What Has Religion Done for Us This Month?

Daniel is back with another montage of some of the awful things done in the name of God over the past month:

(via ConversationWithA)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Joel Lim

    ‘I am a gentleman’

  • Rwlawoffice

    This has to be one the most disingenuous headlines you have written lately. With the exception of the extreme Islamists who may have claimed their action were done in the name of Allah, the examples of sexual abuse by some Catholic priests and some others is hardly done in the name of God. It was not because these guys were religious. They did it because they were deviants. I don’t care what their occupation was other then they should not have been around kids. Blast away at the Catholic church who hid these guys and tried to hide their wrong doing. All justified criticism which I would join in on, but to try and condemn religion as a whole through these examples as your headline suggests is ludicrous.

    For example, a recent count reveals that there are over 412,236 priests worldwide. Even though one is too many, how many have been engaged in this horrible act? Teachers have been caught as well. Do you condemn the entire educational system? Are all teachers monsters because of the acts of a few?

    I agree the Catholic church was despicable in not facing this problem and they should be held accountable for it, however, if you really want to know what the Catholic church did last month- They fed and cared for elderly and disabled people in 15,985 homes, the fed and cared for orphans and children in 9,962 orphanages and 11,902 child care centers, they cared for patients in 5,428 hospitals, they cared for lepers in 529 homes for those with this disease, they distributed medicine from 18,025 clinics. This doesn’t include the food banks, the help given through St. Vincent De Paul or other organizations. Nor does it include the help given through individual Catholics or churches. None of these statistics include any of the similar help given through Protestant churches or individual Protestants.

    These acts done in the name of charity and grace taught by Christianity is what religion has done in the last month.

  • Yessir

    What a marvellous idea for a series.

  • coyotenose

    “These acts done in the name of charity and grace taught by Christianity is what religion has done in the last month.”

    Acts like spreading AIDS and murder in Uganda through bigoted lies, no doubt.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sorry, bro. You don’t get to only claim the good for your religion. Either you take all of it or you take none of it. Otherwise, you’re just being a hypocrite.

  • TheG

    If you want to get down and dirty with the details, in the past two weeks, I have taken care of four Catholics (and a Baptist and a Presbyterian) who attempted suicide because of guilt over their religion, a fifteen year old who accidentally got pregnant, and an African immigrant with HIV and on crutches because of a childhood bout of polio. And I’m just one nurse! How many other suicides are out there because of religion, much less Catholicism? How many other people are infected by HIV because of Catholic policies? How many young people become pregnant unnecessarily and have their lives destroyed because of the staunch policies of the Catholic Church against birth control, education, and (apparently) science?

  • A3Kr0n

    I vote best comment so far (if we were voting). Oh ya, UP ARROW!

  • DougI

    Heck, the Catholic church took taxpayer money and subsidies and took care of some homeless people. I guess they earned themselves the right to a few rapes then. Is that what you’re telling us? If someone does something horrible like be a serial rapist of children then they can wipe the slate clean by not raping an orphan?

    You have some pretty twisted reasoning there.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Read my post. I did take the bad that was posted as what religion had done. The truth is that as far as the Catholic church, none of that was said to be done in the name of Gad, it was a few perverts who should be stopped. What was ignored by the atheist hypocrite was the good that is done by the Catholic church.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Not even close. So much for your reading comprehension. What I am saying is that the entire Catholic church is not judged by the acts of a few. But then of course that kind of reasoning doesn’t fit into the agenda here.

  • Rwlawoffice

    If you want to talk about the Catholic church’s stance on birth control, I will agree with you. I think it is irresponsible to think that abstinence is the answer. Not because it doesn’t work, but because not many people follow it. It works everytime it is followed. But The Catholic church puts its money where its mouth is. They do quite a bit to take care of pregnant women, those with AIDs and orphans. As far as suicides being caused by religion, for every person who can claim is feeling suicidal because of religion, I can give you hundreds who’s lives are turned around by the grace of Christ. I see it every week.

  • Rwlawoffice

    You really are a one trick pony.And its a bad trick at that. Actually, the Catholic orphanage in Uganda that I am familiar with is run by nuns and it takes are of infants and children under the age of five, some of who have AIDS and most of whose parents died of AIDS.

