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A favorite pastime of many people who seem to have certain common characteristics, such as:

Now, let me elaborate on these points a bit.

Limited exposure to limited religion

It is simply amazing how little so many people, including some highly educated people know about religion. Indeed, this is true of many very religious people, especially in the US.

This has probably something to do with education. There are essentially two types of school in the US: public and religious (yes, I know there are other types, too, but these two seem to be the most common).

Public schools do not teach any religion (nor should they IMHO).

Religious schools generally were started as a reaction to public achools, and only teach their own religion.

Hence, limited exposure to limited religion. (Please understand, I am not criticizing this sytem, merely describing it.)

A conviction that all religions are essentially the same

This is probably a result of the limited exposure described above. How is anyone supposed to know that religions are so different, when one is only familiar with one religion? And when so many religions perform the same (or similar) outward ceremonies?

How is, for example, someone exposed only to a specific Christian religion supposed to know that the Buddhist who prostrates himself in front of the statue of the Buddha is not falling down in fear of a deity? How is a (former) Baptist supposed to know that a Catholic kneeling in front of the statue of Virgin Mary is not worshiping idols?

A lot of misunderstanding!

A strong belief that religion and faith are essentially the same

Well, again, for some people it is; for many it is not. Depends on the religion. Some are very faith based, others are extremely intellectual (take a look at Thomas Aquinas for an example), others are very mystical, emphasizing inner experience.

The idea that all religious people are mere followers

Well, many are, no doubt about that. And they tend to be quite vociferous about their beliefs. That does not mean all are, nor does it mean the majority are.

You might be surprised what they taught us at Gregorian University, for example. That is the top Catholic university I happened to study at when I was a Catholic priest. Sure, all they taught us was Catholic. But what a variety of opinions they taught us. And they encouraged us to think, to come up with our own ideas! Indeed, it is part of Catholic moral theology that if your personal beliefs are in conflict with the official teachings of the Catholic Church, you must go with your beliefs.

Or take the Buddha's encouragement not to believe anything just because he said it.

Inner doubts about their own convictions

Now this one may sound controversial, but it is not.

People who are comfortable with their personal beliefs rarely have a need to bash. It makes no difference if they are religious and bash other religions, or the atheists, or whomever else; or they are non-religious and bash those who are.

People who are not sure about their convictions often feel the need to bash and proselytize. By finding converts or birds of the feather, they get an external assurance that they are right after all.

I would have to say that I agree with the general gist of this particular write-up. I tend to look at the issue from both sides though. I, for one, am a great fan of theology and an even greater opponent of religions in general.

I have been to Catholic school, and found that I was always looking for answers, even if it meant using the religious resources at hand and stepping outside the lines a bit. I took religious appreciation classes and even spent some time in other churches, synagogues and various types of temples.

I never found the answers I was looking for. I did however spend a lot of that time thinking about why people are religious and why people would do all of the many things, good and bad, in the name of a higher power that they cannot see, hear, smell, taste, touch or feel.

Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses; a lot of people have said a lot of things, true, but I agree with Marx. This is the main reason why I feel that humanity would be better served by something other than religion. It is time for us to move on with the truths that we know and use them to build a better life for everyone.

To bring this full circle I will tell you the other side of this particular coin. You are correct, it is wrong to lay judgement against those whom you know little about. But you must consider that most people out there are like me in that they have a distaste for religion; but unlike me, they have no desire nor have they ever had any desire to know anything about it.

These are people who have had these ideals of western theology pressed upon them. These are people who have encountered other people who claim they are Christians and then condemn them to a fiery eternity without a kind word, a fuck-you or even a smile.

I am not one who associates all of Christianity with the rotten apples but it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. We live in a world where you only get media coverage if you have killed someone, broken many laws or died in a pool of your own vomit. You get no kudos for feeding half of Africa or digging wells unless you do it while wearing a tutu and sequined pasties.

I think until the Deists of this planet start actively disassociating themselves from the misanthropic media whores and violent judgmental backwater extremists, they are going to get clumped in with them.

These people do this shit in the name of your religions and the religions never say much about it (or in some cases even advocate it). So you will have to understand when this is the only view of religion that people get. They don't want to have to care; they don't want to have to study, they just want to be left alone. Get used to them being not-happy as, religions can't really kill them anymore, so I fear that we infidels are around for good.
You have a point. I don't know all that much about religions, and certainly not about a wide variety. I've heard a lot of praise for Buddhism lately, so I'm going to look into it a bit.

However, I have been exposed to Christianity, and to Christians. I know not all Christians are bad people - far from it. But I also don't see that many Christians are better people for having converted(those that have converted). I don't see that many are worse people, either.

What I see is that good people do the good things they would have done anyway in the name of their God. And the bad people do the bad things they would have done anyway, also in the name of their God.

My problem is that people are so tolerant of it. Self-proclaimed "Christians" espouse the worse kind of hatred, intolerance, and idiocy, and the rest of the country shrugs. That's bullshit. Believe whatever you want, but when you want to argue that homosexuals shouldn't have rights, that abortions should be illegal, or that we should censor things they find offensive, they must back it up with something more than their paper-thin beliefs.

Christians, who would throw a shit-fit if Muslims tried to outlaw alcoholic beverages because of their religious beliefs, think it is their God given right to shove their disgustingly thick Bible, and all the sticky notes of hatred they added to it, down my throat. No fucking thank you, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, et al.

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