We hear many words to describe religion, but we rarely discuss the danger religion poses. To see the danger of religion one has only to read the daily news. Today, for instance, the AP news service reports that “Suicide bombers struck a Shiite pilgrimage in Baghdad and a Kurdish protest rally in northern Iraq on Monday, killing at least 57 people and wounding nearly 300….” We might make the mistake of attributing this violence to extremists of a certain religion or sect, but that ignores all the other violence perpetrated in the name of protestant and catholic religions in our own world.
In 1998 there were 25 violent attacks against abortion clinics or personnel, and while that number had decreased over the years, there is still an average of two violent attacks per each year. The majority of these attacks are attributed to religious zealots, not unlike the Muslim suicide bombers we hears so much about these days.
There are numerous attacks and murders of gay, lesbian and transgender people each year, many of which are based on ignorance bred by religious misinformation or suppression of sexuality. Poor young men like Mathew Shepard, killed in 1998 and Lawrence King in 2008 are the most recognizable, but only two out of the names that fill 50 pages of dead or assaulted on the Human Rights Commission List. (http://www.hrc.org/documents/A_Chronology_of_Hate_Crimes.pdf)
Religion is many things to many people, but to those of us who don’t participate in a religion and don’t believe in a God, religion can be dangerous or even deadly, and that is something we cannot afford to overlook in our discussions of religious relevance.