I few months back I happened to be talking to somebody and the topic of religion came up. We were discussing the hundreds of Nigerian girls that were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram. The person said, “That’s why I hate religion.” The offhand comment was made with the typical disdain of someone who thinks the world would be much better without religion. In the West, it’s often Christianity in particular they’re thinking of.
Given that I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to share the Gospel, my ears perked up as I saw a possible opening. I often pray that I am able to take advantage of opportunities like this. It was clear that he was hostile to religion, so I didn’t think the conversation would be very fruitful. Nonetheless, I was really hoping to make a short, yet impactful statement that would get him thinking.
Since I noticed that the person, a doctor, was Jewish I said something like, “I’m sure that Jews and Palestinians would be fighting in Israel even if they didn’t have different faiths.” My response gave him pause. He was caught off guard. It seemed to me that he was used to making that comment without much pushback. He quickly changed the subject and I didn’t want to push too hard, so I let it go. We ended up having an otherwise pleasant conversation.
Given the violence that is all too often carried out in the name of religion, it’s easy to agree with the doctor’s statement. Christians in particular have done some terrible things throughout history. However, as Augustine is quoted as having said, “You can’t judge a philosophy by its abuses.” People commit terrible acts for money, love, fame, power, family and country. Should we blame those things for all the problems in the world? I think not.
To lay fault at the feet of Christianity, you have to show that Jesus instructed His followers to do things like enslave Africans or burn witches at the stake. That’s obviously not the case.
The common thread we see in all terrible acts is mankind. The Bible says that people sin by nature (Ephesians 2:3). I think this is a very accurate portrayal of the human experience. As people, we tend to abuse even things meant for good. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised to see that people have done bad things in the name of Christianity.
Also, we can’t evaluate anti-religion sentiment without acknowledging some atrocities that had nothing to do with religion. Just look at the millions of lives that have been lost due to a atheistic dictators:
I’m not saying that all atheists commit genocide and I’m certainly not denying that evil things have been done in the name of Christianity. My only point is that human nature is the true cause for the problems we face in this life and that far from being the problem, I think Jesus Christ is the solution.