I am often accused for being a loudmouth atheist: why should I care, I am told, what others believe in when no harm comes from their religious beliefs? Somehow, many of us forget the historical atrocities committed by one person to another in the name of their god/s of choice. However, this week I've stumbled upon an example that shows how religion can bring harm even if it does not cause one person to apply violence unto another.
Someone I know - let's not get into the details of how - requires keyhole surgery. So far we're not talking about anything out of this earth; keyhole surgeries are a pain, but in general they tend not to be the end of the world. The catch is that this specific person happens to be a Jehovah's Witness, and according to their beliefs they are not allowed to receive blood transfusions. Thus what should be a relatively simple affair, keyhole surgery, turns into a complicated and dangerous affair - and all in the name of god.
As religions come Jehovah's Witnesses may be an extreme case, but it's pretty clear each religion brings its own set of physical hazards to its believers. The argument that there is no harm in religious belief is therefore invalid; unsubstantiated belief is always harmful in one way or another.
Image by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar), Creative Commons license