Religious People Can Be The Most Evil of All

St. Patrick, religious people
St. Patrick, founder of Irish Catholicism

Seven hundred and ninety-six bodies, from newborn to three years old, killed because the religious people deemed them irreversibly stained since they were conceived outside of marriage.


I finished reading The Lost Children of Tuam, a 7000-word document about the dead children Ireland wanted to forget, and the Catholic Church helped kill. I was sick to my stomach.

The thought kept rolling around in my brain: religious people can be the most evil of all.

The piece tells the story of the home babies, children born to unwed mothers, a mark of shame indelibly placed on these tiny innocent ones by Roman Catholic theology that ruled Ireland at the time. The shamed pregnant women (one can only presume the sperm donors/rapists/purveyors of incest stayed free to happily impregnate and ruin others) went to the mother and baby home, a forbidding looking place, guarded by nuns, walled-in with glass shards sitting on the walls to prevent escape.

The women gave birth and were sent out, some probably to the equally horrific Magdalen Laundries that essentially imprisoned 30,000 young women in Ireland. The babies, unless adopted out to affluent Americans, otherwise stayed, stayed to starvation, neglect, and death.

The Roman Catholic nuns who “cared” for the children were from the order called “Bon Secours,” French for “Good Help.” They wrapped those diseased little bodies in rags and disposed of them in unused septic tanks.

Seven hundred and ninety-six bodies, from newborn to three years old, killed because the religious people deemed them irreversibly stained since they were conceived outside of marriage. Seven hundred and ninety-six babies, born to misery and then denied even a Christian burial or notice to relatives, themselves uncaring of the fate of these children.

Religious people can be the most evil of all.

Religious People and their Cruelty Remembered

We all know about the immense cruelty of the Muslim extremists.

Now we have the Buddhists in Myanmar working to exterminate the Muslim Rohingya. One snippet:

A pack of soldiers stepped toward a petite young woman with light brown eyes and delicate cheekbones. Her name was Rajuma, and she was standing chest-high in the water, clutching her baby son, while her village in Myanmar burned down behind her.

“You,” the soldiers said, pointing at her.

She froze.

“You!”

She squeezed her baby tighter.

In the next violent blur of moments, the soldiers clubbed Rajuma in the face, tore her screaming child out of her arms and hurled him into a fire. She was then dragged into a house and gang-raped.

By the time the day was over, she was running through a field naked and covered in blood. Alone, she had lost her son, her mother, her two sisters and her younger brother, all wiped out in front of her eyes, she says.

Religious people can be the most evil of all.

Christians supported Adolph Hiter and his plans to exterminate the Jews.

Christians put Donald Trump, an acknowledged serial sexual predator, a racist in word and deed, a man driven by greed and self-aggrandizement, a man who lies so routinely that he no longer can distinguish truth from falsehood, a man who routinely profanes the office of the Presidency, into very nearly unaccountable power.

Religous people can be the most evil of all.

Someday, the world will look at the current Christian obsession to demonize and eliminate those who don’t fit the perfect sexual binary and will recognize yet once more, “Religous people can be the most evil of all.”

Soon, very soon, it is likely that The United Methodist Church will split over this. The people who are so sure they are right, i.e., that all non-binary sexual inclinations and behaviors are evil and cannot possibly be blessed by God, have called upon those of us with a wider approach to leave so they can have their doctrinally and sexually pure place to remain untouched by the world and their certainties unquestioned by others.

They might let us take our pensions with us but we will relinquish our hard-earned ordination credentials. Isn’t that kind?

As I said, “Religous people can be the most evil of all.”

I know. We have the Bible.

Why? What is this about?

I think it stems from the religious insistence that we actually and clearly hear the voice, the words, of God, and can authoritatively pronounce, “This is the Word of the Lord.” It comes from our surety that we can, for all time, give unchangeable answers to any given societal questions. It comes from our hubris at thinking we are the chosen ones to show others the right way to live and to die.

I know my protests sound strange coming from someone who has spent my life serving the church and promoting religious belief, but something has happened to me. Over years of study and service and now retirement, I am discovering that I just don’t know very much about God and I certainly have no business speaking with absolute certainty for the deity.

Yes, I know. We have the Bible. The Bible which has justified genocides, slavery, mass murders, convenient rapes, robbing the poor, enriching the corrupt, and, at least for the last couple of hundred years in the US, oppression of any who are not straight white males.

I love that book. I’ve studied it my entire adult life. I gained expertise as a proof-texter extraordinaire. I’ve hurt people with it. I carry deep personal anguish because of it.

Like some others who have spent their lives in this quest, I am now reaching this point: True religion has little to do with doctrine and carefully defined beliefs and much to do with sacrificial, reconciling love.

  • A love that heals and unites.
  • A love that overlooks a multitude of sins and seeks to invite goodness and truth.
  • A love that cares for the helpless and hopeless and calls on people to do their utmost best.
  • A love that leaves condemnation and hell and torment behind and seeks the day when the wolf lies down with the lion.
  • A love that embraces the mysteries of the Cosmos and does not fear the unknown and the unknowable.
  • A love that courageously stands up to injustice but does not toss others under the bus in the quest to solve one social ill.
  • A love that looks at the Holy Scriptures, of whatever faith tradition, and sees them as windows on the soul, ways to aid us as we look for an eternity of hope.
  • A love that loves honestly so much that it refuses to pretend that any human being is incapable of deception or downright evil.

