If religions were bastions of morality, their followers should be especially moral and ethical. That is clearly not the case. All too often, religious arguments have been used for immoral acts. Here are a few examples going beyond the witch hunt, the inquisition, and “honor” killings, which clearly were immoral and religiously motivated.
In 1972, the Rockefeller Commission published The Report of The Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. The 70 recommendations of the Commission were never implemented thanks to pressure from the Catholic Church. They were concerned that controlling population would require birth-control, which goes against their moral grain. In 1972, the total world population was 3,860,549,542. Today, it is 6,600,411,051. That is, the world population increased by more than 70% in those 35 years. This is a contributing factor to the climate crisis we are facing.
Which brings me to the next example: That blatant denial of global warming is mostly religiously motivated. Whether this is because the deniers feel so threatened by science or because they want to hasten the end of the world, it is preventing us from addressing the problem. As long as the deniers are able to frame the debate around whether or not the climate is changing, we cannot debate what we need to do to limit the damage. Talk to Inuits: they know the climate is changing right in front of their eyes.
Maybe the saddest example is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides claim they have a god-given right to be where they are. Apparently, that translates into killing each other. So much for morality. Or as Madeline Albright put it, “if Jerusalem was just a real estate issue, we would have solved it a long time ago.” Similarly, the terrorists of 9/11/2001 claim to have some sort of order from god. Again the morality they derive from religion was rather deadly. If this is moral, we’d be going around killing each other.
The judge presiding over the Dover Trial received death threats from religious fundamentalists. Last time I checked, one of the commandments in the bible stated “you shouldn’t kill.” There are no qualifiers to that but apparently believers think it is moral to add some, showing that religion is not enough for morality.
Morality does not follow from religion. Religion can contribute to just as much immorality as any other unquestioned thought-system. The idea of a god or of karma does not prevent horrible things. It is time to face that reality and develop ethics, morals, and values that do not require the super-natural.