Should religion be seen as a personal matter?

Mixed with politics, religion stops being about god or personal beliefs, and starts being about taking control over lives and choices of those who follow or don’t follow it.

Religion empowered can redefine rape in the US. “Rape is only really rape if it involves force.” So an  incest victim, or an unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to resist person, should not be seen as a rape victims? [Link, ‘Yes Means Yes!‘]

All the hard work to create awareness about sexual crimes, to be undone to prevent women from having a choice in a decision that can’t be easy anyway. If it isn’t rape, then there is no justification for an abortion.

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Religion allowed a 14 year old child in Bangladesh to be killed for ‘adultery’, when at 14, she could only have  been a victim of child abuse or rape by her 40 year old, married cousin. The rapist ran away. The 14 year old ‘endured about 80 lashes before collapsing‘.

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Religion allowed a seventeen year old boy in Pakistan to be ‘arrested under Blasphemy ordinance for writing unpleasant remarks about the prophet’.

…Chairman Intermediate Board of Karachi… admitted that he was aware of the severe repercussions.

“It was the boy’s neck or mine. I was aware of the harsh consequences which the boy and his family would have to go through, but we could not do anything… or else we would be in hot water. The professor who checked the papers had sent reports … to other places. My hands were tied.”

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Religion could be behind Ugandan gay rights activists, David Kato, being beaten to death.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” At his funeral the presiding pastor called on homosexuals to repent or “be punished by God” and when they protested, the pastor refused to conduct the burial. [Click to watch the video]

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Presence of religion in politics allowed some to find justifications for Graham Staines and his two minor sons to be burnt to death while sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur,” the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities”

[The Bench later deleted this passage, click to read details.]

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Without religion being in power, this graphic video of flogging of a Sudanese woman by policemen who are laughing at her pain, would not have been possible. It seems she was to be given 53 lashings for indecent dressing.

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Not very different from,

Two years ago, hooligans in Mangalore used religion to object to what they claimed was indecent dressing and behavior, by beating and molesting innocent citizens. Their sentiments were hurt when they were compared to the  likes of the policemen in the video above.

Of course there is a basic difference. The victim in Sudan was legally an offender.  Indian law and society saw the violent, attacking mob as the criminal.

Not sure if they have been subjected to any kind of, what is described above as ‘teaching a lesson’.

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57 thoughts on “Should religion be seen as a personal matter?

  1. IHM, Liked your post.

    If you would like to read further on personal religion, I suggest “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens

    Me – Bach I feel, those who do believe should not assume that anybody else would and should. Imagine excusing violence and abuse to children and teenagers in the name of religion. I will google the book you have mentioned.

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  2. Well said, IHM. Religion can be a personal matter so long as it stays personal; the moment it infringes on the rights of others, including children, it ceases to be a personal matter.

    Me – Absolutely agree Apu. Yes, human rights should never be allowed to be encroached upon by religion. There’s no limit to how far the power and abuse can go, because the rules are all open to (mis)interpretation by those in power.

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  3. Religion has become just another excuse, for someone to abuse or exploit someone else. Poor God . 🙂

    Me – Yes Kislay it really has, I guess it always was. Anything that is open to interpretation by anybody in power is open to abuse.

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  5. Wow! This is bang on! But the problem is that religion becomes a part of our mental and emotional psyche and influences everything, what we eat, how we dress up and what we think. To rise above it requires great character and mental balance – which a mob or a few lumpen elements don’t have.

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  6. The incidents that you have mentioned IHM, are happening because we’ve either misunderstood religion or have twisted and distorted religion to suit our own (political) needs I honestly think that the rigidness and narrow-mindedness that we see in the various religions now has been actually created by us.

    Me – Yes Ruchira I agree. Unfortunately religion is too open to being manipulated and has been manipulated for centuries – like in the past we had Devdasis. Caste system still thriving. Preference for male children was created by religion – religion can become so powerful an influence that one has to be very careful what it teaches, look what it is doing in the Middle East, and might succeed in doing the same in Egypt too.

