Timeline of Religion

The timeline of religion is a chronological catalog of important and noteworthy religious events in prehistoric and modern times.

Note: this article reaches extensively into prehistoric times, as the bulk of the human religious experience is not relegated to Written history. Written history is only approximately 5000 years old (the age of formal writing). However, a consequence of lacking written records is that much knowledge of prehistoric religion is derived from archaeological records, other indirect sources, and suppositions. Much of religious prehistory is subject to continued debate.

Prehistoric period (300th millennium to 34th century BCE)

A commonly held marker for the dawn of religious belief and practice is with the advent of intentional burial marks,[1] thus included in this section.

300th to 51st millennium BCE

223,000 – 100,000 BCE

The earliest evidence of Hominids, such as Neanderthals[2][3] and even Homo heidelbergensis,[3][4] deliberately disposing of deceased individuals usually in funerary caches. The graves, located throughout Eurasia (e.g. the Pontnewydd Cave, Atapuerca Mountains, Qafzeh, Es Skhul, Krapina),[3] are believed to represent the beginnings of ceremonial rites, although there is some debate about this.[5] Neanderthals placed their deceased in simple graves with little or no concern for grave goods or markers; however, their graves occasionally appeared with limestone blocks in or on them, possibly an archaic form of grave marking.[3] These practices were possibly the result of empathetic feelings towards fellow tribespeople, for example: an infant buried in the Dederiyeh Cave after its joints had disarticulated was placed with concern for the correct anatomical arrangement of its body parts.[3]

98,000 BCE

In the area of present-day France and Belgium, Neanderthals begin defleshing their dead, possibly after a period of excarnation prior to burial.[3]

50th to 11th millennium BCE

40,000 BCE

One of the earliest Anatomically modern humans to be cremated is buried near Lake Mungo.[6][7][8][9][10]

33,000 BCE

All convincing evidence for Neanderthal burials ceases. Roughly coinciding with the time period of the Homo sapiens introduction to Europe and decline of the Neanderthals.[3]

25,000 BCE

Individual skulls and/or long bones begin appearing heavily stained with red ochre and are separately buried. This practice may be the origins of sacred relics.[3]

The oldest discovered “Venus figurines” appear in graves. Some are deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed. Possibly representing murders of the men they are buried with[3] or some other unknown social dynamic.

25,000 – 21,000 BCE

Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and Eastern Europe. All of these, also, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects are being included in the graves (i.e. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, “baton” antlers, flint blades, etc.).[3]

21,000 – 11,000 BCE

Convincing evidence of mortuary activity ceases.[3]

13,000 – 8,000 BCE

Noticeable burial activity resumes. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity; dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials are very similar to each other and share a number of characteristics—ochre, shell and mammoth ivory jewellery—that go back thousands of years. Some burials are double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They are now appearing to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials are commonly being redug and moved to make way for the new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers are sometimes poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at one’s grave.[3]

100th to 34th century BCE


The Neolithic Revolution begins and results in a worldwide population explosion. The first cities, states, kingdoms, and organized religions begin to emerge. The early states were usually theocracies, in which the political power is justified by religious prestige.

9130 – 7370 BCE

The apparent lifespan of Göbekli Tepe, the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered.[11]

8000 BCE

Four to five pine posts are erected near the eventual site of Stonehenge.

7500 – 5700 BCE

The settlements of Catalhoyuk develop as a likely spiritual center of Anatolia. Possibly practicing worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants leave behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine, and hunting scenes.

5500 – 4500 BCE

The Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) emerged, probably within the Pontic-Caspian steppe (though their exact urheimat is debated). The PIE peoples developed a religion focused on sacrificial ideology, which would influence the religions of the descendent Indo-European cultures throughout Europe, Anatolia, and the Indian sub-continent.

~3750 BCE

The Proto-Semitic peoples emerged with a generally accepted urheimat in the Arabian peninsula. The Proto-Semitic peoples would migrate throughout the Near East into Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Their religion would influence their descendant cultures and faiths, including the Abrahamic religions.

Ancient history (33rd century BCE to 3rd century CE)

33rd to 12th century BCE

3228 – 3102 BCE

Traditionally accepted time of Krishna’s life on Earth.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

3100 BCE

The initial form of Stonehenge is completed. The circular bank and ditch enclosure, about 110 metres (360 ft) across, may be complete with a timber circle.

3100 – 2900 BCE

Newgrange, the 250,000 ton (226,796.2 tonne) passage tomb aligned to the winter solstice in Ireland, is built.[18]

3000 BCE

Sumerian Cuneiform emerges from the proto-literate Uruk period, allowing the codification of beliefs and creation of detailed historical religious records.

The second phase of Stonehenge is completed and appears to function as the first enclosed cremation cemetery in the British Isles.

2635 – 2610 BCE

The oldest surviving Egyptian Pyramid is commissioned by pharaoh Djoser.

2600 BCE

Stonehenge begins to take on the form of its final phase. The wooden posts are replaced with that of bluestone. It begins taking on an increasingly complex setup—including altar, portal, station stones, etc.—and shows consideration of solar alignments.

2560 BCE

The approximate time accepted as the completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest pyramid of the Giza Plateau.

2494 – 2345 BCE

The first of the oldest surviving religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, are composed in Ancient Egypt.

2348 BCE

Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood that wiped out all previous civilizations according to the Ussher chronology.

2200 BCE

Minoan Civilization in Crete develops. Citizens worship a variety of Goddesses.

2150 – 2000 BCE

The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (originally titled “He who Saw the Deep” (Sha naqba īmuru) or “Surpassing All Other Kings” (Shūtur eli sharrī)) were written.

2000 – 1850 BCE

The traditionally accepted period in which the Judeochristian/Islamic patriarchal figure Abraham lived. Likely born in Ur Kaśdim or Haran and died in Machpelah, Canaan.

1700 BCE

Zoroaster (a.k.a. Zarathushtra), founder of Zoroastrianism is thought to have been born.

1600 BCE

The ancient development of Stonehenge comes to an end.

1500 – 1000 BCE

Vedic ‘Samhitas‘ composed (Rig-Veda : Hinduism : India)

13th to 9th century BCE

1367 BCE

Reign of Akhenaton in Ancient Egypt. Akhenaton is sometimes credited with starting the earliest known monotheistic religion. Akenaton’s monotheistic beliefs are thought to be the precursor of the monotheistic doctrines of the Abrahamic religions.

1300 – 1000 BCE

The “standard” Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni.

1250 BCE

The believed time of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.

1200 BCE

The Greek Dark Age begins.

1200 BCE

Olmecs build earliest pyramids and temples in Central America.[19]

950 BCE

The Torah begins to be written, the core texts of Judaism and foundation of later Abrahamic religions.

877 BCE

Parsva, the penultimate (23rd) Tirthankara of Jainism is born.

8th to 3rd century BCE

800 BCE

Early Brahmanas are composed.

800 BCE

The Greek Dark Age ends.

600 – 500 BCE

Earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching incorporates ideas of harmony and heaven.

599 BCE

Mahavira, the final (24th) Tirthankara of Jainism is born.

563 BCE

Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism is born.

551 BCE

Confucius, founder of Confucianism, is born.[19]

440 BCE

Zoroastrianism enters recorded history.

300 BCE

Theravada Buddhism is introduced to Sri Lanka by the Venerable Mahinda.

250 BCE

The Third Buddhist council was convened.

2nd century BCE to 4th century CE

63 BCE

Pompey captures Jerusalem and annexes Judea as a Roman client kingdom.

7 BCE – 36 CE

The approximate time-frame for the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity.


Council of Jerusalem is held.


Siege of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple.


Manichaean Gnosticism is formed by prophet Mani


Some of the oldest parts of the Ginza Rba, a core text of Mandaean Gnosticism, are written.

250 – 900

Classic Mayan civilization, Stepped pyramids are constructed.


The oldest known version of the Tao Te Ching is written on bamboo tablets.


The Edict of Milan decrees religious toleration in the Roman empire.


The first Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea, is convened to attain a consensus on doctrine through an assembly representing all of Christendom. It establishes the original Nicene Creed, fixes Easter date, confirms primacy of the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and grants the See of Jerusalem a position of honor.


Theodosius I declares Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.


The second Ecumenical Council, the Council of Constantinople, reaffirms/revises the Nicene Creed repudiating Arianism and Macedonianism.

381 – 391

Theodosius proscripted Paganism within the Roman Empire.


The Synod of Hippo, the first time a council of bishops of early Christianity listed and approved a Biblical canon.

Middle Ages (5th to 15th century)

5th to 9th century


St. Jerome completes the Vulgate, the first Latin translation of the bible.


The Western Roman Empire begins to decline, signaling the onset of the Dark Ages.


The Assyrian Church of the East formally separates from the See of Antioch and the western Syrian Church


The third Ecumenical Council, the Council of Ephesus, is held as a result of the controversial teachings of Nestorius, of Constantinople. It repudiates Nestorianism, proclaims the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (“Birth-giver to God”, “God-bearer”, “Mother of God”), repudiates Pelagianism, and again reaffirmes the Nicene Creed.


The Second Council of Ephesus declares support of Eutyches and attacked his opponents. Originally convened as an Ecumenical council, its ecumenicality is rejected and is denounced as a latrocinium by the Chalcedonian.


The fourth Ecumenical Council, the Council of Chalcedon rejects the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, adopts the Chalcedonian Creed, reinstated those deposed in 449 and deposed Dioscorus of Alexandria, and elevates of the bishoprics of Constantinople and Jerusalem to the status of patriarchates.


The Oriental Orthodox Church rejects the christological view put forth by the Council of Chalcedon and is excommunicated.

480 – 547

The Rule of Saint Benedict is written by Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western Christian monasticism.


The fifth Ecumenical Council, Second Council of Constantinople, repudiates the Three Chapters as Nestorian and condemns Origen of Alexandria.

570 – 632

Life-time of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh RA, the founder of Islam and considered by Muslims to be a messenger of God.


The Rashidun Caliphate(Rightly Guided) brings Arab conquest of Persia, Egypt, Iraq, bringing Islam into those regions.


The verses of the Qur’an are compliled in the form of a book in the era of Uthman RA, the third Caliph of Islam.


The Umayyad Caliphate brings Arab conquest of North Africa, Spain, Central Asia. Marking the greatest extent of the Arab conquests bringing Islam into those regions.

680 – 681

The sixth Ecumenical Council, the Third Council of Constantinople, rejects Monothelitism and Monoenergism.

Circa 680 the split between Sunni and Shiites starts to grow.


The Quinisext Council (aka “Council in Trullo”), an amendment to the 5th and 6th Ecumenical Councils, establishes the Pentarchy.


Kojiki, the oldest Shinto text is written[19]


The latrocinium Council of Hieria supports iconoclasm.


The seventh Ecumenical Council, Second Council of Nicaea, restores the veneration of icons and denounces iconoclasm.

10th to 15th century


The Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches formally takes place.

1095 – 1099

The first Crusade takes place.

1107 – 1110

Sigurd I of Norway wages the Norwegian Crusade on Muslims in Spain, the Baleares, and in Palestine.

1147 – 1149

The Second Crusade is waged in response to the fall of the County of Edessa.

1189 – 1192

The Third Crusade, European leaders attempt to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin.


Dehli Sulatanate is stablished.

1199 – 1204

The Fourth Crusade takes place.


Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade sack the Christian Eastern Orthodox city of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.

1209 – 1229

The Albigensian Crusade takes place in Occitania, Europe.

1217 – 1221

The Church attempts the Fifth Crusade.

1228 – 1229

The Sixth Crusade occurs.


The Codex Gigas is completed by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim.


Jerusalem is sacked again, instigating the Seventh Crusade.


The Eighth Crusade is organized.

1271 – 1272

The Ninth Crusade fails.


Pope John XXII lays the groundwork for the future witch-hunts with the formalization of the persecution of witchcraft.

1378 – 1417

The Roman Catholic Church is split during the Western Schism.

1469 – 1539

The life of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.


Pope Innocent VIII marks the beginning of the classical European witch-hunts with his papal bull Summis desiderantes.


African religious systems are introduced to the Americas, with the commencement of the trans-Atlantic forced migration.


Martin Luther, of the Protestant Reformation, posts the 95 theses.

In the Spanish Empire, Catholicism is spread and encouraged through such institutions as missions and the Inquisition.


The Massacre of Vassy spark the first a long series of French Wars of Religion.

Early modern and Modern era (16th to 20th century)

16th to 18th century


The creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in Sikhism


Death of Guru Gobind Singh, the last human Guru, who, before his death, instituted the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, as the eternal Guru.

1789 – 1799

The Dechristianisation of France during the Revolution.[20][21] The state confiscates Church properties, bans monastic vows, with the passage of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy removes the Church from the Roman Pope and subordinates it as a department of the Government, replaces the traditional Gregorian Calendar, and abolishes Christian holidays.


Freedom of religion, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is amended into the constitution of the United States forming an early and influential secular government.

19th to 20th century


The situation following the French Revolution, France and Pope Pius VII entered into the Concordat of 1801. While “Catholicism” regains some powers and becomes recognized as “…the religion of the great majority of the French”, it’s not reafforded the latitude it had enjoyed prior to the Revolution. It’s not the official state religion, the Church relinquishes all claims to estate seized after 1790, the clergy is state salaried and must swear allegiance to the State, and religious freedom is maintained.

1819 – 1850

The life of Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází (Persian: سيد علی ‌محمد شیرازی) Bab (October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850), the founder of Bábism.

1817 – 1892

The life of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith.


The Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism) is founded by Joseph Smith, Jr.

1835 – 1908

Lifetime of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the messianic Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.


Aradia (aka the Gospel of the Witches), one of the earliest books describing post witchhunt European religious Witchcraft, is published by Charles Godfrey Leland.[22]


Thelema founded.


In France the law on the Separation of the Churches and the State is passed, officially establishing it a state secularism and putting and end to the funding of religious groups by the state.[23]

Becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-druids and other pagans, the Ancient Order of Druids organized the first recorded reconstructionist ceremony in Stonehenge.


The establishment of the Khalifatul Masih after Prophethood in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Second Manifestation of God’s Power.


The October Revolution, in Russia, leads to the annexation of all church properties and subsequent religious suppression.

the 1917 Constitution of Mexico is written making Mexico a secular state.


Cao Dai founded.

The Cristero War is fought in Mexico between the secular governmenr and religious christian rebels ends 1929.


Rastafari movement, the Nation of Islam is founded.


A neo-Hindu religious movement,the Brahma Kumaris or “Daughters of Brahma” started the origin of BKWSU can be traced to the group “Om Mandali”, founded by Lekhraj Kripalani(1884–1969).


The first event of the Holocaust, the Kristallnacht, takes place.

1939 – 1945

Millions of Jews are relocated and killed by the Nazi government during Holocaust.


British India is partitioned on religious lines; into an Islamic country of Pakistan and the secular nation of India with a Hindu majority.


The Jews return to their ancient biblical homeland and thus the state of Israel is created.


Scientology is created.


Wicca is publicized by Gerald Gardner.[24]


Various Neopagan and New Age movements gain momentum.


Unitarian Universalism formed from merger of Unitarianism and Universalism.[25]


The Church of All Worlds, the first American neo-pagan church, is formed by a group including Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, and Richard Lance Christie.

1962 – 1965

The Second Vatican Council takes place.[26][27][28][29]


Religious Satanism begins, with Anton Szandor LaVey’s founding of the Church of Satan.[30]

1972 – 1984

The Stonehenge free festivals are held.[31]


Claude Vorilhon established the Raëlian Movement and changed his name to Raël following a purported extraterrestrial encounter in December 1973.


