Editor's note: This is the first installment of The Daily Pilot's new "On Faith" column, which will appear frequently on the Sunday Forum page. The column, written by a rotating panel of local religious and spiritual leaders or commentators, supplements the In Theory column published on Saturdays.
A Dear Abby column asked: "What do you think is society's greatest problem?"
A respondent identified "organized religion," saying, "Although most religions espouse kindness, generosity and good works, religion is used more often to divide 'them' from 'us,' and to give people yet another way to discriminate against one another. It isn't limited to wars between different religions, as sects within religions murder and terrorize one another. If people were more concerned with doing the right things in this world, rather than being preoccupied with what is going to happen in the next one, our world would be a better place."
That "organized religion" bears responsibility for the world's ills is hardly a novel suggestion. Many argue that while religion may not be the root of all evil, it is a serious contender. They condemn not just belief in God, but respect for belief in God. Religion is identified with conflict and confusion, branded as hostile to reason, indicted as the cause of war and humanity's divisions.