It’s always easy to blame religion for a lot of the conflicts you see in the world, but how often is that really the case?
Jerry Coyne is compiling a list of evils in which religion is to blame.
Sounds a little dubious since something like the Protestant/Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland sounds religious on the surface but actually has other causes that may play a larger role. So to separate those kinds of situations from the ones he’s looking for, Coyne asks this question:
Would those acts have still been committed had there been no religion?
And with that, he has a draft list. Here’s a sampling:
- The represssion of women according to Islamic law and custom
- Deaths from AIDS because of Catholic importuning against birth control
- The sexual molestation of children by Catholic priests
- The horrible and often lifelong guilt instilled in children by Catholic priests who scare them with thoughts of hell and constant admonitions about sin
- The deaths of children whose parents relied on faith healing
- The persecution of gays on religious grounds, as occurs in both America and the Middle East
- Blanket prohibitions on abortion even when the mother is raped or her life is at stake; the persecution of single mothers in countries like Ireland
- Opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia
The full list is at his site.
What would you add to it? Remove?
(Obviously, religion may be to blame for items on the list, but Coyne correctly adds that “ultimate responsibility for those acts rests on the people who commit them.”)