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  7. RELIGION is the biggest used excuse for all the EVIL done in this world..
    The other day in the Gurudwara I heard someone say that RELIGION was not meant for people of TODAYS WORLD we have manipulated it so much, used it so much that all the relavance it had is LOST.

    We the humans dont have the RIGHT to say we are religious or we follow a religion WE DONT cause the first thing every religion says is GIVE LOVE TO FELLOW HUMAN and we dont .. so how can we say we follow religion …

    It being a personal or not personal comes way after.. LET US ALL BE HUMAN FIRST AND THEN THINK OF RELIGION …

    We all know according to evolution Human was first then came religion .. so lets try being and then think of religion .. I am very outspoken and i say what i see .. people may not like it but the one who says they are religious and follow religion are the worst FRAUDSTERS.. end of

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  8. Religion is being as an excuse and as a tool to manipulate many things and it has become more like political tool…. the true meaning of religion has become obsolete i think.

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  9. According to me, religion is nothing but institutionalised politics. But it is difficult to escape from it because religion is also a part of culture. Religion is very powerful. So it is incorporated to monopolise people. Even the so-called educated can be manipulated with religion.

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  10. ‘Religion’ is abused everywhere now! True believers do not disturb others but follow silently. If you believe in some religion and follow it as you think is right, then it boosts your self-confidence. If you follow one religion and abuse others, you are abusing your own religion, because no religious book asks you to abuse other religions.

    I saw a BBC interview long back. It was about women being thrashed in front of a huge crowd, even a son was belting his mother because he was asked to do so by the local leader…her husband was absconding and she was having an affair with somebody else, but the truth was the brother-in-law wanted her and she refused and he had ‘arranged’ for this public punishment. She (the reporter), asked the local leader why he was giving this ‘punishment’. He said that the ‘quoran’ said so and she showed a quoran book to him and asked him to show where it was written…he was just blinking! The reporter asked a sincere muslim moulvi about this and he said that nowhere it was written that women should be abused publicly. He said openly that he did not like what was happening in the name of ‘religion’.

    I still remember the face of the son belting his mother and crying loudly.

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  11. Religion has gone wayward in our country and so i prefer being called spiritual than religious. Where on one hand we look towards religion to unite, it is the very reason that causes a divide. We were always manipulated in political scene based on caste which has now proliferated to extremes of religion. After many years of struggle where we are still coming to terms with caste system and more or less ignoring it, the beacons of religious divide have already been lit by Sentimentalists …. What more would you expect from ppl who are deprived of basic needs, kept away from industrialisation and education – who have no sense of right and wrong – heinous acts to vent their frustration and get them noticed. we have seen this happen all too often with the naxals and dalits… Religion is a way of life, if ostracizing people is part of the way you live, then it is your personal choice and one must be aware of repercussions of them.

    Me – Trupz – I agree with you about the poor being the easiest victims of any atrocities in the name of religion. It is also becoming a way to keep the poorest distracted – it’s easy to preach than to provide clean drinking water and provide medical facilities etc. 😦

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  12. Religion is a way of life , a personal choice. Am not sure what makes some people assume that they are God and can mete out these so called religious “punishments” to whom they think have violated the tenets of the religion. If they really believed in their religion or God they would fear the consequences of their action,or atleast have the humanity to refrain from them…. but mostly these people are drunk on power or being easily brainwashed to become fanatical. Am not sure what the solution for this is IHM, maybe education? ..but then educated people can become easily swayed or fanatical too when it comes to religion…

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  13. IHM, I don’t know if you were expressing your own opinion or quoting other people when you said:

    > If it isn’t rape, then there is no justification for an abortion.

    Me – Samosaofdoom, I should have specified, the purpose of this is to keep as many women as possible from being able to access Medicaid funds for abortions. If it can be proven that the pregnancy has not been caused by rape, legal abortion is not possible.

