Religion has done little to prevent war, famine, crime, oppression, misery, and unhappiness

By James Hervey Johnson | 1949
Positive Atheism

Catherine de Medici Gazing at Protestants Massacred in the Aftermath of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, Edouard Debat-Ponsan (1880). (Image: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Each religion claims that its god or gods have supreme power. If their god or gods had any such power, they could wipe out all the unhappiness in one gesture. The truth is, of course, that there are no such gods and it is only the imagination of propagandists which originate such gods and such powers.

For ages men have been and still are, human slaves. In the United States of America as late as 1865, black men had little more freedom than dogs or horses. They were owned as chattels by white masters. The masters could and did make them work all their lives without any pay whatever. Every slave could be beaten, mauled, and mutilated or killed, and many have been so treated by drunken and cruel masters. The children of the slaves were sold like cattle and sheep. All of these things were done under legal authority. All of these terrible things were done under sanction of the Christian religion. Most American slave owners were religious Christians. The slaves themselves were supposed to be Christians.

Those who favored slavery quoted the Bible as authority for maintaining this cruel and inhuman practice. The Catholic Church and the Baptist church stood side by side in protecting the perpetrators of this inhumanity and oppression. When the Civil War took place, the Methodist Church in America divided on the question of slavery. The Methodist Church South and the Methodist Episcopal Church existed separately for generations. The Methodist Church South espoused the cause of slavery.

Men who owned slaves preferred to fight and kill or be killed rather than to give up their ownership of their human chattels. Even to this day Christian men, including priests and preachers, countenance and assist the whites of the South in keeping the Negroes there from voting and expressing their political views as all Americans are supposed to have the right to do.

Every office holder who takes an oath to support the Constitution of the United States winds up by saying, “so help me God” and then actually nullifies many of the rights the Constitution tries to guarantee.

There have been more wars since Christianity was established than there were before. Since the birth of Christ there have been only a few years in which there was not a war between Christian peoples. Cruel and tyrannical wars of extermination against the Indians of America were carried on by Christian people. With a Christian cross in one hand, a sword and gun in the other, the early Christian Spaniards conquered the Indians in North and South America. Murder, rape, torture, and enslavement, and in many cases positive extermination, followed in the bloody wars of the Spanish conquests under Pizarro and Cortez. The Catholic Church grew wealthy beyond its dreams as the result of this conquest. The Indians were Christianized under force of arms, but the new god they prayed to was as powerless as the old ones to protect them from the cruelty of and enslavement by their Christian conquerors.

In recent years the Italians under Mussolini, from the most Christian country on earth, coming from Rome, the seat of the Pope, ruthlessly murdered their way to ownership of the lands of Ethiopia, taking the Ethiopians’ lands and country in one of the most cold blooded robbing expeditions ever known. The Ethiopian king was only restored to his throne by a more powerful nation, still worshipping the same god as the others.

Did the Pope raise one word of protest? Did any Christian church or Christian country actually do anything to stop them? Did the Christian God that the poor Ethiopians pray to do anything to save them? Did even the same Christian God the Italians pray to deliver the land to them without a fight? No, the men with the strongest arms won in that war as they have in all other wars.

Why must people still remain befuddled and think that their gods control their fates when they see Christian nations murdering other Christian inhabitants of the world; each praying to the same God of “love and good will” to permit them to get their neighbors by the throat so they can slit it?

The Hindus have their gods, Buddha, Krishna, Siva, and a thousand others. Each one is supposed to be a protector of some class or group. Murder, misery, early death, depravity, oppression, serfdom and starvation are the daily lot of the Hindus, the most religious people on earth. The Christian Englishmen with money to buy rulers and guns and bombs to kill protectors told the religious Hindus what to do.

And so it has been from time immemorial, the strong oppressed the weak. The stronger, selfish races murdered those with less strength. The oppressors and aggressive fighters inherited the earth and control it today. Gods of clay, wood, brass, gold, and iron, gods of imagination such as the Christian, Mohammedan, and other gods have been prayed to in vain for ages by gullible fools, by priests, preachers, and rulers.

James Hervey Johnson (1901-1988) was an atheist and outspoken critic of organized religion. For nearly a quarter of a century he was owner/publisher and editor of The Truth Seeker from 1964 until his death in 1988. Through his efforts as an activist and benefactor, Johnson contributed significantly to freethought in the mid to late twentieth century.

Animated map shows how religion spread around the world

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  1. Yes, this is all true whether an atheist or not, and that dogmatic religion help create it is beyond a doubt. However, religion has been confused with spirituality forever. No spiritual person, particularly founders ever got hung up in metaphysics and the trappings of religion. Statesman that use the trappings of religion to wield power are political hacks and perpetrate a great evil upon the earth. The the powerful elite wrapped themselves in their religion to justify killing is no more an argument against spirituality and a looking to Source than wrapping oneself in the flag to justify killing damns the country. There are many ways to experience god, that we have historically done so in very shallow ways, condemns us, not god.

  2. Not to promote a Christian denomination; a send of some facts

    Said in the 325 Nicene Creed. The original church—today's Orthodox Church—is catholic, lower-case 'c,' a fancy word for universal; open to all, to include those with same-sex attraction.

    Ca. 1200 CE; the Jerusalem-Palestinian Orthodox See’s Archbishop did not approve of the Roman Catholic Church’s Crusades, though the Latin Church said purpose is to protect the Palestinian Christians. Compared to the Latin and Protestant Churches, Orthodoxy in history seems not to have started wars.

    It is problematic going against the original Church’s married-presbyters tenant. The celibate priests question; there are married Orthodox priests.

    The Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest denomination on the planet.

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos (James), with DrMLKJr |

  3. I knew before it was stated that this was written by an atheist. I was raised as a Christian but have studied many religious traditions. To me, nothing makes sense without reincarnation and the laws of Karma. That makes me a satanistic heathen in most christians eyes, but that doesn’t bother me. My judgement will be from a far more forgiving God.

  4. Interesting. But the article said next to nothing regarding the role Islam played in causing mayhem in the world, especially in India, concentrating only on Christianity. Islam, up to today, stand out as the worst social system ever created by humankind.


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