This post is going to be about trying to dispel the feeling that some have that I am anti-religious. We don’t need less religion, just better versions.Read more
I seem to get a fair share of email and comments about my “religion” posts here at RJsCorner and also over at RedLetterLiving. Some are in agreement, some take the post where I never intended it to go. And then there are others who assume that I hate religion and see me as attacking what they hold as sacred. In this post, I want to try and address those issues.
As I mentioned a few posts ago I lead a joyous life as a nuanced skeptic. That is, I see small and sometimes not so small slices of various topics that I question. I don’t hate religion.
The graphic here pretty much sums my overall beliefs about religion in general. In my mind, God is not attached to just one religion. In fact, I have come to believe that all the various religious beliefs in the world today, and there are thousands of them, are for the most part made my man.
I realize it’s nice to be around people who believe as you do. Religion meets that need for those who require that. When I was part of a couple of different versions of religion in past years I did enjoy the hymns, some of the traditions, and the short-term friends we made there. I was enlightened by some of the group studies, but there were some I had to voice an opposing opinion of and I sadly found those opinions not very welcomed. I am not against religion.
I do believe that the church serves a valuable purpose of teaching young minds the fundamental beliefs. But after the basics, it should not be so condemning of the next step a person might take. Do we really need to believe so many things that were invented by men?
But more fundamentally, I do sadly believe that most religions almost totally focus on what you are supposed to believe instead of how you are supposed to live your life. Maybe even more damaging is the belief that many have that they are the only ones who have it right.
In closing, believe it or not, it is possible to love God and even be a “follower of Jesus” without being religious. I am one of that group.
When I was a member of an Evangelical church the most often phrase I heard when its members couldn’t reconcile something recently happened with their beliefs in the bible was that “God works in mysterious ways, we just have to trust Him”. I always thought that was more of a cop-out than an explanation of the situation. But that is not the topic of this post.
It seems that these same Evangelicals put that phrase onto unexplainable actions of #CO3! They say that he just needs to be trusted and we should disregard all the lies and gross exaggerations that come from this mouth in order to get the greater good that his presidency will provide. Again this is a humongous cop-out as far as I am concerned.
I was personally exposed to an extreme narcissist for a good part of my life and see the same things in #CO3. He emphatically believes that he is capable of doing anything and doesn’t have to put in the work to do it. He proudly boasts that he basically sleeps through his daily briefing and he simply operates at a gut level and doesn’t need anything else. That is not a person I would put ANY trust in. How can the Evangelicals put total trust in this very untrustful person is beyond my comprehension. That belief is doing as much harm to their religion as it is to our democracy.
#CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant
Sadly the word “Evangelical” has come to mean a very negative thing for many people but to see it deemed toxic is simply frightening. But that is what happens when you mix Christianity with politics. As the old saying goes it is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. It doesn’t hurt the manure but it sure changes the flavor of ice cream.
My friends over at RedLetterChristians recently held a prayer vigil near Liberty University. Liberty’s president Jerry Falwell Jr said any if any in the praying group step on his property they would be arrested for trespassing. That is not the expected greeting of one Christian to another but that is what you get in today’s most recognized brand of evangelical. It is nice to see at least some versions of Christianity are sticking to their foundations. Far too many have abandoned their principles in order to condone their politics. That makes the word evangelical toxic indeed.
I want to close out this post with some thoughts from Will Rogers almost a hundred years ago. Can you even imagine what he would have to say about it today?
If some of these birds would follow His example instead of trying to figure out His mode of arrival and departure, they would come nearer getting confidence in their church.
If they are going to argue religion in the church instead of preaching it, no wonder you can see more people at a circus than a church.
Missionaries are going to reform the world whether it wants it or not.
A regular part of RJsCorner is going to be looking at Will Rogers quotes and seeing how they apply in today’s world. So, this is the first of many in that area.
