Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Religious labelling - where sectarianism starts




Religion and politics likes labels for it helps boost their power.


You can take a label you are not entitled to.


There must be an objective standard for deserving a label.


A man-made label is not really a label but just a word.


Only a God can have the right to decree how you get a religious label.


If you know a religion is riddled with error, has commanded murder in its scriptures and is man-made and you keep and take its label you make yourself guilty by association.  Why honour something like that by wanting its label?  The good done by people in the religion is irrelevant and is no excuse.  The simple matter is that people in a religion being good does not make it good.  They are good not the religion.  Calling a religion good as a religion is just an underhanded way of putting forward an ideology.




Labels can be misapplied.  A religious label is just a word and has nothing to do with the truth if the religious label is misapplied to a person or if the religion is manmade rubbish. If you know your religion cannot be true or believable then if it labels you with itself that labelling is more than just possibly wrong it is wrong.


Pope Francis has called bad people who claim to be Christian not Christian.  His defenders argue has two uses for the word Christian.  One is the noun.  The other is the adjective.  Neither usage is acceptable for nobody can really be a religious label or noun.  And those who do evil are called not Christian as in adjective which refers to them not as they are but it is about what they fail to do - they fail to do Christian things.  The reason that is deplorable is that it suggests that good works belong to Christianity.  They do not.  They belong to humanity.


The Church recognises that if a person goes through all the Catholic processes but is not baptised that person is not Catholic no matter who says she is. 
There is no such thing as liberal Catholic, moderate Catholic or conservative Catholic .  You are either just Catholic or you are not.


People say that if say some Christians or Muslims (for example) are religious terrorists that you cannot condemn a whole religion because of the actions of a few.  But if the bad and the good are the religion then the religion is doing the bad.  What the terrorists do has something to do with the others - there is such a thing as guilt by association.  Religion because if its huge claims and lack of credibility incurs this guilt by association more than anything else ever could.


Those who are inside a religion and outside label those who are in the specific religious culture with whatever label the religion uses.  While it is true that religion creates the impulses that lead to war and hate and violence it is more true that its labelling system does it.  The labelling is always more powerful than the religion.  A person of a Catholic background in Northern Ireland will be labelled Catholic even if he knows the label means nothing for Catholicism is just a man-made invention and will develop a desire to protect others who are labelled as Catholics and go to war against the enemy: that is those who are labelled Protestants.


The fact that some engage in terrorism has nothing at all to do with showing a religion good for a terrorist group will still be a terrorist group even if they only appoint one person to go out and set the bombs and build hospitals and feed their starving people.


So if it cannot show a religion to be good then the religion is either bad or nothing special.  If it is nothing special then it is a con for it acts as if it is great.


The terrorists are to blame but the others share in the blame though not as terrorists.  To completely exonerate the others is disgraceful and hypocritical and is, in itself, enabling the terrorism and is not caring enough if at all.  When you take on a religion you take on the right to be judged as the religion is judged.  You cannot complain.  You don't need to supply terrorists with weapons or tell them to kill to end up with some or any of the blame.  A mother does not need to send her teen out to burgle to be blamed for raising him carelessly and to get some blame for the burglary.  It starts with failure to hate violence so much that you protest vehemently against it even if it is by God or in the scriptures and sanctioned in days gone by or as bad (its not worse its as bad!!!) sanctioned now or if it sanctions violence in the future say at Armageddon or something.  It starts with failure to leave the religion for one that has harmless scriptures and ideas of the supernatural.


Nobody says they trust a stranger because all humans are not bad but only some are.  That is not logical. What has this to with saying that a religion cannot be condemned for the actions of a few?


Whoever says that a religion is good and should be welcomed and trusted when they have not investigated the religion's doctrine and when they have not dealt with what critics of the religion are warning about is treating religion as a label.


