What role can religion realistically play in the eradication of poverty?
Kevin Smith is on the board of directors for the Centre of Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.
If location were everything, than you would think that religion should be able to play a key role in eradicating poverty. Their real estate covers some of the poorest countries of the world.
They are at the front line of this incessant battle.
Unless you are of the mind-set that being poor is one of those mysterious blessings from God, as some sects believe — the reality is that poverty remains a serious global problem with a complex series of causes. Environmental degradation, warfare, corruption and social inequality are a few issues that create a financial imbalance where close to half the worlds population live on less than three dollars a day.
Give religion its’ due, for years the faithful have donated time and money to the impoverished souls of the world but there is never any light at the end of the tunnel. I have three suggestions for religionists, or maybe I should call it a wish list, that would assist in their efforts.
Overpopulation is one of the prime reasons for poverty. Banning condom use almost doubles the birth rate of a country. The use of condoms as a part of sexual practice must be permitted.
A lack of education is tied to poverty. Classrooms should focus on teaching life skills over religious dogma.
Women account for 70 per cent of the world’s poor. Allow them to be treated as equals with men. Improving the lives of women has a positive effect on the health care, education and the economic development of their countries.
If the world’s religions could support these recommendations, they would be following the philosophy of humanism, although we conclude that allowing people to think for themselves, without relying on the supernatural, is a key factor in empowering humans. This, for us, is the greatest gift of all.
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