There’s a refrain out there, frequently applied particularly to Islam. It says, “Religion isn’t the problem. Fundamentalism is the problem.” It’s wrong.
It isn’t wrong that fundamentalism is a problem. There’s plenty of stuff in religious texts that was never meant to be taken literally. There’s plenty that’s contradictory. Hewing to a strict literal interpretation of all of it is impossible. Demanding that others do so is abusive. Taking it a step further into theocracy, using political power to enforce the adherence of people who believe differently, is unconscionable.
However, even religious sects and practices that are significantly looser in their scope can still cause damage. Even liberal sects still expect conformity to some rules. Even religious groups that focus on serving others still recognize a divine authority, even as they say that authority commands them to pro-social behavior.
As long as that authority exists, religion will continue to damage people. Yes, even liberal, non-fundamentalist religion. [Read more…]