Or increase understanding...
So- what came first, the chicken or the egg? Do doctrinal statements that seek to rationalize the exclusion of certain populations from the benefits of being included within the moral community cause the resulting exclusion, or do underlying economic and other circumstances provide triggers for exclusionary competition between groups, providing an incentive for developing exclusionary language?
If the first, if language (or as I put it earlier- "belief content") is the driver of behavior, then changing the language should change the behavior. Get CC's (Conservative Christians) to admit that homosexuality isn't wrong, and homosexuals will receive better treatment. If the second, then changing language (official doctrines) will be too difficult and not effective enough. Instead, you attack bigotry in general, and support individual rights, generate public support for those values ("memes") and the treatment that excluded populations receive will improve, even if official doctrines lag behind (and not only of churches, but all social institutions, including academia, the law, and popular media).
Now, obviously actual history is more complicated than that, and an effective campaign to improve minority treatment will involve both strategies. I might make an argument that every instance of actual social change that I am aware of more closely resembled the second approach than the first, but that isn't the topic of this thread.
The question, I presume, is whether or not religion itself
, not specific denominations nor groups of religious people with extreme views (however vocal and organized politically they may be) but Religion itself, is so inherently slanted toward authoritarian treatment of vulnerable populations that the very fact of a common faith within a society delivers more costs than benefits. (If that isn't the question, then I don't know what we are discussing).
I don't see a case. Obviously I'm personally biased in this matter, and I have already stated the argument that, even if that assertion (of greater social costs) were true
, that would provide no plausible reason why any individual should give up their faith. But let's take this argument on it's own merits.
It's true that human societies often treat groups of people unequally and unfairly. The question is why. Given what Fighteer and I have already agreed ("... that although religious doctrine has often been used as a justification of authoritarianism, it is only one among many such tools, not all authoritarian regimes have used it, not all religious doctrines have been used that way, and that it has also been just as frequently used as a way of undermining the claims of a ruling regime?") surely it is more plausible, albeit depressing, that out-group treatment is much more likely to be the result of some fundamental cognitive mechanism, most likely operating below the level of consciousness? Something much more fundamental than the specific content of religious doctrines, which are, after all, limited and temporary regarding time and place.
The enemy of justice isn't religion, it's prejudice. There is religious prejudice, of course, but that is surely the effect of prejudice affecting religious beliefs, and not the other way around. During the 1930's the psychologist Gordon Alport wrote a book "On Prejudice" in which, based on the experimental evidence of the time, he proposed that prejudice is the result of a simple minimal condition- the arbitrary assignment of people to groups. I am aware of a mountain of research on game theory which has basically corroborated that. But he also proposed that prejudice can be overcome under three conditions: Equal status contact in pursuit of common goals with institutional support. In other words, when people struggle together to solve their problems, they will change their attitudes toward one another, provided that they receive some degree of support from the outside social environment.
Alport was Jewish, and wrote extensively on anti-semitism. Nowhere does he propose reducing the influence of Christianity within society, or of religion in general, despite the evidence that he himself documented that Christians were often anti-semetic. He found a much more plausible explanation, and a more effective solution. You might as well ask for the abolishment of human in-groups, which of course can never happen.
You are mistaking a symptom for the cause. The causal chain goes the other way. Uplift the personal attitudes of individual people, and I think you will find that they will stop using religion, or any other "official docrine" as an excuse to exploit one another.
Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it