Operation Blue Star occurs at holiest site of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 1984 Anti-Sikh riots follow.

1972 – 2004

Germanic Neopaganism (aka Heathenism, Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Vor Siðr, and Theodism) begins to experience a second wave of revival.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53]


The Iranian Revolution results in the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran.


The Stregherian revival continues. “The Book of the Holy Strega” and “The Book of Ways” Volume I & II are published.


The Battle of the Beanfield forces an end to the Stonehenge free festivals.[31][54][55]


The revolutions of 1989, the overthrow of many Soviet-style states,[56] allows a resurgence in open religious practice in many Eastern European countries.[citation needed]


European pagan reconstructive movements (Celtic, Hellenic, Roman, Slavic, Baltic, Finnish, etc.) organize.


The European Council convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, agrees to criteria requiring religious freedom within any and all prospective members of the European Union.


The Strega Arician Tradition is founded.[57]

Post-modern period (21st century)

21st century


Osama bin Laden’s declared holy war reaches a climax with 2,993 dead, through al-Qaeda’s actions on 11 September.[58][59][60][61][62][63]


The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody religion is created by Oregon State physics graduate Bobby Henderson. It was originally intended as a satirical protest against the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public schools.


The Church of Scientology in France is fined 600,000 and several of its leaders are fined and sentenced to jail for defrauding new recruits out of their savings.[64][65][66] The state fails to disband the church due to legal changes occurring over the same time period.[66][67]


1.       ^ Morton, Glenn. [asa.chm.colostate.edu/archive/asa/199706/0103.html “Earliest burial ritual >300,000 years ago”]. American Scientific Affiliation, Colorado State University. asa.chm.colostate.edu/archive/asa/199706/0103.html. Retrieved 26 December 2011.

2.       ^ “Gathering the Jewels”. Early Neanderthal jaw fragment, c. 230,000 years old. Culturenet Cymru. 2008. http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/small/item/GTJ27306/. Retrieved 2008-09-25.

3.       ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l When Burial Begins

4.       ^ Greenspan, Stanley (2006-02-06). How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from Early Primates to Modern Human. ISBN 0306814498. http://books.google.com/?id=7Q3nOqkJQwoC&pg=PA158&dq=archaic+H.+sapiens+burial+symbols#PPA159,M1.

5.       ^ Robert Gargett argued that the evidence for purposeful Neanderthal burials is weak, and that they can be explained as a result of accidental deposition. Gargett, Robert H. “Middle Palaeolithic burial is not a dead issue: the view from Qafzeh, Saint-Césaire, Kebara, Amud, and Dederiyeh“. Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 37, 1999. 27–90.

6.       ^ Bowler JM, Jones R, Allen H, Thorne AG. (1970). “Pleistocene human remains from Australia: a living site and human cremation from Lake Mungo, Western New South Wales.”. World Archaeol. 2 (1): 39–60. doi:10.1080/00438243.1970.9979463. PMID 16468208.

7.       ^ Barbetti M, Allen H. (1972). “Prehistoric man at Lake Mungo, Australia, by 32,000 years BP.”. Nature 240 (5375): 46–8. doi:10.1038/240046a0. PMID 4570638.

8.       ^ Bowler, J.M. 1971. Pleistocene salinities and climatic change: Evidence from lakes and lunettes in southeastern Australia. In: Mulvaney, D.J. and Golson, J. (eds), Aboriginal Man and Environment in Australia. Canberra: Australian National University Press, pp. 47-65.

9.       ^ Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA. (2003). “New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia.”. Nature 421 (6925): 837–40. doi:10.1038/nature01383. PMID 1259451.

10.   ^ Olleya JM, Roberts RG, Yoshida H and Bowler JM (2006). “Single-grain optical dating of grave-infill associated with human burials at Lake Mungo, Australia”. Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (19–20): 2469–2474. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.07.022.

11.   ^ “The World’s First Temple”, Archaeology magazine, Nov/Dec 2008 p 23.

12.   ^ Knott 2000, p. 61

13.   ^ See horoscope number 1 in Dr. B.V. Raman (1991). Notable Horoscopes. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 8120809017.

14.   ^ Arun K. Bansal’s research published in Outlook India, September 13, 2004. “Krishna (b. July 21, 3228 BC)”. http://www.hvk.org/articles/0904/29.html.

15.   ^ N.S. Rajaram takes these dates at face value when he opines that “We have therefore overwhelming evidence showing that Krishna was a historical figure who must have lived within a century on either side of that date, i.e., in the 3200-3000 BC period”.Prof. N. S. Rajaram (September 4, 1999). “Search for the Historical Krishna”. www.swordoftruth.com. http://veda.harekrsna.cz/encyclopedia/historical-krsna.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-15.

16.   ^ The Bhagavata Purana (1.18.6), Vishnu Purana (5.38.8), and Brahma Purana (212.8) state that the day Krishna left the earth was the day that the Dvapara Yuga ended and the Kali Yuga began.

17.   ^ See: Matchett, Freda, “The Puranas”, p 139 and Yano, Michio, “Calendar, astrology and astronomy” in Flood, Gavin (Ed) (2003). Blackwell companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-21535-2

18.   ^ “PlanetQuest: The History of Astronomy – Newgrange”. http://www.planetquest.org/learn/newgrange.html.

19.   ^ a b c Smith, Laura (2007). Illustrated Timeline of Religion. ISBN 1402736061. http://books.google.com/?id=rpXlOUWttAwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=timeline+of+religion.

20.   ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 1, 1991 Continuum International Publishing

21.   ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 2, 1991 Continuum International Publishing

22.   ^ Clifton, Chas (1998). “The Significance of Aradia”. in Mario Pazzaglini. Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, A New Translation. Blaine, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc.. p. 73. ISBN 0-919345-34-4.

23.   ^ http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=129

24.   ^ Gardner, Gerald B (1999) [1954]. Witchcraft Today. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Publishing. OCLC 44936549

25.   ^ http://www.oberonzell.com/OZAbout.html

26.   ^ Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). “Vatican Council II”. New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV (1 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 563. OCLC 34184550.

27.   ^ Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 69. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.

28.   ^ Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 44. ISBN 0-86716-552-9.

29.   ^ Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 1. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.

30.   ^ The Church of Satan: A History of the World’s Most Notorious Religion by Blanche Barton (Hell’s Kitchen Productions, 1990, ISBN 0-9623286-2-6)

31.   ^ a b McKay, George (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties, ch.1 ‘The free festivals and fairs of Albion’, ch. 2 two ‘O life unlike to ours! Go for it! New Age travellers’. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-028-0

32.   ^ Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1992:132).

33.   ^ Pétur Pétursson (1985:21-22).

34.   ^ Sigurður A. Magnússon (1990:198)

35.   ^ Icelandic, “Hugmyndin að Ásatrúarfélaginu byggðist á trú á dulin öfl í landinu, í tengslum við mannfólkið sem skynjaði ekki þessa hluti til fulls nema einstöku menn. Það tengdist síðan þjóðlegum metnaði og löngun til að Íslendingar ættu sína trú, og ræktu hana ekki síður en innflutt trúarbrögð.” Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1992:140).

36.   ^ Sigurður A. Magnússon (1990:198-9).

37.   ^ Pétur Pétursson (1985:3-4).

38.   ^ Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1992:133-34, 141).

39.   ^ “Fyrirspurnartími”. Morgunblaðið, November 27, 1973.

40.   ^ Ólafur Jóhannesson. Stjórnskipun Íslands. Hlaðbúð, 1960. Page 429.

41.   ^ Icelandic, “fór fram með tilþrifum og atorku”, “Reiddust goðin?” Vísir, August 7, 1973.

42.   ^ ÞS. “Blótuðu Þór í úrhellisrigningu.” Vísir, August 7, 1973.

43.   ^ Pétur Pétursson (1985:passim).

44.   ^ Sigurður A. Magnússon (1990:193).

45.   ^ Þorri Jóhannsson. “Leiðirnar að guðdómnum eru margar”. Lesbók Morgunblaðsins, November 14, 1992, pages 4-5. Available online at http://timarit.is/view_page_init.jsp?pageId=3309806&issId=242568&lang=en

46.   ^ Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson 1992.

47.   ^ Strmiska (2005:168).

48.   ^ “Increase in pagan priests in Iceland”. Iceland Review. 2006-10-10. https://secure.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=28304&ew_0_a_id=236262. Retrieved 5 July 2009.

49.   ^ “Ásatrúarfélagið: Fjölgun goða með vígsluréttindi”. Ásatrúarfélagið. October 8, 2006. http://www.asatru.is/Fundagerdir/Vigslurettindi.htm. Retrieved 5 July 2009.

50.   ^ McNallen, Stephen A. (2004). “Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America”. Tyr: Myth-Culture-Tradition Volume II. Ultra Publishing. pp. 203–219. ISBN 0-9720292-1-4.

51.   ^ Kaplan, Jeffrey. 1996. “The Reconstruction of the Asatru and Odinist Traditions.” In Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft, edited by James R. Lewis, State University of New York Press.

52.   ^ http://timarit.is/view_page_init.jsp?pageId=1448476&issId=115737&lang=en

53.   ^ Forklaring til Forn Siðr´s ansøgning om godkendelse som trossamfund.

54.   ^ Ed. Andy Worthington, 2005, The Battle of the Beanfield, Enabler Publications, ISBN 0-9523316-6-7

55.   ^ Hippies clash with police at Stonehenge (1985), BBC News archive Accessed 22 January 2008.

56.   ^ E. Szafarz, “The Legal Framework for Political Cooperation in Europe” in The Changing Political Structure of Europe: Aspects of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-1379-8. p.221.

57.   ^ “Arician tradition”. Witchvox. http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usca&c=trads&id=3644. Retrieved February 7, 2006.

58.   ^ “Bin Laden claims responsibility for 9/11”. CBC News. October 29, 2004. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2004/10/29/binladen_message041029.html. Retrieved January 11, 2009. “Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared in a new message aired on an Arabic TV station Friday night, for the first time claiming direct responsibility for the 2001 attacks against the United States.”

59.   ^ “War Casualties Pass 9/11 Death Toll”. CBS News. September 22, 2006. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/22/terror/main2035427.shtml. Retrieved September 24, 2008.

60.   ^ “Toxic dust adds to WTC death toll”. msnbc.com. May 24, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18831750/. Retrieved September 6, 2009.

61.   ^ “911 Report chapter 7”. U.S. Government Printing Office. http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report_Ch7.htm. “…While training at al Qaeda camps, a dozen of them heard Bin Ladin’s speeches, volunteered to become suicide operatives, and eventually were selected as muscle hijackers for the planes operation. Khallad says he met a number of them at the Kandahar airport, where they were helping to provide extra security. He encouraged Bin Ladin to use them. Khallad claims to have been closest with Saeed al Ghamdi, whom he convinced to become a martyr and whom he asked to recruit a friend, Ahmed al Ghamdi, to the same cause. Although Khallad claims not to recall everyone from this group who was later chosen for the 9/11 operation…”

62.   ^ “Bin Laden on tape: Attacks ‘benefited Islam greatly'”. CNN. December 14, 2001. http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/12/13/ret.bin.laden.videotape/. Retrieved May 25, 2010. “Reveling in the details of the fatal attacks, bin Laden brags in Arabic that he knew about them beforehand and says the destruction went beyond his hopes. He says the attacks “benefited Islam greatly.”

63.   ^ Burke, Jason (2004). Al-Qaeda – The True Story of Radical Islam. London, New York: I.B. Tauris. 162–163. ISBN 1-85043-666-5.

64.   ^ Susan Sachs (October 27, 2009). “Paris court convicts Scientology of fraud”. The Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/paris-court-convicts-scientology-of-fraud/article1340903/. Retrieved 2009-10-28.

65.   ^ “Scientologists convicted of fraud”. BBC. 2009-10-27. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8327569.stm. Retrieved 2009-10-28.

66.   ^ a b Steven Erlanger (October 27, 2009). “French Branch of Scientology Convicted of Fraud”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/europe/28france.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1256709765-Q0YNb5qph2q2KIXqqey3Jw. Retrieved 2009-10-28.

67.   ^ Devorah Lauter (October 27, 2009). “French Scientology group convicted of fraud”. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-france-scientology28-2009oct28,0,6643393.story. Retrieved 2009-10-28.

Man and Religion

The earthly life of man manifests itself in two aspects, one individual, the other ‘social’ -by ‘social’ l mean the whole circle including ‘human and natural’- .The individual aspect implies the inner perfection of each man and struggle for this sake, migrating from the outer world to the inner or, in other words, from the flesh to the spirit, because of which both Divine religions and human systems give priority to this aspect of man, for a community is a lively, dynamic being consisting of individuals, in other words, a community is lively and dynamic proportionally to the liveliness and dynamism of its members; therefore it is of great importance to bring up the individuals in the direction of the community that is aimed to form.

Man is a tripartite being composed of the spirit, the carnal soul and the body. These three constituents are so interrelated to one another that neglecting one results in man’s failing in attaining to ‘perfection.’ Man has been accordingly endowed with three faculties, namely ‘intellect, reason and will’. He, during his life continuously experiences an inner struggle to make a choice between two opposite things, which are called by religions, and even by man-made systems ‘good and evil’, or ‘right and wrong’. The motor of this struggle is ‘will’, and it is directed by ‘reason’, with the exception that ‘reason’ cannot always make a good choice between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and can be influenced by ‘carnal desires’, personal feelings, interests and such emotions as ‘wrath and grudges’ so it needs a guide, which is ‘intellect’. Intellect is the source of moral values and virtues, and as all the human history has witnessed, they have been always religions, Divine religions that have determined what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’, and what is a ‘virtue’ and what is not.

The Holy Quran, which is the last revealed Scripture of God to mankind, expresses the qualifications of the guides appointed to educate men and the foundations of a perfect community as follows:

“Thus, we appointed for you a messenger from amongst you so that he will recite to you Our signs, purify you, and teach you the Book, wisdom and teach you what you don’t know”. (2:151)

“No doubt, we sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and sent with them down the Book and the Balance, so that human beings subsist by absolute justice, and we sent down the Iron, in which there is power and uses for mankind…” (The Holy Quran, 57:25).

As expressed by the verses we have quoted above, man, first of all, needs signs. Every fact including scientific, social and psychological ones and every event in the Universe and in human life is a sign, on which man must contemplate and with which he can find ways to the Sublime Creator, Who is one, needy of nothing and hasn’t begotten and hasn’t been begotten, for the one who has begotten and been begotten is by its nature a created being and accordingly cannot be a creator. Again, by means of these signs that man can, and has been able to found modern sciences, which take their sources in ‘signs’, in other words ‘Divine laws’ in nature. Besides, man’s body, as a microcosm corresponding, on a largest scale, to the Universe, that is the Macrocosm, senses and feelings, mind, reason, intellect and all faculties are signs of the same kind, too. Man, by contemplating on these signs is to attain to faith and a virtuous life based on his faith, thus purifying his soul of evils and sins. Only a soul that has been purified can be beneficial to mankind by means of sciences; otherwise, as witnessed in the last phase of human history, science and technology can be so deadly to mankind that millions of people have lost their lives, and another millions of them have been left homeless and as orphans and widows. When a purified soul is endowed with sciences, this means a true salvation and felicity for mankind.

