Swami Vivekananda once said that if one looks closely at history, one will find that all of the horrors generally attributed to religion were really political in nature. Yet, it's interesting that we never hear politics being excoriated for the world's ills as we often do religion.
The primary message of all of the world's major religions (and most of the minor ones) is love, faith, charity and non-violence. Leo Tolstoy spent most of his later years preaching and attempting to live by Christ's teaching which he thought was central to his life and mission: "Resist not evil":
Matt 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
Matt 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matt 5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloak also.
Matt 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Matt 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
If certain (many in fact) individuals have twisted the teachings of the great religions for the sake of money and power, whose fault is that? To blame this on "Religion" is no different from blaming the evils and nightmares which are the by product of modern technology on "Science". The fact of the matter is: all of the great evil ever done in the world can be traced to individuals either ignoring or outright mocking values which are at the heart of religion, i.e. ethics and morality.
In addition, Noam Chomsky has pointed out that all of our great social movements from the abolition of slavery, to women's suffrage, to the Civil Rights Act have had their origin, and primary support, in the country's churches and synogogues.
While it's easy to look ar historical events superficially and blame the Inquisition or the Holocaust, for example- ad infinitum - on religion, this is generally done by people who either never felt the need to live a religious life, or simply felt that they lacked the character to do so.
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