The Negative Impact of Religion on Society
For as long as humans have had the ability to reason, they have attributed the natural phenomenon and the world around them to deities, spirits, and supernatural forces. Religion has played a huge role in the development of societies and civilizations throughout history. It has been a guide for morals and a shaper of principal. It has been a foundation of law for many cultures. The positive aspects of religion are well known and cherished among its followers, however there are other effects, some well known, and others ignored, that are not so positive. This paper seeks to research and describe some of the negative effects religion has had on ...view middle of the document...
Stepping out of the Western world, the Chinese have long been guilty of persecuting the Buddhists in Tibet as a means to control them (McCorquodale, Orosz 112). In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in particular, migrant workers who are not Muslim must refrain from displaying any sort of religious symbols or openly participating in any religious practices. Other methods also include excluding members of particular religious groups (particularly Hindus) from job offerings (International Labour Office 30).
Some religious discrimination is not as conspicuous as the state sanctioned examples above. In the United States, many atheists view the words â€œunder Godâ€ in the pledge of allegiance to be discriminatory, although the claim has never stood up in courts (Bishop 41). The perception of discrimination by atheists is supported by many studies and polls that find that most Americans view atheists in a negative light. A poll conducted in 1999 by Gallup asked Americans if they would consider voting for a political candidate that belonged to each of eight different minority and religious groups. Of the eight groups, the poll found that atheists were the most maligned and discriminated against, with 48% of respondents saying they would not vote for an atheist candidate (â€œAmericans Todayâ€).
Aside from the obviously negative effects of discrimination and war, religion can also hinder scientific progress in a society. The most obvious and notorious impact currently is its prohibitive influence on stem cell research. While time has yet to tell whether stem cell research will produce the results that it is expected to, the religiously based policies that hinder its research have just now been lifted by the new Obama administration, but the United States is now far behind countries such as Korea and Iran (â€œIran Excelsâ€).
Religions effects on the human body and mind are far reaching and difficult to study. The studies that have been done, however, tend to show a negative association of religion and physical and mental health. In a study published in 1960 of college students, researchers found that religious individuals were more likely to be anxious than non-believers, and that believers tended to complain more of working under tension and sleeping fitfully (Rokeach 54). Two studies done in the early nineties in London, England found worse health outcomes among patients who scored high on a spiritual beliefs scale at baseline (Koenig, McCullough, Larson 77). Studies have also found that in some more fundamentalist Christian denominations, the practice of spiritual â€œhealingâ€ led to its followers not seeking medical treatment for afflictions, resulting in worsening conditions and even death (Koenig, McCullough, Larson 407).
Gender status is another issue that has been influenced greatly by religion over the course of history. In general, religion has cast females as subordinate to males in society. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in...