Religion can be used equally to justify violence [...] and pacifism. Religion can be anything; it's like a synonym for society, culture or human nature. The problem with religion isn't that it's good, necessary or bad[...]. It's that religion can be all of that or anything else. There's nothing clear or pointed you can say about it to which you can't find a counterexample.
[...] Johnny has betrayed and negated his own nature, his self, by treating others, who are essentially like him, with hate and destruction. You look for help or rescue, but your core is no longer there. You've eradicated it. That's a far stronger source of moral suasion than some priest threatening you with hellfire. It's what people sense about themselves, and always have. Any claim that morality requires religion founders on the fact that humans in all eras have managed to act decently toward each other.
Religions have often tried to conscript and endorse the basic impulses of morality. But they don't create it [...] and can't enforce it effectively. When they try, the results are often contradictory: wars and hatred rather than peace and harmony. Go figure.
For most of what matters in mundane realms such as politics and morality, we're on our own, and we'll do better if we acknowledge that. If this be secular humanism, make the most of it.
Rick Salutin, Rabble.ca, July 6, 2007