My debating team and I have managed to make it into the finals of my school's debating competition, which is going to be held this Friday. The motion is "Relgion has done more harm than good". I'm first speaker for the proposing team. This is the debate that I and several other atheists have been waiting for.
I've got a rough list of general points, with more specific examples accompanying somee. I didn't write these. The best part is that I will be able to use this as an oppurtunity to lecture the audience on homophobia and its roots in religion. I agreed not to tell anyone I was gay, but that won't stop me from talking about homophobia.
•Witch trials in Europe and America.
•The Divine right of Kings (valid until killed by another Divinely-appointed King).
•Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, "heathen" religions and cultures.
•Missionaries such as Mother Teresa.
•The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans ("They're devil-worshippers!"), the Romans demonizing Christians ("They're atheists and cannibals!").
•Persecution of Heretics - e.g. Galileo for daring to suggest that the Earth orbits the Sun.
•Children dying because their parents refused them medical treatment on religious grounds; relying instead on faith-healers and prayer.
•Slavery, supposedly supported by scripture ("Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, just as you would obey Christ.", St.Paul, Ephesians 6:5)
•Holy wars - followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
•The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
•Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.
•Persecution/punishment of blasphemers (Salman Rushdie still has a death sentence on him), and blasphemy laws in general.
•The requirement of theism in order to stand for public office or to testify in court.
•Serial killers believing they are doing the work of Satan (or sometimes Jesus).
•Often-fatal exorcisms by priests believing they are destroying the work of Satan.
•People suffering dreadful injury or death in the belief that their faith has made them invulnerable (e.g. people climbing into lion eclosures at zoos, with a Bible as protection).
•Whole societies divided by minor differences in belief or doctrine, often resulting in violence.
•Mass suicides of cult-members following a charismatic leader who believes the world is about to End (most recently, the Heaven's Gate and Solar Temple cults - there will be more as we approach the year 2000).
•The attempted genocide of followers of a particular faith (e.g. the Jewish Holocaust, "ethnic cleansing" in former Yugoslavia).
•Blood sacrifices to appease the Gods, or to ensure a good harvest. (The Aztecs made daily human sacrifices to ensure that the Sun would rise. Or did they? )
•The practice of "female circumcision" (more accurately termed genital mutilation).
•The discouragement of rational, critical thought (resulting in young-earth creationists, for example).
•Uncontrolled population growth caused (or at least helped) by churches prohibiting birth-control and abortion. (You can also add : unwanted pregnancies, ill-fated forced marriages, and pregnant teenagers condemned to a life in mental institutions to avoid embarrassing their families.)
•The spread of sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. AIDS) due to churches prohibiting the use of condoms.
•Believers whipping, impaling, poisoning or crucifying themselves during religious festivals as a demonstration of their faith and piety.
•Suicide bombers taught to believe that martyrs go straight to Paradise.
•The indoctrination of children into the religion of their parents, giving them an arbitrary, life-long belief that is almost entirely dependent on their place of birth.
•Women treated as second-class citizens or even slaves (article : Islam's Shame).
•Pentecostal snake-handlers (Augusta Chronicle news article)
•Persecution of homosexuals (Genocide of gay and lesbian youth)
•Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
•Minor religions ("cults") stockpiling weapons to defend themselves from the Armies Of Satan (i.e. the police and the government).
Chances are my team won't win since most of us have comparatively limited debating experience. Of the 4 members of the opposition, 2 have been judged best debater in past years and the other 2 have won my school's public speaking competition.
Anyway, should be some good fun.