Saying you cannot blame a whole religion or group of people for the actions of a few of them


 only makes sense if you mean you cannot condemn something good because of what a few do.  What do you mean by good?  Do you mean humanly good or do you think the religion is able to transmit supernatural power to override the bad side of human nature?


But religion itself denies that it deserves such respect should it be a man-made religion.  It would not be good enough then no matter how much good it does.  What people say makes no sense if they mean you cannot condemn a labelling system or a label because some bearing that label do bad.


There are hidden assumptions when people say that those who carry or are given a religious label


If people really think terrorists are not Christians or Muslims then why do they not discriminate against them and give them the religious rights they give Christians and  Muslims?  The imprisoned terrorist who wants a Koran on the basis that he is a Muslim will be given one.  Christian terrorists in jail will still have their tax-funded chaplain.


By religion some mean the faith system and by religion others mean the people who identify as the religion.  They mean the label first and foremost.  A religion is not the same thing as the religious label.  To try to exonerate people from enabling terrorism or of being tainted by the actions of a few just because of what label you grant them is terrible.  It is an insulting reason.


If you join a religion that condones or commands evil or lies or violence then no matter how wonderful you are you have tainted yourself and let the religion taint you.  Get a genuine religion of peace if there is one!  You don't have to stay!  Many who are considered to be in a religion merely have the label but are not in their hearts really members.  If you take the label


Religion is a label itself.  Am I talking about the Catholic, Mormon or Protestant or whatever label?  No.


People are murdered all the time by those who detest the religion they are labelled as being part of. Christianity and Islam have the terrible distinction of killing their own! Catholics were killed for not being Catholic enough. Muslims are being killed for being in the "wrong" form of Islam.
It does not matter what anybody identifies as. I can identify as Mormon but nobody in their right mind would take me seriously. It is up to the facts to identify you not you or anybody else.  The religious label endangers truth.  Do not give politics or society the privilege of labelling you.  They have no right.  That is where the religious label comes from - them first and foremost.


