Debates on the effects of religion for a society is something that has been around for a long time.
Some have said that it does a lot of good while others like the notable Karl Max have argued that it is harmful.
A recent survey of Canadians has shown that they agree with the latter.
According to an Ipsos poll, conducted for Global News in 2011, 44 percent of Canadians believed that religion does more harm than good in the world.
Now, a new poll says that over half of them, 51%, hold this same belief.
Breaking down the survey showed that most people do not believe that religious people have the higher moral ground, while 24 percent said they believe religious people are better citizens.
The poll also found that nine out of 10 are “completely comfortable being around people who have different religious beliefs”, while 13 percent said they immediately lose respect for someone once they find out they are religious.
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Reacting to the increase between 2011 and now, Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Affairs said he is not surprised.
In his words, “There’s a lot that’s happening in the world right now in the name of religion. Of course, ISIS is the primary example that’s using religion to justify what they’re doing.”
“But I think we hear about these incidents more often, not just because they may be happening more often but because of the information age.
“We’ve got 24-hour news cycles and social media and Twitter where we hear about every incident so it’s not surprising to me that a growing number of Canadians believe it does more harm than good.”
I carried out a small survey on my colleagues, 3 Christians, 2 Muslims, and two unspecified.
These are their thoughts on religion in Nigeria.
A Muslim said, "religion is not the problem, the people are. If religion wasn't there, we would find another reason to do things. So, no, it doesn't do more harm than good."
Another person of the same faith said,"Religion does not seem to have good image in Nigeria because of the way we practise it. Every religion is bastardised by its adherents and this makes the spiritual but not religious (SBNR) to always tackle religion because most of the religious are not good reps of their faiths. So if Canadians say religion hasn't done any good, they may be right!"
One Christian said, "I don't know about harm, but if you think about it, Africans or Nigerians, more importantly, wouldn't move a muscle to protest an anti-people policy by the government but would overpopulate any crusade ground when a "man of God" calls for it. The belief that God will help Nigerians is beyond shocking. He will not. It rests on the people to ask their government for change, and not end every political argument with God help us in Nigeria or maybe Nigerians are just using religion wrongly."
Another Christian said, "No. If you have a good understanding of what Christianity is about, Jesus Christ coming to earth, dying for our sins, e.t.c., then it will reflect in your behaviour."
My unspecified colleagues, who are neither Christian nor Muslim, both agreed that religion does more harm than good.
One immediately said, "lucky Canada." She went on to add, "Most people under religious organisations have turned religion into what works for them. Religion has become more of a tag than the actual practice of what it preaches, so now we have people committing atrocities in the name of religion. Religion isn't such a bad thing if "properly" practiced."
The second person said, "Yes, it has done more harm than good. Over the years, the elite have succeeded in moulding religion into our culture and using it to dominate people."
"Religion has made us complacent and lazy," he added.
Here is what I think. Religion is an organised thing, with doctrines. As such, it needs people to lead and others to follow.
With this kind of structure, it is open to being taken advantage of, being misused, basically, anything can go wrong with this arrangment.
Due to this, it may succeeded in doing more harm than good. However, this doesn't change the fact that it has also done some good.
Ultimately, religion is a good thing for good people and harmful for people with dangerous motives.
What do you think?