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Ways that Personal Faith Can Cause Harm

Updated on August 6, 2013
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Is Personal Faith Truly Personal

I've recently encountered a large number of people who seem to back pedal themselves into a corner when faced with an honest religious discussion or debate. They strike back in the only way that they know how - ultimately, their argument hinges on one single point.

These people all say something along the lines of "well, I don't know how my personal beliefs affect you - why does it matter that I believe what I want, I'm not hurting anyone"

That statement is not only a blatant attempt at misdirection, it is also completely untrue. If you think that whatever you believe is simply whatever you believe and it causes no harm whatsoever, you're failing to see the big picture - or you're remaining willfully ignorant.


The Reality

The fact of the matter is that no one lives in a vacuum. What we do affects other people. It would be one thing if you lived on a deserted island, no one was around and you simply just did whatever you want. That, however, is not the case. We don't live in a vacuum. Our choices, decisions and actions do affect other people, and religion in general - including personal religion - does cause real, discernible harm to others.

Think outside of the box for a moment. We are mere days away from another presidential election in this country. What makes you decide which candidate is going to get your vote? Are you more likely to vote for someone who shares your faith, or someone who opposes it?

Personal religion impacts an individual's take on social and moral issues. Two big examples that are prevalent in today's society are the issue of marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens and the issue of abortion. Many people oppose marriage equality because of one reason alone - they believe that homosexuality is a sin as determined by their holy book - and because of it they vote to limit the rights and freedoms of other people - regardless of whether those other people adhere to the same holy book or interpretation thereof or not.

A lot of religious people also consider themselves to be pro-life, and consider people who are pro-choice to instead be pro-abortion. They believe (contrary to what their own bible teaches) that all life is sacred and that means that the rights of an unborn fetus supersede the rights of the mother and abortion is immoral. They choose to legislate based on those beliefs, and that legislation is currently threatening imminent harm on thousands of women who are not in a position to give birth - but may be forced to against their will should certain laws be passed and readily enforced.


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Conclusion

No matter how personal your faith is, it also determines your stance on many issues - and those issues affect the lives of other people. Trying to excuse away that kind of negativity is dishonest to the extreme. Claiming that your personal beliefs should be justified because they cause no harm to others is looking at the world with blinders on. You're only seeing what you want to see - not the way things really are.

Silence is seen as assent. If you do nothing to help, then you're willfully making yourself part of the problem. You may not agree with everything that the religious right does or said, but refusing to take a stand against it allows it to continue indefinitely - and it's not just your life, your livelihood and your future at stake. Every move we make starts a domino effect on the people we associate with, the acquaintances that we see every day at work or the strangers that we pass without a second though. While faith may seem like a way to maintain inner strength, what is the true cost - and how can that cost be negated, when it's potentially harmful to someone else who doesn't see eye to eye with your beliefs?

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    • profile image

      VeronicaInspires 4 years ago

      I LOVE your hubs!

      This is a really interesting debate....

      You say, "Our choices, decisions and actions do affect other people, and religion in general - including personal religion - does cause real, discernible harm to others."

      If that is in fact the case how can we reconcile our religious differences and beliefs? Will we ever be able to?

      I say, no. The only who can, in my opinion, is God. He is the TRUE judge of other peoples' character and heart. We have no way to determine which religion is the "right" one.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      While I don't see it happening in my life time, I hope eventually humankind can put the derisiveness of religion behind them. Everyone can cling to whatever beliefs they want - but it will not dictate how we treat others, and we won't judge others or condemn them or discriminate against them because of a religion. I hope that we can see each other as human - and that we can accept that we're all equal and deserve to be treated equally.

    • profile image

      VeronicaInspires 4 years ago

      Yep!

      Well said. And I think that's EXACTLY where He wants us to be!

      Veronica

    • DaceyD profile image

      DaceyD 4 years ago

      I think this is a very narrow view. You are perpetuating your personal belief, I don't think your doing any harm though I think it's very biased to judge every religious person by the few who use religion to justify their own prejudice. I know many devout people who have no problems with gay marriage are a woman's right to choose. I vote based on the issues and my stand on them not the faith of who ever is running. Some people use religion to justify what they want to believe, what they want to be true. If they didn't use religion as justification they would use something else, (ie James Henry Hammond and his use of Cicero to justify slavery). You will find that these devout people who use the bible to propagate hate aren't stoning all non virgin brides, participants in adultery, or blasphemers. The second commandment is to love thy neighbor as thy self, there is no amendment that says only if they are strait white Anglo Saxons, people take from it what they want to. They would find something else if it weren't religion. I think the issue is much broader than that and the solution is not getting rid of religion but education. People need to be taught tolerance and acceptance and it is something that needs to be addressed in schools because many people adopt the prejudices of their parents. What is needed is more conversation with out condemnation, when you attack someone based on their beliefs they often become reactive and more conservative as a way to protect those beliefs which doesn't help anyone.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Pointing out a problem with faith or personal belief is not an attack, and I don't know how its possible at all to view it as such. This hub is in direct response to the claim that having personal faith spent cause any harm, and you should just leave it alone. That is blatantly untrue.

    • DaceyD profile image

      DaceyD 4 years ago

      I wasn't sure what you meant by this -This hub is in direct response to the claim that having personal faith spent cause any harm, and you should just leave it alone.?

      I apologize if I took the hub a way you hadn't intended. It seemed to me that your premiss was religion and personal belief causes harm? If I'm wrong please correct me. I did not see any qualifications in the hub and I am sorry I missed them. Rereading my comment I was not perhaps as clear as I could have been, I was trying to say to much all at once and didn't take the time to formulate what I wanted to say as well as I could have. It seemed to me that your hub was very inclusive, and that by saying personal belief or faith causes harm the root cause wasn't being addressed as much as the instrument people have used to justify their bigotry.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Excellent, voted up. People can believe whatever they wish, but when their beliefs impact on the lives of others, they have to stand up. We have a member of Congress who says we don't have to do anything about global warming because God will take care of it. This is a problem.

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