    But just for the record, that position really makes no sense.

    Think about it: people who oppose abortion SAY they do so on moral grounds that fetuses are alive, and they deserve a right to continue living/not to be killed. Why would this right to life change depending on HOW the pregnant woman became pregnant? That should be completely irrelevant.

    Me – I am sure those who are Anti Choice would not want women to have permission to have abortions, no matter what.

    The support that some people show for abortion in cases of rape can be explained only by one thing: these people consider pregnancy to be the “just punishment” for women who have sex voluntarily. Only then does it make sense to say “let’s allow the abortion since the woman got pregnant through no FAULT of her own”. What is this fault? Nothing but a woman choosing to have sex!

    Me – I think they see a woman as a person who has some rights and control on her own body. Abortion is not an easy decision for a woman and I think Pro Choice means supporting her through one of the most difficult time and decision in her life.

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    • Here’s the thing about anti-choice people. As IHM pointed out above, it’s about control, they want to control people’s bodies, but also their sex lives. Talk to any of them, they don’t like women having access to contraception, the reason being? Because to them it gives a woman “permission to be promiscuous.” In the end it’s not about abortion, because if it was, they would support initiatives that would decrease the need for them, like sex education.

      They don’t like the idea of a woman engaging in sexual activity without the purpose of getting pregnant. They don’t like the idea of a woman controlling her reproduction, because to them it interferes with God’s plan. But you’re correct, that’s their attitude. They believe women who have abortions for reasons other than rape or incest are irresponsible sluts. They make me sick.

      Me – I agree. And they have women like Sarah Palin supporting them. This is like my domestic helper’s husband noting want her to use contraception because he was afraid, if she learnt how to avoid pregnancy, she’d cheat on him!

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    • Maybe I was not clear enough in my post.

      Fact 1: most anti-choicers oppose abortion BUT WITH EXCEPTIONS FOR RAPE (and maternal health).

      Fact 2: most anti-choicers say they oppose abortion because fetuses are “innocent life” that deserve to live.

      Fact 3: most anti-choicers justify agreeing to abortion in cases of rape because “the pregnancy was not the mother’s fault”.

      The inconsistencies in reasoning show that anti-choicers are lying when they claim (2) . Also, (1) and (3) show that the real motivations of most anti-choicers is to force women to undergo the consequences of sex – i.e. to punish women for choosing to have sex.

      BTW the Republican opposition to allowing Medicare funds to be used for abortions does not mean abortions are not available for women who are not raped. In most of USA abortions are 100% legal for any reason until the 2nd trimester and legal in cases where maternal health is in jeopardy thereafter. (Roe v. Wade and all that jazz.)

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      • Of course abortions are legal in the USA. But with lack of government funding, people do not have access to it if they cannot afford it. How do I know? Because my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I did not want to undergo surgery (D & C) for removal of the fetus and the doctors cannot prescribe “abortion pill” to me. So I had to call a center run by the government. I already had papers with me from my doctor along with ultrasounds etc to prove that I was already undergoing miscarriage and yet this center refused to give me an appointment. It also insisted that I talk to and get counseled by one of their representatives before I see their doctor, whose appointment I would get only one month later. And no, they would not accept testimonials from other practicing doctors that I was indeed miscarrying. And oh, the pill would set me back by $500 as insurance would not cover it.

        I opted for the surgery finally because I could not possibly wait that long to see if I miscarry “naturally” and have a possibility of hemorrhaging to death along with it.

        Just imagine, if this is what I was faced with, a person who did not choose to abort her child but was already going through a nature induced abortion. I, who researched all my choices and talked to my doctor and also had the capacity to pay $500 and get that pill as the last resort. Many lower income people would not have the options I had and would probably continue with their unwanted pregnancies. Probably they are not interested in babies or they are drug addicts – they severely jeopardize the quality of life of the child they birth.

