It is time to be honest about religion

With the recent flare up of violence between Israel and Palestine, it is becoming increasingly hard for me to ignore the elephant in the room.  
The elephant is the single source of this conflict between these two groups of people that has essentially been raging since the beginning of recorded history.  That source is religion.  Religion is the source that causes a whole plethora of issues, in fact.
The reason we are so far behind on stem cell research is religion.  The reason a little less than half the country does not believe in climate change is religion.  The reason many public schools do not teach evolution despite it being the current paradigm of biology is because of religion.  Lastly, and most importantly, the reason the gay community and women are oppressed is because of religion.
I am not saying all members of religious groups feel this way.  In fact, most of the people I know who are religious are some of the most tolerant and compassionate people I know, but the most vocal members and those in power positions within these religious groups are not.  

It is now that I am tempted to talk about how the Bible may have some anti-gay message in it but that the overall message is love and acceptance, but I realize it is not my place to do that as an outsider of religion.   In fact, it is this overwhelming tolerance created by liberals that has also created the atmosphere in which we think we have to be tolerant and respectful of everyone and their beliefs even if those beliefs lead to the civil rights of people being denied and in some cases these groups of people being ostracized from society.  

It is up to the members of these religions to change the anti-gay and anti-intellectual views their church, temple, mosque or synagogue holds.  Yet when a religious leader, whether it is a preacher, priest, rabbi, etc., preaches intolerant views, members often remain silent and ignore it. It is like when grandpa says something racist or sexist at Thanksgiving dinner, the family simply thinks, “That’s just his way” or “He is from a different time.”
The problem with not questioning these authority figures is if they go unquestioned, then their views remain prominent and are the loudest voices in the room.
I realize I am not going to change the world with an opinion piece in a college newspaper, but I do hope those who read this will challenge the authorities of their respected religions because as an outsider they are not going to listen to me anyway.  

I could not think of a better way to utilize my last opinion piece here at The Oracle than to attempt to call on the sane members of religious groups to challenge the intolerant and anti-intellectual views of their respected churches because tolerance of intolerance is no virtue.