Have you ever wondered if religious practice is a blessing or a curse?
You imagine whether prosperity and peace lead people to be less religious or vice versa. In recent times in Nigeria, some religious leaders are evidence to support the view that religion thrives on existential anxiety.
But even if this is the case, there’s good reason to suspect that the connection between religion and malfunctioning societies goes both ways. Here are 6 thoughtful ways religion makes peaceful prosperity harder to achieve.
1. Religion promotes tribalism
The use of infidel, heathen, in some religious doctrines subject the society to discrimination. These religion divides insiders from outsiders, rather than assuming good intentions, adherents often are taught to treat outsiders with suspicion.
“Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers,” and They wish that you disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them,”
These are verses from religious scriptures teachings like these discourage or even forbid the kinds of friendship and intermarriage that help clans and tribes become part of a larger whole.
2. Religion supports believers to the iron age
The iron age was a time of rampant superstition, ignorance, inequality, racism, misogyny, and violence. These sacred texts till today all preserve and protect fragments of iron age culture.
Therefore, any believer looking to excuse his own temper, sense of superiority, warmongering, bigotry, or planetary destruction can find validation in writings that claim to be authored by God.
Meanwhile, humanity’s moral consciousness is evolving, grounded in an ever deeper and broader understanding of the golden rule.
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3. Religion makes virtue out of faith
Pastors tell believers who have been shaken by horrors like Boko Haram, cancer or hunger, "faith is a virtue and that God works in a mysterious way". Also traditional religious beliefs require greater and greater mental defenses against threatening information.
To stay strong, religion trains believers to practice self-deception, shut out contradictory evidence, and trust authorities rather than their own capacity to think. Government becomes a fight between competing ideologies instead of a quest to figure out practical solutions that promote well being.
4. Religion diverts generous motives and good intentions
Religion does routinely redirect generosity in order to perpetuate religion itself. Imagine how generous people are encouraged to give till it hurts to promote the church itself rather than the general welfare.
Besides exploiting positive moral energy like kindness or generosity, religion often redirects moral disgust. Orthodox Jews spend money on wigs for women and double dishwashers while evangelical parents, forced to choose between righteousness and love, kick teens out onto the street.
5. Religion teaches helplessness
What will be will be, let go and let God. This is a common phrase but sometimes we don’t recognize the deep relationship between religiosity and resignation. In the most conservative sects Christianity and Islam, women are seen as more virtuous if they let God manage their family planning.
Droughts, poverty and cancer get attributed to the will of God rather than bad decisions or bad systems; believers wait for God to solve problems they could solve themselves.This attitude harms society at large as well as individuals.
6. Religions seek power
Religions are man-made institutions, just like for-profit corporations. And for any corporation to survive and grow, a religion must find a way to build power and wealth and compete for market share.
As these religions grow, they are willing to wield their power and wealth in the service of self perpetuation, even it harms society at large.
It is important to know that whenever people feel prosperous and secure, the hold of religion weakens.