I’m tired of religious people being the most evil of all.


Photo Credit: By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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  • ErinErin

    Lord, thank you for this post. I am a pastor of a different denomination and exceedingly tired of rich white men posing as prophets to tell others that what they feel in their soul, what they have worked out with God after no doubt, much wrestling in the dark, is wrong. That women, in charge of their bodies and their lives, are wrong. That people who are good and decent and want to raise a family that is not the “typical” but rather all colors and flavors, are wrong. I am tired of the hate in the name of Christianity. It feels like a new Crusade and I will not be part of it. Jesus is the Lord of my life and my conscience. Those who twist the Word of God to suit their power agenda are as old as time and as guilty as the leaders in Jesus day. We must stand up for the marginalized, because it seems that the new “religion” is to hate, demean, shame, destroy and reject. Not my Jesus. Not my Jesus. Not my Jesus. Stay brave, sister, stay brave.

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      Thank you. You and I are so much on the same page here. I spent a lot of years in that rich white men authoritative environment and kept hearing them say I could not trust myself (after equivalent study) to rightly discern the word of God but must trust them. After a while, nothing they said held water any more. Nothing.

      • ErinErin

        Stay brave. I am with you.

      • Luminous

        Assho le.

      • Chuck Johnson

        The “rich white men” problem is a problem with traditional ideas and values.
        Blind obedience to authority was once a highly valued moral goal.
        Nowadays, we see that making use of the brainpower of everyone is a more successful social strategy.
        “Rich white men” are only a small fraction of the voices that should be listened to.

  • http://whoamiwhoisgod.blogspot.ca/ Belle Unruh

    All through the Old Testament and the New, God tells us to help the poor, the stranger, the widows and orphans. There are so many verses on it you would think it would be the main theme of Christianity. As far as I know and from experience in my church, it is barely ever mentioned. How many verses are about sex? Not many, and those that are there are usually about adultery. I would like to know why it was perfectly okay for the men in the Old Testament to have more than one wife when God had told them not to. They ignored God about that and he let them. It was the custom of the time to have more than one wife, especially for Kings. God never sent a prophet to tell a king he was in trouble for it. He allowed Jacob, Abraham and others to do that. So, in my view, it is the custom of the times for gay people to get married and have families. I think that it is lovely. I think churches worry about what they consider “sex” sins way more than God has ever done or does now. What he cares about the most is love. The most important commandment, according to Jesus.

  • Kurt T Simon

    “The shamed pregnant women (one can only presume the sperm donors/rapists/purveyors of incest stayed free to happily impregnate and ruin others)” I find this to be a rather interesting presumption and indictment of the men involved.

    • Martha Anne Underwood

      There is no record that showed that the men who impregnated these women were ever punished so despicably as the women and children. So I don’t think that it is presumptive to believe that the men got off totally free.

      • Kurt T Simon

        I have no evidence to believe otherwise either; my point was that every girl who gets pregnant is not a victim and every male who impregnates her is not a purveyor of incest or a rapist. You get no argument from me that this is indeed an ugly part of history. I just take exception that just because men didn’t get punished, they were rapists and molesters of some type which is what the article contends.

        • Martha Anne Underwood

          The women in Ireland who got pregnant were not necessarily raped or were molested. That is not what the article was about. If an honorable man had found out he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant, he would have married her at that time in Ireland and she would not have ended up in such an awful place as she could have. Women get pregnant out of wedlock and you can see the result of their action. When men have sex out of wedlock, you can’t tell that they did it since they cannot get pregnant. In Ireland back then people wouldn’t believe the woman if she named the man who got her pregnant if he denied he ever slept with her.

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      Yeah, I guess what those guys did was just fine. No problem.

      • Kurt T Simon

        I reread everything I wrote and I cannot begin to see where such conclusions are drawn. My only point is that then as now, women don’t ONLY get impregnated by purveyors of incest or molesters. You get no argument it was unfair to the women; clearly. My point was that not all men are molesters or rapists. Just because they didn’t get punished back then doesn’t change that fact. Sometimes, then as now, nice girls and nice boys get pregnant without rape or incest having taken place. Plus, calling them “sperm donors” is rather objectifying in my opinion.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    Christy, what you write is so true. I am tired too of the evil that Christians do in Christ’s name. I, too, am now reaching this point: True
    religion has little to do with doctrine and carefully defined beliefs
    and much to do with sacrificial, reconciling love.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Religious People Can Be The Most Evil Of All

    This is due to religion’s overvaluing of ancient ideas and customs.
    Modern ideas tend to be much healthier for individuals and for the whole human race.
    The further we go back in time, the more evil, violence and genocide we see.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk&t=39s

    • Tiny J

      We’re so much better at genociding now.

      • Chuck Johnson

        That would be true if by “better” you mean less genocide than in the past.