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Dean_Fox

Relgion - a force for good?

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Is religion a force for good?

The knee jerk reaction from most people who hold to a religious belief is "yes, of course it is." Then when you point out that religion is used to motivate people to commit suicide bombings they will likely concede that this isn't always the case.

In one instance though someone said religion is always a force for good because the intentions are always good, even those of a suicide bomber. My reply was that "the path to hell is paved with good intentions".

However the question got me thinking, is religion actually a force for anything?

There are many definitions for religion around, one is:

"A collection of practices, based on beliefs and teachings that are highly valued or sacred"

My own take is that religion is the beliefs and teachings that are highly valued or sacred. The practices are seperate.

There are many religions and many churches.

I believe that while humans always have free will that it is the church and the way they encourage members to act that determines whether or not the church becomes a force for good or bad and this is regardless of the intentions of the church leaders of the individuals within the church.

Take Islam. The teachings of Islam include concepts of peace, love and many other upstanding moral values and yet certain extremist sects, churches if you will, manage to use it to "radicalise" people and turn them in to suicide bombers. Islam as a religion is neither a force for good nor evil rather it is how the church teaches it that determines the acts of the attendees.

I posit that religion is not a force for anything, that it is a catalyst around which churches are built. That it is church leaders and the individuals within the church that determine if the church is a force for good or not.

I posit that many issues surrounding religion stem not from the religion but the presumption by some that religion is good therefore what the church commands under the trappings of religion must also be good. That the problems in most cases are not with the religion but with the church leaders. It's amazing how good teachings can be twisted to serve someone else's "greater good".

Thoughts?

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I posit that religion is not a force for anything, that it is a catalyst around which churches are built. That it is church leaders and the individuals within the church that determine if the church is a force for good or not.

I concur. I have found good people are good people and bad people are bad regardless of religious affiliation

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I think religion is the tool God uses to bring His children into His fold and to bare His holy arm to the nations. Of course, like all tools, if used improperly and/or wielded by one with evil intentions, it can become a force for evil.

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One might also ask if Law or Government is good. I believe there are good and bad Laws and good and bad Governments. There are also good and bad people governed by laws and governments.

I believe that good people will try to change bad Laws and bad government. Likewise bad people will try to change good laws and good government.

On occasion, it appears to me that good people will try to defend bad laws, bad governments and bad religion (including bad religious practice). I believe this is because some people trying to be good are governed more by fear of bad or evil more than they are governed by faith in goodness or righteousness. This I think to be very sad because I believe good people motivated more with fear than faith bring about more evil than evil people.

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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Guest xforeverxmetalx

I think religion can of course be good or bad, and those who aren't religious can be just as good of people as those that are. but adding to that, I think it has to do more with values and personal morals than a religion itself. those beliefs are more of a force than the religion itself, I'd say.

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I think religion is the tool God uses to bring His children into His fold and to bare His holy arm to the nations. Of course, like all tools, if used improperly and/or wielded by one with evil intentions, it can become a force for evil.

Yes, I see religion as a tool and how it is wielded determines the outcome. Thank you for your response.

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I think religion can of course be good or bad, and those who aren't religious can be just as good of people as those that are. but adding to that, I think it has to do more with values and personal morals than a religion itself. those beliefs are more of a force than the religion itself, I'd say.

That also makes sense. Again, the beliefs of the individual (their interpretation or the interpretation of their religious leaders) is what determines whether the church is a force for good or not.

Likewise people of no religion can do many good deeds and be a force for good too.

Thank you for your response.

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Everything in moderation...when taken to the extreme, therein lies the problem. Religion isn't a force...it's a state of the heart.

Edited to add: "IMHO"...otherwise, people will be asking for my credentials. ;)

Edited by GrandmaAri

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One might also ask if Law or Government is good. I believe there are good and bad Laws and good and bad Governments. There are also good and bad people governed by laws and governments.

I believe that good people will try to change bad Laws and bad government. Likewise bad people will try to change good laws and good government.

