You do not need religion to be a morally or ethically "right" individual, let's put that out here in the open. This is for the communities that don't yet understand their religion is poisoning their world views. The people who publicly ridicule GLBT communities, the small towns where interracial couples are not accepted. Those special kinds of towns and cities where it is acceptable to fly the flag of the south, to openly support slavery, but if you support same-sex relations or disbelief in God you are considered to be in the wrong. This post is for those people specifically, the one's who need to understand that their religion doesn't make them good people, and I would argue, it causes an effect quite the contrary. More importantly, this post is for all the non-religious people struggling out there under the weight of stupidity and narrow-minded thought processes. You are not alone.
It's a common argument that religion governs us morally and allows us to be good. I disagree, I think it lets people do especially despicable acts because they feel it is divinely warranted. How can we determine the best course to honour a deity when the original texts are so old, and so out-dated? What is honouring your God? Is it screaming his name while you blow yourself up inside a school that allows the teaching of women? Is it holding protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers or deceased homosexuals? Is it being forced to love someone who will damn you eternally based on the very human impulses he gave you in the first place? Christopher Hitchens defined that relationship as sado-masochistic and I believe he nailed it. To apply some more of Hitchens' logic, ask yourself "is there a moral act that someone who claims to be governed by religion can do, that someone who has never believed is unable to also do?" I quote the great Hitch because he summed up what anti-theists have been trying to say for centuries in one simple, neatly-worded question.
Societies have flourished through out history because of endeavours such as agriculture and a code of laws; both completely unattributed to religion in any way, shape or form. Understanding that if we kill each other senselessly and do not work together as human beings we will perish is not a thought brought on by knowledge of a higher power -- it's the basis for a functioning society. Our world is letting religion rule us right now, we are becoming less functional each day. Each day that we ignore the militant tyrants using extreme religious indoctrination to suppress, murder, and torture it's people. We here in North America elect politicians based on their religious stance which further propagates the seeds of ignorance and intolerant behaviour. It starts with a fear of death and ends with a complete governance of free thought. Religion allows censorship, it is a pervasive venom that we inject into our youth so that they group together with like-minded drones who lack any critical thinking abilities; the end goal being an intellectually complacent society that does as they are commanded. The only thing they are taught is how to walk in a single-file line towards death. If we let religion continue to lead us down this destructive board-walk rampant with ignorance and blatant disregard for equality we will see the apocalypse they've been predicting all along.
Where do religiously guided organizations and individuals get off telling us that we should seek out religious guidance so that we can find 'a deeper meaning' to life? You must wonder, who has a deeper understanding of life and its depth; someone who believes that death isn't the end and that they will one day be reunited with their loved ones, therefore not needing to truly embrace every moment of their life; or, conversely, someone who recognizes that life is very real and very short so therefore needs to work hard to get to know their loved ones? Someone who must believe that humanity is a real thing so as to appreciate and cherish every moment they have.
Religion is poisoning our world at it's core and forcing us to condemn people based on their creed, ethnicity, choices of love; things we should have beaten back over the last 100 years! We have triumphed, from women's suffrage to black civil rights movements, but right now the world is in a chaotic state. I believe religion is the cause for this and I will not take place in such hatred and narrow minded thinking -- I encourage you all to do the same.
Morality is doing right regardless of what you are told, religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right; and that is why you do not need religion to be a moral individual.
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