The Harm of Religion

” OK, Chris, so you don’t believe in Christianity or spirituality any more. Fine. But there’s no harm in religion. Why ruin it for the rest of us? “

I disagree. Religion does a lot of harm. Turning yourself into a pretzel in order to believe is not healthy.

Feel free to replace God and Christianity with your preferred religious terms. For the most part, it still works.

People Have To Pretend

Some days are good. Some days really suck.

But if you’re a Christian, you have to pretend that it’s all good, God is in heaven, and all is right with the world.

If you admit that you’re having a bad day, people will ask you:

  • What you have done?
  • Did you move away from God?
  • Is there any unresolved sin in your life?
  • Do we need to pray for you?

God is always good. What is your problem?

You’re Never Good Enough

No matter how much you do, you could always do more. You could:

  • study more,
  • pray more,
  • give more,
  • spread the word more,
  • help out more.

God is never satisfied, at least according to the Bible and the church. There’s never an indication as to how much is too much. You can always do more, and you should to please God.

Guilt

Guilt is a great motivator.

  • You could give/help more.
  • You’re having a bad day? What did you do wrong?
  • God can’t move without your help.
  • Why did you go there?
  • You have un-fulfilled needs? Maybe you should just let them go.
  • Why are you making a big deal out of this?

All religions make you feel guilty about something. It’s one of the best motivators out there.

Intolerance Is Good

Come out from among them. Do not touch. Do not allow them in your presence. Separate yourself from the world.

The only right way is God’s way. Everything else is impure and should be actively avoided at all costs.

And so we reject and destroy in the name of God.

Thinking Is Bad

Thou shalt not question. Lean not on your own understanding.

Science is the enemy. Evolution is a hoax. Logic will lead you down the wrong path.

You should just trust in God and turn off your brain.

Authority Figures Are Good

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He shall direct your paths.

I’m your pastor, deacon, elder. We were ordained by God and we can help. You should not rely on your judgement, but on ours. Trust us.

Bad Is Good

No matter how bad things get, God is good. No matter what the calamity is, God is always good.

For example, someone is involved in a car crash:

  • no injuries = God was there to protect them.
  • minor injuries = God was there, it could have been so much worse.
  • major injuries = God protected them from dying.
  • permanent paralysis = God is opening a new chapter in their lives, giving them and their family a chance to show how much they love God.
  • death = God called them home. God really loved them.

Funny. No matter how bad it gets, God can do no wrong.

Welcome to the world of pretzel logic.

It Prevents Growth

God is the same yesterday and today and forever. Your only job is to seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.

You should not change. Things should not change. Evolution is not of God.

With God, nothing changes. Funny, everything else changes and evolves.

Excuses, Excuses

The purpose of Christianity is to make excuses for God.

“Why did ________ happen?” -or- “Why does God allow ______ ?”

There’s always a reason, no matter how convoluted. And there’s always a Bible verse to back it up.

One of the big reasons I left Christianity was that I was tired of making excuses for God.

We Don’t Have To Be Responsible

God’s got it under control. Don’t worry about anything. Rely on God, not yourself.

And then we wonder why things don’t get better.

What happens when we have to be the responsible adults? When there’s no one that’s going to help us? We moan and complain about how hard life is. But we also get things done, including some big things.

But it’s more fun just to give everything to God. I don’t have to be the responsible adult anymore. My life is so much easier now.

I just wonder why things don’t change. Well, we’re just waiting on God.

Church: The Pretzel Logic Echo Chamber

You’re encouraged to spend all your spare time with other believers, preferably in church.

Surround yourself with people who are seeking the same thing as you are and do not interact with outsiders.

Listen over and over to the same songs and sermons telling you that God is good, the world is bad, the Bible is the only true document, you should not question, we’re here to help, and the more time you spend here, the better.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Bible Does Not Have All The Answers

There comes a time for everyone where the Bible no longer works.

  • I’m suffering from deep depression.
  • Do I really need to obey this tin-pot dictator or bad pastor?
  • Do I pull the plug on Grandma or not?
  • Why was slavery OK, and now it’s not?
  • I’m having questions about my gender identity.
  • Why would God make us in his own image and then condemn most of us to eternal torture? God doesn’t like himself?

The Bible has all sorts of answers, many of them contradictory. Pick which one works for you!

Do I really have to “read between the lines” or “take it as a whole” to find the right answer or even any answer at all?

For more problems with the Bible, see here.

It Wastes Money

Religion rakes in over $378 billion in cash each year in the U.S. That’s about $1,155 for every person in the U.S. And while some churches do help out their communities, the vast majority only serve and support the faithful.

“We’re here to impress God, not man”. Or more likely feed the ego of the pastor, church board or mega donor(s). There’s a reason why one of the first questions when pastors meet is “How big is your congregation?”

Imagine if we took all that money and all those building and turned them into true community centers. You’d be only a few blocks away from a place where you could find help or support or just a place to hang out, without someone pestering you about the state of your soul. Imagine how things would change. Maybe John Lennon had it right.

Prayer vs. Doing Something

You’re going thru a hard time or facing a real challenge, and you hear “I’ll pray for you.”

That person thinks they are invoking the greatest power in the universe. What could be better than a direct intervention by God?

But in reality, prayer doesn’t do anything.

OK, maybe it makes the person who’s praying feel a little better about things. Big deal.

If prayer worked, Christians would never go bankrupt. There would be no cancer or hunger or poverty or loneliness and all the world’s governments would be benevolent. Millions of Christians pray for that every day. And God answers prayer. Right?

How much better if people stopped praying and started doing. Buy someone a meal, take time to listen, connect people with services, get involved. Or even just say, “Hey, there’s nothing I can do right now, but I’m concerned. Keep me posted.”

If everyone’s 10% tithe was used instead for food programs, mental health services, community support and the like, most prayers would actually be answered.

It Tears Families Apart

I really should not have to write anything about this.

Everyone knows of a family where someone was kicked out because they did not conform to the religious norms. Kids are sent to brainwashing camps because of who they love. We don’t talk to Aunt Eva’s family anymore because they don’t accept our religion. It’s OK to ignore them and their needs, they are not ____________.

All this caused by a God who says he loves everyone. And says we should love everyone too.

And you have to ask why I think we’d all be better off without religion?


If you are ever in the Phoenix area, you should check out Post Spirituality. A lot of the items listed here came out of discussions we’ve had over the last year.

Murphy, the Nigerian contortionist image from Instagram

1 thought on “The Harm of Religion”

Leave a Comment