50 Reasons Why Religion is Not The Source of All Morality: Part 2

Part one of this article can be found by following the link. In this article, we’ll explore 25 more reasons why religion isn’t the source of all morality.

26) Cults: Cults such as the, People’s Temple Christian Church, which left more than 900 people dead is one example of how dangerous such organizations can be. It also shows the dangers inherent in believing something with insufficient evidence.

27) Division Along Theological Lines: Like Richard Jeni once said, “You’re basically killing each other to see who’s got the better imaginary friend.” Religion has been a major instigator in a lot of wars, and we still see theological hostility today between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

28) Scamming: Add some religious babble, and you can sell pretty much anything.

29) Acid Attacks on Women: The unspeakable evil of throwing acid in a womans face is truly heart-wrenching. Yet, many people justify such actions based on their holy texts – the same texts they then proclaim are the basis of all morality. There is nothing moral about such actions. There is plenty monstrous about it though.

30) Inhumane Punishments: We’ve covered stoning and acid attacks, as well as witch burnings, but when you believe nonsense, you can justify other inhumane punishments, such as the cutting off of another persons limbs, beheading, death penalties or beating your wife for anything perceived as a slight.

31) Demons and other Hocus Pokus: In 2012, a three year old was killed during an exorcism in Malaysia. People used to drill a hole in your head to let demons escape, and even today, children and grown adults are being killed over superstitious nonsense. If you believe that mainstream faiths have left behind such stupidity, you can easily find websites dedicated to what their holy texts say about demons and what you should do about it.

32) Idea that Other Animals are Second-Rate:  Some religions teach that animals have souls and will have an afterlife, while others teach that while animals have souls, they will not attain the afterlife, while still others claim that human souls are divine and animals have no souls. I wonder if Christianity believes that animals have to make moral choices and believe in the Jesus deity in order to be rewarded with heaven. Do they get a free pass? If so, aren’t they better off than the average human Christian? I don’t know. I do know that some religions teach that the rest of the creatures we share this planet with are second-rate and put here to serve our needs.

Do I look second-rate to you?

33) Bull Crap: Religions teach all sorts of improbable things without an ounce of evidence. People flying to heaven on winged mounts, visiting angels, talking with God through burning bushes, the raising of the dead and so on. Once these claims are looked at critically, many of them fall to the wayside. For example, Mt. Olympus was thought to be the home of the Gods. Once we examined that claim by climbing the mountain, no Gods were to be found. Is it moral to talk about something as being absolutely true, when you have no idea if it is or not? It doesn’t sound moral to me.

34) Faith is Better Than Evidence: People of faith talk about their faith as if it’s something to be proud of. As we’ve seen by this list, it isn’t. If the basis of your faith is a lie, then the rest of your beliefs from that system are also going to be faulty. Pretending rationality take second place to belief without evidence, seems to be the sort of reasoning that leads to the other 49 things on this list.

35) Fear of Sex: Modern day religions seem to be obsessed about sex; the best way to do it, who you should do it with, when you can do it etc. Many religions attach a guilt factor to something that is a natural process. This guilt and fear has led to atrocities, such as the acid attacks on women and the oppression of women, but it’s also held us back from having an honest, open discussion about human sexuality.

36) Pat Robertson:  Nuff said.

37) Making Excuses for Genocide and Infanticide: In most cases, justifying and making excuses for genocide and infanticide are considered extremely immoral. However, if you’re religious, you can teach your children that God is allowed to wipe every man, woman, child and animal off the face of the planet (minus a few for breeding purposes) and get away with it. You can even make cute little story books about it! I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to a believer who justified the genocide and infanticide found in the bible, and even well known Christian apologists have done it with a straight face.

38) Idea that Your Life Belongs to an Invisible Deity: Some religions basically teach you to enslave yourself to an invisible deity. Clergy will argue that your life doesn’t belong to you, but belongs to their God. I remember once reading an article where they asked different faith groups about whether or not their faith supported euthanasia for people suffering from a terminal illness. All of them answered that they wouldn’t because their life belonged to God and only God could make that decision. Even the one who represented Buddhism said that pain is a part of life and it should be experienced. Whether you believe euthanasia is justified under certain circumstances or not, religion has made it almost impossible to have a discussion about this subject without first filtering it through ancient literature.

39) Education: Places like the creation museum hobble the education of small children. Several times per year, creationists try to insert their beliefs into the science classroom. In the Middle East, religion is used to deny women an education, and even in Canada, the public is forced to fund Catholic Schools, weakening our public school system by robbing them of taxpayer money.