On occasion, it appears to me that good people will try to defend bad laws, bad governments and bad religion (including bad religious practice). I believe this is because some people trying to be good are governed more by fear of bad or evil more than they are governed by faith in goodness or righteousness. This I think to be very sad because I believe good people motivated more with fear than faith bring about more evil than evil people.

The Traveler

Good point.

There can be religions that are inherently "bad" because of what the text upon which they are based says.

Most religions share a number of texts and beliefs, indeed Interfaith groups work on those commonalities. There are other groups whose religions are unique, they may be good or bad although in my experience most are actually fairly benign in terms of their teachings (unless you believe that worshipping mother nature dooms your soul to eternal damnation).

Actual overtly bad religions seem to be the exception rather than the rule and even the odd one that is are rather subtle about it. Most people actually like to believe in something they can perceive as good and are repulsed by beliefs they cannot perceive as good.

There are those who believe children are merely adults in small bodies with all the feelings and capabilities of an adult. This facilitates all manner of practices others would say is child abuse; not necessarily sexual though more of the adult situational type, like counselling real adults over their bad (sexual) behaviours or being able to work 12 hour days and look after themselves indefinitely, perhaps only seeing their parents once every year or so. They see themselves as a good religion though.

Again, even with such a religion most of the people are good people just perhaps misguided.

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Many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion (think of the Children's Crusade), but much happiness has also been given to the world. As Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses" and many of us get a rush injecting it. :)

Look at how the LDS Church immediately sends needed supplies around the world when disaster strikes. Look at how Catholic Services meets the temporal needs of all. Look at how the Salvation Army feeds the hungry. Look at the Christus statue in LDS visitor centers and the marvelous artwork in the Vatican or the Dome of the Rock Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Taj Mahal.

:)

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Many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion... As Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses" and many of us get a rush injecting it. :)

How prophetic! That's exactly what happened during the election. lol

(the masses religiously voting for a Marxist ;))

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Many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion (think of the Children's Crusade), but much happiness has also been given to the world. As Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses" and many of us get a rush injecting it. :)

Look at how the LDS Church immediately sends needed supplies around the world when disaster strikes. Look at how Catholic Services meets the temporal needs of all. Look at how the Salvation Army feeds the hungry. Look at the Christus statue in LDS visitor centers and the marvelous artwork in the Vatican or the Dome of the Rock Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Taj Mahal.

:)

Certainly the acts you have stated are demonstrations of the good those churches have done, or the art they have provided us with. :-)

While the religion provides the cohesion of the churches it is still those who lead the church who encourage their followers to contribute to such causes, like wise it is the followers in following and being willing to contribute that resulted in the good.

The religion was there of that their is no doubt and obviously the teachings played a part, but at the end of the day it's the interpretation of the teachings by the leaders and the acceptance of this interpretation by the followers that resulted in the good.

Catholicism being the oldest religion has some pretty obvious examples in history of people using the same religion to do what we would now say are bad deeds, namely the inquisition - the oppression of other beliefs by force. They thought it was right at the time, they caused a lot of harm and it was wrong.

Any religion can be twisted by its leaders even with good intentions to cause harm - one could argue that tricking man to do this kind of thing is the devils' best device for causing chaos and suffering.

As per, religion is not a force of any kind. It is something that can be used by people to cause good or bad. It's not the only tool of its kind but it is perhaps the best because people like to believe they are doing right.

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Certainly the acts you have stated are demonstrations of the good those churches have done, or the art they have provided us with. :-)

While the religion provides the cohesion of the churches it is still those who lead the church who encourage their followers to contribute to such causes, like wise it is the followers in following and being willing to contribute that resulted in the good.

The religion was there of that their is no doubt and obviously the teachings played a part, but at the end of the day it's the interpretation of the teachings by the leaders and the acceptance of this interpretation by the followers that resulted in the good.

Catholicism being the oldest religion has some pretty obvious examples in history of people using the same religion to do what we would now say are bad deeds, namely the inquisition - the oppression of other beliefs by force. They thought it was right at the time, they caused a lot of harm and it was wrong.

