One of the things religion does is create artificial misery. One of the ways religion does this is by making people feel agonizing terror about eternal torture for themselves or people they love or both, or by making them feel agonizing despair and grief at angering or alienating God. This is especially vile when the putative eternal torture or alienation from God is caused by actions or thoughts that are in no way bad. The misery is doubly artificial (and thus gratuitous and cruel) in these situations: there is no eternal punishment, and the putative Sin is not bad or wicked.
The entrenched belief that not being straight is Sin is a classic and still very active example. Consider Peterson Toscano for instance, a survivor of “ex-gay” therapy.
Mr Toscano, now 47, grew up in an average Italian American Catholic home in Upstate New York.
But as a devout Christian, and member of the Evangelical Church, he found it difficult to resolve what he saw as a conflict between his sexual orientation and his faith.
“I was doing something spiritually and morally wrong that I would be punished for in the afterlife. And so there was a lot of fear and terrible desperation,” he told BBC Religion.
That’s horrible. It happens all the time, and it’s horrible.
Humans have more than enough natural misery to deal with. It’s horrible to make up new kinds.