Religion leads to violence. If religion is good at that then the religious label is expert. People who do not believe in religion can still end up suffering religious persecution at the hands of a religion just because they are nominally members of a religion it does not like. Religion kills countless thousands but the religious label kills even more! Yes religion is a source of war. But being religious and carrying or getting a religious label are not the same thing. The distress and war over religious labels is far worse than anything caused by religion. Religion however is to blame for the poison of the label.
It is not up to any theorist to decide what the word religion refers to. You see how religious people feel and believe and act and think and then define religion. Thus the argument, "religion is always good and its only the abuse of religion that is bad" is nonsense. It creates a theory instead of letting what is happening define what religion is.
Many people are labelled as a result of what religion they are born into. We need to remember that religion itself labels its people. Labels are about reinforcing and encouraging stereotypes at least up to a point. Labels get troublesome for they can lead to a person being regarded as Mormon despite being sure that the Mormon religion is man-made and not from God. If faith does not make you a member of a religion then what does? Many rebel Catholics raise the question, "How Catholic are they? Are they just pretending to belong to the Church?" Without labels, good members of an organisation cannot be tarred with the same brush as the bad.
A label speaks of how the public or a part of it sees you. If you are going to discriminate against people or hate them you firstly must give them a label. That dehumanises them and triggers the human tendency to demonise or hate all over what some may have done or allegedly done. There is a risk of dehumanising even with a legitimate label. But many labels are just words or almost just words and are thus dehumanising by default. The label that is just a word is about judging the people to whom the label is applied. It turns them into a word or it tries to.
A label that ignores what a person actually believes is dehumanising. If you are called Catholic for being baptised Catholic despite the fact that though you have not formally left the Church you are Protestant in belief that denies the important of belief to religion. It is more insulting if you don't identify with the Catholic label any more.
A label that turns a religion into a social community regardless of how the people dismiss the beliefs or certain beliefs of the religion or its practices is definitely trying to create a barrier.
A label is applied to you by a person who never considers how you deserve the label. Those who call Johnny a Catholic often do not know or care what a Catholic is in the theological sense or in any meaningful sense. Too many labels are mere words.
A man-made religion has no intrinsic right to consider anybody to be a member of it. It is perfectly just and sensible for a person who is labelled a Mormon and who has been raised Mormon to disown that label even if the Church won't disfellowship and de-register him. It is up to you to decide what you are, not others. Even if labels are valid, that is your right. But we will see that labels are rarely valid or correct and serve abusive and exploitive purposes. There are people who label you without letting you label yourself and who do not respect the label you take for yourself - for example, people who convert from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism may still be called Roman Catholic by bigots who refuse to take their new label seriously or respect it. People like that have an agenda even if they don't realise it.
If you want to take a religious label then do it as long as you follow the rules of religion and reason that are needed for you to warrant the label and as long as you don't see yourself as being all about the label. There is more to you than being Catholic or whatever. And it will be a lot. Don't demean yourself with a Catholic label if you are 2% Catholic and otherwise non-religious. You are meant to do all things as a reflection of your Catholic faith. Even boiling an egg is seen as a good work and an expression of faith. If you turn atheist you will still be doing this good work but seeing it as expression of human dignity not a religious ethos. Don't demean your egg-boiling by bringing faith, especially one concocted by man, into it.
Do remember though that it is not nice to identify yourself in terms of opposition to other religions or other people. Why do you have to be identified in terms of Catholic beliefs? That means you are being defined also in terms of what you do not believe. To be Catholic means you deny that Muhammad was more important than Jesus. Why are you identifying yourself in terms of Catholicism when you would not do it in the following terms: "I define myself by my interest in Dickens. My love of chocolate on a Sunday after dinner is part of my identity. I do not believe in Protestantism and that non-belief is part of me." You could go on forever.
What you have to do to get the label
If you want to say being Catholic, for example, is your identity then you have to turn all you do into an offering to God and eat breath and sleep the religion. You have to be approached all the time as a Catholic and not as a human being. Catholicism asks that all your thoughts and words and deeds be sanctified - that is done in the spirit of the teaching of the Church.
Why not treat religious people as people and not as a religion?
The religious believers usually claim that all they do whether religious or secular must be done in a spirit of devotion to the faith. For the Muslim or Catholic, cleaning the windows is a religious act though it does not look religious. Work is believed to be sacred. If believers teach such things we make them angry and hostile if we say we must not treat them as defined totally or primarily by their faith. Religion is not just about doctrine and a community but about a religious way of life.
It may be necessary to challenge religious faith. But before you do so, take care to encourage the listeners to see their family and friends as human, not as defined by a religion. Too often, a challenge to religious faith is stifled by listeners who feel their parents and grandparents are being insulted when the harm done by the religion is mentioned. Clear that up first. The priests and clergy do nothing to discourage the notion that to have a problem with a religion is to have a problem with the loved ones of the person you are talking to whose relations and loved ones were in the religion.