  • Octoberfurst

    I noticed that you completely ignored the parts about Catholic Archbishops in Africa demanding that gays not have rights and the evangelical crazies who claim that the Newtown murders were caused by removing prayer in public schools and the looney Jewish extremists who attacked a lesbian girl in Israel. All done in the name of religion. I suppose you could make the case for not judging religion based on the actions of a few as in the sex abuse scandals brought up in this video. But these people were supposed to be close to God. They were his servants on earth. Teachers never claimed to be God’s messengers so that is why their sex abuse scandals are different. (Not because they are less horrible. It’s because they are less hypocritical.)
    I don’t doubt that religious people do good works–i.e. build hospitals, run orphanages,etc. But the point is that one doesn’t need religion in order to do such things. Good people are just good people. People who are religious who built orphanages would still build orphanages even if they weren’t religious.

  • Nox

    When individual priests rape children that is not done in the name of god. At most it is something religion strongly encourages.

    When the leadership of the church covered up those rapes and repositioned the rapists to give them access to more children rather than allow the truth to come out and embarrass the church, that was absolutely done in the name of god.

    When priests told their victims “no one will believe you” or “god will be mad at you” they were exploiting something that is there because of that religion. When parents sent their children back to their abusers or refused to believe anything bad about their priests, they were falling victim to something that is there because of that religion. Whether the religion openly condones priests raping children or not, it is something that happened because of religion.

    If the bits of good the catholic church did were not always driven by an ulterior motive (which they always are), it would not change the fact that children are being entrusted to child molesters because the church commands it.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    People who are religious who built orphanages would still build orphanages even if they weren’t religious.

    Actually, I’m not so sure about that. Many of these ministries are set up so that evangelical Christians can spread the “good news.” I wonder how many of them would build orphanages if they weren’t allowed to mention their religion to the children it served.

    I did see a story about a Catholic priest who opened a school serving impoverished children from Buddhist families in Thailand, and who didn’t attempt to convert them, but I think that sort of thing is more the exception than the rule.

  • 7Footpiper

    The fact that a number of religious leaders perpetrated these acts regardless of their faith is the real problem. I think you have a completely valid point that these are deviants, there are decent clergy (even RCC clergy) out there, it’s the Church hierarchy that’s the problem.

  • Octoberfurst

    Good point Anna.

  • Piet Puk

    I still don’t understand why this allmighty god chooses not to heal these poor sick people. Or why this benevelent god choose to give these people AIDS in the fist place.

  • RowanVT

    Are their lives really ‘turned around’? How can you prove this? My life was turned around by turning my back on God… and for the better. No more sense of injustice. No more terror of a sadistic deity. A profound sense of control over my life and its purpose.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    Considering the title and the level of religious association for contributions in this video, it seems entirely dishonest that no positive accounts were included. Perhaps a fair assessment of monthly religious offerings was never intended. But if the goal was to compile only negative examples, the title is certainly misleading.

  • Glasofruix

    It was not because these guys were religious. They did it because they were deviants.

    What about Stalin, did he kill all those people because he was an atheist or because he was a power hungry asshole?

  • Glasofruix

    Because of free will you silly :p By not showing that he exists he shows us his “love”, or some stupid shit like that.

  • Carmelita Spats

    You really are crazier than an acre of snakes…If a teacher molests a child, there is NO principal, superintendent or school board in place that would DEFEND her, pay her legal bills, put her in another building to continue raping children. The Vatican ACTIVELY hid pedophiles and used its diplomatic courrier to hide information on perverts…SEE ALSO bishopsaccountability.org, Father Marcial Maciel (over 4 decades of sexually torturing children in Mexico), Crimen Sollicitationis, ex-priest Patrick J Wall’s blog, etc. Mr. Wall is a fantastic blogger, a canon lawyer, an ex-priest, who would like the American Catholic bishops to accept criminal liability for their maladjusted virgins (priests). He’s working to keep kids safe from a CRIMINAL institution. Get a clue!

  • Stev84

    And then they complain when they have to spend that money on people they hate

  • DougI

    Yeah, after all, the Nazis built some good highways so we should really lay off them and parade the nice things they did. Why disparage the entire party for that genocide and war thingee (and that part about the Catholics supporting them) and focus on the good the Nazis did for society.

