Originally Posted by Dan
Religion, in particular, has the potential to oppress people in ways that nothing else quite can. I've personally known (and dated) guys who were celibate for 10 or 15 years because of the religious and social stigmas associated with homosexuality. In many countries its still totally justifiable and expected to beat your wife
if she doesn't live up to religious moral expectations and doctrine.
That's true too, I had forgotten how powerful religion can be on the culture. However, I was an atheist for 15 years in the Bible Belt in the U.S. and I wasn't affected really by it. I also have a friend who is gay in the Bible Belt, and he has plenty of sex, even if he has to hide his true nature from his family and bosses at work. I'm kind of used to being different from everyone around me, so stigmas doesn't really bother me. For myself politics is more troublesome because instead of stigmas, you have laws backed up by the police force who have the right to shoot you. However, your point on the negative power of religion is well taken. After all, a number negative laws in the U.S. are an effect of certain religious beliefs.