Yesterday's Missoulian, a daily newpaper of Missoula, Montana, contained an interesting letter-to-the-editor discussing religion and nonbelief. A reader wrote the following:
Wouldn’t you think it’s “godless” people who would have started all the bloody, horrifying, hate-fueled wars down through time? After all, atheists and agnostics don’t have supreme beings or personal saviors to teach them how not to hate. Or kill. Without benefit of divine guidance, it seems atheists and agnostics would be completely free to disenfranchise, persecute and even kill those who don’t disbelieve the same way they disbelieve.
Instead, sadly, tens of millions of our brothers and sisters around the world have been killed, are being killed, and will be killed in wars because it’s the religious people who can’t universally accept, trust and love one another. Even Hitler said it was “God’s will” that he protect his country from the Jews.
I’d feel much safer if non-religious people were in charge from now on (and I’m not referring to force-fed “communists”).
While I think this type of argument is a bit overstated (the atheists Stalin, Mussolini, and Pol Pot sprang immediately to mind), it is nonetheless widely true that "it’s the religious people who can’t universally accept, trust and love one another."
That is beyond sad.
Here is the way I think about it. Religion - or spirituality if you prefer - must include an inclusive attitude that embraces the dignity and inherent worth of all peoples. Doing "the right thing" is treating everyone with the same consideration and respect that you and I desire. I can't conceive of anything less being very saintly.
That attitude would take care of the writer's main complaint.