Just finished reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Although the quality of Dawkins’s argumentation varies, he manages to present a reasonably-well justified case against allowing religion to be anything more than a person’s private belief. One thing he has completely overlooked is that several [secular] ideologies and political systems based thereof work on exactly the same principles as organized religions — the “0th commandment” being “thou shalt not question anything told by the elders”.
Estonia has been identified as the “least religious” country in EU. One of the reasons thereof, I suspect, is that we’re so small that everybody knows somebody who knows anybody. And thus our leaders — political, economical, social — never get the opportunity to achieve the quasi-divine status attributed to the popes, kings, presidents and CEOs of much larger social groups.
But even in Estonia, it is “politically correct” to keep religion beyond criticism. Edgar Savisaar, when accused of attempting to raise funds for Keskerakond from Russia, claimed these funds were intended to finance the building of a church — and, as far as I can tell, none of his opponents openly asked “So what? Why should your party — or any party, for that matter — finance the building of churches?”
Some quotes (you’ll find more on the Amazon page linked to above):
‘Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful’ — Seneca the Younger
‘Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them — given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by — to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades.’
‘we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.’