    You know, with the Catholics having to parade around and advertise how they are doing great things (with taxpayer money) it’s like they’re compensating for something.

  • DougI

    Don’t worry, they’ll start loving the gays when they see profit in it.

  • DougI

    Remember the ol’ Madeline Sisters? The Catholic church kept slaves and justified it because they were bringing them closer to god by punishing them with slavery. I suppose you’ll say that sure, they kept slaves until the 70s when they were forced to give them up (they complained about their religious freedom to have slaves) but look at all the good they did rehabilitating these deviant girls.

  • The Other Weirdo

    The more pertinent point is, why not?

  • John (not McCain)

    Do you think taxpayer money should go to organizations with a history of enabling and covering up the rape of children?

  • Barbara

    There are plenty of organizations that help the needy and they don’t need to try to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. What we don’t need is the RCC using their humanitarian efforts as a way to spread their destructive religion. (And don’t forget the RCC uses millions of taxpayer dollars to help make themselves look good in the public eye. How much charity work could the RCC do without secular funding?)

    All the charity work the RCC does pales in comparison to how destructive its quest for religious power has been. Like the example in the video of the Indian woman who died, why should doctors want to save a fetus’ life over the mother’s life? Because of religious belief? Does that really make sense? Is that the most humane thing to do? That fetus at 17 weeks wouldn’t feel the pain of dying. The mother sure did. And the mother left behind a lifetime of friends and family who are mourning her needless death. I’d say when a country is under Catholic law to treat women as having no value higher that being mere baby-making vessels, that’s when I could give a rat’s ass about the Catholic charity work.

  • rwlawoffice

    Where did i ever defend the Catholic church for the way they handled the sexual abuse by priests? I didn’t. What I did point out is that there are over 477,000 priests worldwide and the number of those that engage in this despicable behavior should be held accountable along with the hierarchy that protected them.

    As for educators not stepping when there is a report of sex abuse at a school , maybe you don’t remember Penn State as just one example of that cover up happening.

  • rwlawoffice

    All human life is sacred. Why do you get to choose which is more valuable?

  • rwlawofice

    It is my view that Stalin killed millions in a desire to build a secular nation because he was an atheist that wanted it that way. Was he power hungry? Of course. Was he an atheist that wanted an atheist country? Of course.

  • rwlawoffice

    I would disagree. It was done in the name of the Catholic church not in the name of God. A big difference there.

  • rwlawoffice

    I think organizations that do this should be held accountable. I don’t think organizations that kill children should get taxpayer money but they do. And most on here find that perfectly acceptable and moral.

  • rwlawoffice

    They acknowledge their live were turned around. It is their testimony. It happens all the time.

  • Glasofruix

    Then following the same logic pedo priests rape children because of their religion… And then people like you wonder why other see them as fucking hypocrytes.

  • rwlawoffice

    If you truly want to know, then I suggest you do some study on the theology of evil in the world. There are volumes on this subject that are fascinating reads.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mbadmin mb admin

    Why did the Orthodox Church stand with Stalin, if he wanted a truly atheistic country?

  • TheG

    It is okay by you that people are so tortured that they kill themselves because a few people feel better about themselves? How sadistic! And I would expect the Church to take care of AIDS victims and orphans. If I drive my car while drunk, I have to pay the victims of any car I crash into. I also have to pay for negligence claims for any patients that I screw up because of my ignorance of science based medicine that a logical person would have followed. Seems justified to me.

  • piet puk

    What I really want want to know is if your god unwilling or unable to cure these people. Can you answer that?

  • TheG

    If we were talking about extremists, you would have a point. But when we are seeing the result of many followers having a belief or the leaders encouraging actions/beliefs, I think it is more than fair.

    For example, I think you manipulate words and go off on tangents to distract from not having an answer, but I wouldn’t think that were true of ALL religionists. Even though the tactics are common.

  • Barbara

    Pot meet kettle. Isn’t that what the RCC is doing when its leaders call for choosing the life of the fetus over the mother’s life?

