Organized religion is big business

By Martha Woodroof The Washington National Cathedral, photographed by Jonathan Newton– The Washington Post It’s the economy, stupid . . … Continued

By Martha Woodroof

The Washington National Cathedral, photographed by Jonathan Newton– The Washington Post

It’s the economy, stupid . . .

Big Businesses famously roll on in this country because we’re scared of letting them fail. And if there truly is an American business that’s too big to send swirling down the economy’s drain, it’s the Organized Religion Industry (O.R.I). For an industry of which the major American branch (Christianity) uses as its mission statement the anti-materialist words of a poor carpenter, the O.R.I has done all right in the rapacious fray known as the American economy.

Think about it. In real estate alone, the O.R.I. controls gazillions of dollars. And it’s not just property ownership that has economically entrenched the Organized Religion Industry in America; it’s all the jobs attached to that property. Not to mention all the auxiliary economic activities generated by what goes on in O.R.I.-owned buildings, all the training facilities for the people who run these activities, all the people employed by the hierarchical institutions who decide what these activities should be.

Just to give one example of the Organized Religion Industry’s commanding financial presence in my home state of Virginia: In 2009, Thomas Road Baptist Church (church, private school, and private universities) was Lynchburg’s second-largest employee, topped only by Centra Health.

Talk about marketing! The O.R.I. has sold its message brilliantly, concentrating on such talking points as fear of death, answers to the unanswerable, and moral certainties delivered in God’s name. I think it’s fair to say the O.R. I.’s strident voice owns the public God conversation in America; so much so that people who reject organized religion often feel compelled to reject God, the great Whatever, as well.

Now, before I go one word further, let me acknowledge that a lot of good people do a lot of good things driven by their participation in organized religion. My quarrel is not with those good people or those good things, or even, per se with organized religion; it’s that the Organized Religion Industry seems chiefly concerned with maintaining itself and its employees (often quite lavishly) by pedaling itself as essential to having a relationship with God. The focus of organized religion is not God, as much as itself. People starve, while Joel Osteen makes millions.

The premise of the O.R.I, that you need religion in order to live as a person of faith, is, if you’ll excuse me for saying so, unpardonable hooey. It’s perfectly possible to live as person of faith without being religious; to live in partnership with God, the great Whatever, without swaddling your relationship in any of organized religion’s folderol. It’s absolutely fine to, in God’s name and in It’s company, put your time, energy, and money directly into doing some good for and with your fellow inhabitants of this sweet old world. And to let the sound and fury of the O.R.I. play on without you.

To me, the irony of the social and economic entrenchment of the Organized Religion Industry is that God is here and is our way out of the inherent limitations of this entrenchment. Once we get our faith in gear, our religious practices will follow its lead. Once we, as individuals, strengthen our partnership with the great Whatever, then groups of us will become able to give up our spiritual security blankets–all those answers to the unanswerable, all the false comfort for our fears, all that pandering to our insecurities the O.R.I does so profitably in God’s name.

But what’s to be done about the Organized Religion Industry, itself? What about those jobs, those buildings, those educational institutions? How do we take back the God conversation from an industry that views the great Whatever as its most profitable product . . . without further imperiling the American economy?


You got any ideas?

Martha’s note: This is round ten of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the website), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.

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  • WmarkW

    “Organized religion is big business”Stop the Presses!Many secularists (I’m a regular on Jacoby’s board) favor ending tax-exemption for churches. I disagree — most non-profit organizations don’t pay taxes, and as long as a church operates along the principles of a non-profit, then that’s fine.To use the example of Thomas Road Baptist Church (BTW, it’s somewhat specious to point out that it’s Lynchburg’s second largest employer; of course a nationally famous organizations headquartered in a small city is a large employer there) it used to pay its famous pastor a reasonable salary, but the perks to live a lifestyle commensurate with the mega-rich. That’s the sort of thing the IRS should watch for.Near where I live, a number of the best land parcels are taken up with African-American mega-churches. Occasionally a news story comes up about one of these churches’ financial shenanegins. Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to go after one of them when do, in fact, hold legitimate services and perform community charity. The key is whether their profitable activities are really funding their stated mission or going to lifestyle enhancements of their leaders.

