middle Ages thus showing the true face of religion. Religious ethics are merely customs and traditions of the conquering people imposed on subject people, and made Holy and sacred with guns and swords.
And you could cite references from the Holy Texts .... To show that religion by itself creates narrow-mindedness, bigotry, factionalism and sectarianism. And worse than that religion imposes social values & interpersonal relations of an ancient age. It does not allow any circumstantial adaption, and so create backwardness, stagnation and retrogression ; for rules to work with camels can not work with aeroplanes. " I am the only true religion , other are obsolete and false". every religion claims. "I am only true God, others are false", the God of every religion declares.
The very claim to be the only true message creats self-nghteousness & hatred for others. And then interpretations of religion start creating factionalism and sectarianism. And often organized -religion survives due to organized force:in Pakistan Islam was imposed with swords and is being sustained with fascist Martial Law regulations, illiberal laws, and lathis of Police. And different religions and sects protect themselves from others and impose their religious discipline on its members by organizing the paramilitaries:the organized crime, as in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Pakistani Shia & Sunni. The notorious Italian Mafia exists only under the patronship of Christian Bishops belonging to the highly organized religion of Roman Catholic Church.
Islamic religious wars of early period are a reminder of what religions could lead to. And the Hindu caste system and ill-traditions of satti, Muslim religious fundamentalism and the Christian idea of world domination, racism and predestination are a reminder of how religion can cause stagnation as well as Civil wars. Hindu Dev-dasees, Christian Nuns and Islamic Mullas 2nd ,3rd and 4th wives are the institutions for religious insult and degradation of women.
One could go on writing pages after pages on this side of religion but I would rather not listen to religion at all & stay with Humanism : whatever is good for us Humans, individually & collectively is true, the rest is of secondary importance.