    Why should the RCC have the right to decide that a 17-week-old fetus, with a slim-to-none chance of living on its own, must take presidence over the life of the mother? Shouldn’t that be the choice of the parents of the fetus? I know personally, my husband and I would fight to save my life over any pregnancy. For one, we have other children and they depend on me for care. We’d be foolish to risk my life over the fetus, since my death would be an economic burden on our family and would put our children at risk of being in foster care.

    Human life is precious. But when you have to make a tough decision about who lives and who dies, you have to think rationally and for the greater good.

  • Patterrssonn

    “They do quite a bit to take care of pregnant women, those with AIDs and orphans.” Oh good, so they do take a tiny bit of responsibility for the devastation created by their religion.

  • Patterrssonn

    I wonder if these nuns see the irony in the Catholic church looking after children with AIDS or whose parents have died of AIDS.

  • Patterrssonn

    “I don’t think organizations that kill children should get taxpayer money but they do.”

    You are of course referring to the Pakistani children killed by American drone warfare. I am in total agreement with you there, I imagine most people here are.

  • baal

    There would be fewer AIDS orphans if the Catholic Church didn’t block condom distribution programs nor support (or call for) the Bush admin to link foreign aid to stopping condom programs by 3rd parties.

  • Patterrssonn

    You see RW, when all sex that has nothing to do with procreation is a sin then there is no moral difference between different types of sex for pleasure. Thanks to this lovely bit of religious dogma the Catholic Church views the rape of children as being no different than adultery. And since priests can’t act on their sexual needs without committing a sin, as they aren’t allowed to even have procreational sex, to them raping a child is not only not especially immoral, but in many ways safer and easier than having sex with an adult. That’s one of the great things about religion, you can justify any behaviour no matter how reprehensible. You have the power to decide what is and what is not moral, as you’re sock puppet god says whatever you want it to.

  • SJH

    There are a few things I would like to point out.

    1. Thought the lives of the people you mentioned are very important and deserve reverence, your experience is anecdotal and therefor not very relevant to the topic.

    2. People do not commit suicide because they feel guilty. Suicide is an unfortunate consequence to feeling unloved and unimportant. Guilt is not a bad thing. It is a tyrant that does not feel guilty when he commits an atrocity. Guilt is that feeling you get when you realize that you did something to hurt someone. This is why an atheist can be good without God. A person who does not know how to deal with that guilt or feels like they are less dignified because of their actions is the person that looks to suicide. This is not a fault of religion but of bad relationships.

    3. Your example of a 15yr old pregnant girl is a good example of how the secular world degrades women. It is a wonderful, beautiful thing that she is going to have a baby and she should be encouraged and supported not be told that her baby is a mistake and it is the Catholic Church’s fault for her situation. How sad that so many women are made to feel like failures and victims because they made a bad decision.

    Also, to claim that a person’s life is destroyed because they are now pregnant is a bit of an over-reaction. There are plenty of women who experienced an unexpected pregnancy and still have happy fulfilled lives. Perhaps new pregnant girls should be pointed towards them as role-models instead of being told they are failures and their life has been destroyed.

    4. The Church has nothing against education and science. They have historically been at the forefront of both. Look throughout history and you will see that.

    5. Regarding birth control, that is a complex discussion. For now, I have to say you should not be so quick to jump on the pro-birth control bandwagon. Skepticism is a healthy thing and you should not be so willing to accept what society accepts as prudent. Take some time to discover what the Church teaches about birth control and maybe you won’t be so angry and judgmental of them. If you have already looked into it and still think they are still far off-base then I can certainly respect that.

  • Zaydin

    ‘”Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not
    omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he
    both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

    “I think that if there were a God, there would be less evil on this earth. I believe that if evil exists here below, then either it was willed by God or it was beyond His powers to prevent it. Now I cannot bring myself to fear a God who is either spiteful or weak. I defy Him without fear and care not a fig for his thunderbolts.” -Marquis de Sade’

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    Savita Halappanavar’s husband was told his wife couldn’t be treated properly because she had a dying, but not dead, foetus.
    Someone made a choice there, and it wasn’t the Halappanavars.