40) Brainwashing: Religions like to get kids early so that they can indoctrinate them into the faith. It’s critical that they get them before the age of reason, so that they don’t question the absurd claims made by religion. A good example of this is the documentary about ‘Jesus Camp’ but there are several other examples you could point too, as well.

41) End of the World Mentality: The end of the world has been used in scams that bilked people of their money, but the other sinister thing about this mentality is that some people say it’s God’s will if the world ends and for some, it would mean a time of rejoicing. As Sam Harris said in Letter to a Christian Nation, “It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen: the return of Christ. It should be blindingly obvious that beliefs of this sort will do little to help us create a durable future for ourselves- socially, economically, environmentally, or geopolitically.”

42) Attacks Against Secularity: The Pope has said that secularism is a bad thing. I guess it’s a bad thing if people are allowed to worship whatever God they choose or no God at all. What a horrible, immoral thing to allow! Attacks against secularity are attacks against free choice. But I guess if you believe that you hold all the answers, no other answer will do. Everyone else is automatically wrong.

43) Religious Cannibalism: Religion has been used to justify cannibalism. In fact, if you’re a Catholic and believe the wafer actually turns into the body of Christ, wouldn’t that be a form of cannibalism? Of course, anyone with a microscope can prove that this claim is pure bunk…unless you have faith, of course.

44) Cherry Picking: The one thing I do admire about fundamentalists is that they don’t cherry pick their holy book of choice. They actually teach what their religion says. It seems to me that cherry picking or ignoring the parts of the holy text you don’t agree with is dishonest. Discussing religion with a moderate believer is extremely difficult, because they will rationalize, re-interpret or otherwise justify what their religious texts actually say.

45) Rioting for Religious Reasons: Don’t draw a cartoon that might offend the Muslim faith or you might get days of riots and killing. But don’t worry, the Western Media will make excuses for your violence, and tell the world that it’s okay to kill and burn if you’re unreasonably offended.

46) Spread of Guilt and Shame: In school I was taught to use a strength based approach when dealing with people. Even the most troubled of people have strengths, but in most cases we dismiss such strengths and focus on weaknesses. Religions also focus on weaknesses. For example, the whole Jesus thing is built on guilt and shame. The Christian faith teaches that we are born of sin and can’t be washed clean without a human sacrifice. We are then told we should be thankful for this human sacrifice and guilted into being thankful, even though no one asked for this blood letting that God needs in order to forgive.

47) Rape: Rape is found throughout religious texts. Even Greek mythology contains rape. Not only do these religious texts seek to justify rape, but they’re also used to blur the line between rape and sex. Women are oppressed and told to wear a bag, lest they tempt a man to rape them. We even see this sort of mentality in the West, where women are often told that they brought on the rape themselves because they dressed ‘provocatively’. Even U.S. politicians have made excuses for rape and insinuated that rape is part of God’s plan. For example:

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” said Richard Mourdock, who is running for U.S. Senate in Indiana. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

48) Beyond Question: Religions tend to make claims as absolute truth. This in itself can lead to some immoral activity. To demonstrate this point, here is a quote from another article:

On the morning of July 29, 1994, the Rev. Paul Hill walked up to John Britton outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, and shot the doctor to death. Hill was part of a Christian extremist group called the Army of God, which taught that abortion was legalized murder.

Hill’s actions were motivated by a claim that virtually all religions espouse: We have the truth that others lack.

Those claims can turn deadly when they become absolute and there is no room for interpretation, Kimball says.

“Absolute claims can quickly move into a justification of violence against someone who rejects that claim,” Kimball said. “It’s often a short step.”

49) Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child: Despite numerous studies that show spanking can have detrimental, long-term effects on children, this form of punishment is often backed up using religious ideology.

50) Idea that Religion is the Source for all Morality: Last but not least, the very idea that religion is the source of all morality is in my opinion, an immoral one. It has led to the demonization of people who lack faith in religion and squashed debate about morality.

There are some things people who lack belief in a deity can learn from religion and religious institutions, but to say that God is needed in order for morality to exist just isn’t true.

So what can atheists, secularists, agnostics and people who question belief in a deity offer as a structure for morals?

That will be the subject of my next blog post. Thank you for reading and comments are always welcome.