        So making abortions legal, but systematically clamping all your methods of getting one or making it really hard and expensive to get an abortion is just back handed play.

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  14. I saw this news about the right trying to redefine rape in the US and was horrified. But the good thing is that such inane laws will never be passed. There will be discussion and that is that. It is still sad to see that seemingly smart and educated men and women were willing to redefine rape and make it narrow enough so that most victims of rape who get pregnant would not be able to get a legal abortion. For the right wing in the US it is all about being pro-life, even if it mortally harms women.

    Me – Most right wing thinking is anti women – no matter what excuses they use, women’s welfare is not a priority.

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  15. Across world, violence is happening and been done without any shame by all the parties in the name of religion.. i wonder in which religion God have told that suppression is the way to get to the ultimate power. Very well said and couldnt agree better, hw can some religion crazy monsters(few in no)decide wt is correct according to God. I’m sure after hearing all this, even god hav put a blind eyes and deaf ears…

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  16. Blame it on the times we live in IHM. We’ve knowingly or unknowingly reached a situation where clerics and religious books decide how we behave, dress, talk and think in society. This is correct irrespective of yourself being in India, Indonesia, Iran or the United great states of Amyericya.

    Religion has infiltrated our minds and society. Make no mistake, it has started to yield parasitic effects on us hosts rather than commensalistic.

    It is very hard to shake off the religion factor from our lives. Even for someone like me, who is an agnostic (or call me an atheist) in its true sense and has no belief on any religions it is tough not to unconsciously assess a person based on religion. I’m finding it tough in my life especially when looking for a groom for my sister. Like me, she doesn’t give a damn about religion and such bulls**t, the poor girl just wants a guy who is in a good profession and “will love her”. But we don’t live in vacuum! I burned my hands severely trying to fish outside our ‘circles’, you get what I mean? We’ve come to a situation where we first look for the guy’s religion and then move on to other ‘useless’ factors like job, family background, character and so on!! 😦 All bcoz my family head honchos…

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  17. Anything that involves ‘worshiping’ something and ‘following’ something is bound to cause trouble. If religion says that you need to do xyz to achieve something, then there is something wrong with it. Anything (and especially religion) should leave room for questions by the people who follow it. I have serious doubts over any sort of ‘preaching’ and anyone (or anything) telling me to do a particular thing. I prefer to make my own decision based on whatever information that is put forth.

    That said and done, I have no issues with people following any religion, as long as the religion does not take over their human side. Unfotunately, in most cases religion dictates the way of life than it just being a spiritual thing.

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  18. IHM You move me.
    You’re a strong and an inspiring woman.
    Thanks a lot 🙂

    But, there are a lot of things that are unfair in the world. That can’t be changed.
    And religion is just very subjective. It means different things to different people.

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  19. Good post.
    “Mixed with politics, religion stops being about god or personal beliefs, and starts being about taking control over lives and choices of those who follow or don’t follow it”

    The truth is Organised religion was always about politics and power.
    As Marx said 170yrs ago
    “criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism. The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. The criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.

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    • Karl Marx, huh? Did those Marxists allow any opposition – political or idealogical, any where they grabbed power? Actually, hasn’t Marxism turned out to be as dogmatic as any religion? Same high morals and endless preaching.

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  20. Thank you for visiting my strange little blog.

    May I add my personal encounter with religion being made violently public? My husband and son and other family members – along with thousands of other Sikhs – were murdered in the so-called anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984. (They weren’t riots, but that’s another subject.)

    As far as I am concerned, anybody is welcome to believe anything they like, as long as they don’t inflict those beliefs on others.

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      • I have written in some detail what happened to us, first in Amritsar, then in Delhi in 1984, in a blog, The Unringed Bell, where I have gathered all mt autobiographical posts. Chapter Five, 1984. If IHM will forgive me, I will leave a link to that chapter. http://unringedbell.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html.

