This is for a research project I'm doing.
We hear a lot about the public, institutional harm caused by various types of religion - the Catholic Church withholding birth control; the abusive exorcism of children accused of witchcraft; discrimination against women; discrimination against gay people; child-abuse by priests; there is a long list.
However there is other harm done too, which we don't hear so much about. I'm thinking mainly of the harm carried out at a grass-roots level, in the home or in the community. Some examples I can think of are: unhealthy sexual repression; people assuming that their actions are legitimate because they are religious, while not bothering to check if they are following good principles; someone being rejected by their family because they have turned atheist; psychologically vulnerable people being freaked out by heaven and hell.
I'd like to hear about your experiences. I do intend to publish what I find, but only in the most broad, vague terms, without wanting to identify anybody. As soon as the discussion is played out, I'll let you know, make a copy for myself and then delete the discussion. If you have any objections to my publishing your story (in the most general way) then you must say. In fact, before I publish anything, I'll run it past you first so that you can check it.
I take the position that religion can have the most profound positive effects as well as negative.
I have. Being pretty religious in Highschool, and now being very nonreligious, I have almost no friends left from my teenage years. Not that I care too much (they are all insane ;) ) but it still sucks to have 'close' friends cast you out of their lives because they are afraid of what my lack of faith will do to them, their children, etc.
When I was young, my christian parents made sure that all of my social activities revolved around the church. And they were very careful to select my friends from only christian kids that that they approved of.
I was taught that anyone who wasn't a christian was evil, immoral, ignorant, unsuccessful, and lazy. Especially non-theist women. They were to be avoided at all costs.
When I finally got out on my own, I was amazed to find that non-theists were actually nice, considerate, loving, and caring people. It was (and still is) very difficult to make friendships with people.
Thanks for your replies, I appreciate it. I sound like a scientist in a white coat with a clipboard. There's a much better discussion post on the same subject, here: