Religious People Do Bad Stuff – A Snappy Answer to a Common Objection

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:

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 3.11.03 PMOf 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.

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2 thoughts on “Religious People Do Bad Stuff – A Snappy Answer to a Common Objection

  1. I agree that one upping the atheists can never come to any good, but I’m not sure what you would say when a person responds with “well judeo-christian religions and its derivatives are definitely behind much of the evil in this world.”

    Also, I’m not sure that he can claim “most stuff good or bad has been done by the religious” when aiming to look at only the good that his denomination has done.

    Moreover, I hope you don’t think i’m being to nitpicky, just making a few observations. I just think the part where you say why should religion be responsible for explaining away evil is a problem many people who have a hard time with faith have. If God is inherently good then why does he allow bad things to happen, in a nutshell. A loving God clearly wouldn’t let his followers suffer horrendous pain, death or illness would he? At least not the God I was taught to believe in wouldn’t. Just some thoughts, cheers!

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comments, especially such a substantial one.

      ***I’m not sure what you would say when a person responds with “well judeo-christian religions and its derivatives are definitely behind much of the evil in this world.”***

      Well, I’d say sure, there is a great deal of evil done by those. But I’m confident it was done in spite of their foundation and not because of it.

      ***If God is inherently good then why does he allow bad things to happen, in a nutshell.***

      That’s a bit of a different topic now isn’t it? A very important one, mind you, but I can only juggle so much in one post. Maybe I can tackle sort of thing in a future post. Thanks for the suggestion.

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