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The good, the bad and the ugly in religion 


April 2015
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Some insights from Valerie Tarico’s “12 worst ideas religion has unleashed in the world” which I wish to share, and expound a little on, since it is already thorough and well explored:

Forms of righteous torture –

  • Flagellation (Christian)
  • Matam (Shia Muslims )
  • Fasting (Christians, Hindus , Muslims )
  • Animal sacrifice (Hindus, Muslims) 

For one’s “own good” –

  • Self-immolation : by one’s own willing
  • Sati : forced immolation if widows, which lasted 2000 plus years in some parts of India
  • Ashram for widows [after sati was abolished]
  • Genital mutilation: Jews & Muslim circumcision; female genital mutilation of girls
  • jihad
  • Karma (Hindus)

Karma is good insofar as it is good engendering good, but if it is forced – as it is in some eastern cultures – then it can cause cultural passivity and act like hell, with the same goal: to make one “not” live while on earth, but for another life. To pay for karma is unreasonable if one suffers for something one knows nothing of/about in this life. How on “earth” can one be paying in this life for a sin or wrongdoing committed in another life? Why are we held accountable for an “evil” deed when even ‘evil’ differs from place to place, situation to situation, or from era to era?

If we accept ‘destiny’, ‘maktub’, ‘kismet’ we are being ‘fixed’, already written, as though it is not us doing something, but someone else. If we accept ‘destiny’ we accept everything, and nothing can change or transform. We are born an empty slate which gets written on by others. Accepting destiny then is not always for our ‘own’ good, but often for the good or profit of someone else doing the writing on our slate. We should be aware, too, that we are the ‘chosen one’ for our blindness to new or other ideas.

We must be vigilant that religion NOT make us passive Godots: waiting for someone/ something who / that may never come.



  1. ilaria muzzi says:

    so well said!

    ilaria Please excuse brevity and typos. Sent from my iPhone


  2. Rhett says:

    Your points about Sati, Ashram for widows, and female genital mutilation (and thank you for not euphemizing it as “female circumcision”) could all be summarized thus: religion preaches the subjugation and control of women by men. The “sacred” texts are clear. The Quran mandates wife beating (Surah 4, verse 34). The Bible commands wives to obey their husbands (Genesis 3:16, Colossians 3:18, many more). Forced veiling of women in Islam and forced marriages in Hinduism and Islam continue to be the rule rather than the exception in most of the world. For the vast majority of women on our planet, childhood is spent being cloistered in the home, being groomed for the housework and childbearing that will be their lives’ sole duty. As soon as a girl is of age, the transaction is conducted and she passes from the house (and rule) of her father to the house (and rule) of her husband. Such is the life of a woman in most of the world. Not content with imposing this monstrous patriarchy on the family, the religious exported the patriarchal model to the realm of government. Hitchens said it best: the idea of god is the origin of totalitarianism. From the idea of an absolute ruler who can never be questioned springs the role of king as absolute ruler of his people, stern father of his national family. For millennia religion has been indispensable in propping up the established power structure. Men, women, and children were kept starving and destitute because they had been taught since earliest memory that to rebel against the king and the established social order was to rebel against god himself! Napoleon recognized the use of faith, once telling an intimate that religion was “excellent stuff for keeping the people quiet.” You want religion without this baggage? Fine. Adopt as your mantra the admonishment of Confucius to treat others as you wish to be treated, i.e. the “golden rule.” That is all the religion you need. In the words of Rabbi Hillel, “all else is commentary.”

    • You raise some good points like tarico:
      1. All that concerns women can be summed up in one term “transaction”, business transaction
      2. Hitchens was a wise man
      3. Religion is like sex: I see foucaults history of sexuality as bed partner to history of religion (where women are concerned)
      4. Brits did the same to India in letting men control women so as to control men. Keep them happy by making them feel they’re in control. Napoleon was like any other invader except he’s good with words because speaking is an art for the French

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