Rules and Responsibility
One of the most important things in all religions are commandments. Rules, given by god (or gods), usually passed on by prophets, which are to be obeyed by all people.
These sets of rules presented by the religions lift a burden of responsibility of the people's shoulders: The burden to decide. The people do not have to think about which rules they want to live by, because the rules are readily made for them - even by a supreme being - so they do not have to, must not, question them. They just have to obey.
Now, in todays big religions people sometimes actually are encouraged to question the rules. But only to then be convinced of their rightness - certainly not to in the end actually change the rules.
A selected group of people may have the privilege to interpret the rules - but the majority can live in the soothing certainty that it is enough, even imperative, to simply follow the rules. The duty of deciding whether these rules are good or not, the responsibility of thinking about whether the deeds resulting from following those rules are good as well as the blame if they are not, is lifted from them.
If a rule says that you have to kill all non-believers then it is not your fault if you do just that. If a rule says "an eye for an eye" then you are not to blame if you inflict pain to the ones that inflicted pain on you. And if a rule says "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman: that is detestable" then you have no other choice as to deny homosexuals the right to marry or have children.
It is frightening how this all very much sounds like "Amtssprache".
The term "Amtssprache" was used by German military officers during the Third Reich. It approximately means Bureaucratic Language. A language that these officers developed to deny choice, to deny responsibility. In Amtssprache everything sounded like you have absolutely no choice to do otherwise. You are ordered to, you simply have to. It is not your responsibility whether it is right or wrong, whether it is moral - you just have to obey.
You can believe that our brain was given to us by god, or you can follow the evidence of evolution that lead to the evolvement of this brain - in any case, it seems reasonable that we, human beings, should use this brain to think and decide in what kind of society we want to live, by what rules, and not deny this responsibility by hiding behind the rules of one of the religions.
- "Eichmann in Jerusalem", Hannah Arendt
- "The Basics of Non Violent Communication", Marshall B. Rosenberg