When the Label is a Problem
Religious labels become a problem when other people apply them to you -
* because a label is either evil or a necessary evil. It is to be avoided where possible. You are being labelled for a reason - it serves somebody's purpose and says something to the political system or to the state. A religious label is not a necessary evil. If you are a doctor does it matter what label you have as long as you do your job well?
*without your consent - it is your decision how you should be labelled.
*against your will. They are suggesting that you are somehow a traitor or to be looked down upon if you don't want the label they give you.
*to discriminate against you because of your label
*to discriminate against those who do not have the same label as you
* to create a disconnect between you because of the religious label you have and those who have different labels. This is most blatant in societies and communities where nobody believes in Catholicism but children are still brought for a Catholic baptism. Babies are labelled Catholic when they are baptised by a Catholic priest. It is about the label - not about helping the child by encouraging faith. That is terrible when the region suffers from sectarianism. It is sheer child abuse.
* to steal the credit for the good you do. People say religion does great good so its existence is justified. Take the religious person who says God does the good they do not them. The most charitable assumption we can make about this person is that the goodness is all hers - it is her goodness as a human being and not her goodness as a Sikh or Mormon or whatever.
* label-carriers cause a culture of labelling where it is not only religious labels you have to worry about but other ones such as liberal, right-wing, conservative, fundamentalist or whatever. Labelling people is strategic - it is terrible to suck children and the vulnerable into this. Another problem is how religious groups even if all they care about is the label are sub-cultures and use this to receive public funds.
*to attempt to say what a person believes or what they should believe. They lead to people encouraging the person to believe rubbish if their religion is nonsense. If most people bear a religious label and the religion is rubbish, this still gives the religion plausibility in the public mind.
*encourages people to see all or some of the religious doctrine or belief as part of themselves: you are bigger than your beliefs. The rationale is that the religion is a set of beliefs, a belief system, thus the label is stating that you and these beliefs are somehow one and the same. Thus if anybody threatens or challenges those beliefs they are slighting you and must be silenced or avoided and according to some religions murdered. The problem with religious people seeing themselves as their beliefs leads to critics of religious prejudice and lies being afraid to speak out. Christianity sees God as representing Christian doctrine and says you share in the life of this God and he lives in you which causes you to internalise the beliefs and see them as being you. The answer to the problem is to see that the beliefs are not part of you for you can change them like you do underwear and still be you.
*to say what you do not believe and should not believe so it divides the Christian from the Hindu.
*to feel they have the right to pigeonhole you. If you need a label, then you should be labelled by what you do best and what makes you passionate. A Catholic top musician should be labelled a musician not a Catholic. The musician may get a vastly deeper meaning in life from the music than he does from religion.
*to put you in a box to make themselves feel they know you. People are more complex than their religious label. The label is an attempt to objectify them and deny their complexity. It leads to black and white thinking and making blanket judgements, "Catholics are good. Protestants are bad." Sectarianism results when people are objectified and stereotyped like that.
*to define you when in fact if you are in a religion what you should have is not a label but labels. Its more complicated than one label. For example, the Catholic is part-Christian, part-occultist, part-Aristotelian, part-Jew, part-pagan. The Church was created from ingredients and different religions.
* to slot you into a faction created centuries ago by people who used labels to create political and economic division. It seeks to make you grow in empathy with previous label bearers who were persecuted so that you will feel a sense of solidarity with them and hate those who harassed them.
* people may say they are in a religion for it forms a community but that is a tactic for creating a division. The huge majority of people are not big into religion. People meeting once a week for worship cannot be called a community. Your community is not a religious one but the one people of different religions and none are part of. It is the general community. The religious label and the "community" that goes with it is a smokescreen to stop you being too much of a general community person.
* to further a state agenda. Religious labels are often taken account of and considered valid by the law - in some nations if most people call themselves Catholic then the law of the land considers itself possibly entitled to favour laws that have the support of the church. If the people choose to be in the Church and Church and state should not be separate, then the state simply should organise things along Catholic principles. Even if the state doesn't there is a principle at stake - it should and you are telling it to even if you think you are not. The United Kingdom gives official recognition to the Church of England as a religion. It does not afford the same luxury to several other religious entities.
* the label ends up on the census form. The census is about gathering and comparing information to facilitate policy-making. Thus if humanists or atheists or secularists have a better insight into human rights than believers in Roman Catholicism, then putting down Roman Catholic when you are atheist simply is siding with Catholicism. If the state does not know how many are non-religious that will have a detrimental effect to progress and leads to unbeliever's rights being ignored in policy-making.
