Very often, I have ventured to investigate and explain why Religion is harmful, both from the mental aspects as well as the physical aspects: In many ways, Religion removes the wedge between what is rational from dangerous fantasy: When you believe that the cupboard monster exists, pretty soon it becomes real and succinct in your mind, and if you dwell on it too much, your physical and mental executions will mirror that of your delusions.
With this in mind, I will like to discuss about one of the more dangerous, but least understood effects of religion on people who have become too entrenched in their morbid, religious fantasies: Sectarianism.
The Secular World: A Virtual Minefield
In the mind of a religious fundamentalist, the secular world is a virtual minefield: From the rock & roll songs blasting from stereo systems and radios to the highly attractive bulletins of semi-clad, bikini babes, just about every aspect of capitalism and commercialism is a devil's advocate, inciting deep-seated sexual lust for beautiful men and women, as well as insatiable hunger for the latest gadgets and fashion accessories.
That aside, seemingly harmless entities, such as secular education, threatens the very fabric of the fundie's narrow fantasy world: Evolution, for example, dictates that life has evolved over billions of years, a direct contradiction to the fundies' God-inspired design of the planet and its inhabitants.
From the very point the fundie wakes up for his morning coffee, to the point when he falls asleep, the fundie is, in essence, trudging along a narrow path, flanked on all sides by booby traps laid by a fictitious Devil.
Sectarianism and the Siege Mentality
As far as religious communities go, sectarianism is often the no.1 problem in multi-cultural communities: Because religions tend to run smack against the grain of secularism and even opposing religions, ultra-fundamentalist communities tend to employ a siege mentality towards others who do not share their erstwhile creeds.
Hard-lined Jewish communities, for example, do not allow cross-marriages: Children are enrolled into Jewish schools, cloistered away from secular education. Raised in such conditions, children are taught prejudices that would otherwise exist only in the dastardly world of religious, adult zealots. Muslim children are taught that the kafirs, or infidels, are filthy because they eat pork. Christian children are taught that non-believers of the faith will go to hell. Bigotry, it seems, can be traced all the way back to these religious institutions.
Raised in such communities, children are often taught a very distorted view of the world we live in: Modern medicine, such as psychiatry, is wrong, because mental illnesses are part and parcel of the Devil's stranglehold on our sinful nature. Evolution is a delusion invented by the Devil, who, Jebus knows where or when, decided to set up a fossil factory to plant all those erstwhile fossils for foolhardy scientists to dig and expound like excited little chimpanzees. Condoms are little pieces of rubber which are created by sinister capitalists designed to transmit the deadly AIDS virus. Homosexuals who practice anal sex are deemed no better than animals, and doctors who practice abortion are branded murderers and child killers.
Imbued with such devious fantasies, religious communities continue to perpetrate prejudice, falsehoods and dogmas down generations on end, and it seems that there is no end in sight to such bigoted nonsense.
Sectarianism Breeds Violence and Intolerance
History has shown that the "us or them" mentality, whether it is racially or religiously inclined, tends to yield disastrous results: From the ancient Protestant vs Catholic wars in Victorian England, to the massacre of the marsh Arabs by Saddam's regime, sectarianism breeds violence and intolerance.
The failure to inculcate a more tolerant and positive attitude towards other cultures and creeds, plus a persistent need to emphasize on the "My religion is right, yours is wrong" mentality, religious communities are perfect hotbeds for breeding terrorists and bigots of all shapes and sizes.
If there is a need to remind ourselves the inherent dangers of Religion, the ruins of September 911 are perfect reminders of the dangers we face in a religiously sectarian world.
- "Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them."