The Bible orders the murder of children if they curse their mother or father, according to Leviticus 20:9 in the Old Testament. The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, states that all non-believers are blinded by Allah, and are doomed to fiery torments, according to 2:10. The Tao Teh King, regarded as the scripture of Taoism, states that governments should keep their people stupid and powerless, according to Part 1, Ch. 3:1-3. In all religions, from east to west, there is a noticeable trend of cruel and inhumane ideas.
If you wish to fight for Feminism and gender equality, you will first meet opposition from religions. The Bible declares that women must be silent in church and submit to men, in Timothy 2:12. The Qur'an says of women that they "are feeble and are unable to devise a plan," in 4:98. In ancient Hindu communities in India, widows were burned alive with their husband's body, a practice called Sati. Even today, these same Hindu communities prohibit women from even selecting their own husband. If you fight for equality among men and women, your first opponents will be the Catholic priest, the Jewish rabbi, the Islamic Imam, and the Hindu brahmin.
If you have a heart, then you want to end war and battles of conquest -- you want to stop the carnage of mass slaughter for profits. How does religion respond to this humane and beautiful instinct? The god of the Bible doesn't just encourage wars and genocide, such as the mass slaughter of Midiniate people in chapter 31 of Numbers. The Old Testament god will actually fight your wars for you, according to Deuteronomy 3:22.
Islam is another religion that doesn't exclude conquest and violence from its moral code. It says that Muslims "shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain," in 9:111. Ancient Rome and Greece had their war gods, as did many of the early, Pagan religions of the Mediterranean. Those who make war can find a friend in the preacher and the missionary.
In terms of Racism, the world's religions have played a leading and essential role. Scriptures often identify a race as being god's own people, whether it is found in Jewish or Native American religious texts. The Hindu Caste system has set up a system of inherited, social positions -- a race-based society. In the Qur'an, 2:96, we find the passage, "Jews are the greediest of all humankind. They'd like to live 1000 years. But they are going to hell." In the Bible, one of god's followers killed an interracial couple, and god is so pleased that he grants miracles to the people, in Numbers 25:6-9.
The treatment of children by these religions, similarly, has been vengeful and heartless. It has been based on indoctrination, on making the new generation of believers who follow and obey without question. All of this is naturally repugnant to children, and every religion must justify the use of violence and force in treating the youth. And for every rock used in stoning a child to death, behind it there are the words "respect and love your elders."
In Deuteronomy 28:56 of the Bible, "delicate women" are ordered to eat their own children. Where god makes famine, children are eaten by their parents, as we find in 2 Kings 6:28-33. We find abominations in the religions of the Incas and the Aztecs of the Americas, as well as the religions of Carthage and Phoenicia. Children were sacrificed to bring prosperity and wealth to the community, often in violent and excruciating rituals. In the Book of Mormon, a text allegedly handed down by god in 1830, we similar brutality -- children are sacrificed because of their crimes of their fathers, found in 2 Nephi 24:21.
If we were to try and defend the rights of animals, more than anything, religion is our greatest enemy. The sacrificing of animals can be found in almost all religions, from Islam, to ancient Greek and European theologies, to the Hebrew people. The Aztecs, as well as the Hindus, have killed animals, for no other reason than as a method of worshiping their gods. In the Bible, we hear the story of how animals were given as property to humanity, in the early parts of Genesis. In Islam, a goat or sheep is sacrificed during the Festival of Sacrifice, or the Eid ul-Adha. For all the practice of Vegetarianism in Hinduism, it is not out of a respect for animal life. In a three-day festival in 2009, a quarter million animals were sacrificed. [*1]
These holy books make abject slaves out of women, children, and other races, and it is only natural that it would extend this slavery and domination to all living things. There is not one animal considered outside the dominion of the Christian, the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu, and the various Pagans, whether Celtic or Native American. Animalkind is subordinate, exploited, dominated, and controlled -- just like women, children and other races. As Darwin said of the differences of animals, the difference of these oppressed groups "certainly is one of degree and not of kind." [*2]
Finally, religions ask that the masses submit to their masters on this earth. They ask us to respect slavery and exploitation, to worship and admire societies where the majority are dependent upon the few -- where the many must beg for food from their kings and employers. In the New Testament of the Bible, Ephesians 6:5, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ." The Caste system of the Hindu communities has set up a system of land worker and land lord, or one who is exploited and one who exploits. In the Tao Teh King, we read from part 2, ch. 65:1, "The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Tao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant."
In the Qur'an, we read that it is within Allah's morality to possess slaves (24:58), but not for women to walk around without a veil on their face (24:31). The ancient religions of the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Incas, and the Aztecs were devoutly patriotic -- they were purely theocratic governments, with the church supported by public taxes. And even in the Middle Ages and up through the nineteenth century, we find governments dominated by the Catholic Church, as in Spain, France, and Germany. The Protestant Church of England accepted divorce as legitimate, not because it was humane, but because it benefited the king. They were kind enough to let couples separate, but they still punished adulterers by burning them alive.
Try to rally against any of the great evils of the world, whether poverty and world hunger or discrimination and sexism. Organize, educate, and agitate the people to fight for this cause. And what will you meet? Who will be the first to tell you that we have no place to question these things? It is religion. Whether you want to advance the case for the rights of children from vicious rituals, or you want to protect women from churches and mosques that defend domestic abuse -- your first opponent will be religion. If you try to end the ritual slaughter of animals, which still happens today, religion's followers will scream, howl, and kick -- they will claim to be oppressed because they aren't allowed to do violence.
Poverty and unemployment exist as a result of capitalism and this greedy organization of natural resources. They benefit the few on top, just as feudalism benefited the vassals and lords, and just as slavery benefited the slave masters. What is a curse to the daily existence of all humanity, the oppression of their governments and the exploitation of their masters, is made a sacred thread in the fabric of church belief. Where people rise up, revolt against the powers that exist, the preachers swoop in to tell them that they are sinning and going to hell!
The Catholic Church has helped the Nazis escape prosecution after the end of world war in 1945. [*3] And, it should come as no great shock, that when troops were opening fire on unarmed crowds in Mexico in 2006, the Catholic churches closed their doors to women and children begging for shelter. [*4] These Catholic priests think of themselves as the children of god, the proud ancestors of those who stoned women and children to death for things that we do everyday. They help genocidists and war criminals escape, but they turn away when the common people are being slaughtered in front of them.
If you seek justice and crave truth, if you want to improve society for the better, then you must make religion your enemy. Wherever you try to advance a good cause, whether for Socialism, Feminism, Free Education, or Anti-Authoritarianism, you will first meet the crusaders -- those who believe that god has told them to defend some cruel, inhuman practice. It is almost impossible to genuinely understand the oppression of the people without knowing the critical role of these supernatural ideas. They pacify the people, promise an eternity of happiness in exchange for one life of abject servitude -- they make them soldiers into soldiers, and then they make them into sacrifices.
The destruction of religions is important to freeing humanity's soul, just as the destruction of states is essential to freeing humanity's body. Every person has a right to believe whatever they wish -- and any attempt to forcibly change someone's opinion will usually be met with the strengthening of that attitude. Censorship, intolerance, discrimination, and force does not make society harmonious, it breaks it up into factions with nationalistic and unreasonable passions. When I say to make religion your enemy, I do not mean to make the religionists your enemy. I mean that we must spread Atheism, if we are to spread progress -- and the only way to get someone to genuinely renounce the world's religions is to appeal to them peacefully and reasonably.
*1. "Hindu sacrifice of 250,000 animals begins," by Olivia Lang in Bariyapur, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 November 2009 13.11 GMT.