* many countries struggle with how to reconcile laws banning unjust discrimination and religion's claim that it should have the right to unjustly discriminate for religious freedom must be upheld and this politicises religious labels. Changing the law to allow people to place their religiously founded abhorrence of heresy, homosexuality, sex outside marriage, unbaptised people and those who use birth-control above the requirements placed on them by the laws of the land to avoid unjust discrimination is surely dangerous. This cannot be done unless the law starts to decide what religious beliefs are true or not. Or it has to decide that the religious beliefs are plausible enough to be understandable. If a person is to have the right to discriminate against gay people, because it is his freedom of religion, then it has to be proven that this probably really is his belief. And it can only be that if his hatred of homosexuality is understandable even if wrong. Calling it understandable would be homophobic and opening the door to even more rampant homophobia. And first and foremost, the state has to violate secularism by saying the person really is a Christian or whatever he claims to be. That is the state adopting a religious belief or theology.
* to further a political agenda. Sinn Fein in Ireland is an example of a terrorist honouring political party that seeks admiration or support or both from those to whom the Catholic label has been stuck on. They are not Catholic in their faith and often oppose Catholic doctrine but they use those who have the Catholic label. It is interesting how a Catholic in Ireland is only considered to be truly Catholic if she or he is nationalist - yet his or her repudiation of Catholic doctrine is not enough to warrant saying, "This person is not a member of the Catholic faith community but is merely a nominal Catholic."
*to empower those who crave power. If you carry the Protestant label, the Protestants may vote you into power in Northern Ireland. Leaders of many nations use those who use the religious label to further and justify their own underhand and Machiavellian ideologies. They say, "Hey world listen to us - our views are not to be treated lightly for look how much support we have!" The pope labels people who were baptised Catholic but who do not really believe the Catholic faith and he points to all 1.5 billion of them and that gets him a unique hearing on the world stage. Mormonism engages in the same tactic - it inflates its true membership.
*to implicate you in the evil of religion to make themselves feel better - evil people feel good about evil when they all do it together (this is diffusion of responsibility). The religious label will lead to you being considered part of the problem if other people in your religion commit terrible deeds in the name of the religion. It will lead to you being seen as an enabler of lies if the religion is untrue and ridiculous. The Catholic Church teaches that the sins of one mystically damage everybody else in the Church for we are one body. When you get the Catholic label, even if you are good, you are being accused of being potentially harmful to everybody else in some supernatural way. This notion implies - despite the Church's intention no doubt - that if some Catholics are bad that says something about the rest of them too!
* to take advantage of the fact that it takes little to make groups distrust each other. Though Protestants and Catholics for example are in the same religion, Christianity, the labelling of one side as Protestant and the other as Catholic is enough to spark of hate and violence and prejudice. This shows the power of the label.
* to empower manipulative or bad religion. What if a religion is intrinsically bad- what about taking its label on you then? Religious fundamentalism is often a bigoted form of patriotism or nationalism in a religious disguise. The IRA campaign was never called Catholic terror - this is an example of how labels can be used to make a venomous religion look like a bunch of lovely roses.
* to belittle. Religious labels are about claiming a person is an adherent of a religion and about caring more about than that the person's actual spirituality or belief or unbelief. The essence of religion is faith - not a list of names in a membership book or in somebody's head. The label usually belittles and ignores faith. The label stickers do not care much for the good if any that faith can lead you to do.
* the state, to be fair, should ignore religious claims that a person can be made a member of the religion merely by some rite or whatever. What if a witch cult cast a spell of initiation all over the world and said we are all members of a sect called the Offspring of Isis? If the state needs to give you a religious label or take your religious label seriously then it needs to ask you what you believe and go by that. But that would be a violation of the separation that should exist between Church and state. If the state recognises your baptism as making you a Christian or Catholic or your circumcision as making you a Jew then the state is saying that these religions are true. A label given by false religion or a man-made one means as much as labelling the moon green cheese would. To say the label is authentic is to say the religion is authentic and has genuine and not fictitious power to give you the label.
* the religious label, especially when the religion claims God comes first or God alone matters, seeks to be the main label put on you. It can seek to be the only label that matters. The label comes first if the God who justifies it comes first. This is demeaning.
* to further their own unwholesome agenda, they may redefine your label to manipulate you or others.
* people like to judge and do so all the time. The person who gives you a label is judging you. The one who knows little about you and calls you the label is the worst.
* as faith in God and magic and religion depend on cognitive dissonance - an attitude where you formulate your belief in such a way that nothing can refute it (eg when magic or prayer fails you argue that it is working but not in the way you expect), it is to be expected that it will lead to people getting religious labels they should not get and even worse, being treated accordingly.
* the fans of labels use them to promote and enable their own hypocrisy. They may call themselves Christian. When you show them an example of a Christian who was very bad such as Hitler they may say no true Christian would have done what he did. That way they dissociate from him and present themselves as an authority on what a Christian is and therefore as a good example of Christian holiness or charity. It is an arrogant boast. The only way out of this hypocrisy is to let people tell you what they believe and leave it up to you to work out if their beliefs make them truly Christian or not.
* labels lead to more labels and more problems.
Advantages of getting a Religious Label
You are accepted by others and are connected to them for you all bear the same label.
It may promote understanding between people of the same label. Labels are short-cuts for getting to know others who have the same label.

