It’s my view that ALL religion is harmful to individuals and society. There’s the harm of being uneducated. There’s the harm of believing others are beneath you in some way. There’s the physical harm of hurting others, and don’t think for a minute that Christianity doesn’t promote harm. Let me ignore all of that and focus on financial harm.
Last Sunday I discussed the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show, linking to the video on televangelists. Televangelists are simply evil, asking for money from people who don’t have it, saying God will reward then for their sacrifice now. This is known as the Prosperity Gospel. Rich people are better because God has rewarded them with money because they worshipped God in the right way, supposedly. It’s absolutely disgusting! People give money they don’t have to these “ministries”, forgoing medical attention, food, and paying basic bills like electricity and water, all for the expectation God will reward them immensely.
Many Christians will argue that every group has a few bad apples and these televangelists are just the bad apples. Mainstream Christianity is not like this. WRONG! Every church asks for money. During my time as a Christian, I attended several mainstream churches and every one of them gave the money talk. The pastors played the guilt card using Biblical verses to show God demands you give 10% of your salary to the church (tithing). In addition, these churches also pushed people to give MORE than 10% with the argument that God rewards those that worship Him. To worship God properly, you must give money you don’t have to God.
My most embarrassing moment as a Christian, as viewed by my Atheist self, was the day I stood in front of the church congregation and told my story of giving to the point of tithing. I had the money to do it and it didn’t harm me, other than losing money I could have spent having fun or on something useful. I stood up there and encouraged everyone to tithe saying that if I could do it anyone can do it. What utter bullshit! There were people out there struggling to feed themselves and their kids. There were people with no health insurance facing huge medical bills. There were people jobless with little to no money. Yet here I was telling them they needed to tithe because I did. I truly believed that at the time. If I could build a time machine and go back to that day and punch myself in the face I would. I’d knock some sense into myself.
Fortunately my tithing lasted a mere 10 months before I realized the truth of a fictitious God and stopped. Did I lose some money? Yes, but I didn’t lose years and decades of money. The moral of this story is that religions are harmful. Not all tell people to kill others, but all are asking for money from people who don’t have money to give and that is harmful. It’s just as harmful as killing others who don’t believe in the same God as you.