Why Remain in a Religion When You Ignore Much of What It Teaches?

Edward Armitage - Julian the Apostate presiding at a conference of sectarian - 1875

If your religion, whatever it may be, teaches that you should kill people who leave your religion because they have left it, I'd say your religion poses a serious problem for humanity. It facilitates murder, represses religious freedom, and opens the door to all sorts of human rights violations. If you decide to ignore this particular teaching of your religion because you recognize that it is wrong, you are making the right choice. Ignoring something like this is a good thing, and you should take pride in doing so. But I still have to wonder why you would want to remain part of a religion that taught this, as well as many other things you probably ignore.

I'd imagine that you are in good company. Almost all religious believers probably ignore some of what their religions teach. They pick the parts they like and disregard the rest. But isn't there a big difference between overlooking some trivial things (e.g., you are not supposed to have a Christmas tree, wear garments made from more than one material, etc.) and overlooking those commanding you to murder others? Do you not ever worry that continuing to associate with such a religion provides cover to those who are less inclined to ignore these teachings?

I'm not writing this to condemn you. I'm writing it because I have difficulty understanding why someone would continue to associate with a religion if doing so required them to ignore so many horrible things about that religion. I mean, you wouldn't remain in an intimate relationship with a serial killer once you knew the person was a serial killer, would you? You wouldn't stay best friends with someone if you found out they'd been molesting children. If you did, what would that say about you?

You are right when you point out that most of those involved in your preferred religious tradition are decent people who also ignore the admonitions to murder those who leave your faith. But again, why would any decent person want to associate themselves with a tradition that taught something like that?