Thursday, September 21, 2006

Religion not the root of all evil?

In class we often discuss religion as a cause/excuse/explanation for many evils. Today's global scenarios make it easy to forget the role of religion in many acts of good. Today a lecture was delivered called "Why Good People Do Nothing". I went noting the obvious relation to our class. My first reaction was that of being put off by the Christian undertones (although the sponsorship by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship could have tipped me off) until I put the whole thing in a different perspective. The speaker represented the International Justice Mission, which currently seeks out and fights global human justice issues such as slavery, illegal detention and corrupt police activity, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. The presentation described case studies and facts that nobody could deny as awful reminders of the human rights abuses over world. I have a propensity to be turned off by faith-based organizations, they make me uncomfortable and although I did feel that slightly during the presentation, I have a new understanding and appreciation for organizations such as this that truly root out evil and apply plausible multi-dimensional solutions. Though the global problems brought up were not new to me, it got me thinking more about the many people for whom religion is a strong factor in encouraging goodness, which sadly I had forgotten about.

4 comments:

Elle said...

Although we tend to look at religion in a negative light, it is definetly important to remember that religion can also have a positive affect in people's lives. In the terms of this class, I feel that we usually see religion as perpetuating acts of violence, but it's great that Jamie has reminded us that religion can also have a positive role.
Let me give a few examples which I have seen from personal experience:

1.) Religion, no matter its form provides a source of hope and consolation for millions of people. I was in Mexico this past summer and lived which a poor family. Often, when they had nothing else to look forward to, they found solace in their religion. Through their faith, they found purpose and meaning in their lives. This facet of religion applies not only to Mexicans but all people of all faiths around the world.

2.) In times of global and/or local struggle, Churches, temples etc... give alot back to their communities and donate millions of dollars to charities. In my town there is a church which provides food to those who cannot afford it. They also pay for heat for the less fortunate and send a group of people to build houses in Mexico each year. Religious groups provide a community in which to carry out public service.

So, in light of all that has happened globally in the name of religion (ie. terrorism), I hope we can still remember that religion is a positive influence in the lives of many.

thisisnotathens said...
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thisisnotathens said...

There is no doubt that good has been done through religious people. People of religion continuously lend out a helping hand to those in need. A hand to the starving, the uneducated, the hopeless. This is a good thing. Building homes for under privileged people and ensuring that the children have a safe decent schoolhouse to learn in is an honorable thing, but at what cost? Religion, and most ideologies for that matter do harm to the very people they attempt to save.

Let's look at the examples we have been given here.

1. "I was in Mexico this past summer and lived which a poor family. Often, when they had nothing else to look forward to, they found solace in their religion."

The question is, is this good? Is it good that a poor and downtrodden people find solace in an afterlife? People, who should be demanding better wages and living conditions, turn to a book and a church and find salvation. All the while they still are living in horrible conditions. Was Karl Marx actually right when he says that "religion is the opiate of the masses"? Shouldn’t the man or women who is being taking advantage of take back their life, this mortal life, rather than turning towards an afterlife?

2. "In my town there is a church which provides food to those who cannot afford it. They also pay for heat for the less fortunate and send a group of people to build houses in Mexico each year."

Religious groups, people, and churches have done a lot of good through their works with the needy, but at what cost does this help come at? I personally would have no problem with a youth church group going to Mexico to help build schools or homes or dig wells. Unfortunately this is usually not all they intend to do while helping. Rather than just helping people out of the goodness of their heart they usually feel the need to spread their religion. The unfortunate thing is that when helping needy people, they are usually much more open to listening to and adopting your point of view.

Basically all I am trying to point out is that religion has done good, but it has strings attached just like everything else.

Dr. D said...

Given the discussion about God, religion, and good and evil, I though this article in the Christian Science Monitor would be especially interesting to everyone:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0925/p08s02-comv.html?s=hns

The article is on "America and the God question"