When I’m speaking to people about the Lord – respectfully, earnestly, persuasively – a very common objection to belief is this one:
“Religion has done so many bad things” or the even more severe “Religious people have been behind most of the bad stuff in the world.” Ever hear that one? Well, my knee-jerk reaction is often to state how atheists have done bad things to. Unfortunately, this leads to one-upping each other: “I see your Crusades and I raise you a Pol Pot!” Usually not very productive. Recently I heard a better response, it goes something like this:
Of course religious people have done most of the bad stuff in the world! That’s because most people in the world – and in history – have been some sort of religious. Religious people have certainly started most of the wars, and started most of the charities. And schools and hospitals and everything. Most stuff in general – good or bad – has been done by the religious. The real question is: Which religion? and which version of that religion? – Prof John Stackhouse *
I like this response because it doesn’t try to explain away religious evil (why should it?). And it opens the door to tell of a better way of Faith – namely the Gospel of Jesus. Why not stick this approach in the back pocket?
* This is a rough, rough paraphrase from what Stackhouse said during the recent Cross Country Checkup on 3rd March, 2013. I am relating it from memory so listen to it for yourself for his exact words.