Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Do Christians need to defend "religion"?

By Thomas V. Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 24, 2015

Over at Aleteia, David Mills comments on the oft-repeated cliche that religion has been the source of manifold evils - wars, persecution, bigotry, superstition, etc. Rather than trying to disprove that claim, Mills points out how absurd it is for Christians (or indeed members of any particular religion) to be blamed for crimes attributed to "religion" in general.

Religion, Mills argues, is an abstraction that does not exist. Rather, there are only particular religions, with vast differences between them and only one necessary commonality - belief in some higher power.

Secularist critics might still say that belief that one knows the will of a higher power is inherently dangerous, because it leads to intolerance and persecution of those who disagree. To this Mills responds:

Again, the criticism is not untrue, even though it requires all sorts of qualifications to be any real use as a description. We admit there is a danger in believing something to be definitely true and guaranteed by divine authority. We also note that there is considerable advantage in believing something to be definitely true and guaranteed by divine authority. It matters what you think God has said.
The Christian will want to ask whether it’s dangerously “fundamentalist” to believe that God wants us to love others as he loved us, and to give up our lives for them as Jesus gave his life for us. Christians might point that this is a “fundamental” upon which hospitals and soup kitchens have been built. No “fundamentalism” about the love of God demonstrated on the Cross, no hospitals and soup kitchens. Or far, far fewer, at least.

Going back to Mills's point about the relative uselessness of the word "religion" when assigning praise and blame, it would seem not only that should Christians not be blamed for what "religion" in general has supposedly done, but also that we as Christians need not be overly anxious to defend "religion," or rather, religions in general - from all criticism. After all, the vast majority of them have been false!

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: meegan2136289 - Feb. 26, 2015 9:45 AM ET USA

    One often sees in secular discourse the idea of religious equivalence, but there is a logic fallacy in grouping all religions together that we should be pointing out, which is that things in a group sharing similar characteristics are not necessarily identical. Eg, kittens and tigers have many characteristics in common. That doesn't make them the same.