  • edbyronadams

    “It’s perfectly possible to live as person of faith without being religious; to live in partnership with God, the great Whatever, without swaddling your relationship in any of organized religion’s folderol.”This embodies the problem with faith without definitions. If your metaphysical beliefs amount to “whatever”, perhaps you don’t need an organization. It’s clear that you have little to offer people who are suffering. It’s also clear that you have no beliefs worth studying. As soon as someone makes definite statements about the nature of any transcendent truth, statements that attract followers, the formation of institutions ensues. The creation and maintenance of such institutions requires money and once that is in the mix, things can go wrong.There is no easy road. A person cannot transfer his spiritual health to another person, no matter how much money you offer. Neither can you blindly accept that any social institution to which you belong will stay on track and not be corrupted unless you stay involved in the running of such an organization. Perhaps Ms. Woodruff would like to look at the federal government as an “industry” and look at excessive salaries and waste as well. Then she can find a mirror to figure out who is responsible.

  • hebaber

    You could say the same thing about the Organized Sport Industry. People don’t really need the stadiums, professional teams and elaborate expensive shows: they can just play in the street or their local high school gym.But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. And private “faith” isn’t nearly as much fun as Organized Religion.I LOVE Organized Religion. It maintains beautiful buildings and does liturgy. That is fun. And if Organized Religion goes under the world will be a duller, poorer place. Just as it would be if Organized Sport goes under.Yeah, I suppose you can have some kind of relationship with God or whatever without all the bells and whistles. But why should people be deprived of those bells and whistles–all the stuff that makes religion enjoyable?

  • HookedOnThePost

    If you go to or the American Institute of Philanthropy’s, you will see gigantic charities whose CEOs make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Charity Watch and Charity Navigator give some of those industrial-sized charities high scores, A’s and A+, even though sometimes their program expenses are low compared to their administrative expenses. But their fundraising is healthy, and they have made strong investments, so they will last a long time.If only 70 percent of the money a charity takes in goes to the needy people for whom the money was donated, if the organization has other assets to keep it afloat, that 70 percent will be there year after year. Whereas, if you give your money to an upstart charity that uses all of its money for the needy and then has no money left to fundraise for more, what good has been done when it has to close only a few months after it has started. The same is for churches. For example, the catholic church. It will never go bankrupt because it has a positive cash flow, trillions of dollars in business and real estate investment, it pays no taxes, and a substantial percentage of its labor force works for near slave wages. But the catholic church does so much around the world. We hear about rapist priests and corrupt church hierarchy leaders who bed down with dictators. But that’s the salacious, entertaining stuff that makes for good press. The church also does good things around the world.

  • sgillesp

    Sigh. You say you want to have civil, respectful discussion, but as an employee of organized religion, it’s tough not to feel disrespected after you called what I believe hooey and what I do “folderol.” The nice thing about the Great Whatever is that you get to define it, and if it makes any demands on you you don’t like, you can redefine those away. It seems very much to me like worshiping yourself, and that – coming from the Bible I have studied – is the basic problem. So, let me respectfully say that you’ve said nothing new here: the problem of creating institutions which then begin to serve as our god is pretty much what Jesus was talking about to, but the answer isn’t “no institutions” – it’s repentance, confession, receiving new life, turning and starting over and finding new power in faith. Did that feel civil enough?

  • dkw12002

    Demographics will take care of most of this. People who leave millions of dollars in their wills to churches is dwindling, church attendance is shrinking, and people are generally becoming less religious with each generation. At my daughter’s high school it is mandatory that a course in Religious Studies be offered here in Texas. Problem is, almost nobody signs up for the elective and the course has not been taught for several years. Traditional churches are sparsely attended with mostly grey-haired folks. In time, the churches will be sold, torn down (unless they are of historical significance), and replaced with a parking garage or something else useful. Times change. It is not likely religion will make a comeback any more than people will decide to abandon science and technology.

  • billbridgesmaccom

    There are too many hungry people in the world for churches to be big business. Can’t serve two masters.

