The main criticism I have of religion is that while it is designed to unite people it creates division. Some of the older religions on earth Hinduism and Buddhism seem to have caused less wars, and yet even the Hindus got into it with the Muslims when India won independence from the United Kingdom, creating two then three new countries: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those were bloody border wars. Israel fights for the right to exist in the midst of a harsh unfriendly area populated by believers of Islam. Lest anyone think the Christians are lovely dovely, look at how the Protestants and the Catholics are killing each other in Ireland.

Here in the United States we probably have more offshoots of Christianity than any other country in the world. I think it has something to do with our tax code, which favors non- profit entities and categorizes "churches" within non-profit. Are they really non-profit? That's harder to tell. The Catholics have some pretty beautiful artwork owned by the Vatican. The Mormans own a lot of really nice property. But I digress. The point is, even within Christianity religion is incredibly divisive. People can argue all night on whether baptism is supposed to be a full body immersion or just a dip. Ironically, in the bible, there was at least one character that got to heaven without benefit of baptism at all - (the thief hung with Jesus) so how important could it be to your eternal salvation?

Christianity, specifically fundamentalist Christianity separates men from women within some churches. Some heavily preach on the females being the cause of the fall in the garden of Eden, because Eve talked to the snake first. Quoting that sin came through her actions they hesitate to let women preach, pray in public or ask questions in a bible study. For some of these belief systems, the man is the "spiritual" head of the household. If a woman or a child in the house hold has a religious question, the chain of command goes like this: they ask the father, if he does not know the answer, he asks his pastor and then reports back to the family. How divisive is this? ? It breeds contempt I tell you. Once contempt has entered your household, it's a tough row to how to get it back out.

Catholics as a whole are less hard nose about that sort of thing. But let us not forget this is the religion that brought us the crusades. Horrible bloody wars based on little more than a difference of opinion. It was hardly an economic war. It was silly and bloody and accomplished no good that I can think of, except the introduction of exotic spices and fabrics due to the interaction of the Western and Eastern cultures.

Some religions such as Jehovah Witnesses or Amish people can be very passive. But they still breed a strong sense of "us and them" in their doctrine. Outsiders are considered out side of the truth. So Division is still being promoted in a major way. New Age people like to think their ecumenical beliefs make them immune to this debate. But there is no one more narrow minded than a liberal. The same rainbow hippies can make you feel awfully small just because you never heard of yoga or don't eat organic rainbow chard. It's an intellectual snobbishness perhaps, but it exists all the same.

In the little town where I live a lady teaching yoga encouraged her students to breathe out chanting "OM" which the local fundamentalists found demonic. The yoga teacher was white so she backed down at once. I don't know why chanting "Namu myoho renge kyo" or "Om" is so different from saying Jesus Christ is my savior. If he really WAS your savior, you surely wouldn't be afraid of a foreign word. A lot of Christians don't have faith in their belief system. They hold up the bible while disregarding it at the same time.

For example, they buy really big cross jewelry and cool bible cover cases and Christian music CD's while they continue to cheat on their taxes, speed on the highway and lie. Most don't keep the Sabbath, many don't even know the Sabbath is Saturday - and that Sunday is Sunday - NOT the sabbath. They claim to be monotheistic then bring up the Trinity, and then there's rapture. Yet another reason for Christians to come to blows on interpretation and doctrine.

In reaction to the great religion debate some people have chosen to go "spiritual" instead. They want to feel close to something greater than themselves although they haven't got a clear idea on what that something is. Some take shaman classes, some play with wisdom cards, some cast spells. They can be as snobbish as the liberals in my experience. If one isn't "spiritual enough" they can't be bothered.

I'm half Japanese, in my childhood we practiced a bit of Shinto, the natural religion of Japan. How do you practice Shinto? Take a walk. Take a walk in the woods. Don't litter on your walk. If you see a Jizo, say "hi". That's it, no doctrine, no rules. Try it. I think if you walk in the wood enough you'll come back different, I won't tell you how because I don't want to ruin your surprise.