Religious Violence and the No True Scotsman

Religion tries to get out of apologising for the evil a member does by saying he or she is not a follower.  Labels can be used to dismiss counterexamples. For example, when you look at the harm Christianity has done you will be told, "They were not real Christians." The dishonesty of this is plain. Why stop there? It opens the door to saying things like, "The Qur'an is terrible and evil. Religion is good so Islam is not a religion." Or, "Karma is an evil idea and religion is good so Buddhism is not a religion for affirming it." If you say, "A liar is not a Christian" then if you claim to be Christian while as good as saying a religious label can mean whatever you want it to mean then you are not a Christian. You are a liar and trying to block the truth.

The No True Scotsman fallacy turns religion into a label and nothing else. But it is a label that is presumed to be all good and faultless so that it is never to blame for what harm it does or harm it permits.  This is insane for a word is not that important.  A word used to say you are in and that person is out cannot be inherently good.

If a man is born in Scotland and identifies as Scottish then you may say:

Every true Scotsman wears tartan or eats Haggis or likes Scottish music so that anybody not doing this is not counted as a Scotsman.  That is more than a fallacy.  It is just obvious rubbish.

Suppose you make a claim that you know or suspect strongly is in fact false. You may resort to dismissing counterexamples. For example, you may say that Christians are really born again as in being remarkably holy. Somebody tells you about the bad popes or hypocritical Jane who peaches the Bible all day. You will then say “They are not Christians” Your aim is to defend Christianity but not as a religion but as an ideology. You are trying to silence and mock and dismiss criticism.  You are trying to block the truth.

Religion when it claims to be a good thing is using the fallacy.  When it has to lie to appear good then how good is it really?

When a religious person does evil in spite of the directives and commands of their faith, they are taken as not being a reflection of that faith and the other people in it. Some say that if a Catholic priest sins seriously he is not acting as a Catholic priest therefore the reputation of the Church should be intact.

That logic makes it impossible to say that there is any such thing as a harmful religion. If a religion has members who behave badly above average then that logic is enabling the problem and denying that the religion is to blame.

The religions do not really accept the logic because each one claims to be the best for its adherents.

If the religion claims to be the work of God and his hospital for sinners where he works supernaturally to make them good and holy, a member doing evil makes the religion suspect.

If religion has the power to lead to evil the religious label can do it to and is perhaps even worse.