  • HermanKrieger

    For another look at churches in America, see: “Churches ad hoc: a divine comedy” at:

  • hawkeye7

    Big business? Here in Australia which has a population of only 20 million. Of these 20 million only 5 million are catholic. Yet the RC church in Australia has over $100 billion in mostly prime real estate assets. Yep! that’s B for BILLION!Through its network of schools, hospitals aged-care facilities, employment services and other business ventures, it makes at least $15 billion in revenue a year. That figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars donated by its congregation on the collection plates. . Of course the church through its various agencies also has non-stop appeals on radio, TV and the press for even more money. And these figures do not reflect the massive amounts of cash collected in church donations or the cars and other goodies donated to the clergy.So the RC church in Australia alone could pay off all of Africa’s “massive debt” of $52 billion and have $48 billion left to tide them over for a rainy day.The Catholic Church worldwide has vast amount of real estate, it owns more land globally than any other organization on the planet.The Vatican has billions of dollars in solid gold in its coffers, mostly stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest. But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone, is greater than that of the five wealthiest giant corporations of the country. The Church possesses more riches in real estate, property, stocks and shares than any other single institution, corporation, bank, government or state, making the Pope, the official ruler of this vast reserve, the richest man in modern history. Indeed the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic Church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment.No one can realistically assess how much the Pope is worth in terms of billions of dollars and the church cunningly values most of its artwork and valuables at just 1 euro, so they will never be sold. And it doesn’t pay any taxes anywhere.Now why does this church that is constantly criticising so called “rich” nations and cries about social injustice and the world imbalance of world wealth, need to have this massive accumulation of wealth that makes it by far the world’s richest institution?Keeping in mind that the RC church is the principal cause of over population on this planet because of its senseless, draconian dark ages laws re its total ban on contraceptives and other birth control methods. This of course is the leading cause of the massive aids pandemic and also deaths through malnutrition, disease and the starvation of hundreds of millions in the dust bowl overpopulated and polluted countries on this planet. This is where frightened indigenous people or peasants are told they will go to hell if they disobey the church, so these poor frightened souls end up with families of up to 20 children that they can neither feed nor support.

  • usapdx

    NOW do you think it is time to REPEL THE TAX EXEMPT LAW so all can pay their just tax to get America’s balance sheet back in balance and all will have a total right to speak on political matters which they do not under the TAX EXAMPT LAW?

  • pofinpa

    tax these blood suckers

  • willemkraal

    how about living without religion?? i have done it for the past 75 years!! remember religion poisons everyone it touches!

  • Utahreb

    So happy to see this article! Have said for years that organized religion is nothing more than big business, which is one of the reasons I have not attended any church in years.Real estate – sticking their noses into politics (and the minute some politician starts spouting his/her religion, I immediately put him/her on my “do not vote for” list) – discrimination in hiring – and the list goes on.Start taking away the tax-exempt status of some of these mega-business-churches!

  • gorgusguy

    Organized religion as a whole is much better at doing things and helping people than say the Government which it seems that some of these Comment makers want to take as their God. Sure there are Bad things Too. A look at the Priest Sex Scandals is eye opening in this regard but even amongst just priests it is a very small minority that was performing these perverted acts. It is the same for the high visibility evangelists you have a few Jimmy Swaggert & Jim Baker who are drawn to earthly desires and make fools of themselves and yet they too are a small minority of the whole. In general on a church by church basis Organized religion does more for the Poor the downtrodden and anyone who has any type of spiritual need as well as many who don’t even have so much a a warm coat than All of the worlds Governments combined when a woman and her children’s meager 3 weeks worth of food is used up from her welfare it is mostly the churches who run and fill the food banks that help them make it through the month. When those critisizers (Bush Word) start helping people out a quarter as much as the churches do then maybe they can complain but when they do let them include those Government workers salaries and also remember that those christian workers are paying 10 percent of their salaries back to the church in tithes and are probably giving even more money away on their own for other charitable work such as Living Water types of ministries where churches put up $5000.00 and have a Well built in a country where lack of clean water costs children up to 40% of their schooling due to illnesses from contaminated water. basically what I’m trying to say is GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND GET ON YOU KNEES BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

  • johnhouse

    So-called ‘religion’ that enriches any individual or groups of individuals is destined to become corrupt…and eventually fail. Haven’t we learned that yet?

  • andrebudianto

    There is no guarantee of prayer & unofficial worker. Anyway, just believe and keep on faith.

