Why Are Religions Destructive?

Religious Wars

by Jayaram V

Summary: Find answers to why religions are so destructive, why they cause strife, and what can you do about it. Is it the fault of religions or the people who practice them? The following discussion is about religions that promote group identity and incite religious passions.

There is no guarantee that you will always be born in the same faith. What you persecute now may persecute you in the next birth. It is the essence of karma, dharma, and divine justice. Therefore, practice restraint and compassion. Jayaram V

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Teilhard de Chardin


Listen to the Audio

Religions caused a lot of bloodshed in the past. Many wars were fought for the sake of religions. Religion is still a contentious issue, and religious wars are still fought in some parts of the world. For a long, long time, world religions have been a stumbling block in the progress of civilization. There are people, who fervently wish for the destruction of the world so that they can go to heaven and live there forever.

It does not matter to them that we have not so far found life on any other planet in our solar system and in any of the millions and billions of planets and galaxies that exist elsewhere. It just does not matter to them, unfortunately. They just want to go heaven in rapture, and they do not mind if this world is destroyed in a violent conflagration.

Most people are not concerned with the survival of human species, or any other specifies upon earth. For them life is a daily struggle. They think that life is cheap, and you can destroy and by some magical power everything will be restored. It is sad but true that then and now religions have been a source of great suffering to many people. Unfortunately, it is true.

In many parts of the world we can see how political, social, and economic problems are created because people are bound to their faiths and cannot think beyond the values and beliefs which they preach. Instead of alleviating the suffering of humanity and providing them with solace, religions have caused a lot of bloodshed. The question is, why are religions so destructive? Why do they divide people, and cause them harm? Religion is supposed to elevate human character and bring out the best of humanity, character, virtue, and integrity in them? They are supposed to elevate our consciousness to the level of God.

Then why do religions invoke the exact opposite emotions in people and create widespread chaos? In this regard, I believe much of the blame goes to the people who use religion for their selfish ends. They do not use it to improve themselves or spread peace and happiness, but to rally people against others for domination and suppression. They do not practice the highest values enshrined in their faith which will contribute to their spiritual transformation and broader thinking. They misuse the scriptures by picking up selective messages from them to justify their actions.

Scriptures do contain questionable passages which will be used by these elements for their own ends. We see it happening many times. If your religion has some information, which can be used to create divisions and invoke passions, unfortunately, such information is used by these elements to create conflicts and problems. The truth is, if you believe in God, you should acknowledge that he is the only enforcer of eternal wisdom. You do not have the right to speak for him or act on his behalf, especially when your intentions are not so pure.

Whatever may be the validity of religious discard, you cannot overlook the divisive and destructive tendencies that are hidden in each religion. Each religion that we practise today is an organized faith. It is essentially a human invention, which takes inspiration from divine revelations and superimposes them upon human values, myth and mythology, to give the impression that it carries the authority to mold the lives of people, their choices, beliefs and behavior. It also vests additional authority in specific groups and gives them the right to represent its values and rule over others. Religions are thus a mixture of light and darkness and vulnerable to misuse and exploitation by vested interests. Being products of ego-collectives that thrive upon group identity and institutional authority, they create in you conflicting feelings of either being with them or against them.

The negative influence of religions upon human actions and human beings cannot be denied or ignored. It has a strong historical validation. History shows that religions, especially the organized, dogmatic ones, are prone to misuse and can potentially expose the world to large scale violence and destruction. In this regard the following facts are worth noting.

  1. Organized religions incite strong passions in weak minds, which can be easily exploited by vested interests.
  2. They sow seeds of division and discard by imparting to their followers group identity and collective ego, which can lead to religious and communal stratification of society.
  3. They encourage loyalty and submission to scriptural authority, which can be misused by traditional power groups to play with their emotions.
  4. They justify propagation of their faith and offer heavenly rewards to those who indulge in it. Some even justify violent methods against those who disagree or disobey. It brings them into direct conflict with each other and sets the stage for discard and unrest.
  5. They encourage blind faith and suppress freedom of inquiry, which in turn may lead to superstition, irrational thinking and justification of practices that conflict with the values of humanity.

These problems are mostly due to the people who practice their faiths, rather than the faiths themselves. If people are ignorant, impure and evil-minded, they are going to misuse their faith for personal ends. While they take pride in the superiority of their respective dharmas, they fail to exemplify the values they uphold. It is as if their religious affiliations guarantee their moral purity and cultural superiority rather than their character and conduct.

If religions are causing strife and discard, or if they are being misused by vested interests, what can you do as an individual? How can you save yourself and others from the destructive tendencies that are inherent in some religions and from the evil intentions of those who want to exploit them?

The most important point to remember is that you have to practice your faith for the positive purpose for which it is meant, which is your spiritual wellbeing here and hereafter. It is to elevate your consciousness, character, virtue, thinking, and behavior and grow the light in you so that you may radiate the wisdom of the highest truth. You have to practice it to create those sublime states in you whereby you can experience the richness of life and its diversity.

Religions are not meant to limit your choices, but to transcend your dependence upon them and your bondage to a limited and restricted life. To live in balance, express positive emotions, enjoy life, experience peace and happiness, they are why anyone should be religious or practice any faith. One should focus upon this aspect of their religious practice. They should remember its highest aims and purest vision and bring them to life through one’s own conduct and character.

You may use your religious identity to fight with others, incite passions, indulge in arguments, debates and discussions to denigrate rival faiths, show intolerance or persecute people. It may earn you the support and appreciation of a few likeminded people, but from the perspective of karma it will do you immense harm. People may misuse their religious identities and affiliations to capture political power, or use that power to oppress others. Spiritually, it degrades them and makes them vulnerable to spiritual downfall. It does not help anyone. It only spreads unhappiness, suffering, creates divisions and discard, and brings out the worst of human aggression. Therefore, there is no point in using any religion for harmful and destructive purposes. Its purpose should be to become a better human being and to use its knowledge for your personal growth rather than trying to play God upon earth. In this regard, the following points are worth remembering.

  1. Your religion is as good as your knowledge, character and personality. Religions become evil in the hands of evil people.
  2. The primary purpose of any religion is to see life from a wider perspective and understand its significance in the evolution and elevation of human consciousness.
  3. Religion may have its source in God and his revelations, but its major corpus comes from human intellect and ego. Therefore, you need discerning intelligence (buddhi) to distinguish truth from falsehood and make right decisions.
  4. In your spiritual progress religious identity is a barrier rather than a facilitator. At some point you have to choose between your faith and God.
  5. You cannot practice any faith without knowing the value of restraint, purity, balance, and moderation.
  6. Your faith can pave the way for your spiritual destruction and downfall, if you use it to promote passions or incite violence.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Translate the Page

Search Hinduwebsite

Follow Us