Any religion can be twisted by its leaders even with good intentions to cause harm - one could argue that tricking man to do this kind of thing is the devils' best device for causing chaos and suffering.

As per, religion is not a force of any kind. It is something that can be used by people to cause good or bad. It's not the only tool of its kind but it is perhaps the best because people like to believe they are doing right.

Okay Dean_Fox: it seems to me we are now going in circles. It would appear that there is good associated to religion and bad associated to religion – likewise to religious leaders and followers. There are also good principles and values as well as bad or corrupt. What has not been established is the correlation between them all - in essence the difference between good and bad at any level.

So I wonder – is there a point to all this? Is it that each (like natural forces of physics) seek and aligns itself accordingly? Is it possible for example that bad people aligning themselves with good religion are driven to become better and that good people aligning themselves with bad religion become corrupt? If not then who should care about religion or people one way or the other?

The Traveler

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Okay Dean_Fox: it seems to me we are now going in circles. It would appear that there is good associated to religion and bad associated to religion – likewise to religious leaders and followers. There are also good principles and values as well as bad or corrupt. What has not been established is the correlation between them all - in essence the difference between good and bad at any level.

So I wonder – is there a point to all this? Is it that each (like natural forces of physics) seek and aligns itself accordingly? Is it possible for example that bad people aligning themselves with good religion are driven to become better and that good people aligning themselves with bad religion become corrupt? If not then who should care about religion or people one way or the other?

The Traveler

The point is that a church should not be judged by their beliefs, or their intent, or how good the followers believe they are but the impact they have on others.

Some say to make good people do bad things you need religion. I don't think so, it could also be a bad organisation not based on a religion.

Derren Brown did a famous experiment in which he convinced people he was running a motivational seminar and ended up getting them to each individually hold up a bank security vehicle. Google Derren Brown The Heist.

It's a small distinction but an important one. It shifts the debates over the various merits of a church away from their religion and on to their actions, which is where it should be; it doesn't matter what they believe or how good their intent or the morals behind their sacred texts if what they do results in more harm than good then the church is doing something wrong.

Bad people can become good if they are exposed to the right church, likewise good people can definitely become bad through involvement with a bad church, although they often believe they are still doing good.

This idea was borne out of someone making the sweeping statement "religion is a force for good".

My initial answer was "no religion can be a force for good and bad" but then it occurred to me all religions I've come across appear well intentioned and have at their core sound principals for living a good life. It's just some of them are not operated by their churches in a manner that results in good.

This is the kind of corruption that occurs when the church is run by someone intent on building themselves wealth and power; most of the money from followers ends up sustaining the life style of the chosen few who lead it and most of the acts have little good about them.

I considered starting my own church, based on my own religion, as a means to make lots of money and gain a lot of power. My conscience got in the way, I simply could not rip people off like that. The religion would appear morally upstanding but the way I would have run it would ensure followers would be paying to keep me rather well off while thinking they were donating to our many important projects necessary to saving the world.

Basically followers would buy merchandise from in house manufactures at retail prices; the profit margin would then soak away in to a myriad of companies associated with the main church indirectly enough to be a tangled mess tax wise (like religions pay taxes eh) but directly enough so I could tap in to it at will.

I would destroy critics by pointing out our many good teachings from our sacred texts and calling them religious bigots and hate mongers. I'd also align myself with other religions because hey we should all stick together in the face of religious bigotry. Had it all figured out but somehow could not bring myself to do it.

Don't be so sure people wouldn't fall for it. There are a lot of people who need to feel included in something special and feel like they are doing something good; if it isn't the promise of salvation or a better life in the next it satisfies their need for purpose in life.

Now I digress, sorry Traveler. Thank you for your comments.

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I think Relgion is one of those religions with a belief in UFOs.

But back to the question, I think it is obvious that religion can be a source of a lot of good and a lot of bad.

It keeps families together and tears them apart.

