Sunday, 27 September 2015

Religion's Moral Failings

Religion is generally considered a system of faith and worship based on a particular set of beliefs and values. These beliefs are expected to direct and guide the thinking and actions of all who believe them. Religion is meant to improve and elevate the consciousness of all who are followers. In other words, they are offered the prospect or reward of a better existence. While it must be acknowledged that not all religious beliefs are ethical; almost all will claim to promote goodness and virtue. 

Following the death of over 700 pilgrims as a result of a stampede during the Hajj this year Saudi Arabia's top religious leader has proclaimed that fatalities were down to fate. This appears to be an attempt to curry favour with the Saudi royal family by absolving them of any blame for the disaster. The repeated deaths of pilgrims during the Hajj seems to be a phenomenon unique to Saudi Arabia and surely cannot be inevitable. There have to be questions asked about the organisation of the pilgrimage and the Saudi authorities' regard for the safety of traveling pilgrims. A religious leader who should be holding the authorities to account, demanding improvements and advocating for devotees has chosen instead to be partisan. 

The moral failure by Saudi Arabia's top religious leader is just another in a long history of religious leaders failing in their moral duty. There are Christian Pentecostal pastors who are accumulating huge fortunes at the expense of their mostly impoverished worshippers. The Anglican Church is riven on the issues of the ordination of women and gay pastors. The Catholic Church is still struggling with the handling of an array of abuses by its institutions. There are a number of Islamic leaders who continuously advocate terror and personal abuses. In Israel there a fundamental religious leaders who are pushing for further oppression of Palestinians. Scientology has acquired assets of over a billion dollars while subjecting its followers to varying degrees manipulation and exploitation. 

The Pope's campaigning for tackling poverty, being less obsessed with money and saving the environment is commendable. However, too many religious groups and leaders are failing to carry out the basic task of taking care of the welfare of members. There are 3 billion people who members of some religious institution or the other, and the evidence is there that most of them are being very poorly served; both morally and materially.