Man, because of his worldly nature can be too obedient a servant of his lusts. When such men as are in the captivity of his lusts gain enough power to rule over their fellowmates, they light fires of oppression on the earth and reduce the poor and the weak to being their slaves or servants. The human history is full of such instances. God is the All- just and never approves oppression, so He sent prophets in some phases of history. These chosen servants of God were charged with guiding their nations in the True Path, purifying men and establishing justice among them. All of the prophets came with the same doctrine, the fundaments of which are believing in one God, Prophethood, the Resurrection, Angels, Divine Scriptures and the Divine Destiny. In this sense, all the Divine religions are one and the same, but the flow of history through some eras varying in cultural, geographical, social and economical conditions required that various prophets would be sent to each nation and some slight differences be made in subdivisions of the law until the time when these conditions allowed that the seal of the Prophets could be sent and his religion, the same in fundaments as those of other prophets, could be enough for and applicable to all nations. There is an important point here, too. When a prophet passed away, his nation in time altered some of the principles of his religion, borrowed some polytheistic elements from paganic ‘religions’, and went astray, thus corrupting and spoiling the Divine Religion. It is also this historical fact that was responsible for prophets coming one after the other in course of time.

The Children of Israel, or the Jewish People established a great state just after the demise of Prophet Moses (p.b.u.h.). They lived the brightest era of their history in the reign of Prophet Solomon (p.b.u.h.). But later, as time passed, they did obey their lusts and neglected the principles of their religion, and the Scribes, their religious scholars, didn’t prevent them. This caused the Torah (their Divine Scripture) to be almost completely neglected, and centuries later to be lost during the invasion ofJerusalemby Ebokadnazer, an Assyrian King. Following this tragic event, Persians defeated the Assyrians and let the Jewish People return their home: Some Jewish scribes felt obliged to write down from memory what had remained of Torah in their minds in order to meet the religious needs of their people. But that new version of ‘Torah’ was naturally not the same as the Original. This is quite clear in the very first verses:

God created the Universe in six days. On the first day He created the light; on the second He created the Dome (the Sky); on the third day the dry Earth… And He rested on the seventh day…(Genesis).

It is also stated in the Quran that the Universe was, or has been created in six days, with the exception that the meaning of ‘day’ (yowm) is not so concrete as to imply ‘Sunday, Monday and so forth’; it rather means geological eras or/and time in its abstraction and relativity, implying the ‘unit of time’ particular to the earth, other planets and even to ‘electricity’. We believe that this was the same in the Original Torah, but the Scribes who, due to the time they lived in, couldn’t perceive the symbolic meaning, symbolic because the Divine Scriptures address every level of understanding and all the times. They wrote down what they understood of ‘day’, thus altering the Divine Scripture in essence and reducing it to the scientific level of their time. This very fact, which was adopted the same by Christian priests centuries later, became responsible for the doubts having arisen in the minds of Western intellectuals of the Scientific Era regarding the authenticity of Bible and, worse, of the essence of the Divine Religion itself. We, by the way, must state that if their eyes hadn’t been blinded by priests during a long history to immortal, unchanged expressions of the Quran, they would have been able to learn the essence of the matter, and it is a more tragic reality that this blindness is still prevailing in the Christian world.

The Quran expresses the state of the Israelites when Jesus came to them as follows:

“Thou seest many of them vying in sin and enmity and how they consume the unlawful; evil is the thing they have been doing.” (5:62). “Why do the masters and the rabbis not forbid them to utter sin, and consume the unlawful. Evil is the thing they have been doing.” (5:63). “O believers, many of the rabbis and monks indeed consume the goods of the people in vanity and bar from God’s way…” (9:34).

Jesus was expressing almost the same:

“You snakes -how can you say good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good person brings good things out of his treasure of good things; a bad person brings bad things out of his treasure of bad things.” (Matthew 12:34-35).

“Take care: be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

“The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorized interpreters of Moses’ Law. So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach. They tie onto people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads. They do everything so that people will see them. Look at the straps with scripture verses on them which they wear on their foreheads and arms, and notice how large they are. Notice also how long the tassels of their cloaks. They love the best places at feasts and the reserved seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them ‘Teacher’… How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees. You hypocrites. You lock the door to the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces, but you yourselves don’t go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter.

“How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees. You hypocrites. You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are… How blind you are… How terrible for you. You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as Justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others. Blind guides. You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel… You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness… You make fine tombs for the Prophets and decorate the monuments of those who lived good lives; and you claim that if you had lived during the time of your ancestors, you would not have done what they did and killed the prophets. So you actually admit that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go on, then, and finish up what your ancestors started. You snakes and sons of snakes. How do you expect to escape from being condemned to hell?” (Matthew; 23:2-8, 13-15-16, 23, 26, 27, 29, 31, 12:34-35, 16:6).

When Jesus was sent to the Israelites, the spirit of the Religion had been blown up and the Religion itself had been reduced to a system as to be used by Scribes to rob the common people, because of which Jesus began his mission with purifying people’s souls, insisting on the spiritual principles of the Religion to pass on to applying the Law afterwards:

“Blessed He has made me, wherever 1 may be; and He has enjoined me to pray, and to give the alms, so long as I live, and likewise to cherish my mother: He has not made me arrogant, un-prosperous.” (The Holy Quran, 19: 31-32).

“And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him; and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition unto the god fearing. So let the people of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein (5:46).

In the Bible:

“Do not think that l have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets, l have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with -not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew:5:17-19)

“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;
The Kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Happy are those who mourn:
God will comfort them.
Happy are those who are humble:
They will receive what God has promised.
Happy are those whose greatest desire to do what God requires:
God will satisfy them fully.
Happy are those who are merciful to others:
God will be merciful to them.
Happy are the pure in heart:
They will see God.
Happy are those who work for peace:
Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires… (Matthew, 5:3-10)

Ethics in Religion

Most religions have an ethical component, often derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance. “For many people, ethics is not only tied up with religion, but is completely settled by it. Such people do not need to think too much about ethics, because there is an authoritative code of instructions, a handbook of how to live.”[1]

Ethics, which is a major branch of philosophy, encompasses right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong. A central aspect of ethics is “the good life”, the life worth living or life that is simply satisfying, which is held by many philosophers to be more important than traditional moral conduct.[2]

Some assert that religion is necessary to live ethically. According to Simon Blackburn, there are those who “would say that we can only flourish under the umbrella of a strong social order, cemented by common adherence to a particular religious tradition”.[3]

Buddhist ethics

Ethics in Buddhism are traditionally based on the enlightened perspective of the Buddha, or other enlightened beings who followed him. Moral instructions are included in Buddhist scriptures or handed down through tradition. Most scholars of Buddhist ethics thus rely on the examination of Buddhist scriptures, and the use of anthropological evidence from traditional Buddhist societies, to justify claims about the nature of Buddhist ethics.[4]

According to traditional Buddhism, the foundation of Buddhist ethics for laypeople is the Pancasila: no killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, or intoxicants. In becoming a Buddhist, or affirming one’s commitment to Buddhism, a layperson is encouraged to vow to abstain from these negative actions. Buddhist monks and nuns take hundreds more such vows (see vinaya).

The sole reliance on traditional formulae or practices, however, can be questioned by Western Buddhists whose main concern is the practical solution of complex moral problems in the modern world. To find a justifiable approach to such problems it may be necessary not just to appeal to the precepts or the vinaya, but to use more basic Buddhist teachings (such as the Middle Way) to aid interpretation of the precepts and find more basic justifications for their usefulness relevant to all human experience. This approach avoids basing Buddhist ethics solely on faith in the Buddha’s enlightenment or Buddhist tradition, and may allow more universal non-Buddhist access to the insights offered by Buddhist ethics.[5]

The Buddha provided some basic guidelines for acceptable behavior that are part of the Noble Eightfold Path. The initial percept is non-injury or non-violence to all living creatures from the lowest insect to humans. This precept defines an non-violent attitude toward every living thing. The Buddhist practice of this does not extend to the extremes exhibited by Jainism, but from both the Buddhist and Jain perspectives, non-violence suggests an intimate involvement with, and relationship to, all living things.[6]

Theravada monk Bhikkhu Bodhi has observed:

“Buddhist ethics, as formulated in the five precepts, is sometimes charged with being entirely negative. … [I]t has to be pointed out that the five precepts, or even the longer codes of precepts promulgated by the Buddha, do not exhaust the full range of Buddhist ethics. The precepts are only the most rudimentary code of moral training, but the Buddha also proposes other ethical codes inculcating definite positive virtues. The Mangala Sutta, for example, commends reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude, patience, generosity, etc. Other discourses prescribe numerous family, social, and political duties establishing the well being of society. And behind all these duties lie the four attitudes called the “immeasurables” — loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.”[7]

Christian ethics

Christian ethics in general has tended to stress the need for love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness because of sin. With divine assistance, the Christian is called to become increasingly virtuous in both thought and deed, see also the Evangelical counsels. Conversely, the Christian is also called to abstain from vice.

Christian ethical principles are based on the teachings within the Bible. They begin with the notion of inherent sinfulness, which requires essential atonement. Sin is estrangement from God which is the result of not doing God’s will. God’s will can be summed up by the precept: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself”, commonly called the Great Commandment. Christian ethics are founded upon the concept of grace which transforms a person’s life and enable’s one to choose and act righteously. As sin is both individual and social, so is grace applied to both the individual and society. Christian ethics has a teleological aspect–all ethical behavior is oriented towards a vision of the Kingdom of God–a righteous society where all live in peace and harmony with God and nature, as envisioned in the Book of Isaiah. Specific ethical behaviors originate in the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments, and are enriched by teachings in the Psalms and morals contained in historical accounts, see also Biblical law in Christianity.

Christian ethics is not substantially different from Jewish ethics, except in the exhortation to love one’s enemy. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Christian ethics is this command to love one’s enemies. It has been argued (see Chet Meyer’s Binding the Strong Man, and John Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus) that Jesus was waging a non-violent campaign against the Roman oppressors and many of his sayings relate to this campaign–turn the other cheek, go the second mile, etc. Understanding these commands as part of a larger campaign makes it impossible to interpret Christian ethics as an individual ethic. It is both an individual and a social ethic concerned with life here on earth.

Other tenets include maintaining personal integrity and the absence of hypocrisy, as well as honesty and loyalty, mercy and forgiveness, rejection of materialism and the desire for wealth and power, and teaching others in your life through personal joy, happiness and Godly devotion.

There are several different schema of vice and virtue. Aquinas adopted the four cardinal virtues of Aristotle, justice, courage, temperance and prudence, and added to them the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity (from St.Paul, 1 Corinthians 13). Other schema include the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven virtues. For more see Christian philosophy and Biblical law in Christianity.

Confucian ethics

Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism emphasize the maintenance and propriety of relationships as the most important consideration in ethics. To be ethical is to do what one’s relationships require. Notably, though, what you owe to another person is inversely proportional to their distance from you. In other words, you owe your parents everything, but you are not in any way obligated towards strangers. This can be seen as a recognition of the fact that it is impossible to love the entire world equally and simultaneously. This is called relational ethics, or situational ethics. The Confucian system differs very strongly from Kantian ethics in that there are rarely laws or principles which can be said to be true absolutely or universally.

This is not to say that there has never been any consideration given to universalist ethics. In fact, in Zhou dynasty China, the Confucians’ main opponents, the followers of Mozi argued for universal love (Chinese: 兼爱; pinyin: jiān ài). The Confucian view eventually held sway, however, and continues to dominate many aspects of Chinese thought. Many have argued, for example, that Mao Zedong was more Confucian than Communist. Confucianism, especially of the type argued for by Mencius (Chinese: 孟子; pinyin: mèng zĭ), argued that the ideal ruler is the one who (as Confucius put it) “acts like the North Star, staying in place while the other stars orbit around it”. In other words, the ideal ruler does not go out and force the people to become good, but instead leads by example. The ideal ruler fosters harmony rather than laws.

Confucius stresses honesty above all. His concepts of (Chinese: 理), (Chinese: 義), and rén (Chinese: 仁) can be seen as deeper expressions of honesty (Chinese: 誠; pinyin: chéng; literally “sincerity“) and fidelity (Chinese: 孝; pinyin: xiào) to the ones to whom one owes one’s existence (parents) and survival (one’s neighbours, colleagues, inferiors in rank). He codifed traditional practice and actually changed the meaning of the prior concepts that those words had meant. His model of the Confucian family and Confucian ruler dominated Chinese life into the early 20th century. This had ossified by then into an Imperial hierarchy of rigid property rights, hard to distinguish from any other dictatorship. Traditional ethics had been perverted by legalism.

Buddhist influence

Buddhism, and specifically Mahayana Buddhism, brought a cohesive metaphysic to Chinese thought and a strong emphasis on universalism. Neo-Confucianism was largely a reaction to Buddhism’s dominance in the Tang dynasty, and an attempt at developing a native Confucian metaphysical/analytical system.

Daoist ethics

Laozi and other Daoist authors argued for an even greater passivity on the part of rulers than did the Confucians. For Laozi, the ideal ruler is one who does virtually nothing that can be directly identified as ruling. Clearly, both Daoism and Confucianism presume that human nature is basically good. The main branch of Confucianism, however, argues that human nature must be nurtured through ritual (li 理), culture (wen 文) and other things, while the Daoists argued that the trappings of society were to be gotten rid of.

Hindu ethics

Hindu ethics are related to reincarnation, which is a way of expressing the need for reciprocity, as one may end up in someone else’s shoes in their next incarnation. Intention is seen as very important, and thus selfless action for the benefit of others without thought for oneself is an important rule in Hinduism, known as the doctrine of karma yoga. This aspect of service is combined with an understanding that someone else’s unfortunate situation, while of their own doing, is one’s own situation since the soul within is the soul shared by all. The greeting namaskar is founded on the principle that one salutes the spark of the divine in the other. Kindness and hospitality are key Hindu values.

More emphasis is placed on empathy than in other traditions, and women are sometimes upheld not only as great moral examples but also as great gurus. Beyond that, the Mother is a Divine Figure, the Devi, and the aspect of the creative female energy plays a major role in the Hindu ethos. Vande Mataram, the Indian national song (not anthem) is based on the Divine mother as embodied by ‘Mother India’ paralleled to ‘Ma Durga‘. An emphasis on domestic life and the joys of the household and village may make Hindu ethics a bit more conservative than others on matters of sex and family.

Of all religions, Hinduism is among the most compatible with the view of approaching truth through various forms of art: its temples are often garishly decorated, and the idea of a guru who is both entrancing entertainer and spiritual guide, or who simply practices some unique devotion (such as holding up his arm right for his whole life, or rolling on the ground for years on a pilgrimage), is simply accepted as a legitimate choice in life.

Ethical traditions in Hinduism have been influenced by caste norms. In the mid-20th century Mohandas Gandhi, a Vaishnava, undertook to reform these and emphasize traditions shared in all the Indian faiths:



After his profound achievement of forcing the British Empire from India, these views spread widely and influence much modern thinking on ethics today, especially in the peace movement, ecology movement, and those devoted to social activism.