50 Reasons Why Religion is Not The Source of All Morality: Part 1

Some religious people like to perpetuate the myth that religion is needed for morality. Does this claim have merit?

Let’s take a look at some of the things religion has either directly or indirectly been responsible for over the course of civilization.

In no particular order:

pics on Sodahead

1) Blasphemy Laws: A uniquely religious idea that seeks to stifle free speech, dissent and free thought. Countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have blasphemy laws and in some countries it carries the death penalty. The UN was even considering a worldwide blasphemy law, which would have effectively destroyed free speech around the world.

2) Apostasy: Apostasy literally means ‘the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief’. If you renounce your faith or change religions in some countries, you can be killed. How moral!

3) Holy Wars: Wars litter human history and a great many of them were either directly or indirectly motivated by religion. The Crusades are one main example, although there are many more.

4) Silly Hats: The idea that a silly hat makes you an expert on morality or what God wants.

5) Hell or Eternal Torment: Not only would a God that tortures people eternally be immoral, but the very concept of eternal torment without relief is a nasty, vile, immoral one. Not only that, but this concept has been used for hundreds of years to frighten and mentally torture people into believing religious claims.

6) Genocide of Native Americans: Religious boarding schools were used to Christianize Natives. Children were subjected to cultural genocide and in some cases rape, torture, beatings and maltreatment. If religion is the source of all morality, they really dropped the ball on this one.

7) Holocaust: While some people try to paint Hitler as an atheist (he wasn’t) religion played a central role in the holocaust. Whether Hitler was a true believer or not, the Catholic Church made it easy to convince Christian Europe that Jews were evil and guilty of deicide. Even after Nazi Germany was defeated, the Catholic Church helped smuggle Nazi war criminals out of Germany. Maybe the ‘holy spirit’ took a snooze?

8) Jihad: Many Muslim scholars will argue that Jihad means struggling spiritually within one’s self. However, there is no denying that some Muslims take it to mean killing in the name of God.

9) Oppression of Women: Religion has played an integral role in oppressing women. It has been primarily responsible for patriarchy and has led to women struggling to regain their human rights. In the Middle East, religion is used to justify the abhorrent treatment of women. In the States, religion is used as justification to try and pass laws restricting women, and in Israel, Ultra Orthodox Judaism has also had its share of oppressive policies towards women.

10) September 11: As Sam Harris said in The End of Faith – “The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not “cowards,” as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith—perfect faith, as it turns out—and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.”

11) Attacks on Science: Religions constantly attack science and retard progress. For example, religious organizations have opposed stem cell research, and continually tried to insert creationism into the science classroom, even though it clearly isn’t scientific in nature. The Pope even told Stephen Hawking to ‘not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God.’

12) Human Sacrifice: Ancient religions, such as the Aztec religion, practiced human sacrifice to appease God. In Christianity, we see a bit of this with Jesus Christ, who is basically a human sacrifice. God supposedly needed a blood sacrifice in order to forgive everyone else for their sins.

13) Stoning: Stoning is an extremely painful way to die, yet it’s still practiced in some Middle Eastern countries and is mentioned several times in the Bible.

Man, woman stoned to death in Afghanistan for adultery

14) LGBTQ: There is no question that religion plays (and played) a central role in oppressing LGBTQ communities around the world. In North America, the LGBTQ community is fighting an ongoing battle for equal rights. Around the world, religions continue to stifle, beat, torture, kill and oppress homosexuals, based on the words found in their ancient literature.

15) Spread of AIDS: The Catholic Church has been instrumental in spreading the AIDS virus, especially in third world countries. Their irrational stance on contraception use has led to thousands (if not millions) of preventable deaths.

16) Pedophilia Scandal: For an institution that claims moral authority, the Catholic Church has certainly had its fair share of scandals. However, the worst one recently has been the pedophilia scandal. Not only did priests molest children, but the Vatican covered it up and moved pedophile priests around so they could prey on new victims.

17) Undeserving Poor: It’s true that religious institutions and people were instrumental in helping the poor before governments stepped in with social programs. At one time, there weren’t any trained social workers. However, there were strings attached. If you were deemed ‘undeserving’ then you weren’t given assistance. One of the things you needed to be in order to be deemed deserving was to attend church often and be God fearing. Thankfully, scientific philanthropy came along and put a stop to such nonsense. 

18) Witch Burning: For centuries, Christians burned witches. Even today, superstition has led to modern day witch burnings. During the Inquisition, the church was probably responsible for ‘burning tens of thousands of people‘. I guess the Holy Spirit was on another paid holiday during that time.

