As I have several times observed on this blog, there have been times in the history of the human race when religion may have been a net plus for society. I think, quite naturally, of the sixth century anno domine when, as Gregory of Tours tells us in his indispensable History of the Franks, the bloody-mindedness of the upper classes in Northern Europe was somewhat moderated by the influence of the local priesthood. [Of course, since Gregory was a Bishop, his account may be suspect, but as we have no other, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.]
However, this is not one of those times. The sheer evil being inflicted on innocent victims by true believers of one sort or another is not in the slightest made up for by the engaging cheeriness of the current Pope. I am moved to write, of course, by the latest atrocity committed and advertised by ISIL, but in far-reachingness of effects, if not in immediate brutality, that act is matched by the efforts of religious Muslims, religious Christians, religious Jews, and religious Hindus to inflict misery on those not sharing their particular form of nonsense.
I would like to think that the act of ISIl is an evidence not of strength but of weakness, a desperate attempt to recapture the attention of a world public inured to mere beheadings, but that may well be groundless wishful thinking by a constitutional optimist.
Voltaire, where are you when we need you?