Personally, I think that religion can be a beneficial thing for individuals and communities like I think a gun can be an extremely useful tool. However, in the wrong hands – with the wrong leadership – religion can be (and has been) abused and extremely destructive.
Religion can provide an individual with a sense of ‘context’ in life – a sense of belonging and acceptance, helping them to understand “What it all means” and “What their place in it all is.” It can also provide communities with a way to cohesively teach neighborly behavior and pass on cultural traditions and wisdom. When used properly, religion can bring communities together and help the individuals within know what values are encouraged and discouraged in their community.
When used properly, a gun can fend off a bear or charging elephant, thereby protecting those in harm’s way.
But when any human or group claims to act in the name of ‘God’ BEWARE! A religious leader who teaches religious values to his/her community is a mere mortal who has taken it upon themselves to spread the word in order to benefit the community. A religious zealot or theocratic politician, however, is a mere mortal who wrongly manipulates the community by claiming to act in ‘God’s’ name.
When people follow a religion, they are acting in ‘faith’ that the leadership of the organization is acting in their best interest. When a crazed, manipulative, power-hungry, ideologue abuses that faith, then those followers must try to shake off the fog of religion for their own good and see the abusive leader for what he/she really is: a sociopathic criminal perpetrating a fraud at the expense of communities and institutions.
Why would a politician invoke ‘God’ anyway? Are their political skills alone not good enough to earn the vote legitimately? Do they realize that they could never gain power from their own merit? Are they delusional?
These are questions that even the most devout believers of religions around the world must ask themselves any time a leader or would-be person of authority invokes ‘God’ or religion as being on his/her side.
Especially when that leader commands them to act in a way that contradicts the teachings of their religion. Or when that leader him/herself behaves in a manner inconsistent with the religious values they claim to represent.
Our forefathers knew this when they drafted the Constitution. They wisely insisted on the separation of church and state, knowing of the potential for abuse and the inevitable negative consequences.