  • murphyd2

    “It’s perfectly possible to live as person of faith without being religious; to live in partnership with God, the great Whatever, without swaddling your relationship in any of organized religion’s folderol.” — Thus sayeth who? and by what authority?This is what passes for the Washington Post’s “Faith” discussion forum? Ms Woodruff’s essay is just another rant against religious organizations by someone who thinks vague “spirituality” as defined by anyone is OK.

  • whyyesbrain

    From MurphyD2:”Ms Woodruff’s essay is just another rant against religious organizations by someone who thinks vague “spirituality” as defined by anyone is OK.”Can you present a more coherent argument. What is wrong with someone who thinks that their spirtuality is OK? Why do we have to subsribe to your spirtuality? This essay and its comments focuses on something that I have struggled with for years. Organized religion served as a powerful and positive social institution in this country. However, its dogma (at least the the Abrahamic Faiths) is deeply divisive self-serving. So, in order to support the good that the church does, do I have to believe that dogma?

  • FromGeorgia

    The solution is choice. We can choose the “God conversation” that reflects our own beliefs and the manner of organized religion we wish to support. We can choose not to support organized religion at all. I choose not to support autonomous mega-churches founded on a leader’s charisma, and not support an empire allowing a leader’s unbridled self-enrichment. I choose to support a church that provides for the local economy through food banks, congregate meals, substantial support for local charities, as well as caring for its own members in need. I see no hard evidence that ORI “imperils” the American economy.

  • genericrepub

    This is one of the worst screeds I have seen in this paper. First, she doesn’t really define Organized Religions and uses a Baptist Church as its poster child. Baptist Churches are congregationalist in nature. They are independent of denominations. (They may affiliate with conventions to assist in missions and publishing activities). Is she saying that the Catholic Church, The Episcopal Church (which one), the Lutheran Church (which one), the Methodist Church, LDS, Churches of Christ are not organized religions (certainly more organized than baptists)? And if she is what is she saying about them? If she is saying that religion is big business, then the answer is yes. Christian artists do quite well. Religious publishers do well. Religious themed movies have a good chance at the box-office (like the Narnia series, or the Passion of the Christ). Christians buy stuff, too. Nothing wrong with that. Also it might help her arguments if she tried using spell-check now and then.

  • davivman

    The whole premise of this post is illogical. Supposedly by organizing, a religion ceases to be a religion and instead becomes a business. A business may be an organization, but an organization is not necessarily a business. Organization is a broader category than business. A business is an organization that organizes for business reasons (i.e., to make money). However, there are many other reasons to organize other than making money. For example, if the goal is to watch birds, you might create an organization like the Audubon Society. If the goal is to become mayor, you might create an election committee organization. If the goal is to spread the story and teachings of Jesus Christ, then you might organize as the Catholic Church.Furthermore, just using or having money doesn’t make you a business either. The Audubon Society, election committees, and the Catholic Church all have and use money. Since the money is used as a tool to assist in achieving their real goals instead of being the ultimate goal itself, these organizations are not businesses.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Better the devil we know! Let’s not go from the frying pan (christian ORI) to the fire ( fundamentalist Islam). All we should do is teach the younger generation that probably there is no big daddy in the sky, or even in a cave.

  • Rongoklunk

    As far as we know there are no gods and never were. Yes, history shows that in ancient times people believed in thousands of gods from Apollo to Zeus, from Rama to Huitzopochtli, from Isis to Orus. But not one of these gods had any actual existence; ditto whatever god one believes in today. The religious hucksters, or snake-oil salesmen, have cornered the market on invisible dieties, and it’s BIG MONEY. They will keep on claiming to represent the great skygod and insisting that he REALLY DOES EXIST even though nobody has ever seen this dude.

  • davivman

    Rongoklunk and ThishowIseeit, I don’t see how you can be so certain that God does not exist. If your reason is “I haven’t seen him” then that is a pretty bizarre reason for your certainty. Why would you assume that the boundaries of existence should be defined by what we peculiar little creatures called human beings can or cannot perceive with our five senses? My dog may never be able to conceive that a mountain larger than any other mountain lies on the other side of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Regardless of the name you call God, his presence has been seared into the hearts and minds of billions for thousands of years. But I suppose you’re smarter than all of them.

