In her March 17 letter, “Odd condemnation of religion,” Jennifer Kim unfairly accuses Robert McKinney of expressing “anti-religious rage” in his March 14 letter (“Giving compassion a chance”).
McKinney, following on an earlier letter linking bullying and religion, described various examples of cruelty and violence condoned by several religions. Kim responded with the sweeping assertion that “Cruelty isn’t a tenet of religion; it’s condemned by it.”
In the case of Christianity, which I single out only because it is the religion I am most familiar with, cruelty is ingrained from start to finish. We are told that God is our all-powerful and all-knowing creator; yet, over the entire course of human history, he has watched over his subjects suffering in ignorance and squalor from disease, violence and natural disasters — all the while doing nothing to intervene. A Christian might explain this as the price of original sin, but the endless punishment of offspring for a single misdeed by ancestors is itself excessively cruel.
When God did directly intervene, as the story goes, he drowned everything on the planet and, limiting his involvement to a tiny region over a relatively short period of history, repeatedly commanded his chosen people to wage war and commit genocide. Eventually he had his son violently killed as a blood sacrifice, and condemned all those who did not and do not believe that this is their only source of redemption from eternal torture in Hell.
I invite Kim or any Christian to explain how each of these points cannot be described as cruel.
Kim should understand that criticisms of religion are not necessarily driven by hostility or anger. Religions generally make extraordinary claims about the nature of reality and the afterlife and, therefore, will inevitably be called out.
When religious beliefs are used to justify harmful actions, they are certainly open to criticism.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.