I'm talking about all religions and every religion in general. What are your reasons? 

Religion and religious persons impose their faith into public policy and politics. Where it clearly doesn't belong.

Religion is still very much mediatory in the schools of nations such as Republic of Ireland, where it has no place. Churches were built for a reason. This makes many members of other faiths and no faiths feel uncomfortable and excluded during a time when young persons find it difficult to fit in as it is. It isn't a matter of talking about religion, but actively telling young persons to practice it mandatory. 

Many nations make it difficult for the non-religous to have any sort of successful career in politics (and being honest about their lack of faith at the same time)

Many religious groups impose their views of abortion on others and seek to make abortion illegal. Because of religion in other nations it now is or has been for sometime, outlawed medial practice. Abortion is not murder, murder is the illegal killing of a human being, not a pre-human being. 

Religion demonises many educational fields in contrast with its doctrine, such as certain aspects of history and many accepted theories 

There have been cases in the United States and some other country where person's have lost their jobs due to lack of faith or alternative faiths and sometimes on the bases of sexual orientation (which is thought to be justified because of certain beliefs)

Religion tries to justify many forms of discrimination including but not limited to, homophobia, sexism, racism and class

Certain nations such as Iran and Uganda take their discrimination justified by religious beliefs a step further by improving atheists and murdering homosexuals

Religion has caused many to rebel against its corruption. While this mostly occurs in changing religions or declaring oneself atheist; that is not always the next direction for some. For some they take that faith and change it for their own purposes, often resulting in more extreme and harmful faith systems mostly regarded as cults. These cults involve all sorts of dangerous acts, such as mass suicide and sometimes violent attacks of non-beleivers of their faith. 

Religion has literally caused people to go to war due to the influence of the faith and disagreement with certain policies based on religious beliefs (especially when a doctrine influences such actions)

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RE: "Governments seem to be more about control than religions.  Do you object to them as well?"

I have a better idea - let's discuss the king (government) who was excommunicated by the Pope (religion), and traveled to the Vatican and was made to stand outside, in the cold, waiting for an audience with His Holiness, in the hope of having the excommunication lifted (control).

In the USA, the Religious Right are trying to once again take control of the government and turn it into a theocracy, and in Islamic countries, religion controls every aspect of human life, so yeah, when they try to cram religion down our throats, I certainly, "object to them as well."

Come now, archaeopteryx, you're an atheist, are you not?  How much would you feel controlled if I were to excommunicate you from my religion?  Somehow I don't think you'd feel very threatened.

Religious teaching, by itself, really isn't very threatening. 

I think that we also want to be careful about generalizations about "Islamic countries."  They range from relatively secular democracies like Turkey to true aristocratic monarchies like Saudi to hybrid theocracies like Iran.  It's quite a range.

Prof Bob - obviously I wouldn't, but then I'm not Henry IV.

RE: "Religious teaching, by itself, really isn't very threatening." - Right - there's nothing at all threatening about telling little children in Bible School that if they don't toe god's line, they'll go to hell and writhe in flames forever - but god loves you --

I'm quite aware of the wide range of adherence to Islamic customs, but what response would you expect if you asked any of them what the Koran says about apostates?

First of all I'll never respect the authority of the pope, I've no respect for him. He is a homophobic amongst other things (the current pope included). That aside Catholicism is a form of Christianity, you shouldn't be caring what the pope says, he's just a figurehead. 

How I arrived at the conclusion that religion is about control. Well taking the Bible for example it basically teaches "believe in me, or burn". It controls people with fear tactics. What you call self-control I call unhealthy suppression.  The evidence for that is the Catholic priests themselves, we all know how that panned out for them and their scandals. 

Most Governments are controlled by the religious. Non-religous government heads are a minority.  We don't have a decline of unions in Ireland, as a matter of fact our constitution demands it as our rights as employees in Ireland.  

It might seem a bit unfair to say this, but there is a very good chance that the majority of company owners in American (I'm assuming that is the country you are talking about, correct me if I'm wrong) are religious people. Any sort of leader that is religious can be wrongly making decisions based on their faith, I've already illustrated this point.  Governments put legislations in to make religious oaths in order to elect new members for parliament, employers law off staff whose religion or lack there off they don't agree with.  Those employers may not openly admit it, but they are getting away with it.  

"Well taking the Bible for example it basically teaches "believe in me, or burn".

Interesting.  Where do you think the bible says that, @Keith? 

There really are very few references to 'burning' of any sort.  The notion of hell or ultimate judgment is a Christian one, and almost wholly absent from the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, the rare references say nothing about belief and "burning".  Condemnation is limited to those who fail to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the ill.  The essence of the teaching is an obligation to charity.

"What you call self-control I call unhealthy suppression."

Thou shalt not steal?  Thou shalt not commit adultery?  Thou shalt not bear false witness?  Thou shalt not covet?  

Is it really unhealthy to suppress the investment banker's urge to seek excessive profit at the expense of the subprime mortgage holder?  Truly unhealthy to resist the temptation to cheat on your spouse?  Such an awful thing to be content with your home instead of envying your neighbor's bigger house? 

RE: "almost wholly absent from the Old Testament." - let's hear it for qualifiers --!

Believe in me or burn? 

