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Chelsea Molato
John Kubler
English 115
9 December 2014
Religion: Present From Beginning to End
Everyone feels entitled to an opinion of religion without adequate knowledge or
understanding of the different religions. We allow our assumptions and ignorance to
create divisions among us. When we criticize a religion, we create a bigger picture that
all religion is bad. Arguably, one of the most well known songs of the 20th century,
Imagine by John Lennon, argued that all religion is bad. Lennon tells us to imagine a
world with no heaven or hell and later on a world with no religion. The problem with this
is that only one religion has a heaven and hell, Christianity, and yet he wants to diminish
all religions. Lennons views are still present today. We do not care to acknowledge that
all religions are different. There are three things that all religions possess, which are
symbols, rituals, and places. Symbolizing is especially important because only humans
can make connections between two different things and personify objects. This ability to
symbolize makes us human; therefore, we are all religious in some way. Just as a
Christian would take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, an American would take a
pilgrimage to Ground Zero. There is no such thing as a nonreligious person because
our actions are the same as those of recognized religions. When we get rid of religion, we
get rid of our humanity. Religion is a part of our culture. We created religion. We cannot
think that putting an end to religion will solve our problems. Religion does not create
war; people create war. Conflicts that involve religion could be mistakenly considered as

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religious conflicts, but in reality, the idea of religion is being scapegoated to cover up the
internal conflicts of our society.
As I stated earlier, the ability to symbolize is a major part of religion, but even
more important, it is a major part of what makes us human. An example of this is found
in the book Persepolis when Marjane Satrapi wrote about how the Iranian National
Anthem was played on the TV. The national anthem had been forbidden and replaced by
the new governments Islamic hymn (Satrapi 83). Hearing this song on a broadcasted
medium caused Marji and her family to cry. It may seem odd for a group of people to
become emotional over words, but they were crying because of what the words
symbolized, which is patriotism and hope for their countrys future. This national anthem
is a parallel to the Bible or Torah or any other religious text because it is considered a
sacred or special text. Another example is when Marji smokes a cigarette and she
says, with this first cigarette, I kissed my childhood goodbye (Satrapi 117). In her
culture, she had seen people smoke cigarettes and this was not an odd sight. When they
smoke, there is no hidden symbolism behind it and it is seen as normal. Marji creates a
symbolism for this cigarette that her childhood has come to an end and it also marks her
rebellious ideals. This act of symbolizing helps us to form who we are and it allows us to
communicate among one another. What we can take away from this is that removing
religion will not only take away our culture, but it will also take away our humanity.
John Lennon wrote a famous song called Imagine, where he called for a
solution to have world peace. He believed that we could achieve peace by putting an end
to all things that separate us, such as religion. He wanted the world to live as one
(Lennon 1). But by taking away all the things that make us individuals or different, this

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creates a life that is not worth living. Although we would be content, there is an innate
part of us that always wants more, always wants better. If we were to end religion, we
would live in a bestial wilderness. When we get rid of religion, we get rid of our ability to
symbolize. No one would be able to communicate with one another through words or
even movements. Universal gestures such as smiling would no longer mean that someone
is happy. There would be no more similes or metaphors that connect two things that have
nothing to do with one another. We would lose connection to material items. That locket
that your grandmother gave to you would no longer have meaning. To a certain extent,
religion will always be part of everyones life whether they are Christian or atheist. I
believe that humans are fundamentally religious. My logic is that if we are not
fundamentally religious, then how did primitive people create their own religions even if
they did not come in contact with one another.
Religion is such an easy target because history has made us believe that wars are
started from religion. This may be true, but in the article Faith and Diplomacy,
Madeleine Albright states, its [religions] impact depends entirely on what it inspires
people to do (Albright 35). This inspiration is formed within society and reflects the
societys ideals. An example of this is found in book Persepolis when the poor young
boys were being recruited to join the army. These young boys were given keys and they
were told, if they went to war and were lucky enough to die, this key would get them to
heaven (Satrapi 99). This shows how the corrupt government is taking advantage of its
peoples religion and using childrens naivety to gain troops in the army. This key has
inspired the kids to join the army and be a part of a war that their people do not believe
in. We cannot blame the religion for causing these children to do everything necessary to

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get to heaven, but we must blame the government that is taking advantage of these
religious beliefs for their own internal gain. A well known historic reference was when
Hitler created soulless Christianity that denied and defamed the Jewish roots of that
faith (Albright 35). From first glance, this may seem like a religious conflict between
Christians and Jews. According to Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his
experiences, Hitler rose to power in part by using Jews as scapegoats (made to bear the
blame) for everything that had gone wrong in Germanythe loss of WWI, the Treaty of
Versailles that punished Germany after the war, and the Great Depression (Wiesel 1).
Jewish people were already seen as underneath the Germans so it was easy to rally up the
Germans to be against the Jewish people. If the Treaty of Versailles was created so that
Germany was not completely at fault, then the Germans would not seek vengeance and
Hitler would have never risen to power. He used the Jews to rally up the Germans and
inflict fear upon the people, which gave him great power. That craving for power is what
leads to the most well known genocide in history. Both examples show how conflicts that
involve religion could be mistakenly considered as religious conflicts, but in reality, the
idea of religion is being used to cover up internal conflicts of our society.
Some may argue that religion and wars go hand in hand. When we were first
introduced to the topic of religion in class, we looked at a cartoon that showed this. But
what I thought was interesting about the cartoon was that religion and war were
depicted as people. People create wars. Of course one side would be labeled as a certain
religion against the opposing side that is labeled as another religion, but in the end it is us
that is fighting that war. The people that are actually fighting that war most of the time
dont even know what they are fighting for, which helps us come to a conclusion that

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most religious wars are political wars. This is apparent in an article The Myth of
Religious Violence by Karen Armstrong, who is a British author of comparative
religious books. She said, If the wars of religion had been solely motivated by sectarian
bigotry, we should not expect to have found Protestants and Catholics fighting on the
same side (Armstrong 1). When people talk about religious wars, some fail to
acknowledge the political perspective of the wars and they focus on how the wars were
between the two opposing religions.
Religious dispute may result in wars, but it doesnt have to. I think that when
there are conflicts and religion is involved, we must look at the internal problem
regardless of the religions. Simply eliminating religion is not the solution to our problems
and it is impossible to carry out this solution because religion is innate. Religion is not
just prayer, reading religious texts and going to a sacred place. It is what makes us
human, whether we see ourselves as religious or non-religious. We are human and we
make our mistakes, but those mistakes made in regards to religion should not make an
impact on the issues today. Religion has the ability to unite people, but it cannot be done
without the help of everyone. We must set aside our religious differences and respect one
another and realize that all religions are not the same. Once we recognize this, then we
can truly live in peace.

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Works Cited
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Gavey, Nicola. Beyond 'Empowerment'? Sexuality in a Sexist World. Spring Science+


Business Media, 25 Sept. 2011. Print.
Lamb, Sharon. Beyond 'Empowerment'? Sexuality in a Sexist World. Spring Science+
Business Media, 25 Sept. 2011. Print.
John Lennon. Imagine. John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector, 1971. Web.
Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. New York: Pantheon, 2004. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. "THE HOLOCAUST AT A GLANCE:." The National WWII Museum. N.p., n.d. Web.
09 Dec. 2014.