  • whyyesbrain

    DAVIVMAN – Why should I not be highly skeptical of Gods existance. For centuries, people have pointed to God to explain things that the could not understand. Yet, as we have come to understand our world, we have been able to disprove most of these myths. (Thunder and lightning. Source of starlight.) When I combine that with the self serving nature of religious dogma (believers of Christ’s devinity go to heaven while non-believers submit themselves to eternity of torture), am I not right to be skeptical? Yes, the universe represents a great mosaic of which, we can only see a small patch. But, why is your inference of the unknown inherently more accurate than mine.

  • NavySup

    I am not a biblical expert, but I am unaware of any place in the bible that dictates you must go to a particular church to communicate with God.This is an excellent piece. You may argue that some church money goes for good works, but you really can’t argue that some churches have, for better or worse, become a “big business”.It seems that whenever folks want to have a logical discussion about religion, there are folks who think that they are being attacked and, as a result, they lash out. Please think before you post a comment. The purpose of this article was to start a discussion, not start an argument.

  • Comunista

    I always roll my eyes at this notion about these large organized denominations trying to be hucksters only trying to get more cash and keep their complex system running, meanwhile trying to expound on everyone the ‘need’ for them as the sole conduit to God. Though there are clearly hucksters (usually in the form of televangelists who all-too-often very visibly benefit from the donations they accrue), quite often the institutions are providing valuable services through their holdings, assets and infrastructures. Say what you will about that Baptist Church being the 2nd-largest employer in Lynchburg, but they’re providing a church and multiple levels of education as part of their service to the community. Expand that to more organized denominations, and you’ll see international charities, hospitals, highly-renowned universities, and (yes) even scientific institutions under the purvey of such religious institutions (see the Catholic Church as a prime example). As for the talk of them marketing themselves as the only way a person can have a relationship with God or whatever deity they represent, we also live in a time of unprecedented access to information and unhindered individual free will. In the modern day, these institutions stand for public service and offer a well-formed ethos/belief system to those who will hear it, so one doesn’t sit in the dark and have to do all the discovery themselves (don’t sit there and tell me everyone’s better off interpreting the Bible their own special way; after all, that worked so well for extremists doing the same thing with the Quran…) So arguments of these imposing institutions trying to exact their influence on the individual break down when it’s clear we no longer have kings and emperors dictating what religion their subjects must adhere, they simply don’t hold any water when subjected to scrutiny. It’s anyone’s right to eschew organized worship for their own alternative(s), but don’t downplay the reasons and associated benefits that exist because these organized institutions have and do what they do.

  • jckdoors

    Tax exempt big business.

  • willandjansdad1

    Nashville has got to be the home of the “Ministry Business”. I was an air freight courier to the tonier sections of Nashville and delivered to dozens of Nashville based “Ministries”. The were all run out of plush basement offices usually in gated communities.

  • jjedif

    The world’s three big businesses/religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, like to make a big deal of their so-called monotheism (even though Christians pay homage to polytheism by cutting God into various pieces, much like Hindus), as if monotheism is somehow superior to polytheism. Yet true monotheism only arrived with the dollar…since the love of money is the real power that drives all religions.

  • ceannidghe77

    This piece ignores (or is ignorant of) the fact that more than 80% of Christian churches have a membership of less than one hundred persons. Most church buildings are modest structures. Most churches (lamentably) hold mortgages they struggle monthly to pay. Most pastors are moderately compensated not for dispensing God to stupid parishoners (as her model suggests) but for pretty selflessly giving their lives to console, teach, and guide people they love sincerely. Sure, there are hucksters. Sure, a few religious training schools are multi-million dollar institutions (like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton’s schools of theology!). But there is a simple solution to this big-business relgion. Ignore it! Don’t attend Joel Osteen’s church. Don’t buy his books. Don’t give him yet more press by mentioning him in your poorly researched, thought-out, and argued essay.

  • lufrank1

    Answer to the problem . . .


    An “opinion”, of course, is just that… an opinion and Ms Martha obviously has a personal thorn in the flesh and seems to be religious in her beliefs.Why is she so upset about Thomas Road Baptist Church? Is it really the pastors lifestyle? (Taking to account that all offerings are freely given and if the giver is upset about it, he can go to another church!) Or is she upset because they are making a positive impact throughout the world why she is secluded to her office computer and probably not helping a sou?

  • analyst72

    Of course organized religion is big business. There are a lot of stupid, ignorant rednecks who listen to the likes of Huckabee and company and believe the crapp they vomit.