        Perhaps I should mention that we are/were Canadians of Punjabi heritage. We were visiting India; we were not Indians.

        BTW, no one ever really gets over something like that. As someone else said, You learn to live with it. Or you don’t. I have and have quite a happy, fulfilling life now, continuing my social activism which begin in the 1960s.

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  21. Religion is a personal and a private matter. All these crimes are happening in places where religion and state is not separated.
    You will certainly hear about such things in India too, but the difference is these things are illegal, in other countries it is constitutional.

    Look at what is happening to the liberal voices in Pakistan, the governor of Punjab was even assassinated for not being ‘religious’ enough to support his own faith and prophet.

    Me – I agree, and this 17 year old boy, who should be out thinking for himself, learning to form his own opinions, looking forward to living his life… punished for expressing his opinion!

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  22. As far as religion being a personal matter. I think it should be, I’m all for freedom of religion (and freedom from it), but what scares me is when religion is used to justify hatred and oppression. Besides, trying to regulate morality has never really worked. Sometimes I can’t believe I used to be a religious fundamentalist.

    Me – Agree with everything – the thing is those who try to regulate morality seldom regulate their own morality. Just like those who talk against ‘individual right’ and support every member sacrificing for the common good, don’t see that ‘common good’ is often what suits those in power.
    You were a religious fundamentalist?

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  23. Organized religion is equal to crime in my eyes. Most religions preach good things, it’s in the interpretation and then the organizing that everything good is lost. Being human and humane, now that’s one religion I hold with…which will not flog or judge.

    When there are such extreme reactions to small things (like dressing!), it tells me that things are so shaky in these religions (and that would hold good for ALL religions, not any one specific case). If a woman (elsewhere thought of as insignificant!) is suddenly a ‘threat’ just by the mere fact of dressing or or a young boy for saying something, the foundations of all organized religions are super flaky!

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  24. I think this is a lost debate. There is no way a religious fanatic will read this and contemplate about it. Their minds are so full with GOD, there is no place left for reason. This is a lost discussion.

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  25. Religion, itself is not harmful, it gives a path to follow, towards humanity, but blindness towards that path makes it so dark, believe me even science can become equally devastating when people dwelling in it become egoistic as in science also, after a point of proof based knowledge it is all assumptions and speculations.
    What I mean to say is as long as each and every human being remember that religion is for us we are not for religion or science is for us we are not for science, things can go smoothly. This can happen only with awareness. But so many highly educated white collared people too can be so biased and egoistic that it remains a question that who will come out to create awareness? Religion I believe is a personal matter and after all, each and every religion tells you to understand and respect others religion right?

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    • Thank you so much for sharing this. I have so much respect for Kamal Haasan now – what he says is so true – “But above all your prayers, it’s your duty to respect your fellow human beings.Any religious text that didn’t respect this common humanity will be forgotten.”

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  26. IHM, the flipside of democracy is that it gives too much voice to a lot of people. Religion is a belief/ Dharma- we can believe whatever we want to believe and skip anything out of convenience. “i dont eat non veg on tuesday”, ” i am veg i eat egg only in cakes”…. Who are we kidding …… from the smallest of the thing to the political decisions we use religion for our defence as an excuse and most importantly as an easy way out…its sickening and sad at the same time
    I cant visit temple because there is dress code or a big taboo my periods are on….Excuse me who are you to decide when i can be close to god/ what i should wear/ what i should eat.

    Religion says = Ahimsa ka sanhaar hona chahiye- that does not allow us to hold gun and start killing all the goons right!!!!
    this is a never ending debate- if i go against so called religion then probably my parents did not give me good values/ it reflects on my character. our Ved puran’s also say that one should leave grihasta after an age- pl ask these people why they have ignored that, because its simply convenient to adopt something which does not impact you at all..

    Nobody stops us from having own preferences but for our own’s sake & NOT for GOD’s sake wy cant we stop imposing our thoughts/ beliefs blah blah on others.

