Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich
Hold on to your horses before you attack me. I know you are likely to charge me with sweeping with a large brush and ask maybe that I retract or use a smaller brush or maybe change the undertones in the pigment to somewhat light grey, but I will not.
Religion, as I understand it, is the belief in the supernatural. Before we continue, I contend that Buddhism stripped of its supernatural associations is not a religion in the real sense of the word. Many people use religion to mean many things. Some have gone so far to say doing good is their religion. I will only say in passing that has nothing to do with religion per se.
You may ask me now what about missionary schools, hospitals and charities run by the religious and I will tell you they have nothing to do with religion. On the other hand, for religion to continue to hold its sway among people, it had to, over time, associate itself with those things that we value and are important to us.
It is for the above reason that religion associated itself with morality. Our ancestors having created gods have them issue forth moral edicts in the hope they would be obeyed if they came from a god. It is no wonder, while reading the Hebrew fairy tale, anyone who goes a-killing has support of god.
Next, it may be argued that religious people have been at the forefront in the struggle for reformation and justice. And I will say yes but further add that Calvin was tolerant as long as you agreed with him. Servetus who didn’t agree with him ended up at the stake. The same is to be said of Martin Luther and so many other of the reformation leaders. As men they were intolerant of dissent and as religious people, they had support of their gods to treat others with disdain and even burn them.
This is my sketch, Christopher Hitchens wrote a whole book I think on the same. I haven’t read his book. Maybe I should go off and read it now.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful.