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)
So religion doesn't tell the victims of AIDS in 3rd world countries to not use condoms, people don't strap bombs to their chests and run into crowds because of religious beliefs, US Soldiers don't get killed by these people all the time... oh wait all those things happened and still happen today. Which wars WEREN'T religious? As archaeopteryx pointed out the largest wars in history (WWI and WWII) were also religiously motivated.
Religion is an ongoing cause of meaningless death and always has been. That is the truth and you cannot dispute that.
Interesting fact: the Spanish Empire only allowed Catholics to colonize the New World.
In South Africa the Afrikaner people were and in some extent still is very religious. White Afrikaners will glady tell you that the bible tells you that races are not to mix. This is used to give proof to why they think and did think Apartheid was right as the bible told them so. They will also tell you that the bible tells you that a black is a sub specie and that the white race is superior to them. We still have churches that if you go into them you will not see one black face all white as it is made very clear that they don't belong in the same church. So go and ;look at the creators of Apartheid and how their religion and the bible influenced their thinking in creating such a horrable thing as Apartheid, and yes lives were lost because of this and people were forced to live in the worst possible conditions. The reasons for not being allowed to marry someone from another race and in our country if found in a relationship with someone from another race you could be put in jail as this was a crimminal offence, Go back to where their logic came from and their teachings in believing this, The bible told them so.
@Jorita, yes, it's true that people will use religion to justify positions they hold for economic or ethnic reasons. That's especially true within our Protestant brothers and sisters, where there is a sense that each person can create their own interpretation of the bible, that there's no common interpretation that we have together as a people of God. For those of us from the older Christian religions, that's foreign to us. We would look at that Afrikaner interpretation (or the racist southern baptists here in the U.S.) and say that such an interpretation is false. If one of our ministers tried to teach that, we would remove him.
The question is whether correlation means causation. If the Afrikaners were atheists, do you really believe that their position on Apartheid would have been any different? Of course not. They would have used arguments from eugenics and genetics and bad science to justify their position, just as some did here in the U.S. early in the last century. Just because they used bad science to justify the evil they wanted to do would not mean that science is bad, any more than people bent on justifying things with bad religion means religion is bad.
In fact, I think it's hopeful. It means that the people who want to do bad things feel that religion, and science, are in their way. Any reasonable read of the bible refutes their claims; any reasonable understanding of science contradicts them and causes others to question and doubt and resist. Oh, sure, they'll try to twist the religion or science, but good scientists or good theists all recognize that twisting for what it is, whether it's climate change deniers or racists thumping the bible.
@Professor Robert I can tell you that if you as a Catholic had to make the statement to any Afrikaner Christian about them twisting the words in the bible to suit them, their come back would be to you that the bible tells you that you may not worship Idols and that your faith is wrong and against god as you worship idols and other gods in the form of Mary. Each and every christian faith including yours are convinced they are the only true believers. The statement I made about worshiping idols come from christians not my words. I had the pleasure of spending my easter weekend with family that belong to 3 different churches or faiths, I should have made a recording of the arguments in my house, and they were all arguing to be correct, all of them quoting the bible to back there statements. All view themselves as true christians. The only thing they most of them could agree on this weekend was to call me an idiot that know nothing for believing in Evolution as god created them and the don't come from apes
Gotta love family get-togethers!
"If the Afrikaners were atheists, do you really believe that their position on Apartheid would have been any different? Of course not."
Maybe some of them would have a different opinion. Would you say that people who do things for strictly religious causes would still do them if they weren't religious? If that's the case, then belief plays no lasting part in anything that someone does good or ill. That being the case anything that believers do that is good or bad shouldn't be attributed to their beliefs, it should only be attributable to the individual. That would mean that religion has effectively been neither beneficial nor harmful. It's just a different way to dress up a person's actions that they would do regardless.
Sometimes, I'd like to think that people would still act the same without religious beliefs. I'd like to say that the good things that people do because of those beliefs aren't attributable to simply a belief in God, but I can't shake the thought that it simply isn't the way things are. I have a friend who is highly involved with ending human trafficking and has a prominent place in a local group to help victims of human trafficking. She does it 100% because of her religious beliefs. I'm thankful for what she does even though sometimes I'm saddened by the fact that she literally has no other reason to do what she does irregardless of her beliefs. I'd really like to think that she'd still be doing what she does even with out her convictions to guide her, but I'm not sure, and I know I can never be certain.
it breeds ignorance
And it tells the ignorant to breed.
I have a problem saying that religion has done more harm than good. It implies that we have some way to quantify the good and harm done, and that we can isolate in the chain of cause and effect exactly what is attributable to religion explicitly and not any other factors. It also implies that we can know clearly as a matter of fact what has happened is the past when history is rather murky and sometimes completely obscured.
I think it's enough to point out that religion, if it was good or if it is as good as it is supposed to be, would not lead to or have lead to any other the terrible things that can be attributed to it. If a person's religion was good would it be responsible for _________? Saying religion is bad as a whole is not really convincing to a believer nor is it something I think we can argue with accuracy.
I do think in my own personal life if I do something wrong or something bad happens to me I have the common sens to take full resposabilty for those actions or accept that it was not Satan or some demon that made me do it, or any of those responsible for the bad event or even some obscure god punishing me. And if something good happens in my life I don't give any gratetude to any god for that either. I can not in all honesty say that religion is bad as a whole but very convenient to use to remove blame or resposability. And we can twist it any way we like but people, goverment, and religious institutes do make use of the above to justify bad behaviour. I think the problem is in the fact that any person can interpret the meaning of their religious scriptures as they please and feel that their view is the truth.