19) Massive Hypocrisy: Jesus supposedly said in Matthew, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven’, however, that hasn’t stopped religious institutions or people from becoming grossly rich. Mega-churches and televangelists come to mind immediately. As does the Catholic Church, which is worth billions of dollars. How many people could 8 billion dollars feed, clothe or house?

20) Theocracy: Forcing your religion on an entire populace is never a good idea. Iran is a good example of what happens when religion holds sway over the populace and government. As Ruth Hurmence Green once said, ‘There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.’

21) Oppression of Atheists: Even in secular America, you can find several examples of religious people oppressing atheists. In some countries you can be beaten or killed for being an atheist.

22) Suicide Bombers: When you believe that you’re going to attain heavenly bliss after you die in the service of God, almost anything can be justified, including suicide bombing. If you doubt that God plays a role in suicide bombing, have a listen to interviews by failed, confessed suicide bombers and judge for yourself.

23) The Cutting of Genitalia: The mutilation of genitalia is carried out around the world. Female genital mutilation is heinous and a violation of human rights. It’s true that this practice predates the Islamic faith. However, it is now justified using religion. Male circumcision is also religiously justified in many cases.

24) Caste System: The Hindu Caste system has been accused of promoting discrimination, and from barring ‘the power of free thought and action of an individual‘. The UN has said that the caste system is guilty of human rights abuses. I certainly wouldn’t want to live under a caste system…would you?

25) Slavery and Racism: Religion has failed in the slavery and racism department. In fact, the Bible outlines how best to treat a slave, instead of saying it’s wrong to own another person. The Catholic Church has issued bulls authorizing slavery. However, the Catholic Church isn’t alone in promoting racism and slavery. Mormons also have a history of racism, and  Judaism and Islam have also had a history of slavery. I guess God never told them that owning people was immoral.

I’m not sure about you, but it seems to me that religion sometimes distorts morality. You could argue that bad things happen without religion, and you’d be right, but it certainly happens with religion too. The idea that religion is needed for morality is ridiculous.

But if the first 25 of this list wasn’t enough for you, stay tuned for part two.

Lesbian Couple Threatened and Told to Leave Town in the Name of Jesus Christ

A lesbian couple in Kingston, Ontario received two threatening letters demanding that they leave town or face being hunted down.

‘Lesbian bitches,

We are a small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city. We know you and have been following you for the past several weeks and we wish for you to leave this city, before it is too late, for you. This will be the first of many reminders, each escalating to higher and higher levels of harassment and derailment. Since we have nothing personal against you, only against your sexuality, we suggest you move to more conductive climes like Vancouver, or preferably San Francisco.

Our base, head office in Deep South, has been energized by the recent US Supreme Court decisions legalizing same sex marriage. We feel that unless homosexuals reconvert to heterosexuality that life under this planet, under the umbrella of our Lord Jesus Christ, will become unbearable. Having observed you, we feel that you are committed lesbians unlikely to convert, hence this (first and only) gentle attempt to make you move.

If you do not, and take this letter to police, as we expect, we will know about this, since we have contacts in Kingston Police. Our efforts to relocate you will escalate. We wish to avoid this scenario. We are primarily non-violent, but use violence surgically to persuade people. We hope you understand without us painting to lurid a picture.

In the last several years we have relocated a few people like you from the Kingston area, through a set of incentives and effective persuasion. Please join their ranks ASAP. We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises. These are not empty threats. MOVE, or else!

Thank you for your attention. We await effective action on your part, ASAP. You are not going to be safe at home, office or anywhere else if you ignore this message! However if you take this seriously, and make attempts to move, someone from our organization will contact you to make your relocation easier financially. If, additionally, you persuade another couple like yourselves to move, we will provide them financial assistance and yourselves a bonus for your help. We are a committed bunch and come hell of high water, we will move you out. Best under congenial circumstances, don’t you think?’

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour.’

The second letter said:


As a followup, we had a group meeting yesterday on how best to deal with you. Some of our younger members want to have fun chasing “lesbos”. We have brought them BB guns and today they are doing target practice, so that they can hunt you down. It is regrettable that in Canada, real guns are hard to find, so BB it shall be. I can assure you BB pellets hurt!!

This is thrilling for the youngsters not so much to older members who would much rather see serious action rather than playing with BB guns. However youngsters also want to have their fun, and what better targets than you?’