Even 80 years ago it seems that there were more than a few who thought religions did more damage than they helped. I think what Will was saying is that “Bible thumpers,” and whatever they are called in the other religions, are the most intolerant of differences of faith. They are just convinced that they are the only one who has got it right. This is what gets us into so many wars. The Sunni and Shiite quarrels cause thousands of deaths a year against each other and even to some of our boys and girls stationed over there trying futilely to control them. Not that many years ago it was the Irish Catholics vs. the Protestants and so on, and so on… People disagreeing with others about religion seems to be the norm in our world and we can’t figure out how to get past that ignorance.
I am a big believer in “Coexist.” That is telling ALL the faiths to just play nice. If we could only manage that, war deaths could be almost eliminated.
Let the other fella believe what he wants as long as he lets you do the same. It couldn’t be simpler than that.
But sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to actually accomplish, aren’t they?
It is becoming more and more recognized that religious beliefs are and have most likely always been one of the primary sources of conflict in this world.
Here are some words about the underlying reasons for this:
“Religion often becomes the master variable,” Harris says. “It provides a unique reward structure. If you believe that the thoughts you harbor in this life and the doctrines you adhere to spell the difference between an eternity spent in fire or one spent on the right hand of God, that raises the stakes beyond any other reward structure on earth.”
Tribal tendencies are natural for humans who need groups and community to survive. But the driving forces behind especially alienating, fundamentalist beliefs are a combination of nature and nurture, experts say.
Personally, I have always struggled to fully understand why religion has such a strong hold on so many. The quote above helps me understand that a little better. I am just not one of those people who believe things without proof as most religions demand.
What will it take for religions to finally come to agree to coexist in the world today? That is the major question at hand. When will they accept that everyone has a right to believe in the god of their choice or no god at all? Thomas Jefferson understood that early on and thankfully at least the concept is part of our constitution even if it hasn’t been fully implemented. In fact, Jefferson was more strongly a believer in freedom “from” religion than “of” religion.
Given that there are literally tens of thousands of versions of God in the world today coexistence is the only logical way to approach religious beliefs.
I don’t know why the 1973 song “Killing me softly ” by Roberta Flack got stuck in my head recently. Maybe it has something with my brain bleed of eight months ago but that is pretty much a stretch. 🙂 But those verses put the foundation together for this post. If you want to see the lyrics click here.
Now on to the purpose of this post. There are simply too many in this world who are killing religion with their various causes. They put God into situations that she would certainly not put herself in. By doing this they are possibly poisoning the well of religion for many generations to come. It is a known fact that recent generations of Americans are much less religious than their parents or grandparents. I’m sure this poisoning effect is much the reason for this trend.
Far too many people put religious spins on their prejudices to try to give them some validity. An example of this is the recent allegations against Roy Moore who is a rad-con candidate for the Senate in Alabama. He is accused among the dozen or so allegations, of sexual harassment of a 14-year-old girl while he was in his thirties. Anyone who has looked beyond the surface on these allegations has to come away with considering them to be valid. But instead, some Alabama politicians are putting a religious spin on it. They say that since Joseph was much older than Mary so it is ok for Mr. Moore. Some are even comparing Moore to Jesus who was wrongly persecuted by his enemies. Religious spin for political purposes poisons the religious well.
Then there is the KKK who cloak themselves in religion as the reason for their racial hatred. Another radical fringe group who are doing basically the same thing is ISIS and radical Islam. They say their god tells them to kill everyone who is not an avid believer in their version of religion. They are killing religion with their causes.
It is common nature for us to look beyond ourselves for the deepest meaning of life. We want to believe that something or someone much wiser than us controls the high-level stuff. Most of us attach to one form of god or another for that knowledge. When others use religion to justify their radical beliefs they are poisoning the well for the rest of us. I’m pretty sure that God is neither a Republican or a Democrat and I’m absolutely sure he doesn’t hate people due to the color of their skin, or any other flippant reason we humans give as justification for our spiteful ways.