Whether it’s based on the biblical events, or formulated using well-aged teachings from philosophers and intellectuals of times long gone, religion is an invaluable facet of our community today. Organized religion, defined as an institution used to express belief in a divine power, has become one of the driving factors that fuels the human psyche to become ideal individuals deserving of some sort of after-life or salvation.
There are a multitude of lessons, values, and morals that organized religion aims to instill in their followers. While the goal is the same, and that is to improve individuals to become better people for their communities, the means are often different. Through the years, however, organized religion has sparked countless debates and arguments among people from different religious observations. Despite the original goal of making people better individuals, religion has been observed to be the root of much hostility and hate among people. This now begs the question – are there more cons than pros to organized religion?
The Pros of Organized Religion
1. Religious Organizations are Often Responsible for Charities.
There are lots of individuals in need these days, and each one deserves special attention – from homeless people, to orphans, and even those with special needs. While the help of the government is well appreciated, most of the assistance that these people receive comes from religious organizations. Charities are often run by some sort of religious body, and this is because aside from the fact that it offers devotees an opportunity to exercise kindness, charities are an effective means of evangelizing people. The more help, understanding, and concern you extend to one person puts you at a better position to have them follow your way.
2. The Practices in Organized Religion Help Keep Primitive, Carnal, and Instinctive Tendencies in Check.
When you are a part of organized religion, you will, at some point, be required to observe religious practices and traditions. Often, these will focus on the cleansing your soul, absolution of your sins, or as a reminder of what is right from wrong. The majority of people who strictly observe these practices have been found less likely to commit crime, according to a recent study by the Manchester University. That is, when people constantly immerse themselves in religious observance, they become more capable of commanding their temptations, making it less likely for them to commit violations of the law.
3. Organized Religion Provides Communities with Coherence, Directing Peoples to One Common Goal.
Because of the different backgrounds, cultures, upbringing, and families each person grew up with, it is unlikely for you to find two people with exactly the same goals, aspirations, and ideas. In a diverse community, it can be hard to settle on a common interest especially when the aim is to improve the society in which you interact. Without a framework or guide to help you come to a decision, you might find yourself arguing with others members of your community. Organized religion offers a solution to this problem. When people are directed by the same values, principles, and ideas, they are more likely to have similar solutions for a given problem thus improving the process by which issues within the society are resolved.
4. Churches, Temples, Synagogues, and Other Places of Religious Observance Provide People a Place to Meet, Organize, and Socialize.
One of the joys of the human race is socialization. Being able to meet with individuals and share thoughts, ideas, and happenings enriches the human experience. Organized religions often have a meeting place, a headquarters, or a center for worship that allows devotees not only to practice traditions and hear lessons, but also offers a location for these like-minded individuals to join together and interact.
The Cons of Organized Religion
1. Organized Religion has Been the Root of Numerous Disagreements, Wars, and Hostility.
There are historical accounts of conflicts, wars, and violence that have occurred on the basis of religion. There are some beliefs that condone the mass murder of innocent individuals if they do not subscribe to the same ideals. There are others that use religious teachings to justify hate and hostility, acquiring the favor and support of their fellow devotees. Through the years, millions of people have suffered pain, abuse, and even death because of the differences in religion.
2. People Who Subscribe to a Certain Religious Belief are Likely to Look Down Upon Individuals Who Believe Otherwise.
The promise of most religions is that if a person chooses to live his or her life a certain way, they might be eligible to acquire a second, endless life with gracious rewards and comforts granted by a superior being. That being said, people who follow a certain religious observance might look down on individuals who choose to believe in other practices, traditions, or ideals. This is because they are seen as undeserving of the promised life, which could imply that they do not live in a righteous, holy, or upright manner.
3. Divisions Within the Community are Often Caused by Different Religions.
Within communities, it is common to find a multitude of different religions. A single community might be home to close to a hundred different organized religions, and while this seems like a harmless detail, there are cons to a setup like this. When there are different religions within one community or area, they are likely to construct walls or barriers between each other. This is because people have a tendency to keep to themselves when faced with individuals from other religious backgrounds in fear of conversion, confrontation, or debate. The idea that that person does not live his/her life the right way is a strong enough deterrent to keep individuals at a distance. What’s more, there are some organized religions that have been seen as violent and hostile and so people practice every effort in order to distance themselves from these assumed dangers.
4. The Men and Women Who Oversee the Happenings and Practices at Places of Worship are Not Incapable of Sin or Immorality.
To better grasp the teachings and lessons a religion requires, devotees are guided by men and women who become authorities at churches, temples, or other places of religious worship. These individuals are often regarded with respect by those who listen to them. However, as any other human being, these people fall prey to the temptations of sin and immorality. This can greatly affect their teachings and could affect their credibility. What’s more, there have been stories of these people dipping their hands into the funds of their organization to get a part of the finances that their church has collected to fund projects and events for their devotees and charities.
While organized religion has its fair share of good points, there are also numerous downsides to this facet of society. The moral integrity of devotees greatly depends on the effectiveness of teaching and adherence to tradition. If and when these are corrupted, organized religion can become a vastly crooked practice and can result to more harm than good. It is not ideal however to pin these problems strictly on religion – it is important that we keep an open mind and consider the idea that people are ultimately responsible for their actions regardless of their observance.