. Religion divides people and gives them a sense of absolution from accountability because they are doing what God wants them to do. Any atrocity can be excused because it is 'God's will'. I am in favor of spirituality but Religion has does more harm than good. No one can even point to one example demonstrating that Jesus intended to start a religion. He spoke of a relationship with God, period.
I have been reading a book "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer He examines mass movements and the commonality of them all. No matter if they are Nazi, Communist, revolutionary or religious. They all have a common thread of development. I found it interesting that he said.
Quote: 77. Unity and self-sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind.
The estrangement from the self, without which there can be neither selflessness nor a full assimilation of the individual into a compact whole, produces, as already mentioned, a proclivity for passionate attitudes, including passionate hatred. There are also other factors which favor the growth of hatred in an atmosphere of unity and selflessness. The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others. The impression somehow prevails, that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of this faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish.
There is also this: when we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole, we not only renounce personal advantage but also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgement. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom – freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse. Herein undoubtedly lies part of the attractiveness of a mass movement. ......
Thus hatred is not only a means of unification but also its product. Renan says that we have never, since the world began, heard of a merciful nation. (Ernest Renan, History of The People of Israel, 1888-1896, Vol. 1, p. 130) Nor, one may add, have we heard of a merciful church or a merciful revolutionary party. The hatred and cruelty which have their source in selfishness are ineffectual things compared with the venom and ruthlessness born of selflessness.
... The de-individualization which is a prerequisite for thorough integration and selfless dedication is also, to a considerable extent, a process of dehumanization. The torture chamber is a corporate institution.
No religion is immune from the cruelty and injustice of its members. The very organization of it breeds a lack of individual responsibility.