  • Zaydin

    I think Stalin hated religion not because he was atheist, but because they saw religion as threats to their power. Those corrupted by power tend to hate anything that threatens their power: See the Pope throughout history for one example. Oh, and don’t forget the Nazis; they were Christians and look at the atrocities they committed.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Neither. If you are going to talk about the God of the Bible than you must take all of His attributes. You can’t pick and choose which ones you want to attack. So taking into account that God is omnipotent, all merciful, all loving, and all just, you have to consider all of these when bad things happen. God certainly has the ability to intervene, but why he intervenes when He does in some instances and why He may not intervene in others is entirely within His providence and for the reasons only He knows. I don’t pretend to answer for Him.

  • Piet Puk

    Wow, so after all these studies and bookreading all you can come up with is “God is mysterious”. How utterly predictable and very convenient.
    If your god CAN cure AIDS but doesn’t, and you still call this merciful, just and loving, your are clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

    I was not talking about the god of any of the many bibles, but if we are, we see a a jealous, insecure, bloodthirsty asshole. Which explaines why he chooses to let people suffer, and again, nothing just, merciful or loving about that. If you see another god, it is you that is cherry picking. Again, very predictable.
    Now if we go back to reality for an explaination, we see that there most probably is no god and bad things happen. But you’ve allready decided to stay delusional, so I predict you will discard the rational option.

  • rwlawoffice

    This is the response I expected. You were talking about the God of the Bible, because you asked me about my God. The fact that you see him the way you do is predictable and the same I see from all of those that have rejected Him. You might as well be quoting Hawkins directly.

    It is not delusional to understand all of the attributes of God as described in the Bible when discussing why bad things happen in this world. It is also not delusional to recognize that I may not always see or understand God’s reasons for doing what He does. He has an eternal perspective that I do not. It is Atheists who think they are God don’t recognize or acknowledge this.

    The one thing that always happens in these types of discussions and the reason I don’t get into them is that Atheists routinely don’t want to use all of the Bible and all that is said about God. They want to put Him on their terms and than characterize Him and His actions. Like children, they want all the good they think they deserve from Him but don’t want to acknowledge him or respect Him.

    Suffering is a terrible thing for sure, but the Bible says man caused sin and suffering to come into the world. It also says that God is there in our suffering and comforts us and at times uses these trials to bring us closer to Him, because in the end, His goal is for us to be eternally happy and in paradise. If you talk to Christians, like myself who have gone through tremendous troubles and trials, each time I do I feel closer to God than when I am on the mountaintop. I am thankful for that even though I experienced the pain at the time.

  • The Other Weirdo

    How so?

  • The Other Weirdo

    You don’t know the first thing about Stalin, why he killed people or what he wanted to build.

    Funny how churches were free to operate and were often filled to overflowing with people worshiping. Peasants, for the most part, but still.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Apparently not the mother’s, though. Even in a pregnancy gone so wrong the dying fetus is killing the mother and only an abortion will save her, the Catholic Church will still excommunicate you for performing the abortion. Because, in the case of the Massachusetts case, the mother is guilty of Original Sin anyway.

  • piet puk

    I have no reason to use any bible. Bronze age mythology is no basis for explaining reality.
    As predicted you choose to stay delusional. Your willful ignorance is what is causing these discussions to go nowhere.
    Again, if your god can end suffering but chooses not to, he is exactly the jealous, bloodthirsty asshole as described in the bibles, and not worthy of any worship.

  • Zaydin

    ‘God moves in mysterious ways’ is the ultimate cop-out used by the religious to avoid questioning their theology or provide a detailed explanation for why a supposedly loving, benevolent, and all-powerful God allows innocents to suffer.

  • rwlawoffice

    You can’t say you are not going to use the bible to describe or discuss god and then try to use part of it to say that is God is jealous or bloodthirsty. That is my point. Use the Bible as a whole to get a picture of God as revealed in it.The Bible describes God as being all loving, merciful, full of grace, patient and slow to anger. You can’t take part of the theology and ignore the rest. I know you would like to so that He fits the mold of the God you reject.

  • Piet Puk

    You just keep proving your own Stockholm Syndrome. You are the one that keeps refering to a god of the bibles. And there is no way to discribe this god as as being all loving, merciful, full of grace, patient and slow to anger without willfully ignoring the bad parts.

    It fits perfectly with the why you try to fit reality to your delusional wordview.