Comments on the last post have made it clear that not everyone reads through my old blog posts so I will mention it again - I was raised Catholic. I went through all the motions - baptism, first communion and confirmation but (luckily) was not subjected to the common sacrament of molestation.
(That reminds me of a video by Louis CK - my blog post continues after this but for your enjoyment, I've embedded the video. )
I did not leave the Catholic Church because of some single traumatic experience I encountered while attending (the whole experience is traumatic, really). I didn't leave because I was "wronged by a church member", etc. (When I say I was Catholic, people often suggest that some non "True Christian" did something to turn me away from the church.) I'm not sure I ever really believed what was told to me, I think I (wrongly) just went along with what I was told to do at my Catholic school.
Today I don't have a dislike for the church because of my experience in the church - I am most concerned with how religion interferes with our daily lives and the quest for the reduction of human suffering. The organization is oppressive, abusive and sexist but who am I to tell another person not to let someone abuse or oppress them if that is how they choose to live their life?
When it comes to science education, medical research and law making, religion is interfering where it does not belong. For a "group" to be so focused on "love" and "helping" (something they claim) to be against the very things that reduce (end?) human suffering is hypocritical.
The Catholic Church vehemently opposes the use of condoms - especially in countries where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is claiming millions of lives. Embryonic stem cell research, despite showing the possibility for truly promising therapies and cures, is a no-no to many believers.
I spent a number of hours with a Christian who claims a strong adherence to the Christian faith who told me that anyone who is against condoms or stem cell research (even embryonic) simply lacks the education or information to make an informed decision. (He applied the same statement to religious followers who oppose the teaching of evolution.) He may be right - and that is where I take issue with religious dogma and churches in general.
Why is it, then, that so many religious people "lack the education"? I would suggest that a good number of them aren't checking sources, aren't asking questions or aren't listening to the facts. It is easily done if you surround yourself with people who, too, don't ask questions, don't check sources and willingly ignore facts. A perfect example of this is the church.
Add in a "leader" who preaches misinformation or avoids talking about the facts and you now have a group of people who are not informed. As an uninformed (or misinformed) person, they often speak (and vote) with certainty against that which they have no knowledge. And that is where they affect public policy, science education and law making.
(As a side note, I admire that people have their own opinions and I, as my wife will tell, am open to stimulating discussions (disagreements) with informed individuals. I have a deep dislike for people who speak with authority on something in which they have no knowledge (I hope my blog makes that pretty clear). Simply, be ready to support the claims you make.)