Are We Better Without Religion?

When we judge a religion based solely on its abuses, we miss out on the beautiful and compelling acts of its people who truly live out their faith.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Do you think the good that comes of religion outweighs the bad that comes of it?
  2. Have you ever judged a religion based on people who have abused its teachings?

You should never judge a religion or a person or a philosophy by its abuses. You should always honor it by letting it put its best foot forward. When you hold forth the abuses of something, it is not compelling. It's terrible. It feels like it's- it is very narrow-minded and restrictive, but on the other side, if you would look at the places where the Christian faith has been lived out, taken to its logical conclusion or embodied with a true discipleship and practice, you will find some of the most beautiful, compelling generative, life-giving people, practices, and cultural goods that have existed - period. A lot of people are unaware of the fact that in the - in just after the time of Jesus, it was Christians who came up with the really value of human life. They believe that because people are made in the image of God, that humans were intrinsically worth something. So there were some of the first to set up hospitals so that the sick could be healed. They opened orphanage to care - orphanages to care for the unwanted children in the Roman Empire who were abandoned to the practice of infanticide. They've had a story that's impacted the arts. Many of the great painters and music composers from human history produce some of the most compelling, rich works of art that have existed. Many of the justice issues that have been led - the greatest abolitionist that's ever lived pushed to end slavery not in spite of his Christian faith but because of his Christian faith. And so we need to look at a philosophy or religion based on the people who practice it truly rather than people who are abusing its teachings, and because there's been some quite strong and horrific accidents in church history and incidents, people have chosen to focus on those rather than some of the other compelling ways that people have practiced their faith.