Take our previous letter seriously or fun and games will turn into deadly serious action.

It’s hard to believe that this sort of thing would be happening in Canada, but apparently it is. I can only imagine how frightening receiving a letter like this would be.
Also, this isn’t the first time Kingston’s LGBTQ community has faced incidents like this. According to another news story, there have been other incidents, at least one of which was also carried out using a BB gun:

On May 31, anti-gay posters were plastered around Confederation Basin downtown prior to the city’s flag raising ceremony, which marked the beginning of Pride Month in the city. She said city workers removed them before commencing the ceremony, and Kingston Police officers were present for security purposes.

Kinder also said another same-sex couple in Kingston reached out to her and told her they had also received similar letters a few years ago, adding that the HARS office, located at 844a Princess Street, was also shot at by a BB gun recently.

“Other people’s license plates have been removed and dented and tossed aside,” she added. “This year during Pride Parade there was also a woman who basically parked to prevent the parade from moving any further, and when the police asked her to move she refused.”

However, she was unable to confirm whether these incidents were connected to the latest hate letters.

The police have been contacted and they’re investigating. Hopefully, these two women remain safe. I applaud their courage and the continued courage of the LGBTQ community in Kingston and abroad. It must be hard to put up with such bigoted behavior. They deserve to live their lives free of fear, without receiving hate mail based on their sexual orientation.
I also hope the Kingston police find the people who wrote that letter and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Hate crimes such as this one should never be tolerated in a free society.

When Believers Argue

I have to admit that I’m fascinated when I see two believers of the same faith arguing over their dogma.
Last night, I got to see it again first hand. Two Christians were arguing about what Jesus said, how their faith should be applied and so on. It got to the point where the one started calling the Catholic Church a cult because they worship idols.
I wonder if it ever occurs to them that they’re arguing precisely because the bible is so contradictory. They both can provide scripture to back their claims, but neither seems to realize that the very faith they’re arguing about is so full of holes, logical inconsistencies and contradictions that you can make it say almost anything.
It reminded me of a test I had at school. After the test was completed, the students filed out to get a breath of fresh air and discuss the questions and answers. One student came up to me and asked me how I’d answered one particular question and he didn’t agree with me. We smiled at each other because we like to compete in a friendly way, and when we got back inside, we opened up our text books and looked up the answer.
It was all so easy. The answer was right there in black ink. There was no disputing the correct answer. Neither one of us could turn to a different chapter and quote something that contradicted the correct answer.
That got me to thinking about how the author of my textbook was more clear and concise than supposedly divine scripture writers. That in itself is a clue that the bible is a cobbled together book of different time periods, myths and authors, all with their own set of slightly different religious beliefs and agendas.  
This is why there are hundreds of Christian sects. Many of them don’t really like one another. They all fall under the heading of ‘Christian’ but you can easily find a Catholic that thinks the Mormon sect is a cult or a Baptist that thinks the Catholic Church is a cult of idol worshippers.
Some believers have no problem being inconsistent and hypocritical when it suits them. For example, take this Baptist Pastor in Alabama who put up a sign in front of their church that reads:

“One side of the sign at the New Era Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, declares, “George Zimmerman Jury Supported White Racism.” The other proclaims, “Rape A White Woman And You Will Die In Prison,” a reference to the 1983 Baby Doe rape case in Birmingham.

It would seem he thinks the Zimmerman acquittal was based on bigotry and racism.
However, it wasn’t long ago when he put up a sign that said:

“A 2004 sign proclaimed, “AIDS is God’s curse on a homosexual life.”

It would seem he’s against bigotry when it comes to race, but he’s okay denigrating a minority population like homosexuals.
How hypocritical.
But hey, the bible condones such things in one passage and then tells you not to do it in another. For example, you can easily find a passage in Leviticus that you can use to back your bigotry of homosexuals:

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

Or you could use other scriptures that talk about worrying about your own sin, not judging, how to love your enemy etc.
It all depends on how you want to interpret this contradictory book. The main point being, you would think that a divine being could divinely inspire a book that didn’t take such mental gymnastics to navigate through. He must have known how many wars would have been fought, how many people would be burned alive and how many battles would be fought over this archaic, nonsensical book of myths.
If it were really divinely inspired and the word of God, why not make it clear…like my textbook?