Islamic ethics

The foundational source in the gradual codification of Islamic ethics was the Muslim understanding and interpretations of the mankind has been granted the faculty to discern God’s will and to abide by it. This faculty most crucially involves reflecting over the meaning of existence, which, as John Kelsay in the Encyclopedia of Ethics phrases, “ultimately points to the reality of God.” Therefore, regardless of their environment, humans are believed to have a moral responsibility to submit to God’s will and to follow Islam (as demonstrated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, or the sayings of Muhammad) [Quran 7:172]).[8]

This natural inclination is, according to the Qur’an, subverted by mankind’s focus on material success: such focus first presents itself as a need for basic survival or security, but then tends to manifest into a desire to become distinguished among one’s peers. Ultimately, the focus on materialism, according to the Islamic texts, hampers with the innate reflection as described above, resulting in a state of jahiliyya or “ignorance.”[8]

Muslims believe that Muhammad, like other prophets in Islam, was sent by God to remind human beings of their moral responsibility, and challenge those ideas in society which opposed submission to God. According to Kelsay, this challenge was directed against five main characteristics of pre-Islamic Arabia:[8]

  1. The division of Arabs into varying tribes (based upon blood and kinship). This categorization was confronted by the ideal of a unified community based upon Islamic piety, an “ummah;”
  2. The acceptance of the worship of a multitude of deities besides Allah – a view challenged by strict Islamic monotheism, which dictates that Allah has no partner in worship nor any equal;
  3. The trait of muruwwa (manliness), which Islam discouraged, instead emphasizing on the traits of humility and piety;
  4. The focus on achieving fame or establishing a legacy, which was replaced by the concept that mankind would be called to account before God on the day of resurrection;
  5. The reverence of and compliance with ancestral traditions, a practice challenged by Islam — which instead assigned primacy to submitting to God and following revelation.

These changes lay in the reorientation of society as regards to identity and life of the Muslim belief, world view, and the hierarchy of values. From the viewpoint of subsequent generations, this caused a great transformation in the society and moral order of life in the Arabian Peninsula. For Muhammad, although pre-Islamic Arabia exemplified “heedlessness,” it was not entirely without merit. Muhammad approved and exhorted certain aspects of the Arab pre-Islamic tradition, such as the care for one’s near kin, for widows, orphans, and others in need and for the establisent of justice. However, these values would be re-ordered in importance and placed in the context of strict monotheism.[8]

Furthermore, a Muslim should not only follow these five main characteristics, but also be more broad about his morals. Therefore, the more the Muslim is applying these rules, the better that person is morally. For example,Islamic ethics can be applied by important verses in there holy book (The Quran). The most fundamental characteristics of a Muslim are piety and humility. A Muslim must be humble with God and with other people:

“And turn not your face away from people (with pride), nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, God likes not each arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the ass.” (Quran 31:18-19)

Muslims must be in controls of their passions and desires.

A Muslim should not be vain or attached to the ephemeral pleasures of this world. While most people allow the material world to fill their hearts, Muslims should keep God in their hearts and the material world in their hand. Instead of being attached to the car and the job and the diploma and the bank account, all these things become tools to make us better people. Morality in Islam addresses every aspect of a Muslim’s life, from greetings to international relations. It is universal in its scope and in its applicability. Morality reigns in selfish desires, vanity and bad habits. Muslims must not only be virtuous, but they must also enjoin virtue. They must not only refrain from evil and vice, but they must also forbid them. In other words, they must not only be morally healthy, but they must also contribute to the moral health of society as a whole.

“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in God; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.” (Quran: 3:110)

The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, summarized the conduct of a Muslim when he said:

“My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of God, whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich, to reunite friendship with those who have broken off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right.”

Jewish ethics

Jewish ethics may be said to originate with the Hebrew Bible, its broad legal injunctions, wisdom narratives and prophetic teachings. Most subsequent Jewish ethical claims may be traced back to the texts, themes and teachings of the written Torah.

In early rabbinic Judaism, the oral Torah both interprets the Hebrew Bible and delves afresh into many other ethical topics. The best known rabbinic text associated with ethics is the non-legal Mishnah tractate of Avot, popularly translated as Ethics of the Fathers. Generally, ethics is a key aspect of non-legal rabbinic literature, known as aggadah, and ethical teachings are found throughout the more legal (halakahic) portions of the Mishnah, Talmud and other rabbinic literature. This early Rabbinic ethics shows signs of cross-fertilization and polemical exchange with both the Greek (Western philosophical) ethical tradition and early Christian tradition.

In the medieval period, direct Jewish responses to Greek ethics may be seen in major rabbinic writings. Notably, Maimonides offers a Jewish interpretation of Aristotle (e.g., Nicomachean Ethics), who enters into Jewish discourse through Islamic writings. Maimonides, in turn, influences Thomas Aquinas, a dominant figure in Catholic ethics and the natural law tradition of moral theology. The relevance of natural law to medieval Jewish philosophy is a matter of dispute among scholars.

Hellenistic influence

Ethics in systematic form, and apart from religious belief, is as little found in apocryphal or Judæo-Hellenistic literature as in the Bible. However, Greek philosophy greatly influenced Alexandrian writers such as the authors of IV Maccabees, the Book of Wisdom, and Philo.

Much progress in theoretical ethics came as Jews came into closer contact with the Hellenic world. Before that period the Wisdom literature shows a tendency to dwell solely on the moral obligations and problems of life as appealing to man as an individual, leaving out of consideration the ceremonial and other laws which concern only the Jewish nation. From this point of view Ben Sira‘s collection of sayings and monitions was written, translated into Greek, and circulated as a practical guide. The book contains popular ethics in proverbial form as the result of everyday life experience, without higher philosophical or religious principles and ideals.

More developed ethical works emanated from Hasidean circles in the Maccabean time, such as are contained in Tobit, especially in Chapter IV. Here the first ethical will or testament is found, giving a summary of moral teachings, with the Golden Rule, “Do that to no man which thou hatest!” as the leading maxim. There are even more elaborate ethical teachings in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, in which each of the twelve sons of Jacob, in his last words to his children and children’s children, reviews his life and gives them moral lessons, either warning them against a certain vice he had been guilty of, so that they may avoid divine punishment, or recommending them to cultivate a certain virtue he had practised during life, so that they may win God’s favor. The chief virtues recommended are love for one’s fellow man, industry, especially in agricultural pursuits, simplicity, sobriety, benevolence toward the poor, compassion even for the brute and avoidance of all passion, pride, and hatred. Similar ethical farewell monitions are attributed to Enoch in the Ethiopic Enoch (xciv. et seq.) and the Slavonic Enoch (lviii. et seq.) and to the three patriarchs.

The Hellenistic Jewish propaganda literature made the propagation of Jewish ethics taken from the Bible its main object for the sake of winning the pagan world to pure monotheism. It was owing to this endeavor that certain ethical principles were laid down as guiding maxims for the Gentiles, first of all the three capital sins, idolatry, murder, and incest, were prohibited (see Sibyllines, iii. 38, 761; iv. 30 et seq.). In later Jewish rabbinic literature these Noachide Laws were gradually developed into six, seven, and ten, or thirty laws of ethics binding upon every human being.

LaVeyan Satanist ethics

The Nine Satanic Sins

  1. Stupidity — The top of the list for Satanic Sins. The Cardinal Sin of Satanism. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. Satanists must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.
  2. Pretentiousness — Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. This is on equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.
  3. Solipsism — Projecting your reactions, responses, and sensibilities onto someone who is probably far less attuned than you are can be very dangerous for Satanists. It is the mistake of expecting people to give you the same consideration, courtesy and respect that you naturally give them. They won’t. Instead, Satanists must strive to apply the dictum of “Do unto others as they do unto you.” It’s work for most of us, and requires constant vigilance, lest you slip into a comfortable illusion of everyone being like you. As it has been said, certain utopias would be ideal in a nation of philosophers, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, from a Machiavellian standpoint) we are far from that point.
  4. Self-deceit — It’s in the “Nine Satanic Statements”, but deserves to be repeated here. It is another cardinal sin. We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves. The only time self-deceit should be entered into is when it’s fun, and with awareness. But then, it’s not self-deceit!
  5. Herd Conformity — That’s obvious from a Satanic stance. It’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. The key is to choose a master wisely, instead of being enslaved by the whims of the many.
  6. Lack of perspective — Again, this one can lead to a lot of pain for a Satanist. You must never lose sight of who and what you are, and what a threat you can be, by your very existence. We are making history right now, every day. Always keep the wider historical and social picture in mind. That is an important key to both Lesser and Greater Magic. See the patterns and fit things together as you want the pieces to fall into place. Do not be swayed by herd constraints: Know that you are working on another level entirely from the rest of the world.
  7. Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies — Be aware that this is one of the keys to brainwashing people into accepting something new and different, when in reality it’s something that was once widely accepted but is now presented in a new package. We are expected to rave about the genius of the creator and forget the original. This makes for a disposable society.
  8. Counterproductive Pride — That first word is important. Pride is great up to the point you begin to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The rule of Satanism is: If it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow, then do it.
  9. Lack of Aesthetics — This is the physical application of the Balance Factor. Aesthetics is important in Lesser Magic and should be cultivated. It is obvious that no one can collect any money off classical standards of beauty and form most of the time, so they are discouraged in a consumer society; but an eye for beauty, for balance, is an essential Satanic tool and must be applied for greatest magical effectiveness. It’s not what’s supposed to be pleasing: It’s what is. Aesthetics is a personal thing, reflective of one’s own nature, but there are universally pleasing and harmonious configurations that should not be denied.[9]

Neopagan ethics

Germanic Neopagan ethics

Germanic Neopagans, including followers of both Asatru and Theodism, try to emulate the ethical values of the ancient Germanic peoples (Norse or Anglo-Saxon) through the form of the Nine Noble Virtues.

Scientology ethics

Scientology ethics is based upon the concepts of good and evil. Ethics may be defined as the actions an individual takes on itself to ensure its continued survival across the dynamics.[10]

Secular ethics

Secular ethics is a moral philosophy in which ethics are based solely on human faculties such as scientific reason, sociobiological composition, or ethical intuition, and not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance. Secular ethics comprise a wide variety of moral and ethical systems including consequentialism, freethinking, humanism, secular humanism, and utilitarianism, among others.

The majority of secular moral concepts are based on the acceptance of natural rights and social contracts, and on a more individual scale of either some form of attribution of intrinsic value to things, Kantianesque ethical intuitionism or of a logical deduction that establishes a preference for one thing over another, as with Occam’s razor. Approaches such as ethical egoism, moral relativism, moral skepticism, and moral nihilism are also considered.

Shinto ethics

Shinto, the native religion of Japan, is highly polytheistic and animistic and, as such, does not have many teachings on ethical issues.

Wiccan ethics


The pentagram within a circle, a symbol of faith used by many Wiccans, sometimes called a pentacle.

Wiccan morality is largely based on the Wiccan Rede: ‘An it harm none, do what ye will’. While this could be interpreted to mean “do no harm at all”, it is usually interpreted as a declaration of the freedom to act, along with the necessity of taking responsibility for what follows from one’s actions.[11]

Another element of Wiccan Morality comes from the Law of Threefold Return, which is understood to mean that whatever one does to another person or thing (benevolent or otherwise) returns with triple force.[12]

Many Wiccans also seek to cultivate a set of eight virtues mentioned in Doreen Valiente‘s Charge of the Goddess,[13] these being mirth, reverence, honour, humility, strength, beauty, power and compassion. In Valiente’s poem they are ordered in pairs of complementary opposites, reflecting a dualism that is common throughout Wiccan philosophy.[citation needed]


1.       ^ Simon, Blackburn (2001). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-19-280442-6.

2.       ^ Singer, P. (1993) Practical Ethics, 2nd edition (p.10), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

3.       ^ Simon, Blackburn (2001). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-19-280442-6.

4.       ^ Damien Keown The Nature of Buddhist Ethics Macmillan 1992; Peter Harvey An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics Cambridge University Press 2000

5.       ^ Robert Ellis A Buddhist theory of moral objectivity (Ph.D. thesis)

6.       ^ Carl Olson, The Different Paths of Buddhism p.73

7.       ^ Bodhi (1994). For other examples of Buddhist discourses that promote ethical behaviors among laity see, for instance, the Sigalovada Sutta (referred to as “the Vinaya of the householder” by Buddhaghosa) and the Dhammika Sutta.

8.       ^ a b c d Islamic ethics, Encyclopedia of Ethics

9.       ^ The Nine Satanic Sins

10.   ^ http://www.scientologyethics.org/scientology-ethics.htm

11.   ^ Harrow, Judy (1985) “Exegesis on the Rede” in Harvest vol. 5, Number 3 (Oimelc 1985). Retrieved 26 February 2007.

12.   ^ Gerald Gardner, High Magic’s Aid, London: Michael Houghton, 1949, p.303

13.   ^ Farrar, Janet & Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches.

Criticism of Religion

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Criticism of religion is criticism of the concepts, validity, and/or practices of religion, including associated political and social implications.[1]

Religious criticism has a long history. It goes as far back as, at least, the 5th century BCE in ancient Greece with Diagoras “the atheist” of Melos, including Titus Lucretius CarusDe Rerum Natura in the 1st century BCE in Rome, and continuing to the present day with the advent of New Atheism. The present movement is represented by authors and journalists such as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, and Christopher Hitchens. Alternatively, “religious criticism” has been used by the literary critic Harold Bloom to describe a mode of religious discussion that is secular or separate from religion but not inherently anti-religion.

Critics consider religion to be outdated, harmful to the individual (such as brainwashing of children, faith healing, circumcision), harmful to society (such as holy wars, terrorism, wasteful distribution of resources), to impede the progress of science, and to encourage immoral acts (such as blood sacrifice, discrimination against homosexuals and women).


The 1st century BCE Roman poet, Titus Lucretius Carus, in his magnum opus De Rerum Natura, wrote: “But ’tis that same religion oftener far / Hath bred the foul impieties of men:”[2] A philosopher of the Epicurean school, Lucretius believed the world was composed solely of matter and void, and that all phenomena could be understood as resulting from purely natural causes. Lucretius, like Epicurus, felt that religion was born of fear and ignorance, and that understanding the natural world would free people of its shackles.[3]

Niccolò Machiavelli, at the beginning of the 16th century said: “We Italians are irreligious and corrupt above others… because the church and her representatives have set us the worst example.”[4] To Machiavelli, religion was merely a tool, useful for a ruler wishing to manipulate public opinion.[5]

Writing in 1776 of the ancient Romans, Edward Gibbon said: “The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”[6]

Deism became prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, mostly among those raised as Christians who found they could not believe in either the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, or the inerrancy of scriptures, but who did believe in one god. Initially it did not form any congregations, but in time deism strongly influenced other religious groups, such as Unitarianism and Universalism, which developed from it. It continues to this day in the form of classical deism and modern deism.

Interest in and controversy over criticism of religion has increased in the 21st century due to the spread of so-called New Atheism.

Criticism of religious concepts


A sign that criticizes religion and draws attention to the September 11 attacks, by the Connecticut Valley Atheists in Rockville’s Central Park, Vernon in December 2007. The group issued an explanatory press release, stating: “Clearly, 9/11 is the work of fanatics. However, we feel that religion even in moderation provides a foundation for fanatical groups to thrive.”[7]


A dinosaur leading sheep, Cologne, August 2005

A major criticism of many religions is that they require beliefs that are irrational, unscientific, or unreasonable. Stated differently, religious beliefs and traditions lack scientific or rational foundations. There are several aspects to this criticism, including:


  • Religions often posit facts that are contradicted by scientific evidence (e.g. evolution, origin of the universe, miracles); for example, the claim that prayer has a beneficial effect on others has been tested and disproved.[8]
  • Religions often require behaviors that are not sensible (such as the Old Testament prohibition against wearing garments of mixed fabrics, or punishing children of guilty parents).[9]
  • Religions and their holy books contain rules and laws designed to govern behavior and conduct, some of which—within a single religion—are contradictory or impossible to follow.
  • Religions and their holy books often contain conflicting facts or histories (for example, discrepancies in the Bible among the four Gospels of the New Testament).[10][11][12]
  • Religions have claimed the truth of stories which contain elements indistinguishable from fairy tales or superstitions (such as astrology or Santa Claus).
  • Religions cannot adapt to a changing world, and their teachings are outdated in comparison with modern Western morals. For instance, the rules on certain diets—such as the Torah‘s prohibition of eating pork or shellfish—may have made sense some thousands of years ago, when certain animals were often infested with parasites. However, such a prohibition in modern times may be illogical, as the quality and safety of food have improved. 