Labelling others helps make sense of the world and those around us.
It may inspire you to work harder to deserve the label.
You have a recognised identity as represented by the label.
But notice that these benefits are hard to come by if the label is exalted above religious practice and faith. For example, labels will not promote understanding but prejudice among people of the same label when none of them cares or thinks about beliefs or faith.
There are in fact no worthwhile advantages.
In the Balance
The dangers of labelling outweigh the benefits. The benefits can be easily got without the label.
Consider how if you are a Catholic who never bothers with religion, it will not stop you benefiting from the label. So surely if you dropped the label you should still be okay? And if you are not, do you really want to be treated well just because of what people want to call you?
Violence and the No True Scotsman

The No True Scotsman fallacy turns religoin itno a label and nothing else.  But it is a lable that is all good and faultless so that it is never to blame for what


When a religious person does evil in spite of the directives and commands of their faith, they are taken as not being a reflection of that faith and the other people in it. Some say that if a Catholic priest sins seriously he is not acting as a Catholic priest therefore the reputation of the Church should be intact.
That logic makes it impossible to say that there is any such thing as a harmful religion. If a religion has members who behave badly above average then that logic is enabling the problem and denying that the religion is to blame.
The religions do not really accept the logic because each one claims to be the best for its adherents.
If the religion claims to be the work of God and his hospital for sinners where he works supernaturally to make them good and holy, a member doing evil makes the religion suspect.
A religion that does not have an objective standard for what members are to believe about matters of faith and morals is not a religion. If you are in a religion, it is not up to you to decide what that religion should teach. You have to try and believe. There is no need for religion if you can pick and choose. You represent the religion and its teaching whether you like it or not. A bad or confused representative is still a representative. That is why a kindly person or a person who is nearly atheist but who identifies with a religion is not to be let off the hook. If the religion is bad the person needs encouragement to leave the religion. It is about helping the person and opposing the religion. It is encouraging the person to leave because you respect her or him totally but not the religion.

Religious labels are bad. However it is a human right to be granted the power to choose your label or to discard it. But you must earn the label to make it your real label. Otherwise it is just a word.  When people carrying a religious label do grave harm we will be warned against taking the worst examples are taken as representative as the whole.  That only applies if the harm is normal human badness but it is extreme then it is different.  And if a label is just a label and you take the same label as those people then you tarnish yourself.  You are asking for it.


Labels can be misapplied. The Church recognsises that if a person goes through all the Catholic processes but is not baptised that person is not Catholic no matter who says she is. A religious label is just a word and has nothing to do with the truth if the religious label is misapplied to a person or if the religion is manmade rubbish. If you know your religion cannot be true or believable then if it labels you with itself that labelling is more than just possibly wrong it is wrong.