One Canadian That is Disappointed in Pope John Paul II Day

Of course, by ‘family’ he meant heterosexual couples
It seems a private members bill was passed that would declare April 2nd, Pope John Paul II Day in Canada. The bill has moved on to the senate for final approval.
Here’s why it passed:

Pope John Paul II was pontiff for 27 years, from 1978 until his death on April 2, 2005.

“I would like to make it very clear that this is not a religious bill,” Lizon told the House during an hour of debate June 11. “This is not a bill to aid or promote one religion over another or give a special recognition to one particular Pope.

“As I have already mentioned, this is a bill to recognize Pope John Paul II’s legacy, which goes well beyond his role in the Catholic Church. He stood for religious tolerance and freedom, and he spent a great deal of time encouraging inter-religious dialogue. To me, this represents a big part of what it means to be Canadian.

“Pope John Paul II proved that nothing is impossible. He stood up for populations that were oppressed by totalitarian regimes. He will be remembered for his role in the collapse of several stifling dictatorships, and for the way he inspired peaceful opposition to communism in Poland, leading to its eventual collapse in Central and Eastern Europe.”

It’s true that the Pope stood up against totalitarian regimes. However, he also preached a lot of other things that are very much against the Canadian way of life.
For example, he preached against the use of contraception because of supernatural beliefs, and even against the use of contraception in AIDS torn Africa, which has probably led to thousands of preventable deaths from that insidious disease.
He fought against same-sex marriage, failed to protect children from pedophile priests, tried to restrict abortion and stood against women becoming priests. While he did do some positive things, he also failed on so many levels it isn’t funny.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church is worth billions of dollars. One of their stated goals is to alleviate poverty and suffering, while their priests hypocritically prance around in gold robes. How many people could the church’s wealth and power clothe and house?
John also wrote about how everyone needs the Catholic Church and Jesus to be saved. That’s hardly a sentiment that appeals to every single Canadian. Canada is well known around the world for its multiculturalism, tolerance and kindness – by saying that the only way to heaven is through the Catholic Church and through Jesus, discounts a huge portion of the Canadian population.
This holiday isn’t needed and it’s a slap in the face to every Canadian. To celebrate the man who allowed pedophilia to run rampant through his priesthood should sicken us all.
There is a petition online to stop the bill from passing through the Senate. I hope you’ll take a moment to sign it and stop this ‘holiday’ from being passed. If the Catholic Church wants to honor their Pope, then let them do it. The Canadian government should remain neutral.

Is Christianity a Cult?

A new scientific study shows that living in a cult or religious group has some adverse effects on people.

Who knew?
Here’s a bit of what the study concluded:

Children who grow up in religious cults face difficulties not only during their childhood, but also after leaving the group.

That is the conclusion of research being presented today, Friday 12 July 2013, by the Chartered Psychologist Jill Mytton at the Annual Conference of the Society’s Division of Counselling Psychology in Cardiff.

In her research Jill Mytton worked with 262 adults (95 women and 167 men) who had lived in a religious group as children. Around 70 per cent of the sample lost their family on leaving, 27 per cent reported child sexual abuse and 68 per cent had found the experience of leaving traumatic.

She asked them to complete a battery of psychological measures. The results showed that the average scores of the 264 participants on these measures were significantly higher than the general population.

The title of the original article targets ‘religious cults’, but I wonder if some of these findings would hold true in highly religious mainstream households. I’m also not sure what the real difference between a cult and a religion are.
For example, the definition of a cult is:

1: formal religious veneration: worship

2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents

3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents

4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator

5a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad

b : the object of such devotion

c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

I would say that the ones bolded describe Christianity fairly well. Usually people use the word ‘cult’ when describing the 5th definition, particularly the 3rd version of number 5. But even there, the only real difference is the number of adherents that particular religion boasts.
Even definition number 4 can be applied to some mainstream churches. You can find many Christians who believe that praying will cure someone of a disease or ailment. Can speaking in tongues be viewed as anything else besides babbling incoherently?
Christianity and Islam definitely hit the core of definition five. I mean, they venerate a book (Bible or Koran) and a person (Jesus or Muhammad) and do so without the slightest bit of evidence to back their magical claims. I think the real difference between a cult and a religion is simply the number of people who follow a doctrine and/or dogma, and the willingness of society to point them out as a cult.
After all, if someone of prominence were to point out that Christianity fits the criteria of a cult, you’d have a bunch of very angry Christians.
The fact remains, there isn’t much difference between a cult and a religion. They sound to me like two peas in the same pod.