Religions have promoted facts and histories that are contradicted by science. These often form the basis of significant controversies, such as the trial of Galileo for his purported heresy that the earth moves around the sun. The origin of the earth or universe is often described by holy books in the form of creation myths, which are contradicted by scientific theories of cosmology. The origin of the human species, as presented by many Christian sects, is contradicted by the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. In other cases, religions assert the factual existence of phenomena such as miracles and angels, which are not necessarily contradicted by science, but find little or no scientific support.

Religious adherents, such as the notable Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, counter these arguments by suggesting that all religions, by definition, involve faith, or a belief in concepts that cannot be proven or disproven by science. However, some religious beliefs have been disproven by science, for instance Young Earth creationism.[13] Scientist Stephen Jay Gould agreed with C. S. Lewis and suggested that religion and science were non-overlapping magisteria.[14] Scientist Richard Dawkins has said that religious practitioners often do not believe in the view of non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA).[8] Dawkins argues that any time a religious person claims that a certain event (e.g. the Love Parade stampede)[15] is a punishment by God or that they have been helped or rewarded by God for their actions (“thank god”) the NOMA thesis is violated. For NOMA to hold, Dawkins argues the supernatural being in question must not have any effect on people’s physical lives, and that only claims regarding the afterlife are allowed.

Conflicting claims of “one true faith”

Some critics of religion discuss the multiplicity of religions that claim to be the one true faith, such as Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, or Evangelical Christianity. Critics point out that if two or more religions claim to be the only valid faith, then logic dictates that the claims of all but one of those religions must be wrong. Atheist Stephen Roberts illustrates this principle as follows:

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

— Stephen F. Roberts,[16] quoted in Like Rolling Uphill

Survey research from the US indicates that many people change their religious affiliation over time. Those with no religious affiliation are the fastest growing group. However, this group has a relatively low retention rate (46%) when compared to other groups. Such data suggest that significant numbers of people do not believe consistently that a single faith is uniquely true.[17]

Lack of permanence

Critics such as Opsopaus and Hitchens cite what they describe as obsolete religions—religions that no longer have active adherents—as evidence that religions are not everlasting, as the religions claim.[18] Some obsolete religions discussed by critics include Greek mythology, Millerism, Roman mythology, Sabbatai Sevi, and Norse mythology.[19] The short work “The Syrian Goddess” by the ancient author Lucian of Samosata provides many examples of once thriving religions that had gone out of existence.[20]

Explanations as non-divine in origin

Social construct

Some critics of religion, including Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens, assert that theist religions and their holy books are not divinely inspired, but instead are fabrications of non-divine human individuals, created to fulfill social, biological, and political needs.[21] [22][23] Dawkins balances the benefits of religious beliefs (mental solace, community-building, promotion of virtuous behavior) against the drawbacks.[24] Such criticisms treat religion as a social construct[25] and thus just another human ideology. Under this view, the origins of religion lie in human beings and human societies, not in the intervention of some divine being or cosmic truth. Accordingly, the historicity of religious accounts is called into question.

Narratives to provide comfort and meaning


Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author of God is not Great

With the exception of more modern religions, such as Raëlism, Mormonism, Scientology, and the Bahá’í Faith, most religions were formulated at a time when the origin of life, the workings of the body, and the nature of the stars and planets were poorly understood.[26] Religious systems attempted to address significant personal emotional issues, and tried to explain a frightening existence, usually through a dramatic narrative outlining how the world and their community came to be.

These narratives were intended to give solace and a sense of relationship with larger forces. As such, they may have served several important functions in ancient societies. Examples include the views many religions traditionally had towards solar and lunar eclipses, and the appearance of comets (forms of astrology).[27][28] Given current understanding in such fields as biology, psychology, chemistry, and physics, where human knowledge has increased dramatically, many critics — including Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Michel Onfray — contend that continuing to hold on to these idea systems is absurd and irrational.[23][24][29]

Stanford computer scientist John McCarthy states, “We also have no need for [the hypothesis of God], because science has been successful, and science is the best approach to solving the mysteries that remain.”[30] Apologists for religion such as William Lane Craig, however, claim that there are reasonable arguments supporting the existence of God.[31]

Opium of the people


Karl Marx

Religious suffering is, at the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Karl Marx[32]

According to Karl Marx, religion is a tool utilized by the ruling classes whereby the masses can shortly relieve their suffering via the act of experiencing religious emotions. It is in the interest of the ruling classes to instill in the masses the religious conviction that their current suffering will lead to eventual happiness. Therefore as long as the public believes in religion, they will not attempt to make any genuine effort to understand and overcome the real source of their suffering, which in Marx’s opinion was their capitalist economic system.[32]

In this perspective, Marx saw religion as escapism:[32]

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Marx also viewed the Christian doctrine of original sin as being deeply anti-social in character. Original sin, he argued, convinces people that the source of their misery lies in the inherent and unchangeable “sinfulness” of humanity rather than in the forms of social organization and institutions, which, Marx argued, can be changed through the application of collective social planning.[33]

Viruses of the mind


Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins coined the term memes to describe informational units that can be transmitted culturally, analogous to genes.[34] He later used this concept in the essay “Viruses of the Mind” to explain the persistence of religious ideas in human culture.[35]

Dawkins argues that religious ideologies are a set of ideas and concepts working together to ensure the perpetuation and proliferation of the religion itself. For instance, important concepts in Christianity are raising one’s children to be Christians, following The Great Commission and its monotheistic nature. These are proposed to work together to protect the religion from competition from other memes. In this context, religion is criticized for being maladaptive in that it can cause the carrier of that meme to act irrationally, misallocate resources and feel guilt, fear or other negative emotions without real reason.

Religion apologist John Bowker criticized the idea that “God” and “Faith” are viruses of the mind, suggesting that Dawkins’ “account of religious motivation … is … far removed from evidence and data” and that, even if the God-meme approach were valid, “it does not give rise to one set of consequences … Out of the many behaviours it produces, why are we required to isolate only those that might be regarded as diseased?”[36] Alister McGrath has responded by arguing that “memes have no place in serious scientific reflection”,[37] that there is strong evidence that such ideas are not spread by random processes, but by deliberate intentional actions,[38] that “evolution” of ideas is more Lamarckian than Darwinian,[39] and that there is no evidence (and certainly none in the essay) that epidemiological models usefully explain the spread of religious ideas.[40] McGrath also cites a metareview of 100 studies and argues that “[i]f religion is reported as having a positive effect on human well-being by 79% of recent studies in the field, how can it conceivably be regarded as analogous to a virus?”[41]

Mental illness or delusion


Bodies recovered from the Jonestown massacre, in which members of a religious cult committed a mass murder/suicide

Critics such as Richard Dawkins argue that religious belief often involves delusional behavior.[24] American author Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation compares religion to mental illness, saying it “allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.”[42]

There are also psychological studies into the phenomenon of mysticism, and the links between disturbing aspects of certain mystic’s experiences and their links to childhood abuse.[43][44][45] In another line of research, Clifford A. Pickover explores evidence suggesting that temporal lobe epilepsy may be linked to a variety of spiritual or ‘other worldly’ experiences, such as spiritual possession, originating from altered electrical activity in the brain.[46] Carl Sagan, in his last book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, presented his case for the miraculous sightings of religious figures in the past and the modern sightings of UFOs coming from the same mental disorder. According to Professor Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, “It’s possible that many great religious leaders had temporal lobe seizures and this predisposes them to having visions, having mystical experiences.”[47] Dr. Michael Persinger stimulated the temporal lobes of the brain artificially with a magnetic field using a device nicknamed the “God helmet,” and was able to artificially induce religious experiences along with near-death experiences and ghost sightings.[48] Neuropsychology Professor John Bradshaw also says:

Some forms of temporal lobe tumours or epilepsy are associated with extreme religiosity. Recent brain imaging of devotees engaging in prayer or transcendental meditation has more precisely identified activation in such sites — God-spots, as Vilayanur Ramachandran calls them. Psilocybin from mushrooms contacts the serotonergic system, with terminals in these and other brain regions, generating a sense of cosmic unity, transcendental meaning and religious ecstasy. Certain physical rituals can generate both these feelings and corresponding serotonergic activity.[49]

Religion apologist Keith Ward in his book Is Religion Dangerous? addresses the claim that religious belief is a delusion. He quotes the definition in the Oxford Companion to Mind as “a fixed, idiosyncratic belief, unusual in the culture to which the person belongs,” and notes that “[n]ot all false opinions are delusions.” Ward then characterizes a delusion as a “clearly false opinion, especially as a symptom of a mental illness,” an “irrational belief” that is “so obviously false that all reasonable people would see it as mistaken.” He then says that belief in God is different, since “[m]ost great philosophers have believed in God, and they are rational people”. He argues that “[a]ll that is needed to refute the claim that religious belief is a delusion is one clear example of someone who exhibits a high degree of rational ability, who functions well in the ordinary affairs of life … and who can produce a reasonable and coherent defense of their beliefs” and claims that there are many such people, “including some of the most able philosophers and scientists in the world today.”[50]

Evolved characteristic of the human brain

Some critics, such as Richard Dawkins and Pascal Boyer, contend that religion is nothing more than a social construct that primitive humans evolved to improve their odds of survival. Dawkins and others have posited that a pre-disposition to believe in superstitions and religion could enhance the survival of the human species, by enhancing fear of imagined (and sometimes real) dangers, and thus increasing the likelihood that humans would take pre-emptive defensive measures.

Research in 2009 on the so-called “God Spot” has found that several areas of the brain are involved in religious belief, one within the frontal lobes of the cortex—which are distinctively developed in humans—and another in the more evolutionary-ancient regions deeper inside the brain, which humans share with apes and other primates. The study found that people of different religious persuasions and beliefs, as well as atheists, all tended to use the same circuits in the brain to solve a perceived moral conundrum which were also the same ones used when religiously-inclined people dealt with issues related to God. The findings support the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival and suggests the brain is inherently sensitive to believing in almost anything if there are grounds for doing so. This work was followed by a study where scientists tried to stimulate the temporal lobes with a rotating magnetic field. Michael Persinger, from Laurentian University in Ontario, found that he could artificially create the experience of religious feelings in 80% of volunteers.[51]

Immature stage of societal development


Philosophy and Christian Art. W. Ridgway, 1878

Some critics of religion say that religion is merely an early phase during the development of a culture or society, and that religion is often replaced with more rational or reasonable belief systems. Many critics assert that the needs of religion can be met with alternative, superior means, namely: the need for explaining life and death can be met by science and philosophy; questions of good and evil are addressed by ethics; and inspiration and beauty can be found in the arts.[52]


Daniel Dennett in Venice 2006

Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell, said “I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about twenty-five years almost all religions will have evolved into very different phenomena, so much so that in most quarters religion will no longer command the awe it does today.”[53]

Geoffrey Miller,[54] in the November 2006 edition of New Scientist said: “Evolutionary moral psychology will reveal the social conditions under which human moral virtues flourish. The US will follow the UK in realizing that religion is not a prerequisite for ordinary human decency. Thus, science will kill religion — not by reason challenging faith, but by offering a more practical, universal and rewarding moral framework for human interaction. A naturalistic moral philosophy will replace the rotting fictions of theological ethics.”[55] Dr. John Bradshaw, Professor of Neuropsychology at Monash University in Melbourne, wrote: “Evolutional models are every bit as beautiful and intellectually and morally satisfying as the myths, stories and precepts of an ossified theology — and they can explain, predict and be applied in hosts of important and socially useful ways.”[49]

Philosopher Auguste Comte posited that many societal constructs pass through three stages, and that religion corresponds to the two earlier, or more primitive stages.

From the study of the development of human intelligence, in all directions, and through all times, the discovery arises of a great fundamental law, to which it is necessarily subject, and which has a solid foundation of proof, both in the facts of our organization and in our historical experience. The law is this: that each of our leading conceptions – each branch of our knowledge – passes successively through three different theoretical conditions: the theological, or fictitious; the metaphysical, or abstract; and the scientific, or positive.

— Auguste Comte

Harm to individuals

Many aspects of religion are criticized by skeptics on the basis that they are harmful to the individual believer.[56] They cite the effects of what they consider dogmatic adherence to irrational beliefs and practices such as withholding medical care[57] and self-sacrifice,[58] as well as unnatural restrictions on human behaviour (such as teetotalism and sexual prohibitions) and claim that these result in mental and emotional trauma of fear and guilt.[59]

Indoctrination of children

Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer spoke of the subject in 19th century:

“And as the capacity for believing is strongest in childhood, special care is taken to make sure of this tender age. This has much more to do with the doctrines of belief taking root than threats and reports of miracles. If, in early childhood, certain fundamental views and doctrines are paraded with unusual solemnity, and an air of the greatest earnestness never before visible in anything else; if, at the same time, the possibility of a doubt about them be completely passed over, or touched upon only to indicate that doubt is the first step to eternal perdition, the resulting impression will be so deep that, as a rule, that is, in almost every case, doubt about them will be almost as impossible as doubt about one’s own existence.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer, On Religion: A Dialogue

Critics such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins use the term child abuse to describe the harm that some religious upbringings inflict on children.[60][61] They claim that children are especially vulnerable to mental harms related to religion, including:[citation needed] 

  • Terrorized by threats of punishment, such as eternal damnation in a fiery hell
  • Extreme guilt about normal, healthy sexual functions
  • Trained to disrespect science and reason
  • Indoctrinated into a particular religious faith, thus depriving the child of the opportunity to make their own free inquiry later, when they are mature 

Dawkins states that he is angered by the labels “Muslim child” or “Catholic child”. He asks how a young child can be considered intellectually mature enough to have such independent views on the cosmos and humanity’s place within it. By contrast, Dawkins points out, no reasonable person would speak of a “Marxist child” or a “Tory child”.[60] He suggests there is little controversy over such labeling because of the “weirdly privileged status of religion”.

On several occasions Dawkins has also made the controversial claim that sexually abusing a child is “arguably less” damaging than “the long term psychological damage inflicted by bringing up a child Catholic in the first place”.[60] This claim was later rebutted by Theodore Beale who wrote that Dawkins “first provides anecdotal information from one woman who was raised Catholic, was sexually abused by a priest, and later had nightmares about Hell….Despite posing the proposition as a comparison, Dawkins does not bother to consider what, if any, the negative effects of childhood sexual trauma might happen to be” and notes that “half” of the anecdotes Dawkins cites in favour of his case “aren’t even related to Catholicism”.[62] Beale cites several studies that attribute suicide to childhood sexual abuse rather than to religion.[63][64] Beale also cites studies that conclude that religiousity correlates with better mental health and less likelihood of suicide.[65][66] Beale concludes that “[w]hile there is no evidence that being raised Catholic is more psychologically damaging than being sexually abused as a child, there is a great deal of evidence proving the opposite.”

