Evil and the doing of harm is common.  But no two people can manage to do them exactly the same way or to the same degree.  Religion if it starts wars and does harm has a role in this too.  It affects its members to one degree or another.

Culture always makes it easy for good people to enable evil and to do evil. Religious culture seems to have the most talent in that field. People who share a culture and share values and that conditions and intimidates the individual to go along with the culture even if it means denying your fellow-feeling for those who culture targets for demonisation and victimisation. Religion is a form of culture and the strongest form for it pretends to be set up by God. At least if you think your culture is man-made you can campaign for change. Religion is culture in its most toxic form.

Culture is people so what kind of good person might do evil and what gets them to do it?

What kind of person?

There are three kinds of good people that do evil.

One is the good person who intentionally does a few terrible things. An example, would be the devoted wife who unexpectedly kills her husband.

Two is a good person who ceases to be good and does evil.

Three is a good person who does terrible things but who is brainwashed and thinks they are not wrong or they are at least okay.

All three can be found in any religion. How much the religion is to blame is what we will study in a moment. There may be reasons to blame it that we are not able to determine as faith and religious devotion in each person can be concealed and we do not see exactly what is forming another person's thinking and prejudices.

Exploring good people doing evil

Religion is not the only thing based on calling on good people to war against evil. This sometimes leads to and permits actual war against the enemy. But it adds something to this idea of us versus them as if there is not enough already. A person seeing themselves as killing the enemy for God's will decrees it has a reason to kill that the atheist fighting the same war does not have.

To get good people to do evil you have to make the evil seem to be the best if not the most desirable thing to do under the circumstances. So you get them to blame the victims for how they treat them. You dehumanise the victims by maybe labelling them or over-labelling them or refusing to recognise their true label and you do that so that you can concentrate only on them as an alleged threat. To see a group as a group can lead to you forgetting that there are individuals all different from each other in it and that is a form of dehumanisation too. It does not take much dehumanisation - a little of it can result in terrible things happening for the other is still seen as less than you.

The good will be got to feel that the responsibility lies not with the good people but those who have done the thinking for them such as religious/political leaders or god.

Make the good feel that if it is bad it is not that bad for there are others doing worse or find new ways of condemning faults in the hated party - eg their love of sex outside marriage is not only evil but means choosing to hate everybody but themselves for all eternity in Hell.

The good individual's part seems small to him or her when her or she is in the group doing the bad things. People who think God works through what we do even the bad will feel their part is small. Individuals do not feel individually responsible when they and the group make the decision together to do evil. The notion that God is involved in the decision and makes it makes them less liable to feel responsible or think they are.

The good person will deny that the bad results are their fault or really that bad or say the alternative is worse. Forgiveness supposedly from God can lead to a person thinking they are better than others on the basis that the past is in the past but these people are unreformed while you are.

The manipulating of a good person to get them to commit atrocities has to be drip fed and gradual. It may involve methods of "treating" their growing aggression with prayers and sacraments in the belief that they will not work and thus add to the problem.

Magic includes things such as feeling that God is guarding you. A miracle is only an act of magic under a different name. Good religious people will only become very bad if they think coincidences or magical coincidences or divine protection will protect them from the consequences of being very bad. The killers think they will get away. Prayer more than magic leads to that thinking for even witches use prayers when there is no chance of setting up a spell.

The way we are made, our very biology, gives us the desires and tools to help others in need. We may not be very good people but we will be often good enough. We will help enough people. So why do we do terrible things despite our caring and social side? Are we in fact just inherently bad and doing the good to look good? Why are we able to be so heartless despite our brains being equipped to care for people and exhibit empathy? To hurt others is to risk bad things coming to yourself. People will not trust you and you will fear others. The only explanation is magic - we do not see how things can go wrong for us. We think they magically can't or won't. We never learn for we think that this time the bad thing we do will turn out okay for us. The voice of faith is heeded over and above the voices that shout the lessons of the past.

We see then that by giving a sense that the religion shares in your responsibility, your God shares, that you feel something is guarding you are ways the religion can get you to do evil.

Guilt by association

When some members of a religion do evil and claim that the scripture of the religion permit it or encourage it or even command it is wrong to say, “What they do is totally counter to the religion.” The fact remains that some followers of the religion can accept it and even many critics of the religion will agree with them that their interpretation is valid or at least as convincing as more peaceful interpretations. Organised groups and organised religions should be considered just as guilty as individuals should be.

And what happens when you embrace peaceful religious extremists?

When you pray for a sick person to recover your attitude as a believer will be, "God, your will be done". You are saying that what you believe is God's will, be it good or otherwise, comes before the fact that a person is sick. A belief comes before the fact. Your attitude is, "If there is no God then the person may get better or may not. I permit." The atheist gives no permission for anybody to be ill.

Religion undoubtedly gives "good" people bad attitudes. They say that God lets cancer befall a child. God will cure the child through your actions. It is really him that cures the child not you. So God then must believe the child should not suffer. He lets the child suffer so that you may put your holiness into practice. It is about giving you something to do. This not only insults your goodness but turns you into a hypocrite.

The believers who abuse and those who do good have one thing in common. Both feel that suffering and evil happen and have their place in God’s holy and good plan. If nature torments a child and believers say it is God then they are going down to nature's level.

More wrong

Religious people do more “wrong” than just social wrong. To do what you think is wrong shows you intend to do wrong and that is bad even if it is not wrong. It is bad because of the kind of person it makes you. The atheist or non-religious person does not have this problem. The problem is a complete disproof of the notion that religion is not all bad and therefore okay. It is not okay. It is all bad in outlook and its core outlook - even if in practice it is not too worrying.

All people, people of faith also, are more likely to do nothing about people doing harm to others than they are to do harm themselves. Religion is bad for it exaggerates how many things are wrong and how wrong they are. Religion makes people enablers who love bad people doing their dirty work - and puts them above the norm. For that to enable religion is to enable this evil. There is enough evil without that contribution! And any evil is too much!


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