This opinion piece is based on personal observation and news derived from television news, news articles from various sources such as newspapers, internet news, magazines, etc. and various articles about research into many subjects.
It is my contention that all religions that allow the belief that ethics and morals based on religious beliefs should or may be dictated to others is detrimental to society, including members of that religion. I also claim that all members of these religions, not just fundamentalists, are complicit in causing the negative impacts that are detrimental to society.
Since I believe the last statement will cause the most vehement objections I will address it first.
Some people will undoubtedly claim that since they personally do not evangelize, nor do they vote for or in other ways actively support legislation to impose their beliefs on others that they are therefore not guilty of my accusation.
I disagree. By supporting and encouraging others in their religious beliefs they are complicit. Without support or encouragement those that do actively try to legislate their belief system on others would probably not make the effort.
As to why all religions that allow their beliefs to be dictated are detrimental instead of only ones that actively try or encourage it, the answer can be found in the previous paragraph.
On to the primary subject. Why religions are detrimental to society.
G.W. Bush stated that it was God's will that he be President. God's will that so many disasters should be caused by the President? Obviously a negative impact. He also claimed God told him to invade Iraq. Another negative impact. The list goes on.
Why are these detrimental? Huge increase in national debt (understatement). Unnecessary death, maiming and other injuries. Creating more hate and discontent. Increasing, or creating, divisiveness within the country as well as amongst other countries.
There are also the events of 9/11. Radical Islamists crashed passenger planes into buildings, causing many, many deaths and other injuries, as well as destroying a hell of a lot of property. That's definitely detrimental and we are still getting negative impacts to it years afterward.
Discriminatory laws have been passed based on religious beliefs and no other criteria.
*It is illegal for anyone to marry someone of the same sex in some States, causing discontent, financial hardship, and impacting the health of many people.
*Embrionic stem cell research has been set back years, probably impacting the health of thousands or millions of people.
*Opposition to teaching science in public schools, i.e. evolution. This has a negative impact by teaching children that science is like religion in that it is something to choose to believe or not. Science is, whether one believes it or not.
*Attempting to get religion taught in public schools as fact, i.e. creationism/intelligent design. This is not what all religions believe. Our schools cannot function if every religious myth of creation and the ascendency of Man is to be taught as fact, there are simply not enough hours in a day to do it. Which should we choose? To have a positive impact instead of negative we should teach none of them as fact. Teach them in theology class.
*Legislation to control what people may or may not do with their own bodies, i.e. anti-abortion laws. This is negative because it causes unnecessary pain, injury, death and psychological damage.
I am sure there are many other laws or attempts at legislation that are faith-based and detrimental. This is just a sampling to make my point.
Have you ever wondered how a Doctor, nurse, orderly or other health professional might feel after spending hours, days, weeks, months, even years attempting to save a life or restore someone to good, or at least better, health only to hear friends, relatives, even the patients themselves thank God for saving them? No thanks to the medical professionals that did all the work, and are the ones that actually saved the patient, restored their health or patched up their injuries. That is a negative impact on society. Many people do things that help others in inumerable ways, only to hear God get the thanks when God did nothing.
How about when that injured patient that God gets the thanks for saving was in the automobile accident that caused the injuries? No, God didn't do that! The driver of the other car gets the blame! Definitely a double standard that is as discriminatory as racism!
Children having children. Why? Because God says you aren't supposed to have sex until you get married so let's just tell them to not have sex and don't even mention condoms. Definitely detrimental. STDs, anyone? Condoms can prevent them. Oh, that's right, God said don't have sex so we don't need them.
Look at the large number of people that have screwed up attitudes toward something as natural as sex. Because God said it's a sin unless done exactly right and only for procreation. God forbid that you enjoy it (literally).
That's all I can think of right now, and I think it's enough for this post.
Feel free to make any intelligent, well-reasoned comments you desire.