Religious Phobia and Liberalism
Many of my atheistic and progressive friends are constantly accusing religious people of being homophobic and of having some other biases. That may be true of some religious folks. However, I have found that many progressives and many who fancy themselves as liberals have their own phobia, i.e., a religious phobia. In other words, they fear religion. Of course, one tends to hate the things that one fears. So I have found that many of my liberal and atheist friends have a dislike that approaches a loathing for religion. This has caused me to do a considerable amount of thinking about where these fears came from and whether they are real or imagined. Of course, a fear is real to the one who has it, but this raises the question of whether or not there is really something in reality on which to base their fear.
I began my research by asking my liberal friends if religion or religious people had done any personal harm to them that would cause them to hate religion. The majority of them said they had received no such hurt. I did find some who said that their parents had made them go to church when they were little. However, this to me seemed to be the normal thing for good parents who believed in their religion to do. Yet, many of my friends felt that this was reason enough for them to reject religion.
I did find some people who told me that they hated religion because religious people are hypocrites. I’ll admit this might be a good reason if we were not all hypocrites. Most human beings are guilty of saying one thing and doing something else. If we all stopped doing everything that hypocrites do, we wouldn’t do much.
My research did lead me to a few books whose authors seem to hate religion. I gathered from these books that the authors hated religion for all of the terrible things that it had done in the past, such as the witch hunts and the Inquisition. Of course, if you were to count noses, you could say that religion has killed its tens of thousands, but atheism and liberalism has killed its millions. It was atheistic communism that killed twenty million of its own people in Russia and even more in China, and it was Western liberalism that spread its philosophy with the sword. It looks to me like it’s not religion that kills people, but it’s people who kill people. If truly analyzed, it is usually people who have a will to power who do the killing, whether religious or not. You will find these people in religion, business, and government and for that matter, virtually in every walk of life.
However, all of the above does not explain the irrational fear and hatred of some people toward religion. I believe the truth is that liberalism as a world view and philosophy itself has a propensity to dislike religion. Liberalism belief in the autonomy of the individual tends to color its views of all authority but especially religious authority. This bias was embodied in the French Revolution, whose motto was “no master, no God.” A quick review of history reveals that at the time of their revolution, the French had reason to fear and hate religion. During that period in their history the church had been captured by the governing class and was being used to oppress the people. However, the hatred and bias of the liberals and progressives of the French Revolution are still with us today. Like all bias and prejudice, these are passed on blindly from generation to generation.
However, much of the dislike of religion comes from the fact that religion tends to cramp the lifestyle of some people. Some people just don’t like the idea of being told that they are going to stand in judgment for their behavior. Jesus hinted at this when He said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” John 3:19-21.
It is obvious from the above words of Jesus that a strong anti-religious bias can come from a godless amoral lifestyle. This bias goes much deeper than many liberals would like to admit. This bias comes from a deep-seated prideful rebellion that exists in the human heart, and like all bias it is hard to detect by those possessing it, and like all biases it can be passed on for generations.
My conclusion is that my far left liberal friends have been biased toward religion by the traditions and the propaganda of their own philosophy more than by reason or clear thinking. This is not to say that religion should not be watched. Religion is a power that can be abused, but it is also a power that can be a blessing to people. However, it is irrational to hate all religion because some men have abused it and used it as a means to gain power over others.