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But let's imagine a world without "shit holes."  Let's imagine a world in which there is not starvation or economic marginalization.  Let's imagine a world in which everyone has access to clean water and nutritious food and shelter from the elements.  Let's imagine a world in which no one's family faces institutionalized persecution because of their race or ethnicity or political perspectives. 

That world would have no need for religion.

Absolutely right. However, as long as so many of us are going to insist on being a-holes, we'll need religion to justify ourselves. The muslims can look at every death as "gods will" and shrug their shoulders, rich christians can look at the poor and say they have no value because they obviously don't have jesus on their side. Or whatever their mindset is. It doesn't come up enough for me to guess right. I can only go by their actions, which are nil. Well, not nil. Their actions are making it worse.

The casualness of religious justifications does the majority of the harm on this planet, I fear. Or at least such attitudes provide an avenue for the continuation what Quesi so aptly describes as "shit holes". The problem now is that we are creating even more of them. Again, with religious justification.

For instance, while not the same as being forced to be a child soldier in the jungles of Africa, right now 40% of Americans are living on incomes (after being adjusted for inflations) under what the minimum wage provided in 1989. No country can survive such minimal injections into the economy by so many, and no economy can survive having huge amounts of its currency disappearing into off-shore accounts. Which is happening while the religious right worships their other god, the rich.

America is a shit hole in the making. Detroit is just the beginning of a new round of crises. And this is happening with religion as an operational social construct, a "necessary" component, a root cause.

As an atheist, I have no way to justify the slums and the poverty and the insensitivity displayed by believers towards the aptly labeled "misfortunate" ones. It ain't misfortune, folks, it is, among other things, a religiously caused, and religiously justified, disaster.

Yes, I know missionaries and other religious folks go into areas where there are poor people and wars and try to help while converting, in hopes of making the worlds a better place. But their motivation comes from the wrong source, an imagined "wonderful place" where we all get to go when we die, and its boss. The religious are doing their "good" works in the name of a non-existent being whose contributions are nil and whose powers are limited to those which misdirected humans can make up. Those efforts don't count.

If we could take away religion, we could take away a lot of excuses. Maybe then we would be able to look at problems with relevant horror and with sensitivity and with the sense of urgency each should be invoking. Instead of so casually.
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