Browsed by
Author: David Langness

David Langness writes and edits for BahaiTeachings.org and is a journalist and literary critic for Paste Magazine. He and his wife Teresa live in the Sierra foothills in Northern California.
Part 9 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 9 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Why Religion Becomes Corrupt – and How to Fix It   In this series of articles, we’ve looked at the five reasons corruption effects religion, from Dr. Charles Kimball’s fascinating recent book When Religion Becomes Evil. Dr. Kimball, an historian, professor of comparative religion, chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University and an ordained Baptist minister, concludes his book with a call for all people to recognize those five reasons for religious corruption, and act to understand…

Read More Read More

Part 8 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency Agency on the Planet?

Part 8 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency Agency on the Planet?

Outlawing Holy War In this series of articles we’ve cited and studied the groundbreaking recent book When Religion Becomes Evil, by Dr. Charles Kimball, which lists five major causes of problematic religious conflict and violence: absolute truth claims; blind obedience; establishing the ideal time (or triumphalism); and “the end justifies any means”.  In this essay, we’ll consider what Kimball calls the worst religious evil of all – holy war: …more wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil…

Read More Read More

Part 7 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 7 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Bad Religion: When The End Justifies Any Means   For most of us, authentic religion focuses on the transcendent.  True religion links loving, kind and compassionate relationships with others on this plane of existence to the growth of the soul and an eternal life in the next. But some people — especially those who focus fanatically on a single component of their belief system – discard loving, kind and compassionate relationships in favor of an expectation; some hoped-for “sacred” outcome…

Read More Read More

Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

The Ideal Time for Religious Triumph The idea of triumphalism – that any particular religion will one day prevail, dispatch the “heretics” and conquer the world – has plagued humanity for centuries.  In his book When Religion Becomes Evil, Dr. Charles Kimball explores the concept of triumphalism, in which some faith groups see the ideal time for their certain triumph as inevitable and desirable: Some religious communities place a great deal of emphasis on a this-worldly hope…. When the hoped-for…

Read More Read More

Part 5 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 5 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

When Religion Requires Blind Obedience Authentic religion engages the intellect as people wrestle with the mystery of existence and the challenges of living in an imperfect world.  Conversely, blind obedience is a sure sign of a corrupt religion.  Beware of any religious movement that seeks to limit the intellectual freedom and individual integrity of its adherents.  When individual believers abdicate personal responsibility and yield to the authority of a charismatic leader or become enslaved to particular ideas or teachings, religion…

Read More Read More

Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

No Faith is Final — Religious Claims to Absolute Truth When a religion claims to have access to the absolute truth, religious scholar and writer Dr. Charles Kimball explains, those rigid truth claims can form the basis for demonizing and dehumanizing those who differ: A human view of truth, one that is dynamic and relational, enables religious people to embrace and affirm foundational truths without necessarily solidifying the words into static, absolute, propositional statements.  Conversely, religious convictions that become locked…

Read More Read More

Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

When Religion Itself Becomes Evil The well-known religious scholar and chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University, Charles Kimball, published a landmark book a few years ago, called When Religion Becomes Evil.  Dr. Kimball doesn’t dislike faith, and he is no atheist – in fact, he’s an ordained Baptist minister – but the book describes what he sees, after a lifetime of research, as the five warning signs of corruption in religion: Claims to absolute truth Requirements…

Read More Read More

Part 2 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 2 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Atheists Say Religion Causes Ignorance and Hatred A whole host of atheist philosophers, thinkers and commentators have written influential books and essays during the past few decades, each one saying that religion has become a force for hatred, violence and evil in the world. Writers like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have all published popular atheist manifestoes.  Most of their books, as in this quote from Harris’ The End of Faith, contain some variation on the idea of…

Read More Read More

Part 1 of Religion — The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 1 of Religion — The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Editorial note: We’d like to welcome guest blogger David Langness and his nine part series that takes a look as religion’s rap as the most harmful agency on the planet. David is the host of Bahaiteachings.org and is a member of the Bahá’í community in my old stomping ground up in Nevada County, California. So, without further ado … take it, David! oOo My friend the historian and I had a long discussion about religion the other day.  When he…

Read More Read More