Do you think all religions are harmful even seemingly benign ones like Wicca or only the main orthodox religions?

My Partner is Wiccan. I have discussed how I find all religions harmful not thinking about Wicca. He questioned whether I thought Wicca was harmful. I told him I wasn't sure. I am not sure, but on some level, I am not sure that even Wicca isn't harmful. Maybe some ex-wiccans can help me?

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I think it depends on what you mean by "harmful".
I've never been a wiccan, but i have tried to know something about this religion because it's, frankly, quite fascinating :)

One of the most important "rules" of wiccans is “As it harms none, do as thou will”... which is the religious moral rule more similar to the "Golden rule" that i have even seen.

On the other hand, wicca relies on magic (i'll admit, maybe it's not the main part of wicca, but it does exist), supports reincarnation and so on... so it has the same basic "harmfullness" of every other religion. It brings you to believe in irrational things and if your belief is completely irrational it cannot be refuted by reason and evidence.

It's all very well until their belief "harms none"...

OK, my observations of Wicca;

   Wicca is very spiritual.  It seems to attract the agnostic, and not so much orthodox atheists.  I have seen rituals where a prediction or wish for the future is writen in impromptu symbology on paper, then burned at a ceremony to make it come true.  Sounds pretty rediculous to me.  Not much different than the catholic communion ritual.  Here ritual seems to be the operative word.  It seems that if there is ritual attached, it somehow legitimizes radical behaviors.  In the case of Wiccans, that behavior appears to be running around the woods naked.  OK, nothing really wrong with running around the woods naked if that's what you want to do, but if you truly believe that this behavior has some impact on nature or the world around you, it's my guess that you have a circuitry problem in your cerebral cortex.

   I say we all run around the woods naked because it seems like a good idea.  Makes more sense to me, but I doubt you'll ever see me do it.

   To answer your question though, Wicca isn't "harmful" unless like other "cults" it is pressed on children.

I honestly don't think religion is harmful unless it causes harm, physically or emotionally, to other people. It's when it is that I can't tolerate it.
if it's private; what does it matter? it's when the tax dollars are squandered for a god that's when shit goes pair shaped
I agree.  Wiccans may be doing silly things in the woods by themselves, but they don't seem to bother anyone, try to convert anyone, take tax money to supposedly help people but really mainly use it to convert people and they don't appear to have tax free status.  As religions go, Wicca is pretty harmless.  People have a right to self delusion if they want.

I don't know that religions per se are harmful as much as the people who "practice" them. I could care less what a person believes in terms of god, or afterlife, but I care very much about how they act on their religious beliefs. Proselytism is evil in my book, because they come and disturb people. Megachurches with megamillionaire pastors bother me, because that money would be far better used serving the poor and the sick, and victims of natural disasters. If a Christian sacrifices in order to help others WITHOUT hinging it on converting to Christianity, then that is a good thing, and I admire them for that. But when missionaries go out ostensibly to help 3rd world countries, but with the real objective of converting them to Christianity, I find that revolting. They just found an untouched tribe of about 200 people in the Amazon, and while the Brazilian government wants them left alone, what do you bet that some missionary is going to sneak in with his book and his diseases and wipe that tribe off the face of the earth?


The only religions I respect are those which keep to themselves and leave everyone else alone. I DO think it is possible to coexist with religious people, and there ARE sincerely good religious people, but the crazy ones are louder and more obnoxious. I was raised in the reform Jewish tradition (although my family is now all atheist/agnostic), and was very carefully taught not to bother the Christians. I just wish they and the Muslims would return the favor.

All religions are harmful since they discourage rationality and encourage belief in nonsense. There is nothing beneficial that can be gained from them that cannot be gained from a secular society. Sure some religions and belief systems may be less harmful at a given moment than another, a follower of Jainism, for example, becomes more peaceful the more fundamental he or she gets, while a follower of Mohammed sees more and more opportunities for violence. The more followers and the more power a religion receives, the more it will become harmful. Belief systems are all Russian roulette and eventually you're going to get burned from your irrationality when, if you just want the adrenaline, why not take up skydiving or something instead?
Who can say?  The Christers like to claim that Rome went bust in an orgy of sin, but Gibbon came to the conclusion that the Roman empire collapsed due to the institution of Christeranity.  I consider Wiccans as "neo-pagan" in the finest sense of that term: pagani people had superstitious home-brewed religion.  If age is any distinction or advantage, paganism is ancient, centuries before "Christ," Gautama Siddhartha, or Muhammed.  Paganism was the link between animism and monotheism.  So, yes, all religions are harmful, just some not as harmful as others, and only harmful to the extent that people do illogical and illegal names in the name of their faith.  A British occultist, by the way, wrote a book about the Wise Women and their worship of the Moon, a feminine principle; he pointed out that as all moon religions are tied to the menstrual cycle, they are more in tune with nature and what little remains of our primitive instincts.  I'd wager that at some point in evolution, we had sharpened senses of smell, sight, and hearing.  We may have had other things as well.
Although forms of paganism are some of the oldest religion, Wiccans like to claim they are "the old religion" and that is garbage. Some neo-pagans have downright admitted they just made stuff up. Other than that people reconstituted, reinterpreted, and picked-and-chose so much that it's basically unrecognizable. People in the olden days were concerned with things like their crops and getting pregnant, and I'm pretty sure that some old barbaric customs were niced up for modern times as well.

Religion can be harmful when it causes people to make irrational decisions.  The major religions are harmful, especially in a democracy, when they affect us by their power of numbers-- changing laws that oppress minorities like Atheists and discourage scientific research like stem cell research and other fields that could prove beneficial.


I think Wicca is not harmful now because there are few adherents and they are generally peaceful. What would it look like if Wiccians were in the majority?  I'm not sure.  If Wiccians were in the majority would they be opposed to reason?  Would we have "non-witch" hunts?  Would they insist on having their rituals performed in public?  Would they favor politicians that at least give lip service to their beliefs? 


Is it useful to replace one set of irrational beliefs like Christianity or Islam with another like Wicca?  What's the difference?  Our society progresses when we are rational and free thought and science is allowed to flourish.  What religion would be the best custodian of our freedoms?  I think the answer to that question is "None".  We are far better off as a secular society that promotes free thought and freedom from religion.

If Wiccans were the majority...well I have met some pagans who talked about killing all the Christians "why not, they've been doing that to us for eons". I can't stand the mentality of killing people now because of something that people did hundreds of years ago. Nobody can change the past. I've also read interviews with pagan fundamentalists who encouraged all other religions to leave the planet because "pagans are the only ones who love the earth".


There are others, probably the majority, who are more tolerant, of course. But if they were the majority I think it would be the same church/state struggles. Pagans I've known basically have thought pagan prayers are not a violation of church and state, or the "it's different because my religion is benevolent" attitude.

I think any line of thought that promotes irrationality is dangerous-- it doesn't even need to be a "religion".  Religion is bad when it leads people to make poor decisions.  I don't think we should let religion off the hook and just blame its adherents.  A religion or philosophy is bad when it leads people to harm themselves or others.  I've explored most religions both conservative and progressive and have found this to be true. Even the most passive religion can be harmful when its adherent would starve themselves instead of violating a dietary law or not accept medical intervention.  Let's not take the "critic" out of critical thinking.


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