Religion and hate are two words that are commonly used together. There are some who believe that religion causes people to hate. There are others who believe that religion doesn’t necessarily cause hate however it creates divides within people. These divisions then set the stage to hate. But is any of this true? Can religion really cause others to hate and does it create division, laying a foundation for people to hate others?
On the surface these views can seem as if they require deep philosophical thought to answer. Despite the fact that they don’t I am often surprised by how many people actually fall in line with one of these views. It really should be common sense. In America we’re experiencing what seems to be some sort of 70s love don’t hate revival. Where simply having your own opinion will cause you to end up with the Hater of the Year award. The root cause of this is we now live in a generation where the original definition of hate has been lost and then redefined. Nothing makes this more obvious than the topic of religion. Religion seems to be the new scapegoat for why hate exists in the world.
Religion is typically defined as a system of beliefs centered on faith, God or supernatural worship. That’s also a narrow view. A strongly held belief system can also be ascribed to people, ideas or things and maintained in what we’d call in a very religious manner. For example, Bobby is very religious about attending baseball practice. We can also say that all religions are systems of beliefs that exist by way of thought. A man must think it for it to be so. Meaning, religion doesn’t precede human thought. It only exists when a person thinks, defines and executes on newly founded religious beliefs. A religion doesn’t exist apart from human thought. Take everyone off of the planet and all religions disappear. All religions consist of things such as cultural customs, ethical codes, moral laws or spiritual beliefs. All of these things are conceived by men. Thus a religion, based on its set of beliefs, is created. Contrary to how people perceive it religion is really at the mercy of its creator. Religion doesn’t exist as a natural, tangible element that forces mankind to accept or follow it.
Now let’s look at hate. Hate is nothing more than an intense negative feeling or attitude towards someone or something. It is a feeling of strong dislike. This feeling is innate to human nature. It is primal. You don’t have to teach hate for someone to exercise hate. You don’t have to be taught to hate the bully in school that beats you up daily. There’s no class that needs to be taught as to why someone should hate the person who may have raped and murdered their child. It’s built in. We are all wired towards this human emotion. In fact you can’t even teach someone how to feel. All we can do is modify environments to suppress or encourage certain innate behaviors. To modify an environment you simply need to provide influences to someone’s life. These influences can be positive or negative. When that fails there’s always psychological drugs.
What about indoctrination? Doesn’t religion indoctrinate and influence people with negative reinforcement? That way they learn to hate others unlike them?
No, in all actuality people indoctrinate and influence others with negative reinforcement. Religion is used as just one vehicle to modify someone’s behavior towards someone else for personal or communal gain. But religion has no more power than a political party does in terms of causing people to hate. Democrats and Republicans in general may have opposing views and may even seethe with anger because of these views but the parties themselves don’t teach or cause hatred. You can simply hop on social media and see that people actually hate certain political candidates and their parties due to the views that are held. So does that mean politics also cause hate? Should we get rid of politics, governments and their leaders? Let’s turn back the clock and focus on science. Charles Darwin who referred to Africans and Australians as savages in his book, The Descent of Man, was a man of science. He was also known as a racist. Scientist Francis Galton, known as the father of eugenics, was a racist. In the 1800s science was used to argue such a thing as inferior races existed. Should we get rid of science because people used it as a vehicle to peddle their own deep seated hatred for minorities? The very thought of it just sounds ridiculous. Yet for some mystical reason this idea is acceptable when speaking about religion. There’s a lack of consistency from the populous depending on the object in reference.
The real issue
The elephant in the room religious opponents refuse to acknowledge is mankind is evil and selfish by nature. All of humanity is born into sin. (Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23, Psalm 51:5). That’s where we get the innate behavior to actually hate. We’re born with it. All of us are. But it gets worse. The Bible tells us that from birth we actually hate our Creator, God. It isn’t until we are reconciled through Christ Jesus that this hatred turns to loving our Creator.
“10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:10
Romans 1:28-32 tells us that those who refuse to acknowledge God also hate God. These verses also reveal that those who hate God are full of unrighteousness, evil, murder, strife, deceit and a slew of other sinful characteristics. This brings us to the real issue of man being the cause of hate. The chief reason people blame religion as the cause of hate is due to the fact they hate God, His Laws, want nothing do with moral accountability, reject the idea of divine judgment and want nothing to do with Christ Jesus.
Thus it is easier to simply find fault with the very thing that will bring them to salvation – God – so they can reject Him and live as their own gods. It is common to point out the most egregious acts of terror performed under the banner of religion as proof that all religion condones hate and needs to be exterminated. But religion doesn’t cause or teach anyone to hate. Religion isn’t responsible for hatred in the world. In fact, religion isn’t responsible for anything. It is merely an outward expression of what is in the heart of humanity. And the only thing that can change the very nature of a wretched soul that is full of hatred is Christ Jesus. Only then is it possible for a person to fully understand the origin, definition and nature of the word we call hate. Once we can fully grasp the concept of hate it then becomes possible to fully understand what love is. Which I will address in an upcoming article.