Religion itself is not the problem

Dominique Lyons

During a very intellectual conversation with one of my close buddies, the controversial issue of religion arose. Most (read here as “smart”) people drop the conversation right there, but not us. We continued our debate until that old fallback saying came out: religion is the opiate of the masses.

That stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t return the verbal blow, and his devilish grin confirmed he knew he had me beat, so I did what any stumped man would do: I called him out on his disparaging lack of originality and turned our fight into a mudslinging campaign.

After spending the night thinking about our argument (as a self-proclaimed winner, losing doesn’t sit very well with me), an epiphany struck me. The reason his well-worn argument completely floored me is because I believed it.

Religion, I thought, really was just something to keep the masses stupid (I now know Karl Marx didn’t mean it quite that way). I truly believed the first step to rising above life’s extras was to leave religion to the priests.

That’s not all my epiphany gifted me. I also realized I formed some very harsh ideas about religion mostly through hearsay and a few particularly biased movies.

My realization jarred me out of my ignorant disdain, and I practically ran straight to the best teacher of everything concerning anything: the Internet.

It only took one short trip along the information highway to draw out and expand upon the random bits of knowledge that had been silently aging at the back of my mind.

I eventually came to the working conclusion that religion is not the problem; the problem is the people that ignore that religion — in most, if not all, cases — is something to steer people in a just direction, something to keep them on the right path and, ultimately, to make the world a better place for everyone.

Unfortunately, the extremes of religion shine the brightest, and the humanitarian aspects of it are often forgotten.

The more I fill in the missing pieces, the more I realize how little I actually knew and know. I made the all-too-common mistake of forming an opinion on something about which I knew basically nothing. My new opinion is bound to change with life and learning, but for now and what seems like forever, religion is cool with me.

Dominique Lyons is a sophomore news major. Contact him at [email protected].