One of my recent posts over on facebook has generated a few responses. It simply points to this story.
I could use this opportunity to scourge religion, blaming it for so many downfalls in our society and the world in general. As an atheist, and a gay man, I have both the reason and the expectation to do so.
But I won't.
Religion is not the cause, it's the conduit.
I have said for some time that I view religion as a crutch for all the inexplicable desires of mankind. I don't see religion as the cause for either good or bad in the world, but the conduit through which we choose to funnel our true desires, especially those we don't want to explain or accept responsibility.
Being an atheist, I see religions as man-made, not god-made. As such, it's pretty easy to see how they are, in every respect, political and social tools. We behave first, and then fit our beliefs to that behavior. It's often thought to run in the reverse, but history tells us otherwise.
The truth is that we want to hate people who are different or unpleasant. There is no social group in this world that, having been oppressed, will not happily oppress another given the opportunity. Mankind happily oppresses women, blacks, Native Americans, Asians, children, gays, and any other cultural group available--and does so in its time in the name of God. We cringe to remember how religions advocated slavery and wife abuse and child abuse and discrimination of all sorts, but in every single case they have. I believe there will be a day that people will be ashamed to admit that their religion discriminated against gays. Don't. It wasn't your church that makes you hate or disparage anyone. It's you.
So, when I read stories such as the one I linked above, I don't turn my eyes to religion and blame it for what happened. That would be absurd. Religion is only an extension of you, a machine driven by the people comprising it. I blame the individual who chooses to believe. The believer does so to enable their behavior, and that is where the responsibility for their actions lies.