I think that all religions have both positive and negative attributes. I'd like to focus on the positive attributes, that is, those tenets that followers of each faith don't just preach, but actually practice, to the betterment of all. So I've made a list of what I think to be the best ideals of differing faiths. Imagine if they could all be brought together.
DISCLAIMER: If your religion is not included, I didn't know enough about it, it's not that I didn't deem it positive... lol Also, if you can think of others that I missed, please add them.
In no discernible order:
Catholicism - importance of education
Judaism - support for the family and community
Quakers - importance of self-reliance
Islam - oneness of faith, completely united
Hinduism - value of adherence to ritual
Baptist - desire to share the message with others
Mormonism - promotion of healthy lifestyle tenets
Methodist - everyone is welcome to be in the group
Buddhist - everything in moderation, the middle path
Rastafarianism - equality for all
Unitarian - all ideas/beliefs are equally considered
Lutheran - necessity of accountability
Anglican - love for country
Wicca - love for nature
Amish - self-sustainability
Humanist - faith in your fellow man
I think it's a noble and valid point made well - religions have promoted strong positive attributes amongst their followers. A very simple example is the Muslim faiths insistence that followers clean their face and hands every time they pray. The affect this simple practice had on Medieval health cannot be underestimated. Millions died of the Black Death in Europe - 50-80% of the population of Europe - as they did in the Middle East; however the percentage of the populace that died was far lower in Muslim countries - nearer 30%.
Yet all of the points raised above, whilst totally worthwhile, are not exclusive to these beliefs nor religious believers: They are attributes treasured by many people because they represent admirable traits in all humans. Their whole definition and practice are human traits, not religious ones.
For me, religions - and many other collective belief systems - work by making people do things that don't come naturally, like persecution, Crusades, suicide bombings, rather than actions that must, by the very nature that we are all alive today, be inherent in humans no matter what their beliefs; family, community, health, education, self-sustainability.
Religious apologists would say that without their faith, people are naturally selfish, lawless and greedy - and in some individuals they may be right. But if you look at any list of philanthropists, charitable donors or individuals acting selflessly, it is not an exclusively religious group. Therefore, the claim that religions are the sole preserve of a generosity of spirit and social support structure for the disadvantaged is patently untrue.
As a humanist, I would aim for possessing all of the attributes above in some way (perhaps not the attributes for Islam, Unitarian or Anglican) as these define the best features of precisely what group we all belong to - homo sapiens.
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