Religion and Morality
James C. Rocks
Young Earth creationists, attempting to disprove any theory that disputes their belief that the Earth & universe were divinely created, often use arguments that attempt to demonstrate theories opposing theirs as immoral and Darwin's theory of Evolution (or Neo-Darwinism as it is sometimes referred to) is often (indeed almost exclusively) claimed to be the cause of violence, racism and other forms of immoral behaviour. Even relatively rational theists are not above stooping to such tactics in defence of their beliefs. The favourite example attempting to justify such criticism has been communist Russia, cited as the ultimate example of the misery, tyranny, terror, immorality, and inhumanity that can result when, as many outspoken theists will claim, atheism dominates a society however, with the fall of the Berlin Wall over 10 years ago, that may have changed. Though the author does not agree that these charges are fair criticism of atheism (this article does not attempt to defend that charge) it is interesting to look at religions' records on human rights and abuses before one starts a comprehensive defence of such charges and that is what this article attempts to do.
DiscussionApartheid is a political system (principally South African) based on Christian principles. It was one on the most brutal regimes of this century where every citizen had to be classified as a member of a particular race. The ruling race was white (at more than 5 million) and almost exclusively Christian. They (the whites) ruled over the remaining 30 million plus blacks, 3 million plus "coloured" and over a million Asians. Each of the non-white "categories" had several sub-directories, such as "Zulu", "Pedi", "Tswana" and "Xhosa" (black) and "Cape-coloured" and "Griqua" ("coloured"). These categories dictated where you could live, what education you could get, what work you could do, who you could marry and what political rights you had. From 1945 to 1991, 11-12 million people were arrested for violations against these regulations. Law separated blacks and whites. The blacks lived in their own parts of town, called townships, strictly segregated from the whites. Since the first whites settled in South Africa, they had believed that the blacks were racially inferior and couldn't be expected to live like Europeans, but this policy wasn't pursued to it's cruel conclusion until the election of the National Party in 1948. They issued a series of laws to keep the blacks down and away, but available for work. The National Party stayed in control until 1994, when ANC won the first free election. The Ku Klux Klan (actually two distinct, secret, societies) are a white only, Christian, religious organisation ("God is white"). The KKK or Klan exists to maintain "white supremacy" and, in the 19th century attempted to achieve this by strange disguises, silent parades, midnight rides, its mysterious language and commands all playing upon (mainly black) fears and superstitions. The riders (dressed in flowing white sheets, their faces covered with white masks, and with skulls at their saddle horns) posed as spirits of the Confederation army returned from the battlefields and were often able to achieve their aims by terror alone. They also used whippings and lynchings not only against blacks but also against whites seen to be in any way "pro-black". The Klan was particularly effective in systematically keeping black men away from the polls, so that the ex-Confederates gained political control in many states and forced Congress in 1870 and 1871 to pass legislation to combat them. The Ku Klux Klan was re-founded in 1915 by William J. Simmons (an ex-minister) and to its "white supremacy" added an intense nativism, anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism whilst stressing its fundamentalism in religion. After World War II, led by Dr. Samuel Green, KKK became responsible for violent attacks against blacks and civil rights workers in cities throughout the South, including Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida., Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama., and Meridian, Mississippi. Currently there is a resurgence of support for the Klan manifest in its new "evangelist" David Duke of Louisiana. Adolph Hitler was a devout Christian and his beliefs were key to the reason he and his Aryan followers carried out ... included in this was the creation of camps to process humans (Jewish humans & others) from involuntary admission to extermination in an efficiently managed, factory-like manner. It is worth noting that Hitler's elite SS troops had on their belt buckles "Gott Mitt Uns" ("God With Us") and that despite the atrocities carried out under his leadership the Catholic Church not only refused to condemn his actions but also considered him to be Europe's most cherished son. I understand that even today the Catholic Church has not condemned the action of the Nazi party in World War II. These are just three, Christian, examples ... the minimal research I have done suggests there are others.
ConclusionWe are all familiar with the kind of claims that religions make, that their god is the sole source or morality, that only if their religion is brought to the fore and allowed to permeate society will the correct values be restored to it but with Religions past record one can only wonder at what sort of society such a restoration might result in ... I suspect it would be more like the dark ages than anything else. Of course, it is fairly easy to demonstrate that atheism & atheists are not immoral as a "breed" any more than the majority of normal religious people are particularly moral (or vice versa) ... at the end of the day most moderate people, most people with a rational outlook on life are fairly moral. It is also easy to demonstrate that an awful lot of violence occurs in the name of religion (quite apart from our appalling history of violence much of it carried out in the name if religion there are abortion clinic bombings, the "Waco's" of this world, the persecution of individuals such as Salman Rushdie & more recently September 11th) ... it appears that it is at the extremes of faith that the worst atrocities occur. But if this is so easy to demonstrate then why is it that theists try to push their views forward upon us so insistently? Quite simply because they are believers in something that cannot be supported by reason or by evidence, to give value to their existence they must justify their faith by other means and that means appears to be to attempt to foist their values upon us. Theists will always attempt to gain the high moral ground and quite often with some success but they build their structures on foundations of sand because the simple fact is that more & worse violence has been done in the name of religion (including Christianity) than, arguably, any other factor on this planet.
- "Holocaust" Michael Hakeem, Ph.D. (1992)