Would you join the KKK or any of the groups associated with hate and crime listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center? How about or the Nation of Islam, Al-Qaeda or a pedophile ring? Of course not, anything that promotes hatred, violence and suffering is viewed by any sane person as despicable.
Why not join them? They give its members meaning and purpose and social belonging, some of them even fulfill spiritual needs. We don’t join them because we know the side effects of these groups are not worth the benefits they give their members. They cause suffering and misery kind of like:
Of course I am leaving out:
Anti-Judaic and Anti-Semitic persecution, Witch Hunts, The near extinction Native Americans, Abortion Clinic Bombs and assassinations, Genocides actually in the Bible, Slavery, Gay bashing, child rape and thousands of other modern and historical examples of intolerance, ignorance, and violence.
It kind of makes me wonder who would want to belong to something that causes such unbelievable levels of suffering. It is easy to say something such as “That’s not real [insert religion here] or “I don’t condone that?” or other such other such dismissive defences but the fact of the matter is these are crimes committed by members of the same religion as you.
I don’t want be guilty of using guilt by association and so I will say I would never assume all members of a particular religion are capable of inflicting needless suffering on others. The question that remains is “Why be affiliated?” If a belief system is clearly capable and guilty of promoting such widespread suffering then wouldn’t it be prudent for any ethical person to be rid of it?
The reasons as to why anyone would stay a member of anything that promotes hatred, violence, fraud, torture, that rapes children and hides it guilty…etc. are long and sophisticated but in 2004 research psychologist Stephen Reis released a paper called The 16 Strivings for God that nicely summarizes the main reasons people are and stay religious (power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility.)
For me the very fact that it is so clearly capable of bringing such misery is enough. So long as a belief system is capable of turning a good person into a monster, a crowd into a mob or bring an entire culture into a dark age than I just can’t bring myself to be associated with it. It is my hope someday everyone is brave enough to show their disgust and leave their religion behind.