I was in an argument this weekend because I would not answer the question "Do you believe that religion is inherently evil" with a yes. I believe that there many issues within religious doctrine but not that it is inherently evil. Reducing something that frightens us and has been used to enforce certain ideas of normality to an "evil" is a phobia. A phobia of those who do not submit to your faithless view of the world. Positing one thing as good and one thing as evil doesn't change anything because our world is not black and white. I also felt uncomfortable being forced to defend religion when I am not myself religious. I am a secular Jew and I do not believe in god. I wish to fight bigots and bigotry, however this I see in people from all different walks of life. If you hate, you can always find something to back up your hatred. Education is important we can all agree on this I hope but living in a world where we are all treated equally does not hinge on abolishing religion. Japan is one of the most unequal societies for women, yet by the year 2000 less than 15% of people reported any formal affiliation with religion when filling out a consensus questionnaire. Most of their holidays are secular in nature except for a couple including New Year's day. Sweden doesn't take its Christianity very seriously and is indeed a better place for women. Never the less it is also a country that is deeply xenophobic. In fact your ethnic/religious background and skin colour have a significant impact on your opportunities in the labour market. Now this part is important for later on in this post so keep it in mind, some ethnic minorities particularly Jews face larger risks of threats and violence. After Germany and Austria, Sweden has the highest instances of anti-Semitism in Europe although the Netherlands are now almost equal.
I am of course not saying that religion doesn't have its problems but I believe that you should question everything. A lot of awful things are done in the name of religion and a lot of progression is hindered because some religious leaders don't want science involved in education. Education must encompass everything so that people are really truly free to make up their minds. Religion also has its problems because it's headed up by men who wish desperately to hold onto their power. I believe in progressiveness within everything but anything whether it is religious or secular that is used to subjugate people is dangerous and leads to deep rooted inequality.
Being actively anti-theist will not solve the problems of oppression within our society. You will only submit to a different kind of oppression. The person who argued that religion is evil was clear in this, their arguments were not solid but were instead based into attempting to frame me as lesser. On top of which, this anti-theist Swedish man was just as misogynistic and patronising towards me as a religious man could be. He was woefully ignorant and I'm not talking about the kind of ignorance based in a lack of education but instead he had a callow disregard of facts and instead stated assertions as facts. He asserted that even the Nazi's would not be as cruel as to shoot a girl for going to school "they only gassed some Jews". Ignoring the fact that these kinds of comparisons are completely odious and offensive, this isn't correct, the Nazi's routinely rounded up women and girls as young as 3 and shot them in the name of cleansing. They did not "just gas some Jews", they attempted to commit genocide They slaughtered 6 million Jews as well as gay men & lesbians to a lesser extent, black people, queer people, mentally ill people, disabled people. The German's and their collaborators killed it is estimated as many as 1.5 million children, in large proportion Jews but also many Romani children. No the Nazi's did not shoot one specific girl because she continued to fight for her right to an education, because she wore a bright pink dress to school to defy the Taliban but they slaughtered over a million just because they were Jewish. To hear a self identifying atheist man talk of how to abolish oppression start his argument by erasing MY entire history by a callous and wantonly cruel disregard of fact.
You erase me then wish to talk about my oppression as a woman under "evil" religion?