Revelation 21:8

"But for the cowardly and UNBELIEVING and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

(I'm putting emphasis on "unbelief" here. Obviously I don't condone the murderers) 

Most of the 10 commandments, is basic common sense. I don't steal, cheat etc by choice.  As for coveting? I do want certain things others have, so I work to get these things honestly.  I see a person wearing a nice jacket, I will want one and if I can afford it I will buy one. Bear false witness? Aka lying.  Sometimes we are put in positions where we have to lie; thats life.  The important thing is that I'm honest with myself and I am not hurting others if I have to lie. 

When I speak of suppression I am simply speaking of human nature and natural aspects of nature itself etc.  I don't think profit has much to do with human nature, it has become a big part of our culture in western society alright, but it isn't really human nature. So your argument here doesn't really relate to suppression. Banks are basically companies, and in companies policies can be changed, it has nothing to do with suppression; it has everything to do with adapting to the economy. 

@Kris, it would be wonderful if all of our politicians held positions which were "assailable to reason", but I'm not hugely hopeful.  It raises an interesting question in terms of constructing a democracy, though.  Who is going to be the arbiter of what is rational?  Should we restrict the vote to only those with a college degree, who may be more rational?  Have all potential voters pass a test on reasoning skills? 

In many ways, the eugenics movement was imminently rational:  sterilizing genetically "inferior" humans should reduce social costs.   In the end, the religious argument that it is more dangerous to dehumanize groups of people within a society prevailed, with the exception of modern abortion. 

I agree with you with respect to schools.  There are good ways and bad ways to teach, and teaching from "authority" is a bad way.  One of the challenges we have in the U.S. is that we essentially have monopoly public education, which makes it much easier to teach from "authority" and not be accommodating of various viewpoints.

With respect to genetics, I think we're talking hundreds of thousands of years, not millions.  You're quite right, though, @Keith I think is talking about the rights of human persons.   Where we draw lines does matter a great deal to those affected by those lines.  Do we really want to make legal protections dependent on "perception and general personality traits?".  I doubt it.  Many adults aren't "independent".   These questions are more psycho-sociological in nature, in terms of what makes for healthier individuals and societies.  Religion does a better job with these than the principles of physical science, because the religions that have survived over the millenia did so by encouraging healthier societies.  They are the survivors of natural social selection.

RE: "10.  Do you really think that atheists don't try to influence public policy according to their beliefs?  In a democracy, don't we accept that each person is going to contribute to the debate from their own perspective?"

Of course we do, but only as a counter-measure, to offset the influence of America's Religious Wrong.

RE: "9.  That's a valid point, but here's the question:  To what extent should schools reflect and propagate the local culture?  Isn't that partly the role of a school?  Should a school in a liberal democracy teach those values, even though it makes it hard for a conservative Islamic girl to fit in?"

Only to the extent that Constitutional separation of church and State allows it.

RE: "10.  Do you really think that atheists don't try to influence public policy according to their beliefs?  In a democracy, don't we accept that each person is going to contribute to the debate from their own perspective?"

This confuses me - if we teach science, as opposed to magic, it could as well create a situation where a fundamentalist Christian could have an equally difficult time, "fitting in," but at the same time, he/she could well learn to distinguish between reality and ideology.

RE: "What system of government would you choose to impose instead of democracy? " - a democracy works just fine with me, religion is losing converts every second, and the time will come when we will outnumber them.

RE: "6. Do you perhaps mean "some religions"?  My religion did its best to preserve history and respects science." - would this be the same religion that waited until 1998 to admit that in the 1600's, they were wrong to accuse Galileo of heresy for saying that the Earth revolved around the sun?

RE: "I wouldn't claim that atheism as a whole tries to demonize all of us religious folks, but apparently a few atheists do." - as atheists don't believe in demons, I would doubt that any of us do.

RE: "Does that make democracy evil?" - all democracies are comprised of people, some people are evil, there is nothing about democracy that precludes the ascension to the office of President, by a person with evil intentions, which doesn't make, by association, the democratic process evil - some people are better at hiding their agendas than others.

"all democracies are comprised of people, some people are evil, there is nothing about democracy that precludes the ascension to the office of President, by a person with evil intentions, which doesn't make, by association, the democratic process evil"

Hear!  Hear! 

@archaeopteryx, exactly my point.  I think we have to be careful about labeling all religions as a "Negative Force" for the same reason.  Religions are comprised of people, and there have been wicked religious people, and stupid ones.  That does not make all religion wicked, or all religious people stupid, any more than the bad things our American democracy has done means that democracy as a form of government should be rejected.

@Keith referred to the Crusades and the Inquisition as religiously driven wars.  Though I'll note he's not clear as to which crusade, or which inquisition, it's interesting that he had to go back many hundreds of years to find relatively weak examples.  The argument would be much stronger if he were to label governments of all types as the bad guys for starting wars, then he could find plenty of examples in just the last century. 

I wonder, though.  Is that enough to condemn human governments?  They start wars?  Shouldn't that also be balanced against the good roles governments have played?  Building bridges?  Providing stability?  Resolving disputes? 

If that's the case, shouldn't the bad things that people have done in the name of religion be balanced against the good as well?  Just to be fair, and rational.

All the crusades were motivated by a combination of Christianity and Islam. 

I've already stated many Governments are run by religious leaders. Former President Bush admitted on many occasions that his actions were an act of God.  Be believed God told him to attack the middle east. 

At least you might have a chance of reasoning with a non religious leader going to war. 

RE: "B(H)e believed God told him to attack the middle east." - I'm thinking that would be the great god, Dick "Haliburton" Cheney --


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