  • billsecure

    Two significant and unrelated changes would make a large difference. First, non-profit property (including that owned by ORI) should not be tax exempt. By being tax exempt, taxpayers are providing substantial support, whether they want to or not.Second, donations to religious (or lobbying) organizations should not be tax deductible. As in the case of property taxes, taxpayers are providing immense financial support.If there were to be a compromise position, it would be to identify ORI monies used for benevolent purposes and tie specific contributions to those activities.Think about it… if I start a new social club, the property owned by the club is not tax exempt. Donations made to the club would not be tax deductible. ORI should be similarly treated.

  • rbsher

    If there was no “religion” in this world, the world would be “at peace.”

  • Greg_Allen

    >> rbsherStalin, Pol Pot and Mao definitively proved that faith-based tenet of atheism wrong.

  • Greg_Allen

    Making up cute terms like “ORI” doesn’t turn churches into businesses.If my church ends up with extra money at the end of the year, we usually give it away to the poor.What business does that?Last year, because of the acute problem of hunger here in Portland, we fired staff and cut parishioner services so that we could _give_ more food and healthcare to the poor. We ask nothing back from them, not even gratitude.What industry does that?If the government started taxing us like a business, what “profits” would they tax? Would they assess a fee on every dollar we give away? That just means more hungry and sick people for the government to take care of.(Yes they can and do tax the salaries we pay our pastors. No problem with that.)No, Ms. Woodroof, my church is NOTHING LIKE a business.

  • Greg_Allen

    I’ve worked most of my adult life for religious non-profits and I can honestly say that _NONE_ of them generated any profits. Even so, I also am angry t non-profits who abuse the tax system which encourages charity. I might be even MORE bothered because it hurts all our reputations. So, I welcome regulation and reform.Here are what I think would genuinely help the problem without hurting those organizations doing genuine charity.* Full disclosure of finances — available on-line. (Executives and board members, at least, must file a financial disclosure form.)* A limit on reserves and investments — something like one year of operating expenses. * A limit on administrative and fund-raising costs… something like 40%.* Absolutely no lobbying or politics — strictly enforced* Must have independent boards, with meetings and minutes open to the public.Fraudulent non-profits would HATE these laws but real charitable organizations should be doing these things anyway. BTW, this should be for all tax exempt non-profits — not just religious ones.

  • Rongoklunk

    @ davivman |”Rongoklunk and ThishowIseeit, I don’t see how you can be so certain that God does not exist. If your reason is “I haven’t seen him” then that is a pretty bizarre reason for your certainty. Why would you assume that the boundaries of existence should be defined by what we peculiar little creatures called human beings can or cannot perceive with our five senses?”I believe in Henry V111, in Elizabeth 1, in Julius Caesar even though I’ve never seen any of them. History tells us that they existed at one time. I believe in thousands of other things which I have never seen. You miss the point.God, or Allah, exists nowhere except in the imagination. To believe otherwise is to believe in the supernatural where even fairies can exist, and goblins and pixies and the boogieman too. Gods are mythical – by definition.

  • Bananafish

    @Greg,Don’t be absurd. Don’t suggest that not believing in magical, physics-defying things leads one to be like Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao. Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao did not do their heinous deeds in the name of “a-theism”. Religion, contrarily, can definitely motivate people to do terrible things for explicitly and undeniably religious motives. 9/11, the torture and murder during crusades and inquisitions, and every time someone shoots a doctor working at an abortion clinic are all examples. However, one should NOT say that being religious will automatically make one this way, or that one can’t live a decent and moral life and be religious. That is obviously not true. So given all this, let’s refrain from making generalizations. Statements stating that the lack of belief in the supernatural or magical are what led to some of the greatest mass murders in history are an example of such a generalization. Statements like these are non-intellectual, superfluous and completely unsubstantiated.


    @BANANAFISH,You wrote: “However, one should NOT say that being religious will automatically make one this way, or that one can’t live a decent and moral life and be religious. That is obviously not true.”Agree, but there is a but. If you subscribe to a club where in the rules they say kill the infidels like in the koran, or kill the cheaters as in the bible, you indirectly are accepting acts that were committed or are being committed by your club. Your monthly contributions and occasional large donations could be financing leaders that are not that decent and moral.