Child marriage

Islam[67] has permitted the child marriage of older men to girls as young as 10 years of age. The Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children describes cases of a 10 year old girl being married and raped in Yemen (Nujood Ali),[68] a 13 year old Yemeni girl dying of internal bleeding three days after marriage,[69][70] and a 12 year old girl dying in childbirth after marriage.[67][71]

Latter Day Saint church founder Joseph Smith married girls as young as 13 and 14,[72] and other Latter Day Saints married girls as young as 10.[73] The The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eliminated underaged marriages in the 19th century, but several fundamentalist branches of Mormonism continue the practice.[74]

Inadequate medical care


Saint Francis Borgia performing an exorcism, by Goya

Some religions treat illness, both mental and physical, in a manner that does not heal, and in some cases exacerbates the problem. Specific examples include faith healing of certain Christian sects, the Christian Science religion which eschews medical care, and exorcisms.[75][76]

Faith based practices for healing purposes have come into direct conflict with both the medical profession and the law when victims of these practices are harmed, or in the most extreme cases, killed by these “cures.”[57][77][78] A detailed study in 1998 found 140 instances of deaths of children due to religion-based medical neglect. Most of these cases involved religious parents relying on prayer to cure the child’s disease, and withholding medical care.[56]

In 2011, a longitudinal scientific study from the Northwestern University School of Medicine concluded that religious young adults are “50 percent more likely to be obese by middle age after adjusting for differences in age, race, sex, education, income, and baseline body mass index.”[79] The study tracked 2,433 subjects over a period of 18 years.

Jerusalem syndrome

There are certain places with deep associations with religious feeling, often called places of pilgrimage. One of these is Jerusalem, which is revered by followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem has lent its name to a unique psychological phenomenon where Jewish or Christian individuals who develop obsessive religious themed ideas or delusions (sometimes believing themselves to be Jesus Christ or another prophet) will feel compelled to travel to Jerusalem.[80][81]

During a period of 13 years (1980–1993) for which admissions to the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Jerusalem were analysed, it was reported[82] that 1,200 tourists with severe, Jerusalem-themed mental problems were referred to this clinic. Of these, 470 were admitted to hospital. On average, 100 such tourists have been seen annually, 40 of them requiring admission to hospital. About 2 million tourists visit Jerusalem each year. Kalian and Witztum note that as a proportion of the total numbers of tourists visiting the city, this is not significantly different from any other city.[83][84] The statements of these claims has however been disputed, with the arguments that experiencers of the Jerusalem syndrome already were mentally ill.[83][85]

Guilt about normal sexual functions

Critics such as Hitchens assert that many religions view some types of natural sexual activity (such as homosexuality or masturbation) as evil or immoral, and that this view can sometimes lead to neuroses or other ill effects.[59] Hitchens also argues that virginity is unhealthy, and can lead to emotional problems.

Blood sacrifice


Depiction of Aztec human sacrifice from the 16th century Codex Magliabechiano

Hitchens claims that many religions endorse blood sacrifice, wherein innocent victims are killed or harmed to appease deities,[86] specifically citing Judaism for its obsession with blood and sacrifice, particularly the goal of identifying and sacrificing of a pure red heifer (described in Numbers 19), the pursuit of which Hitchens characterizes as “absurd”, singling out the goal of raising a human child in a “bubble” so as to “be privileged to cut that heifer’s throat”.[87] Another prominent example is the daily sacrifice of humans practiced by the Aztecs.[88][89]

Genital modification and mutilation

Hitchens claims that many religions endorse male circumcision and female genital cutting, which he views as genital mutilation, and as immoral, unhealthy, and unnecessary.[90]


Responding in the book The Irrational Atheist to criticisms that religion is harmful, Theodore Beale argues that religious individuals tend to be happier and healthier, more likely to have children, and more sexually satisfied than non-religious individuals.[91] There is substantial research suggesting that religious people are happier and less stressed.[92][93] Surveys by Gallup, the National Opinion Research Center and the Pew Organization conclude that spiritually committed people are twice as likely to report being “very happy” than the least religiously committed people.[94] An analysis of over 200 social studies contends that “high religiousness predicts a rather lower risk of depression and drug abuse and fewer suicide attempts, and more reports of satisfaction with sex life and a sense of well-being,”[95] and a review of 498 studies published in peer-reviewed journals concluded that a large majority of them showed a positive correlation between religious commitment and higher levels of perceived well-being and self-esteem and lower levels of hypertension, depression, and clinical delinquency.[96][vague][97] Studies by Keith Ward show that overall religion is a positive contributor to mental health,[98] and a meta-analysis of 34 recent studies published between 1990 and 2001 also found that religiosity has a salutary relationship with psychological adjustment, being related to less psychological distress, more life satisfaction, and better self-actualization.[99] A 2009 working paper by Andrew E. Clark and Orsolya Lelkes based on surveys from 90,000 people in 26 European countries found that “[one’s own] religious behaviour is positively correlated with individual life satisfaction.” and furthermore that greater overall “religiosity” in a region also correlates positively with “individual life satisfaction” on both the religious and non-religious population. The reverse was also found to be true: a large “atheist” (non-religious) population “has negative spillover effects” for both the religious and non-religious members of the population.[100] Finally, a recent systematic review of 850 research papers on the topic concluded that “the majority of well-conducted studies found that higher levels of religious involvement are positively associated with indicators of psychological well-being (life satisfaction, happiness, positive affect, and higher morale) and with less depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior, drug/alcohol use/abuse.”[101]

However, as of 2001, most of those studies were conducted within the United States.[102] According to a 2007 paper by Liesbeth Snoep in the Journal of Happiness Studies, there is no significant correlation between religiosity and individual happiness in Denmark and the Netherlands, countries that have lower rates of religion than the United States.[103] Further, these studies do not differentiate between the non-religious and those who are atheist or agnostic. So while it may be that the larger group of non-religious as less satisfied, etc., than the religious, they do not define whether those who have a strong commitment to atheism are just as unsatisfied as those who are simply uncommitted.

Harm to society

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.

Steven Weinberg, Conference on Cosmic Design (April 1999)[104]

Some aspects of religion are criticized on the basis that they damage society as a whole. Critics such as Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins cite religiously inspired or justified violence, resistance to social change, attacks on science, repression of women, and homophobia.[105]

Most religions hold their teachings or revelations to be those that are the closest to the universal truths and those of other religions to be further from, or more often, in direct contradiction with these truths. Critics of this worldview[who?] claim that this monopoly of universal truths leads, inevitably, to a very ingrained “us vs. them” group solidarity and mentality (often referred to as moral superiority) which, to a wide range of extents, dehumanise or demonise individuals outside the particular faith as “not fully human”, or in some way less worthy and less deserving of rights and regard. Results can, based on the fanaticism of this belief, vary from mild discrimination to outright genocide.[106]

One study[107] has shown that there is a direct correlation between religiosity and societal dysfunction, including homicide, sexual disease, teenage pregnancy and marital problems. Data for this study was obtained from approximately 23,000 people in almost all (17) of the developed democracies. While the data was multi-national, further evidence of religion’s effect on societal health was concluded from regional differences in the United States. According to paleontologist Gregory S. Paul:

There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms.

An analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from Paul’s research.[108]

Holy war and religious terrorism


Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople by Gustave Doré (1832–1883)

Critics such as Hitchens and Dawkins say that religions do tremendous harm to society in three ways:[23][24]


  • Religions sometimes use war, violence, and terrorism to promote their religious goals
  • Religious leaders contribute to secular wars and terrorism by endorsing or supporting the violence
  • Religious fervor is exploited by secular leaders to support war and terrorism 

Examples of religion-based wars include the Mideast conflict between Israel and neighboring Muslim countries, the Crusades, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, French Wars of Religion, European wars of religion, the Taiping Rebellion, Islamic Jihad, the Second Sudanese Civil War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the Sri Lankan Civil War, and Jewish-Roman Wars.[citation needed]

Examples of religion-based violence and terrorism include the Mormon-led Mountain Meadows massacre and Muslim-led attacks such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the 2005 London bombings, and the Bali bombings. These attacks are carried out by those with very strong religious convictions. These acts of religious terrorism are seen by the terrorists as small skirmishes in the context of a much larger global religious war.[109] Although the causes of terrorism are complex, it may be that terrorists are partially reassured by their religious views that God is on their side and will reward them in heaven for punishing unbelievers.[110][111]


Mormon-led Mountain Meadows massacre

These conflicts are among the most difficult to resolve, particularly where both sides believe that God is on their side and has endorsed the moral righteousness of their claims.[110] One of the most infamous quotes associated with religious fanaticism was made in 1209 during the siege of Béziers, a Crusader asked the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric how to tell Catholics from Cathars when the city was taken, to which Amalric replied: “Tuez-les tous; Dieu reconnaitra les siens,” or “Kill them all; God will recognize his.”[112]

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku considers religious terrorism as one of the main threats in humanity’s evolution from a Type 0 to Type 1 civilization.[113]

Arguments against the harm of religious wars

Some argue that religious violence is mostly caused by misinterpretations of the relevant religions’ ethical rules and a combination of non-religious factors.[114][115][116] Robert Pape argues that the news reports about suicide attacks are profoundly misleading: “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions”. After studying 315 suicide attacks carried out over the last two decades, he concludes that suicide bombers’ actions stem from political conflict, not religion.[116] Michael A. Sheehan argues that many terrorist groups use religious and cultural terms to conceal political goals and gain popular support.[117] Terry Nardin suggests that religious terrorism does not differ in “character and causes, from political terrorism.”[118] Mark Juergensmeyer argues that religion “does not ordinarily lead to violence.That happens only with the coalescence of a peculiar set of circumstances—political, social, and ideological—when religion becomes fused with violent expressions of social aspirations, personal pride, and movements for political change.”[119]:10 and that the use of the term “terrorist” depends on whether or not the speaker believes the acts involved are warranted.[119]:9 Believers have also responded to atheists in these discussions by pointing to the widespread imprisonment and mass murder of individuals under atheist states in the twentieth century:[120][121[122]

And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they did their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a ‘new man’ and a religion-free utopia? These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration, they were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.

Dinesh D’Souza[122]

H. Allen Orr also attributed many of the historical religious violent activities to the secular and political roles that were performed by the church in the past and noted that the recent absence of religion among the government of modern communist nations did not lead to Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, or Joseph Stalin leading any less violently.[123] In response to some apologists who note that the lack of religion did not prevent many modern dictators from committing great acts of violence, Christopher Hitchens said: “it is interesting to find that people of faith now seek defensively to say that they are no worse than fascists or Nazis or Stalinists.”[124] Furthermore, Richard Dawkins, in response to Pope Benedict‘s accusations that atheism was responsible for “some 20th century atrocities”, has replied: “how dare Ratzinger suggest that atheism has any connection whatsoever with their horrific deeds? Any more than Hitler and Stalin’s non-belief in leprechauns or unicorns…. There is no logical pathway from atheism to wickedness.”[125]

Suppression of scientific progress


Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White, authors of the conflict thesis, have argued that when a religion offers a complete set of answers to the problems of purpose, morality, origins, or science, it often discourages exploration of those areas by suppressing curiosity, denies its followers a broader perspective, and can prevent social, moral and scientific progress. Examples of scientific suppression by the Roman Catholic Church include the trial of Galileo for arguing that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and the execution of scientist and philosopher Giordano Bruno.

In more recent time, many debates have arisen that follow a pattern of faith versus reason, in particular the rise of fundamentalist and bible literalist opposition to science and liberal democracy. Examples include the creation-evolution controversy, and controversies over the use of birth control, the separation of church and state, opposition to research into embryonic stem cells, or theological objections to vaccination, anesthesia, and blood transfusion.[126][127][128][129][130]

During the 19th century what scholars today call the historical conflict thesis developed. According to this model, any interaction between religion and science must inevitably lead to open hostility, with religion usually taking the part of the aggressor against new scientific ideas.[131] The historical conflict thesis was a popular historiographical approach in the history of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but its original form is almost entirely discarded by scholars today.[132][133][134] Despite that, conflict theory remains a popular view among the general public,[135] and has been publicized by the success of books such as The God Delusion.

Historians of science including John Hedley Brooke and Ronald Numbers consider the “religion vs. science” concept an oversimplification, and prefer to take a more nuanced view of the subject.[135][136] These historians cite, for example, the Galileo affair[137] and the Scopes trial,[138] and assert that these were not purely instances of conflict between science and religion; personal and political factors also weighed heavily in the development of each. In addition, some historians contend that religious organizations figure prominently in the broader histories of many sciences, with many of the scientific minds until the professionalization of scientific enterprise (in the 19th century) being clergy and other religious thinkers.[139][140][141] Some historians contend that many scientific developments, such as Kepler’s laws[142] and the 19th century reformulation of physics in terms of energy,[143] were explicitly driven by religious ideas.

Suppression of art and literature


Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa against Salman Rushdie


Former site of one of the Buddhas of Bamyan

Some religions have destroyed important artistic works and cultural or religious artifacts. The Taliban destroyed the Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001 in the name of Islam. Catholic priest Diego de Landa almost single handedly destroyed all knowledge of the Mayan hieroglyphs, with the desire to wipe out the Mayan religion. During the English civil war, Parliamentarian soldiers destroyed two of the Eleanor Crosses, one at Cheapside in London and another in Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire, as they were viewed to be relics of the Catholic faith to which, as Puritans, they were opposed.

In 1989, Muslim religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious edict condemning author Salman Rushdie to death for the publication of The Satanic Verses.[144]

In 2005, many Muslims protested against the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammad.

Muslims in Bangladesh issued a fatwa (religious decree) calling for the death of poet and author Taslima Nasrin because of the women’s rights issues raised in her books, particularly her novel Lajja.[145]


See also: Human sacrifice, Honor killing, Morality and religion, and Religious intolerance

A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

Albert Einstein[146]

Nobel Peace laureate, Muslim, and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi has criticized dogmatic Islam as morally deficient, arguing that it elevates to moral status many ancient and ill-informed rules that may have been designed for reasons of hygiene, politics, or other reasons in a bygone era.[147] An example of this would be the idea that women and men must be kept separate, or that women who do not cover themselves up modestly have tendencies for immorality, or are in some way responsible for sexual assault.[148][149]

Dawkins contends that theistic religions devalue human compassion and morality. In his view, the Bible contains many injunctions against following one’s conscience over scripture, and positive actions are supposed to originate not from compassion, but from the fear of punishment.[24] Religious institutions typically declare they have special knowledge of absolute morality and invoke this in order to hinder debates on many issues such as stem cell research, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.[129][150]

Treatment of homosexuals


A Westboro Baptist Church picket in Northlake, Illinois, US on November 29, 2005

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

Many major religions, most prominently traditional Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Orthodox Judaism, consider homosexuality immoral. Singer Elton John said organized religion promotes the hatred of homosexuals: “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people… Organized religion does not seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”[151]

In the United States, conservative Christian groups such as the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund have filed numerous lawsuits against public universities, aimed at overturning policies that protect homosexuals from discrimination and hate speech. These groups argue that such policies infringe their right to freely exercise religion as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.[152]

Homosexuality is illegal in most Muslim countries, and in many of these countries carries the death penalty. In July 2005, two Iranian men, aged sixteen and eighteen, were publicly hanged for homosexuality, causing an international outcry. Human rights organisations estimate that hundreds of people have been executed for homosexuality by Iranian authorities since the 1979 revolution.[153]

However, many liberal religious groups, and particularly most New Age religions, are accepting of homosexuals and do not regard their behavior as sinful, in particular: the Anglican Church of Canada,[154] the Episcopal Church, Progressive Judaism, Moravian Church,[154] Neopaganism, Raëlism, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalism, Haitian Voodoo, Wicca, and the Metropolitan Community Church, which was established almost specifically for this purpose.