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  27. Its not religion – but the people who are behind the religion veil that want to control… Religion is just a name. People even use science and technology to control, for example.

    Destination Infinity

    Me – But don’t you think DI, religion is easier to misinterpret for controlling, and more powerful… can cause millions to die in Holocaust, or in pogroms, riots, terror attack etc.

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    • The millions that died in German Nazi camps and Soviet Stalin ‘camps’ were not butchered for religious reasons IHM. A system in itself is not bad. All the major religions were founded on very noble thoughts. Its the arrogance of people that uses even the best of the systems for the worst deeds… Do you know how much of frauds are going on in the name of ‘education’? People have a tendency to abuse the best things and in turn get back the fruits of their deeds, in the same life (unlike future lives as believed in religion).

      Destination Infinity

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      • This is what S. Radhakrishnan says about organized religion“ It is not God that is worshiped but the authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity. ” He could say this because he knew what religion is about. Can someone show me which Hindu scripture (Gita, Upanishads) prescribes that girls can’t go to pub or that wearing sari as opposed to jeans is a virtue? yes Hindu and perhaps all scriptures say that do not excessively intoxicate yourself or dress modestly, in other words control your senses, rather than letting your senses control you: we all perhaps agree with that principle. problem comes when some external authorities codify these higher principles and impose those.

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  28. I guess you are forgetting Communist genocides all over the world. The Communists do not believe in religion..what happened there? what happened with secular Congress leaders who butchered Sikhs in 1984?
    See the thing common among religious fanatics and the communist murderers is dogma, and blind faith. Don’t believe in religion or communism or socialism or secularism just because that’s the fad–before you believe, first learn what it is about. almost everything has trade-offs–egalitarian principles are good about communist philosophy but not their execution, idea of renunciation and pluralism is good in Hinduism bu not caste based discrimination–EVERYTHING has good and bad. Before you reject or accept something it’s better to know what you are rejecting or what you are accepting–ignorance on either side is equally dangerous. I believe that religion is the personal relation between a man and his creator–and nothing including priests and obviously not political parties should come in between that relationship.

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  29. this whole blog is filled with hypocrisy with a bunch of hypocrites discussing about it and getting inflated about how great they are. utter bullshit in the name of awareness.

    Me – Did this post or some other posts make you feel this way anonymous? Is being religious, sexist or traditional one way to stop being hypocritical?

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  30. one cannot see bad in this world and in others without being bad themselves. it is the mind which is colored with prejudice which gives a perception that everything is going bad in this world. as is the mind so is the world perceived.

    me – Do you really believe this applies to anything wrong being seen anywhere?

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  31. the girl next door might be molested or the boy next door might be abused. we are not even capable of being aware of what is happening in the house next door or even within the next room of our own house. pretty we fancy ourselves we can create awareness in the minds of men and women. blind leading the blind.

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  32. each and every incident we perceive in this world is only an effect, whereas the cause is always hidden and untraceable within a person’s mind why he or she behaves in a certain way. men and women suffer in various ways and will continue to do so till eternity and so will love and happiness exist in it’s own realm till eternity. what technology like media and internet has done to evil is similar to what a man/woman does to cover his/her imperfections with a make over.

    Me – Internet covers evil? Humans cover their imperfections? Covering of imperfections is evil? Everybody should be perfect or else display their imperfections?

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    • religion personal or impersonal is neither a chit chat rhetoric nor a cat walk. it’s something which no one knows but everyone blogs about.

      “Internet covers evil? Humans cover their imperfections? Covering of imperfections is evil? Everybody should be perfect or else display their imperfections?”— truly well said. aren’t we going round and round without an end. that’s exactly what this world is;it is similar to a dog’s tail and it can never be straightened.

      Me – So what according to you is religion?

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      • as is the blissful love between a chaste wife and a chaste husband so is religion a blissful relation between man and god where reason and intellect is futile to explain it pretty

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