Recent news stories have reminded me of how religious ideas can hurt people, often without trying. I know plenty of religious people who are proud when they get a religious issue addressed by new laws. They feel like they’re able to tell themselves that they’re making progress.
Except, it’s rarely ever true.
Too many laws passed by so-called god-fearing legislatures have resulted in lost court battles, millions of lost dollars in litigation, and fearful time spent by people just trying to get through life one day at a time. These costs are hard to comprehend. They don’t make it in front of a camera. They hide behind a curtain of ignorance.
I think if people saw immediate consequences of their ideas, they probably wouldn’t hold onto them so tightly. It’s one thing to punish someone with fifty lashes. It’s another matter entirely to swing the whip. By putting the weapon in a stranger’s hand, people are allowed to say they’re not hurting anyone.
It took me too long to discover there was no inherent connection between religious beliefs and goodness. Yes, it’s a controversial thing to say when I’m surrounded by people of Christian faith. They can point to dozens of nice verses that sound loving and kind and the best thing ever. Just because it sounds nice, doesn’t mean it is nice.
To the people who are quietly wondering about the goodness of their religious communities, I can tell you that you’re not wrong for wondering. It doesn’t mean that people you hold in esteem are bad or broken or evil. Instead, it just means they might not understand they’re in intellectual quicksand. You can’t help them by joining them.