Cross often used by Ku Klux Klan to intimidate minorities

Religion has been used by some as justification for advocating racism. The Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity movement, Mormon leaders, and some Post-Medieval Theologians have made claims that white people are closer to God than other races. Religious terrorist organizations such as the forenamed Ku Klux Klan, Kach and Kahane Chai and others also hold ostensibly racist views.[155][156] There are arguments, however, that these positions may be as much reflections of contemporary social views as of what has been called scientific racism.[157]

The LDS Church excluded blacks from the priesthood in the church, from 1860 to 1978.[158] Most Fundamentalist Mormon sects within the Latter Day Saint movement, rejected the LDS Church’s 1978 decision to allow African Americans to hold the priesthood, and continue to deny activity in the church due to race.[159] Due to these beliefs, in its Spring 2005 “Intelligence Report”, the Southern Poverty Law Center named the FLDS Church to its “hate group” listing[160] because of the church’s teachings on race, which include a fierce condemnation of interracial relationships.

On the other hand, many Christians have made efforts toward establishing racial equality, contributing to the Civil Rights Movement.[161] The African American Review sees as important the role Christian revivalism in the black church played in the Civil Rights Movement.[162] Martin Luther King, Jr., an ordained Baptist minister, was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Christian Civil Rights organization.[163]

Treatment of women


In some Muslim countries, women wear hijabs or niqabs that conceal almost all of their bodies.

Critics say that religions often treat women in a discriminatory fashion, given them status inferior to men, depriving them of opportunities, endorsing excessive punishments, and using torture and executions as a manner of subjugating them.

An example of such criticism is the treatment of women in modern Islam, such as the required wearing of a burqa in some sects, or denying women permission to drive cars.

Critics also claim that Islam authorizes the punishment of female rape victims, citing a Saudi Arabian case where a rape victim was sentenced to receive 90 lashes because she was in a car with a man that was not her relative.[164]

Critics including Hitchens and the United Nations also say that Islam is used to justify unnecessary and usually harmful female genital modification and mutilation, when the purposes range from depriving them of sexual satisfaction to discourage adultery, insuring they are still a virgin to their husbands, or falsely giving the appearance that they are still a virgin.[90][165]

Witch hunts

Another example is the use of witch trials by the Christian churches from 1480 through 1800. These trials, often resulting in torture or death of the alleged witch, were based on the Old Testament in the Exodus 22:18, which prescribes “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”. Criticssay that these trials were unfair, and that witchcraft was often not in evidence, and that the trials were generally used to punish assertive or independent women, such as midwives,[166] or activists.[167]

Cruelty to animals



Kosher slaughter has historically attracted criticism from non-Jews as allegedly being inhumane and unsanitary,[168] in part as an antisemitic canard that eating ritually slaughtered meat caused degeneration,[169] and in part out of economic motivation to remove Jews from the meat industry.[168] Sometimes, however, these criticisms were directed at Judaism as a religion. In 1893, animal advocates campaigning against kosher slaughter in Aberdeen attempted to link cruelty with Jewish religious practice.[170] In the 1920s, Polish critics of kosher slaughter claimed that the practice actually had no basis in scripture.[168] In contrast, Jewish authorities argue that the slaughter methods are based directly upon Genesis IX:3, and that “these laws are binding on Jews today.”[171]

More recently, kosher slaughter has attracted criticism from some groups concerned with animal welfare, who contend that the absence of any form of anesthesia or stunning prior to the severance of the animal’s jugular vein causes unnecessary pain and suffering. Calls for the abolition of kosher slaughter have been made in 2008 by Germany’s federal chamber of veterinarians,[172] and in 2011 by the Party for Animals in the Dutch parliament.[173] In both incidents, Jewish groups responded that the criticisms were attacks against their religion.[172][173]

Supporters of kosher slaughter counter that Judaism requires the practice precisely because it is considered humane.[171] Research conducted by Temple Grandin and Joe M. Regenstein in 1994 concluded that, practiced correctly with proper restraint systems, kosher slaughter results in little pain and suffering, and notes that behavioral reactions to the incision made during kosher slaughter are less than those to noises such as clanging or hissing, inversion or pressure during restraint.[174]

Arguments against religion promoting immoral behavior

Some scientific studies show that the degree of religiosity is generally found to be associated with higher ethical attitudes[175][176][177][178] — for example, surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism.[179] Although a recent study by Gregory S. Paul published in the Journal of Religion and Society argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction,[180] an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from the research.[108]

Survey research suggests that believers do tend to hold different views than non-believers on a variety of social, ethical and moral questions. According to a 2003 survey conducted in the United States by The Barna Group, a Christian-affiliated research organization, those who described themselves as believers were less likely than those describing themselves as atheists or agnostics to consider the following behaviors morally acceptable: cohabitating with someone of the opposite sex outside of marriage, enjoying sexual fantasies, having an abortion, sexual relationships outside of marriage, gambling, looking at pictures of nudity or explicit sexual behavior, getting drunk, and “having a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex.”[181]

Moreover, a comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[182][183] The study revealed that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services.[182] Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%).[182]


Religious apologists often respond that those guilty of such actions are merely misguided extremists and don’t represent mainstream religion, or that such things are only exceptions and that, by and large, religion is a positive civilizing influence on society. Atheists such as Hector Avalos counter that this may be a No true Scotsman fallacy in that apologists may decide which believers are considered “mainstream” and which are “extremist” on a basis that favors their position.[184]

In response to an article that correlates religiosity in society with dysfunctional behaviors,[107] an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from the research.[108] In the same issue, Gary Jensen builds on and refines Paul’s study.[185] His conclusion, after carrying out elaborate multivariate statistical studies, is that a complex relationship exists between religiosity and homicide with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it.” Meanwhile, other studies seem to show positive links in the relationship between religiosity and moral behavior[176][177][178] — for example, surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism.[186] Other research in criminology indicates an inverse relationship between religion and crime,[187] with many studies establishing this beneficial connection (though some say it is a modest one).[188] Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.[189]

Theodore Beale responds to criticisms that religion harms society by arguing that religious individuals tend to be more generous and more likely to have children.[91] Religious belief appears to be the strongest predictor of charitable giving.[190][191][192][193][194] One study found that average charitable giving in 2000 by religious individuals ($2,210) was over three times that of secular individuals ($642). Giving to non-religious charities by religious individuals was $88 higher. Religious individuals are also more likely to volunteer time, donate blood, and give back money when accidentally given too much change.[192] A 2007 study by The Barna Group found that “active-faith” individuals (those who had attended a church service in the past week) reported that they had given on average $1,500 in 2006, while “no-faith” individuals reported that they had given on average $200. “Active-faith” adults claimed to give twice as much to non-church-related charities as “no-faith” individuals claimed to give. They were also more likely to report that they were registered to vote, that they volunteered, that they personally helped someone who was homeless, and to describe themselves as “active in the community.”[195]

Corrupt purposes of leaders

Many criticisms of religion focus on the purposes of the leaders of the religions, rather than on the religious doctrines. Critics point out that many religions endow their leaders with immoral or corrupt authority, and that leaders often abuse the power for financial gain, or increased access to sexual partners, or to oppress minorities or enemies. Critics claim that religious leaders have often supported un-democratic and oppressive power structures, such as the absolutist monarchies of Europe, or the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

Corrupt or immoral leaders


Caricature of Mormon leader Brigham Young’s wives

Critics point out that several religions were founded by individuals who appeared to be using the religion for immoral or corrupt purposes, such as financial gain, access to power, or justifying multiple wives. Examples given by critics include Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who owned 90 Rolls Royce cars, cult leader David Koresh, and Mormon leaders Joseph Smith who had about 27 wives and Brigham Young who had about 57 wives.[196] Roman Catholic pope Alexander VI (of the Borgia family) was noted for his many mistresses, syphilis and nepotism. Evangelical Christian pastor Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud for improperly using large amounts of money from his congregation for personal use.

Authoritarian political power

The term “authoritarian” is used to describe an organization, an institution, or a state that enforces strong and sometimes oppressive measures against those within its sphere of influence, generally without any attempt at gaining their consent and often not allowing criticism of its policies.

In this sense, some religious organizations can be seen as authoritarian, insofar as their goal is to define themselves as the ultimate authority by which the law of the land is granted. As this divine source of authority is not to be criticized by non-religious arguments, it is the antithesis to secularism. A country where the above has been achieved is called a theocracy.[197]

Some religions also teach that there was, or is, a human with divinity or touched by divine guidance, and who is therefore infallible: for example Jesus, Muhammad and, in certain circumstances, the Pope.

Divine mandate used for political gain

The ancient egyptians believed that upon taking the throne, the pharaoh became the earthly embodiment of a god. They believed that in his role as both man and god, he was responsible for preserving not only the empire, but the universe itself.[198]

Until the end of World War II the Emperor of Japan held a similar status,[199] and deification of Roman emperors was common practice following the reign of Augustus.[200] Systems such as this equated political opposition to heresy, and served to support existing power structures by suppressing dissent. On New Year’s Day 1946, Emperor Hirohito (formally) declined claims of divinity with the Humanity Declaration.


The term dominionism is often used to describe a political movement among fundamentalist Christians. Critics view dominionism as an attempt to improperly impose Christianity as the national faith of the United States. It emerged in the late 1980s inspired by the book, film and lecture series, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” by Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop.[201] Schaeffer’s views influenced conservatives like Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, John W. Whitehead, and although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists believe they have a Christian duty to take “control of a sinful secular society”, either by putting fundamentalist Christians in office, or by introducing biblical law into the secular sphere.[126][202][203] Social scientists have used the word “dominionism” to refer to adherence to Dominion Theology[204][205][206] as well as to the influence in the broader Christian Right of ideas inspired by Dominion Theology.[204]

In the early 1990s, sociologist Sara Diamond[207][208] and journalist Frederick Clarkson[209][210] defined dominionism as a movement that, while including Dominion Theology and Christian Reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right.[211] Beginning in 2004 with essayist Katherine Yurica,[212][213][214] a group of authors including journalist Chris Hedges[215][216][217] Marion Maddox,[218] James Rudin,[219] Sam Harris,[220] and the group TheocracyWatch[221] began applying the term to a broader spectrum of people than have sociologists such as Diamond.

Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians.[222] [223][224] The terms “dominionist” and “dominionism” are rarely used for self-description, and their usage has been attacked from several quarters. Chip Berlet wrote that “some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point.”[225] Sara Diamond wrote that “[l]iberals’ writing about the Christian Right’s take-over plans has generally taken the form of conspiracy theory.”[226] Journalist Anthony Williams charged that its purpose is “to smear the Republican Party as the party of domestic Theocracy, facts be damned.”[227] Stanley Kurtz labeled it “conspiratorial nonsense,” “political paranoia,” and “guilt by association,”[228] and decried Hedges’ “vague characterizations” that allow him to “paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless ‘Dominionist’ Christian mass.”[229] Kurtz also complained about a perceived link between average Christian evangelicals and extremism such as Christian Reconstructionism:

The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it’s downright dangerous. The most disturbing part of the Harper’s cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside ‘the old polite rules of democracy.’ So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary.[228]


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139.^ Rupke, Nicolaas A. (2002). “Geology and Paleontology”. In Gary Ferngren. Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0.

140.^ Hess, Peter M. (2002). “Natural History”. In Gary Ferngren. Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0.

141.^ Moore, James (2002). “Charles Darwin”. In Gary Ferngren. Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0.

142.^ Barker, Peter; Goldstein, Bernard R. (2001). “Theological Foundations of Kepler’s Astronomy”. Osiris. Science in Theistic Contexts. 16. University of Chicago Press. pp. 88–113.

143.^ Smith, Crosbie (1998). The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. London: The Athlone Press.

144.^ “BBC ON THIS DAY : 14 : 1989: Ayatollah sentences author to death”. BBC (bbc.co.uk). 1989-02-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/14/newsid_2541000/2541149.stm. Retrieved 2010-04-12.

145.^ Hossain, Rakeeb (2007-08-18). “Fatwa offers unlimited money to kill Taslima”. Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=5d562b17-64dc-4a90-8396-7cfcaea2d568&ParentID=ea13ac8f-a3d8-45a2-9eba-b56c9b73e87b&&Headline=Kolkata%27s+clerics+threaten+Taslima. Retrieved 2009-05-31.

146.^ Einstein, Albert (1930-11-09). “Religion and Science”. New York Times Magazine.

147.^ Ebadi has spoken out against undemocratic Islamic countries justifying “oppressive acts” in the name of Islam. Speaking at the Earth Dialogues 2006 conference in Brisbane, Ebadi said her native Iran as well as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen “among others” were guilty of human rights violations. “In these countries, Islamic rulers want to solve 21st century issues with laws belonging to 14 centuries ago,” she said. “Their views of human rights are exactly the same as it was 1400 years ago.”

148.^ Kerbaj, Richard (2006-10-26). “Muslim leader blames women for sex attacks”. The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20646437-601,00.html.

149.^ Raid Qusti. “Women Asked to Leave Seminar”. http://arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=89107&d=22&m=11&y=2006.

150.^ “Vatican drive to curb gay marriage” (in BBC News). 2003-07-31. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3108349.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-02.

151.^ “When Elton met Jake |”. The Observer url=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,,1942193,00.html (London). 13 November 2006.

152.^ Simon, Stephanie (10 April 2006). “Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies”. Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/1018310011.html?dids=1018310011:1018310011&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Apr+10%2C+2006&author=Stephanie+Simon&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&edition=&startpage=A.1&desc=Christians+Sue+for+Right+Not+to+Tolerate+Policies.

153.^ Eke, Steven (28 July 2005). “Iran ‘must stop youth executions'”. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4725959.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-02.

154.^ a b Christianity and homosexuality

155.^ “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”. US Office of Counterterrorism. 2005-10-11. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/37191.htm.

156.^ Berlet, Chip (2004). “A New Face for Racism & Fascism”. White Supremacist, Antisemitic, and Race Hate Groups in the U.S.: A Geneaology. Political Research Associates. http://www.publiceye.org/rightist/idennlns.html. Retrieved 2007-02-18.

157.^ “Ostensibly scientific”: cf. Adam Kuper, Jessica Kuper (eds.), The social science encyclopedia (1996), “Racism”, p. 716: “This [sc. scientific] racism entailed the use of ‘scientific techniques’, to sanction the belief in European and American racial superiority”; Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Questions to sociobiology (1998), “Race, theories of”, p. 18: “Its exponents [sc. of scientific racism] tended to equate race with species and claimed that it constituted a scientific explanation of human history”; Terry Jay Ellingson, The myth of the noble savage (2001), 147ff. “In scientific racism, the racism was never very scientific; nor, it could at least be argued, was whatever met the qualifications of actual science ever very racist” (p. 151); Paul A. Erickson,Liam D. Murphy, A History of Anthropological Theory (2008), p. 152: “Scientific racism: Improper or incorrect science that actively or passively supports racism”.

158.^ Abanes, Richard (2002). One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-219-6.

159.^ (PDF) The Primer, Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities: Fundamentalist Mormon Communities. Utah Attorney General’s Office and Arizona Attorney General’s Office. June 2006. p. 41. http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/cmsdocuments/The_Primer.pdf. Retrieved 29 June 2010

160.^ “Hate Groups Map: Utah”. Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org/intel/map/hate.jsp?S=UT&m=5.

