Thursday, March 26, 2020
Religions and their Followers - a reply
-- Nasir Khan
Mr. Woodward, I hope you don't misunderstand me when I write this as a freethinking humanist. I know that religions have caused much bloodshed and misery in human history. But religions have no real content. It is the followers of a religion who give meaning or importance to what their religion is and what it is not.
Religions have been a powerful factor in human history which the rulers used for their political domination and the servility of their subjects. That role is still there and is used by present-day rulers as it suits them, except for the countries where State and Religion are separated.
The second point in this context I would like to make is that religion is an idea often based on some dogmas. Such dogmas become essential parts of a religion that people interpret and sometimes come up with varying interpretations, leading to inter-religious conflicts. Such things have been the cause of much blood-shedding in Christianity and Islam, etc. Anyone who has read the histories of these religions knows that.
Religion and its followers are not the same. That should be easy for us to see. For instance, a group of fanatic followers may misuse their religion. In fact, such things have happened in all recorded history. If they use it to justify the killing of other people for some reason by using the name and cover of religion, who can stop them? None, in my view.
Religion as a collection of ideas does not impose itself upon humans; humans do that. Vicious people will use it as they want. But humane and noble people who want to use their religion for doing some good work are also free to do that. Such conflicting uses of religion are not a secret. We have to understand that in this world there are believers of religions. As long as they do not leave their religions, no one should force them to do so.
In that case, my attitude towards these people is simply this: As long as they do not harm others and use their religions as their personal beliefs, then we should respect them. They are our fellow human beings and they use the freedom to choose and practise their religion. But as a humanist, I should not abuse and dehumanize them. Instead, we who are freethinking people should work systematically to bring information to these people in a manner that they don't feel threatened. You know how people react when they feel their beliefs and valuable things in life are under threat. Before we can teach others, we have to learn ourselves to carry on our work.