The prevalence of religious places of worship has always been an eyesore for me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m watching people fool themselves into believing that since they put up some walls, they’ve captured God inside like some genie in a bottle.
It is perhaps time to ban the further construction of any religious place of worship in public. The ones that exist should be evaluated for their historical or architectural merits and be allowed to stand or razed accordingly.
1. God doesn’t need you to build him/her/it a house
If you believe in God(s), then you probably believe that God is a powerful being who created the world and has some degree of control over human lives and the cosmos we live in. Do you really think that if you construct a house (no matter how gaudy, shiny or intricate it is), God will happily come and plant him/her/itself there? You think God is wandering around, wondering where to go sit?
2. People behave as if God isn’t present everywhere
If you’ve ever been outside a place of worship on a busy day, you will have seen people abuse and fight with one another for parking or getting out of there first. Within the temple/mosque/gurudwara/church/etc walls, these people act godly because they have fooled themselves into believing that God lives there and doesn’t know what’s happening outside the gates.
3. Public spaces should be used for public welfare
It is much more essential to have well-functioning hospitals, orphanages, schools, shelters and, hell, even lavatories in public spaces than places of worship. We should have a greater focus on improving and helping than on building houses for beings that don’t really need one. For now though, there’s a dearth of the needful and an over-abundance of the needless.
4. People inconvenience others with their religion
Taking out processions or holding noisy gatherings and blocking traffic goes hand in hand with public places of worship. Every time a festival rolls around, there are jams and noisy events that disturb everybody in the vicinity. Despite the rule against late night noisy gatherings, these events last into the wee hours. The celebrations of good being victorious over evil end up just harassing people.
5. There needs to be a divide between religion and politics
In a country like India, where religion is so in-your-face all the time, the public ends up getting swayed more by religious fervor than by actual ethics, plans or reforms. Unscrupulous political leaders have been dividing and conquering for a long time now. Take religion inside your homes; don’t let it be used as a weapon to further benefit those who are already trampling the poor under their feet.
6. It will encourage people to perform genuine good deeds
There are many people who perform ritualistic acts and think they’ve impressed the hell out of God. These people recite verses or pay some money and think their religious duty is done. With fewer places to perform meaningless rituals and promote outdated traditions, people will have to look for genuine ways to atone for their sins.
7. There will be fewer incidents of social awkwardness
The problem with religion being so in-your-face is that most people don’t show any consideration for others’ belief systems. People will offer prasad to non-Hindus and get offended when they refuse it. Similarly, the act of eating beef or pork becomes ‘hush hush’ when it really shouldn’t be. This creates awkwardness in friends’ circles and corporate spaces.
8. Money donated to places of worship can be used in better ways
One thing that most religious people do is donate large amounts of money to religious causes like building more places of worship or fattening up religious leaders. If religion was banned in public places, then some of that money would find its way into more worthwhile causes; for instance, it could be used to better equip hospitals or provide comforts in old age homes.
9. Meaningless traditions will be modified
There are traditions, like funeral processions or baraats, attached to religions that have perhaps over-lived their point. Nowadays these rituals merely cause inconvenience or annoyance to others. It makes no sense to see that ambulances are getting delayed because someone is getting married. In more developed cities specially, people should show a greater civic sense.
10. It’ll encourage genuine spirituality
Those who have declared themselves the custodians of religion have invented ways to help purge people’s sins, such as reciting mantras, feeding pundits, tying threads, donating money and more. I really doubt God(s) will be mighty impressed with these nonsensical ways of atoning. Maybe with these charlatans out of the way, people will have to figure out their own salvation and they’ll do a better job of it.
11. It’ll lessen the number of terrorists
Ooh…the ‘T’ word. Yes, every religion has produced nutjobs who think killing in the name of religion is going to make them God(s)’s favorite people. With places of worship becoming dens of radicalization and with hate speech being part of religious rallies, this push towards terrorism is not going to end any time soon. But if we ban religion in public places, we can surely lessen the number of wackos roaming around.
12. Many of us would feel less embarrassed
If you’re theist and not completely bonkers, then you know that when you see so-called godly people represent your religion in a public forum, you feel like dropping dead immediately. It’s embarrassing to see your religion being twisted to suit agendas, or see them ignoring the bulk of it to focus on one or two obsolete verses. Banning religion in public is like getting rid of vast amounts of bullshit in one go.
13. It’ll encourage gender equality
Most religions have done women a major disservice. There are a great number of limitations on what they can and can’t do. Most of the time, it’s not the religion per se but orthodox translations of it that encourage treating women like second-class citizens. Menaces like dowry, divorce, child marriage, being forced to marry your rapist, etc. are promoted in the guise of religion. It’s time to do away with religion being used as an excuse to mistreat women.