161.^ “Civil Rights Movement in the United States”. Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1257023158759408. Retrieved 3 January 2007.

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164.^ “Newspaper article on rape victim”. http://www.news24.com/Content/World/News/1073/1a77b84a4491420e9e0cd45cba11cb4f/15-11-2007-02-08/Rape_victim_gets_200_lashes.

165.^ Ahmed Obaid, Thoraya (6 February 2007). “Statement on the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation”. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). http://www.unfpa.org/public/News/pid/280. Retrieved 2008-02-08.

166.^ Teijlingen, Edwin R. (2004). Midwifery and the medicalization of childbirth: comparative perspectives. Nova Publishers. p. 46.

167.^ Eller, Cynthia (1995). Living in the lap of the Goddess: the feminist spirituality movement in America. Beacon Press. pp. 170–175.

168.^ a b c Melzer, Emanuel (1997). No way out: the politics of Polish Jewry, 1935–1939. Hebrew Union College Press. pp. 81–90. ISBN 0-87820-418-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=co3KJikOaBYC&pg=PA81#v=onepage&q&f=false.

169.^ Poliakov, Léon (1968). The History of Anti-semitism: From Voltaire to Wagner. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-8122-3766-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=w39m4aohL9gC&pg=PA153#v=onepage&q&f=false.

170.^ Collins, Kenneth (November 2010). “A Community on Trial: The Aberdeen Shechita Case, 1893”. Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 30: 75. doi:10.3366/jshs.2010.0103. http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/jshs.2010.0103.

171.^ a b Shechita UK. “Why Do Jews Practice Shechita?”. Chabad.org. Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/222241/jewish/Why-Do-Jews-Practice-Shechita.htm. Retrieved 2012-02-26.

172.^ a b “Halal, Kosher Slaughter Unacceptable, say German Vets”. Deutsche Welle. 10.07.2008. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3474409,00.html.

173.^ a b Runyan, Tamar (May 5, 2011). “Dutch Jews Mobilize Against Attempt to Outlaw Kosher Slaughter”. Chabad.org. http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/1510772/jewish/Netherlands-Mulls-Banning-Kosher-Slaughter.htm.

174.^ Grandin, Temple; Regenstein, Joe M. (March 1994). “Religious slaughter and animal welfare: a discussion for meat scientists.”. Meat Focus International (CAB International): 115–123. http://grandin.com/ritual/kosher.slaugh.html.

175.^ Conroy, S. J.; Emerson, T. L. N. (2004). “Business Ethics and Religion: Religiosity as a Predictor of Ethical Awareness Among Students]”. Journal of Business Ethics 50 (4): 383–396. doi:10.1023/B:BUSI.0000025040.41263.09.

176.^ a b Kerley, Kent R.; Matthews, Todd L.; Blanchard, Troy C. (2005). “Religiosity, Religious Participation, and Negative Prison Behaviors”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44 (4): 443–457. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00296.x.

177.^ a b Saroglou, Vassilis; Pichon, Isabelle; Trompette, Laurence; Verschueren, Marijke; Dernelle, Rebecca (2005). “Prosocial Behavior and Religion: New Evidence Based on Projective Measures and Peer Ratings”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44 (3): 323–348. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00289.x.

178.^ a b Regnerus, Mark D.; Burdette, Amy (2006). “Religious Change and Adolescent Family Dynamics”. The Sociological Quarterly 47 (1): 175–194. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.2006.00042.x.

179.^ e.g. a survey by Robert Putnam showing that membership of religious groups was positively correlated with membership of voluntary organizations

180.^ Paul, Gregory S. (2005). “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look”. Journal of Religion and Society (Baltimore, Maryland) 7. http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html.

181.^ “The Barna Update: Morality Continues to Decay” (archive copy at the Internet Archive), The Barna Group, November 3, 2003 (“The Barna Update: Morality Continues to Decay” – Summary version posted on the Barna website)

182.^ a b c “Religious people make better citizens, study says”. Pew Research Center. http://pewforum.org/Religion-News/Religious-people-make-better-citizens-study-says.aspx. Retrieved 2007–10–18. “The scholars say their studies found that religious people are three to four times more likely to be involved in their community. They are more apt than nonreligious Americans to work on community projects, belong to voluntary associations, attend public meetings, vote in local elections, attend protest demonstrations and political rallies, and donate time and money to causes — including secular ones. At the same time, Putnam and Campbell say their data show that religious people are just “nicer”: they carry packages for people, don’t mind folks cutting ahead in line and give money to panhandlers.”

183.^ Campbell, David; Putnam, Robert (2010-11-14). “Religious people are ‘better neighbors'”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-11-15-column15_ST_N.htm. Retrieved 2007–10–18. “However, on the other side of the ledger, religious people are also “better neighbors” than their secular counterparts. No matter the civic activity, being more religious means being more involved. Take, for example, volunteer work. Compared with people who never attend worship services, those who attend weekly are more likely to volunteer in religious activities (no surprise there), but also for secular causes. The differences between religious and secular Americans can be dramatic. Forty percent of worship-attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly, compared with 15% of Americans who never attend services. Frequent-attenders are also more likely than the never-attenders to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%). The same is true for philanthropic giving; religious Americans give more money to secular causes than do secular Americans. And the list goes on, as it is true for good deeds such as helping someone find a job, donating blood, and spending time with someone who is feeling blue. Furthermore, the “religious edge” holds up for organized forms of community involvement: membership in organizations, working to solve community problems, attending local meetings, voting in local elections, and working for social or political reform. On this last point, it is not just that religious people are advocating for right-leaning causes, although many are. Religious liberals are actually more likely to be community activists than are religious conservatives.”

184.^ Cline, Austin. “Myth: Religious Extremists Hijack True Religion, Give Religion a Bad Name”. atheism.about.com. http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencemyths/a/HijackReligion.htm. Retrieved 2 February 2009.

185.^ Jensen, Gary F. (2006) Religious Cosmologies and Homicide Rates among Nations: A Closer Look, Journal of Religion and Society, Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, Vol. 8, ISSN 1522-5658

186.^ for example, a survey by Robert Putnam showing that membership of religious groups was positively correlated with membership of voluntary organisations

187.^ As is stated in: Doris C. Chu (2007). Religiosity and Desistance From Drug Use. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 2007; 34; 661 originally published online Mar 7, 2007; doi:10.1177/0093854806293485

188.^ For example:

§  Albrecht, S. I.; Chadwick, B. A.; Alcorn, D. S. (1977). “Religiosity and deviance:Application of an attitude-behavior contingent consistency model”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 16 (3): 263–274. doi:10.2307/1385697.

§  Burkett, S.; White, M. (1974). “Hellfire and delinquency:Another look”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 13 (4): 455–462. doi:10.2307/1384608.

§  Chard-Wierschem, D. (1998). In pursuit of the “true” relationship: A longitudinal study of the effects of religiosity on delinquency and substance abuse. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation.

§  Cochran, J. K.; Akers, R. L. (1989). “Beyond hellfire:An explanation of the variable effects of religiosity on adolescent marijuana and alcohol use”. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 26 (3): 198–225. doi:10.1177/0022427889026003002.

§  Evans, T. D.,Cullen, F. T.,Burton, V. S.,Jr.,Dunaway, R. G.,Payne, G. L.,& Kethineni, S. R. (1996). Religion, social bonds, and delinquency. Deviant Behavior, 17, 43–70.

§  Grasmick, H. G., Bursik, R. J., & Cochran, J. K. (1991). “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”: Religiosity and taxpayer’s inclinations to cheat. The Sociological Quarterly, 32, 251–266.

§  Higgins, P. C., & Albrecht, G. L. (1977). Hellfire and delinquency revisited. Social Forces, 55, 952–958.

§  Johnson, B. R.,Larson, D. B.,DeLi,S.,& Jang, S. J. (2000). Escaping from the crime of inner cities:Church attendance and religious salience among disadvantaged youth. Justice Quarterly, 17, 377–391.

§  Johnson, R. E., Marcos, A. C., & Bahr, S. J. (1987). The role of peers in the complex etiology of adolescent drug use. Criminology, 25, 323–340.

§  Powell, K. (1997). Correlates of violent and nonviolent behavior among vulnerable inner-city youths. Family and Community Health, 20, 38–47.

189.^ Baier, C. J.; Wright, B. R. (2001). “If you love me, keep my commandments”:A meta-analysis of the effect of religion on crime”. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 38: 3–21. doi:10.1177/0022427801038001001.

190.^ Brooks, Arthur C. “Religious faith and charitable giving”, Policy Review, Oct–Dec 2003.

191.^ Will, George F. “Bleeding Hearts but Tight Fists”, Washington Post, 27 March 2008; Page A17

192.^ a b Gose, Ben. “Charity’s Political Divide”, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 23 November 2006.

193.^ Brooks, Arthur C. Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism, Basic Books, 27 November 2006. ISBN 0-465-00821-6

194.^ Stossel, John; Kendall, Kristina (28 November 2006). “Who Gives and Who Doesn’t? Putting the Stereotypes to the Test”. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Story?id=2682730&page=2.

195.^ “Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians”, The Barna Update, The Barna Group, 11 June 2007.

196.^ Hitchens, Christopher. God is not Great. pp. 155–169.

197.^ Driscoll, James F. “The Catholic Encyclopedia – Theocracy”. New Advent. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14568a.htm.

198.^ Schulz, Regine (1998). Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs. Köln: Könemann. ISBN 3-89508-913-3.

199.^ Large, Stephen S. (1992). Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan: A Political Biography. Routledge. p. 60.

200.^ Pollard, Nigel. “The imperial cult”. BBC History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/roman_religion_gallery_06.shtml.

201.^ Diamond, Sara (1989). Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.

202.^ Ansell, Amy E (1998). Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3147-1.

203.^ Schaeffer, Francis (1982). A Christian Manifesto. Crossway Books. ISBN 0-89107-233-0.

204.^ a b Barron, Bruce (1992). Heaven on Earth? The Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-53611-1.

205.^ Davis, Derek H.; Hankins, Barry (2003). New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America. Baylor University Press.

206.^ Davidson, Carl; Harris, Jerry (2006). “Globalisation, theocracy and the new fascism: the US Right’s rise to power”. Race and Class 47 (3): 47–67. doi:10.1177/0306396806061086.

207.^ Diamond, Sara. 1989. Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.

208.^ Diamond, Sara. 1995. Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-864-4.

209.^ Clarkson, Frederick (March/June 1994.). “Christian Reconstructionism: Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence”. The Public Eye 8 (1 & 2). http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v08n1/chrisrec.html.

210.^ Clarkson, Frederick (1997). Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage. ISBN 1-56751-088-4.

211.^ In her early work, Diamond sometimes used the term dominion theology to refer to this broader movement, rather than to the specific theological system of Reconstructionism.

212.^ Yurica, Katherine (11 February 2004). “The Despoiling of America”. http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm. Retrieved 3 October 2007.

213.^ Yurica, Katherine 2004. Blood Guilty Churches, 19 January 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2007.

214.^ Yurica, Katherine 2005. Yurica Responds to Stanley Kurtz Attack, 23 May 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2007.

215.^ The Christian Right and the Rise of American Fascism By Chris Hedges, TheocracyWatch.

216.^ Hedges, Chris (May 2005). “Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters”. Harper’s. http://www.harpers.org/archive/2005/05/0080541. Retrieved 2007-04-11.

217.^ Hedges, Chris, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Free Press, 2006.

218.^ Maddox, Marion 2005. God under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics, Allen & Unwin.

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220.^ Harris, Sam 2007. “God’s dupes“, Los Angeles Times, 15 March 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2007.

221.^ “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party”, TheocracyWatch, Last updated: December 2005; URL accessed May 8, 2006.

222.^ Martin, William. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.

223.^ Diamond, Sara, 1998. Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right, New York: Guilford Press, p.213.

224.^ Ortiz, Chris 2007. “Gary North on D. James Kennedy”, Chalcedon Blog, 6 September 2007.

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227.^ Anthony Williams (2005-05-04). “Dominionist Fantasies”. FrontPage Magazine. http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=17957. Retrieved 2007-05-04.

228.^ a b Kurtz, Stanley (2005-05-02). “Dominionist Domination: The Left runs with a wild theory”. National Review Online. http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200505020944.asp. Retrieved 2007-10-06.

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Dialogue with the people of the book

The attitude of believers is determined according to the degree of their faith. I believe that if the message is put across properly, then an environment conducive to dialogue will be able to emerge in our country and throughout the world. Thus, as in every subject, we should approach this issue as indicated in the Qur’an and by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. God says in the Qur’an:

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Message concerning the September 11th terrorist attacks

I would like to make it very clear that any terrorist activity, no mat¬ter by whom it is carried out or for what purpose, is the greatest blow to peace, democracy, and humanity. For this reason, no one— and certainly no Muslim—can approve of any terrorist activity. Terror has no place in a quest to achieve independence or salvation. It takes the lives of innocent people.

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Regarding the information age and the clash of civilizations

As in the past, there are some conjectures being made about the future today as well. One of these is the claim regarding the future as an age of information. Those people who are discussing the future in this way are basically futurists. There are many who see the people who are making these kinds of conjectures as oracles of the second millennium. Yet, rather than being objective evaluations, some of the claims that are made related to the future in terms of historical cycles are efforts to develop ideas around some particular desires and therefore they carry no more value than any other predictions. In other words, I think that as a result of these claims, people form expectations in the same way that they expect an answer to a prayer. Thus, while saying that the expec¬tation produced by these types of claims that “the future will be like this” gives birth to certain efforts in that direction, these expectations eventu¬ally become goals and purposes. Once the goal has been determined, dif¬ferent strategies and policies will be produced to reach that goal and efforts will be made to fulfill it. I think this is the crux of the matter.

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Three groups opposing dialogue: How are those who are hostile to dialogue activities today relevant to “Kharijites, Karmatis, and anarchists?

Karmatism is a heretical esoteric sect founded by Hamdan ibn Karmat in the ninth century AD. Hamdan took advantage of the poverty of people and was influential, especially in Iraq and its periphery, voicing “collective property” and claiming shares from the rich. These people may have appeared religious on the outside, however, they had an economic theory, political zeal and objectives. They attempted to rebel against the Abbasid caliphate, gathering forces around them, and they tortured Muslims of the Sunni path for years, martyring many. They ambushed pilgrims on their way to the hajj, attacked the sacred city of Mecca, and they even stole the Hajar al-Aswad from the Ka’ba and took it to Basra.

Continue reading “Three groups opposing dialogue: How are those who are hostile to dialogue activities today relevant to “Kharijites, Karmatis, and anarchists?”

How are those who are hostile to dialogue activities today relevant to Kharijites, Karmatis, anarchists?

Karmatism is a heretical esoteric sect founded by Hamdan ibn Karmat in the ninth century AD. Hamdan took advantage of the poverty of people and was influential, especially in Iraq and its periphery, voicing “collective property” and claiming shares from the rich. These people may have appeared religious on the outside, however, they had an economic theory, political zeal and objectives. They attempted to rebel against the Abbasid caliphate, gathering forces around them, and they tortured Muslims of the Sunni path for years, martyring many. They ambushed pilgrims on their way to the Hajj, attacked the sacred city of Makka, and they even stole the Hajar al Aswad from the Ka’ba and took it to Basra.

Continue reading “How are those who are hostile to dialogue activities today relevant to Kharijites, Karmatis, anarchists?”