How our religion deals with families in the context of marriage is not a popular thing to bring up but it is a good example. Look at how the church handles temple weddings. It brings families together but it also really causes divisions and tears families apart too. If you have ever had a family member get married in the temple and have had family members excluded from seeing the wedding because they are not "worthy" or not members or not of age then you know the heartbreak it can bring.

I've never been able to figure out why they haven't figured out a way to avoid this awkward problem but so far, no one in church leadership has dealt with it.

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I've never been able to figure out why they haven't figured out a way to avoid this awkward problem but so far, no one in church leadership has dealt with it.

Do you really think they aren't aware of the situation? Do you really think they just shove it under the rug? Perhaps it's not for church leadership to "deal" with. Not all policies come from Church leadership. I think revelation plays a huge part in it.

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But back to the question, I think it is obvious that religion can be a source of a lot of good and a lot of bad.

It keeps families together and tears them apart.

How our religion deals with families in the context of marriage is not a popular thing to bring up but it is a good example. Look at how the church handles temple weddings. It brings families together but it also really causes divisions and tears families apart too. If you have ever had a family member get married in the temple and have had family members excluded from seeing the wedding because they are not "worthy" or not members or not of age then you know the heartbreak it can bring.

I've never been able to figure out why they haven't figured out a way to avoid this awkward problem but so far, no one in church leadership has dealt with it.

The Gospel isn't meant to unite the entirety of the world- only those who will heed its message. Those who fight against it will eventually be hewn down and cast into the fire. Until that day, the tares are left to contend with the wheat.

The Gospel is simultaneously the greatest source of unity and division the world has ever known, because it separates the world into two, and only two, categories: the sheep of Christ and the goats.

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The Gospel isn't meant to unite the entirety of the world- only those who will heed its message. Those who fight against it will eventually be hewn down and cast into the fire. Until that day, the tares are left to contend with the wheat.

The Gospel is simultaneously the greatest source of unity and division the world has ever known, because it separates the world into two, and only two, categories: the sheep of Christ and the goats.

Gee I hope you are not saying that people who can't go to the temple are fighting against the gospel and should be cast into the fire. Basically tares left to contend with the wheat.

All I am saying is the current policy divides families. A simple change would remedy part of it. For example, they let young kids in the temple to do baptisms for the dead, but they don't let them in to see their siblings get married. Why not? My sister got married recently and my other sister couldn't see it because she hasn't had her endowments taken out. Made not sense at all. She was worthy to do baptisms for the dead but not see her own sister married. Weird.

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Gee I hope you are not saying that people who can't go to the temple are fighting against the gospel and should be cast into the fire. Basically tares left to contend with the wheat.

All I am saying is the current policy divides families. A simple change would remedy part of it. For example, they let young kids in the temple to do baptisms for the dead, but they don't let them in to see their siblings get married. Why not? My sister got married recently and my other sister couldn't see it because she hasn't had her endowments taken out. Made not sense at all. She was worthy to do baptisms for the dead but not see her own sister married. Weird.

Perhaps because the ordinances that go on for a sealing are of a higher order and requires more from an individual than doing baptisms for the dead. Think about it--Aaronic priesthood is needed in order to baptize, but in order to confer the Holy Ghost, one must hold the Melchezidek Priesthood.

Can we really expect a 12 y/o to understand the covenants and requirements for endowments and other ordinances done at that level? Heck, I'm older than 12 and endowed and I don't fully comprehend the endowment and other ordinances.

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Perhaps because the ordinances that go on for a sealing are of a higher order and requires more from an individual than doing baptisms for the dead. Think about it--Aaronic priesthood is needed in order to baptize, but in order to confer the Holy Ghost, one must hold the Melchezidek Priesthood.

Can we really expect a 12 y/o to understand the covenants and requirements for endowments and other ordinances done at that level? Heck, I'm older than 12 and endowed and I don't fully comprehend the endowment and other ordinances.

Well the one getting married was only 19 and the one who couldn't see it was 26. It just seemed silly to me. The one who was kept out was way more mature than the one getting married. My father in law, who has worked in the temple for many years, asked me about this too, he said it made no sense to him. He was going to write a letter to the first presidency. I don't know if he really did.

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