Religion divides people
By creating "in-groups" of saints and "out-groups" of sinners, religion causes divisions within societies that have historically threatened to tear them apart.
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When you’re meeting someone for the first time, there are three things you should never talk about: money, politics, and religion. Although all three subjects have the ability to cause arguments and ruin relationships, the topic of religion is arguably the most divisive of them all. After all, most religions rely on the idea that there is a certain acceptable way to act, speak, think, and even dress. People who do not follow these rules are at best, labeled as “other,” and at worst, considered morally corrupt and in need of saving (or punishment.) Needless to say, religious differences can create significant interpersonal conflict, whether it be in families, friendships, or romantic relationships. On an individual level, disagreements about religion can be uncomfortable. On a cultural level, they can be devastating. First, these differences create fractured groups of individuals that often struggle to coexist peacefully, reducing social cohesion and weakening that society as a whole. Second, this conflict can escalate to the point of violence, from stand-alone acts of aggression and discrimination to full-blown instances of terrorism and war. Examples of religious violence abound throughout history, from the Crusades to the Salem Witch Trials to the Thirty Years’ War to 9/11. Evidently, many religions are not as peaceful or loving as they claim to be. Instead, their necessarily divisive nature has, time and time again, threatened to tear societies apart.
As a species, human beings love to argue, no matter what it’s about. Even if everybody agreed on religion, we would find something else to disagree about, whether that be the color of a certain dress or the acceptability of pineapple on pizza. In other words, it is not necessarily the fault of religion for being so divisive. It is the fault of people for being so easily-divided. In the same vein, religion is often used as an excuse for violence, not necessarily the cause of it. People who bomb buildings or start wars in the name of God are just looking for a way to justify their violent tendencies.