I watch with dismay and impotent fury the reports of horrific acts carried out by men [always men] professedly moved and guided by religious beliefs. The three great Abrahamic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- have through the millennia been responsible for uncountable murders, tortures, rapes, and endless pillage. No doubt some good has been done in the name of Jahweh, Jesus, or Allah, but it pales into insignificance by comparison. In my youth I was comforted by the assurance that Capitalism and the Enlightenment would together drain religious belief of its intensity, leaving behind nothing but beautiful music and elegant churches, synagogues, and mosques. But we are now in the midst of a world-wide revival of religiously fueled hatred and aggression that defies the calm logic of capitalist profitability.
At this moment, it is Islamic millennialism and Jewish irredentism that is fueling the worst horrors, but the irrational hopes and hatreds of Christian Fundamentalists wait in the wings for an opportunity to wreak havoc.
The belief in the inevitable secularization of the modern world may have been Karl Marx's biggest failed prediction. Would that he had been right.